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MississippiMom

What Kinds of Things Do You Want to Know About Your First Day on The Cruise?

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My parents are taking their kids and grandkids on a cruise over Spring Break.  My crew is super excited, especially since we aren’t new to the cruise fun.  But not being newbies, I have forgotten what kind of things other people need to know, when it is their first cruise.  It seems like once a week I get a random question about the trip, and some of them are a bit ridiculous to me.  I am realizing today that the questions are just coming from never cruised before parents of 3, and that I forgot what that is like, because it’s been awhile since that was me.  

 

So . . . Help me out, please . . . What do all of you first time cruisers want to know about that 1st day on the cruise?  I would love to start passing that knowledge on to my brother and his wife.  Today’s questions from them  - Why would anyone schedule an early arrival time, when the kids will need to eat lunch?  Is there an included lunch on the cruise ship?

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For the majority of cruises. it is up to YOU to become involved. If you sit on the sidelines, nobody is going to come get you. 

The ship has some sort of newsletter/calendar of the day's events/activities. Find 2/3 three things to do each day

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They only need to know to maintain some sense of decorum at mealtime: no backwards-turned baseball caps, wife beater tee-shirts, shorts, flip-flops.

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MississippiMom - I think it is kind of cool that you are asking first time cruisers for input.  Hope to see responses from the newer folk, but think you might get more responses if you don't limit it to embarkment day.  

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I'm a visual, diagram kind of person.  I want to know where to go and how to get there.  Most ships have that cutaway of the ship posted at the elevators, or close.  But I want the deck plans, particularly of the public areas.  Especially on a new ship.  So I print them out.   EM

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Embarkation Day for me is"scouting day".

 

Plan a walking tour of the ship after the Embarkation Day lunch (included in the price) to briefly visit all of the public venues before the ship becomes crowded.  Start from your stateroom with a notepad and a deck plan of the ship.  Take a photograph of the ship deck plan posted near the elevators to learn which elevators go to specific venues.  As you proceed, make a mental note of how long it will take to get from your stateroom to venues of interest, especially the buffet and Main Dining Room.  Note the location of handwashing stations and public restrooms.  Choose several family meeting poiints to be used in the future.  Pick up any available brochures of sales and special events.  If venue representatives are available, ask any questions and if allowed, find your Dining Room table to avoid the gaggle on the first night meal.

 

Knowing what is available and how to get there,  discuss what venues are of interest at your first dinner meal on board.

 

Enjoy your cruise planning.

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I think you should let the "newbies" find their own way.  Discovery is PART of the fun.  I guarantee, the more you "talk it up", the less they will enjoy the experience.  Let them have the fun of discovery!  Cruising isn't rocket science...it's a vacation!  Everyone vacations differently!

 

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Depending on what ship you will be on;  if you want to make specialty reservations, shore exursions,  or buy a beverage package;  this would be something I would do first thing.  

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17 hours ago, cb at sea said:

I think you should let the "newbies" find their own way.  Discovery is PART of the fun.  I guarantee, the more you "talk it up", the less they will enjoy the experience.  Let them have the fun of discovery!  Cruising isn't rocket science...it's a vacation!  Everyone vacations differently!

 

Yeah...just let them flounder around on their own even when they ask questions that you may be able to answer.  I am sure they will still be able to "discover"  stuff on their own  They are going on a family cruise (3 generations)and "talking it up" beforehand is part of the fun of that kind of cruise.  This let them discover on their own "advice" is not helpful IMO.  Let them have the fun of anticipating all the things you can tell them about NOW!

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On 1/8/2019 at 10:21 PM, MississippiMom said:

My parents are taking their kids and grandkids on a cruise over Spring Break.  My crew is super excited, especially since we aren’t new to the cruise fun.  But not being newbies, I have forgotten what kind of things other people need to know, when it is their first cruise.  It seems like once a week I get a random question about the trip, and some of them are a bit ridiculous to me.  I am realizing today that the questions are just coming from never cruised before parents of 3, and that I forgot what that is like, because it’s been awhile since that was me.  

 

So . . . Help me out, please . . . What do all of you first time cruisers want to know about that 1st day on the cruise?  I would love to start passing that knowledge on to my brother and his wife.  Today’s questions from them  - Why would anyone schedule an early arrival time, when the kids will need to eat lunch?  Is there an included lunch on the cruise ship?

 

Not a first time cruiser, but still fairly new (7th cruise coming up this June).  To answer some of their quiestions:

-Some like to arrive early in an attempt to avoid crowds, start their vacation as soon as possible (although sometimes it just means a longer wait in the terminal), or build in a buffer (plan to arrive early and if you are late so what, plan to arrive late and are late😱).  Carnival even offers Faster to the Fun (in addition to "earned" priority boarding) for those who want immediate cabin access.

-The kids' lunch needs will depend on the kids 😉 If you have a late arrival time you might want to get lunch before the port to avoid "hangriness" and also avoid the crowds at the buffet (some people don't handle the chaos well).  If you have an early arrival appointment I would still likely pack some pre-packaged snacks in case there is a delay, but you could wait and eat upon boarding.

-I'm assuming your trip is the March trip listed in your signature.  There should be a lunch provided in the buffet upon boarding.  I'm not very familiar with the Glory (even though it was our first ship in 2012 - poor memory), but guess they have Guy's Burgers and Blue Iguana (possibly others) in addition to the buffet.  I would try to scan the various stations and go to whatever is shortest.  Maybe most people will be at Guys embarkation day and the pizza line will be short or vice versa. 

 

On sea days Carnival usually provides Sea Day Brunch in the MDR in addition to the buffet and cafeteria style offerings, but only breakfast on port days.  You can go to brunch once in the morning for breakfast fare, then later in the morning/noon for the lunch side of brunch.  Sea days also offer tea time in the MDR (around 3? - should be in the fun times under dining options/food choices).  This will include basic beverages, scones and other desserts, and finger sandwiches.  You can also purchase higher quality/different flavor teas (or included with Cheers)

 

Depending on a person's temperament, I might also let them know about where to find a quiet spot to avoid the crowds.  Some people will want to know where the biggest parties are too. 

 

Have a great time with your family!

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1 hour ago, pacruise804 said:

 

. . .  Sea days also offer tea time in the MDR (around 3? - should be in the fun times under dining options/food choices).  This will include basic beverages, scones and other desserts, and finger sandwiches.  You can also purchase higher quality/different flavor teas (or included with Cheers)

 

Depending on a person's temperament, I might also let them know about where to find a quiet spot to avoid the crowds.  Some people will want to know where the biggest parties are too. 

 

Have a great time with your family!

While I appreciate everything that you typed out, these two items went straight to the top of importance for me. 

 

#1 - Where to find a quiet spot.  YES!  I would never have thought of that one, and I fear that this may be the biggest challenge with my SIL's first cruise.  She will be overwhelmed.  Her first "go to" place will probably be the gym, because she loves to lift weights and do cardio on the machines.  I am hoping that the Glory gym will accommodate all of that for her.  Maybe the library (Do they still have those on ships?) will be her second place, although I, suspect, she is more likely to sneak off to her cabin for a nap, when the kids are enjoying the kids' clubs.

 

#2 - Afternoon tea time on a sea day could be interesting for the whole family.  I'll be on the look out for that in the Fun Times (or my Hub App).

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20 hours ago, cb at sea said:

I think you should let the "newbies" find their own way.  Discovery is PART of the fun.  I guarantee, the more you "talk it up", the less they will enjoy the experience.  Let them have the fun of discovery!  Cruising isn't rocket science...it's a vacation!  Everyone vacations differently!

 

I do agree that cruising isn't rocket science.  My first cruise was in 1992, before we researched things on the Internet, and my two cousins and I had a FABULOUS time learning what a cruise was all about on our own.  But we were single, with no children, barely slept, and enjoyed EVERY single activity that we could fit in to our schedule.  It's an entirely different scenario when three generations are headed out for a Spring Break adventure together.

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7 hours ago, AF-1 said:

Depending on what ship you will be on;  if you want to make specialty reservations, shore exursions,  or buy a beverage package;  this would be something I would do first thing.  

No specialty restaurant reservations to worry about, however, we are, definitely, booking The Green Eggs & Ham Brunch.  I'm not sure who is more excited, the grandmother of the bunch or the senior in high school.  :classic_biggrin:

 

We have already been discussing the pros & cons to beverage packages, so I think we have that all sorted out.

 

The shore excursions are going to be a bit of a challenge, I believe.  I'm almost positive that there will be some mixing and matching of who goes with which family, just based on interest.  We only have two ports - Cozumel and Progreso.   So far there is interest in beach days, all inclusive resort day passes, jeep or dune buggy rentals, bike rentals, trip to one of the various ruins, and Mexican fiestas/culture excursions.  Hopefully, we can narrow that down before we step foot on the ship.

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A few more thoughts that came to mind:

 

Dive in Movies/Movies Under The Stars (I forget which is Carnival and which is Princess).  This is one thing I remember us loving on our first Glory cruise.  For us, Glory had the best layout for viewing - several levels for watching and I think some of the seating was rocking chairs rather than loungers.  You might want to see if they offer blankets at the pool stand during the evenings (or even just cover up with a towel) since it might be breezy.

 

Realistic Expectations.  The staff does an excellent job, but they are serving a large number of people.  Your cabin will be kept tidy, but don't be surprised to find dust.  Food will be good (and if I didn't have to think about it, cook it, or clean after it's hard to complain 😉 ), but it is mass prepared food more like a banquet hall/catering than fine dining specifically prepared for you.

 

Another food thought: there is worlds to eat (I've never gone hungry on a cruise), but there are certain comforts from home not readily available.  Chips and candy come to mind, so if they are important to your family it should be included with your packing.  Sometimes there are work arounds too - Guys has potato sticks if you just need a little bit for your chip fix, Blue Iguana has the taco bowls that you can break up for chips and salsa, and there should be a (overpriced) candy store too.

 

Nothing is certain on a cruise.  If you have a tender port (I'm not sure about Cozumel or Progresso) and seas are rough they may skip that port.  Weather in general or mechanical issues can also cause being diverted from your original itinerary.  Be sure to pack a good sense of humor and lots of patience and you should be prepared for whatever "adventures" await you.

 

Napping on the ship is awesome so be sure to allow some free time in the schedule to catch up on your rest as well as the other relaxing and fun activities.

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Getting on a ship for the first time can be daunting. While following the crowds can be helpful, one usually winds up on the longest lines. Look at the deck plans for your ship prior to boarding.  Check out what venues will be open for lunch after you board.  The buffet will be the most crowded, try to find a quieter place.

 

Do a little exploring on the open decks, go from front to back, stem to stern, taking pictures along the way.  Above all, don't forget the muster safety drill, usually happens just before sailaway.  Most of all, have fun!

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I've read several past cruisers' references to main dining room waits, debacles, etc. One poster mentioned that if you know where your table is and have an assigned dining time, you just bypass the line and walk right to your table. Is this true? Also, sailing from Dec. 23rd thru 28th on Carnival Sunrise. My 89 year old mom wants lobster tail (her favorite). I've read that dining isn't what it used to be and have thought about making reservations at the special steakhouse, which reads (expect 2 1/2 hours for experience). So, should I book the first night (23rd), Christmas Eve or the 27th? I don't want to miss any special Christmas events that might be happening, I don't know how long muster will take on the first night, and we are in port Christmas Day and the day after. Suggestions?

 

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One of the first things we do, after getting lunch, is to read the activities list.  We look for the evening things we want to do and find out when we can register the kids at the kids/teen clubs.  Its usually in the afternoon and see when the kids orientation/meet and greet the first night. we make sure the kids go, because its a great way for them to make friends. Then were explore the ship.

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On 1/9/2019 at 12:45 PM, Crew News said:

Embarkation Day for me is"scouting day".

 

Plan a walking tour of the ship after the Embarkation Day lunch (included in the price) to briefly visit all of the public venues before the ship becomes crowded.  Start from your stateroom with a notepad and a deck plan of the ship.  Take a photograph of the ship deck plan posted near the elevators to learn which elevators go to specific venues.  As you proceed, make a mental note of how long it will take to get from your stateroom to venues of interest, especially the buffet and Main Dining Room.  Note the location of handwashing stations and public restrooms.  Choose several family meeting poiints to be used in the future.  Pick up any available brochures of sales and special events.  If venue representatives are available, ask any questions and if allowed, find your Dining Room table to avoid the gaggle on the first night meal.

 

Knowing what is available and how to get there,  discuss what venues are of interest at your first dinner meal on board.

 

Enjoy your cruise planning.

I disagree with this approach.  What you describe sounds like you're preparing for a test or something.  It's not like someone is going to stop you at random and shout, "Qucik!  What is the fastest way to get from the main dining room to the theater, and then to the hot tubs?  You have 5 seconds!"

Getting lost and seeing what you stumble across is part of the fun in my book.  In fact, I think one of the first things to do after grabbing a bite to eat is to purposefully get lost and just explore.  And while I've only been on one cruise, from what I've seen online all the ships have deck plans and maps everywhere to help you out.  Or, here's a shocker, you could ASK someone.  I'm of the male persuasion, so I know we're supposed to be completely and totally averse to this, but I think we're allowed a pass in this instance.  At least, I thought I saw that somewhere in "The Official Manly Man Handbook."

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I am a veteran cruiser who has cruised with family and friends before. One thing we have done to is agree ahead of time that we do not have to do everything in lock step! If some want to go biking  and some want the beach, split up and go. Then at supper you can regale each other with the tales of your adventures! 

One note on the library - it is NOT a quiet place of retreat. That's where the board games and cards are, so it is often quite noisy! For peace and quiet, tell your SIL to find the Serenity deck. No kids, no music - just the sounds of the sea. 

Day 1 - we like to get on board as early as possible so that we can wander the ship and get our bearings. Lunch will be available in the Lido, but it can be crowded. We will find food and go our to the terrace at the back. The pool deck will be loud! One tip - find a table that will seat your party, then leave on person there while the others peruse the buffet offerings. That way everyone knows where to sit once they have their food; first one back relieves the original table sitter. 

For the kids, visit the kids' clubs, get them signed in and meet the adults in charge. 

 

For excursions - you don't have to do everything!! Cozumel and Progresso will be there for the next cruise and the next and the 30th! 

For dinner the first night, the waiters will be there to escort you. After that, if you have traditional dining, you just go to your table. 

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Some people want every minute scheduled ahead of time.  Others are more flexible.  
 

Do what makes YOU happy.

 

A friend of mine was heading to Ireland with his wife.  While waiting for their flight, they met another couple and got talking.  It turns out both men had the same birthday, which would occur in Ireland.  So they decided to meet for dinner to celebrate.

 

My friend and his wife had their flights and a rental car.  That was the extent of their planning.  They would do what moved them.

 

The other wife pulled out a stack of papers, and stated, one that day we are having breakfast at X place, then we will do this, then this, then at Y time, we will have lunch at Z restaurant, then will do this, and this, and this and will have dinner Here at 7PM.

 

To each his own.  My personal level of comfort for any trip is I want to have a place to sleep arranged for each night.  Beyond that, I am flexible.

 

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4 hours ago, SRF said:

Some people want every minute scheduled ahead of time.  Others are more flexible.  
 

Do what makes YOU happy.

 

A friend of mine was heading to Ireland with his wife.  While waiting for their flight, they met another couple and got talking.  It turns out both men had the same birthday, which would occur in Ireland.  So they decided to meet for dinner to celebrate.

 

My friend and his wife had their flights and a rental car.  That was the extent of their planning.  They would do what moved them.

 

The other wife pulled out a stack of papers, and stated, one that day we are having breakfast at X place, then we will do this, then this, then at Y time, we will have lunch at Z restaurant, then will do this, and this, and this and will have dinner Here at 7PM.

 

To each his own.  My personal level of comfort for any trip is I want to have a place to sleep arranged for each night.  Beyond that, I am flexible.

 

And some times the elements of a particular itinerary (including pre/post cruise) demand extensive planning right down to the minute.

 

Things like those Vatican tix, that West End show and the newest Michelin starred restaurant often require reservation to be made/coordinated months in advance. Want a highly respected private tour guide for antiquities or that helicopter ride over the NaPali? Flexibility becomes a very low priority.

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On 1/11/2019 at 9:45 AM, pacruise804 said:

Another food thought: there is worlds to eat (I've never gone hungry on a cruise), but there are certain comforts from home not readily available.  Chips and candy come to mind, so if they are important to your family it should be included with your packing.  Sometimes there are work arounds too - Guys has potato sticks if you just need a little bit for your chip fix, Blue Iguana has the taco bowls that you can break up for chips and salsa, and there should be a (overpriced) candy store too.

True story:  My sister came with me on an Alaskan cruise, her first.  Knowing she was a snacker I told her that while there was plenty of food on board, there wasn't much in the way of snacks, so bring your own.  She brought a grocery bag full of chips and candy.  I guess she thought we were going to the dark side of the moon.

 

I now tell people to bring what you think you might need of anything, snacks included, but that I have yet to be at a port where you couldn't find a store to purchase anything you run out of, so no need to bring a week's worth.

 

Other tips for first timers: 

 

Depending on your itinerary bring an extra pair of walking shoes.  I know, I know, everyone is into packing light.  But twice I had to walk around in wet shoes because it rained and I didn't have another pair.  I finally caved and bought a pair of water-proof shoes.

 

Get to know the ship a bit.  Saves a little extra walking when you can't remember just where anything is in relationship to anything else.  This is especially true of forward vs aft, at least for me. 

 

Bring whatever you think you might need to sleep.  We have brought a small electric blanket for my one sister because she gets so cold and for her to be warm we would have to turn the heat up so high I would be roasting.  She has since discovered it works to sleep in sweats.  I always bring my own pillow.  

 

I agree about flexibility.  Though in my case planning is essential.  Both my sister's would stand around going "what do you want to do?"  "I don't know, what do you want to do?" until hell froze over.  Or the one would spend all day in a gift shop.  And neither will do anything on their own.  So I plan everything out, give them the list for final approval and then buy some tickets in advance, leaving others until we arrive.  The key is to balance activities vs excursions vs free time in a way that works for everyone.  I also work out a basic time-frame so we know exactly how much free time we will have.  That can only be done in advance.  But once there I like to just take it as it comes and leave time for whatever, including gift shops.  Pre-purchased tickets and booked excursions aside, often the only real plan is getting back to the ship on time.

 

Next tip (and most important): watch the time so you don't miss the ship.

 

Stay patient.  "Hurry up and wait" can sometimes be frustrating.  But, the nature of cruising is that there will be times when you have to be in a line.  Just remember, the same is true of everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Blondilu

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17 hours ago, panoramaofthepast said:

I am a veteran cruiser who has cruised with family and friends before. One thing we have done to is agree ahead of time that we do not have to do everything in lock step! If some want to go biking  and some want the beach, split up and go. Then at supper you can regale each other with the tales of your adventures! 

 

Beware of group paralysis!  100% agree that you don’t have toll do the same thing at the same time.  If you wait for the group to decide, you most likely do nothing. As panoramaofthepast said...it’s ok to split up and do separate things.  

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6 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

And some times the elements of a particular itinerary (including pre/post cruise) demand extensive planning right down to the minute.

 

Things like those Vatican tix, that West End show and the newest Michelin starred restaurant often require reservation to be made/coordinated months in advance. Want a highly respected private tour guide for antiquities or that helicopter ride over the NaPali? Flexibility becomes a very low priority.

 

Every minute of every day for a 10+ day vacation?

 

Yes, there are times when you have something that is a specific time, and you have work around that.  But not every day, all day.

 

And do you schedule the time and location for every meal?

 

Sometimes we find something interesting and eat later, or have a late lunch and snack for dinner.  

 

And heck, unless there is something that has a specific time, I don't set an alarm clock.  If we feel like sleeping in, we sleep in.

Edited by SRF

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1 hour ago, SRF said:

 

Every minute of every day for a 10+ day vacation?

 

Yes, there are times when you have something that is a specific time, and you have work around that.  But not every day, all day.

 

And do you schedule the time and location for every meal?

 

Sometimes we find something interesting and eat later, or have a late lunch and snack for dinner.  

 

And heck, unless there is something that has a specific time, I don't set an alarm clock.  If we feel like sleeping in, we sleep in.

That's why we love plenty of sea days on long cruises. Far less pre-planning involved (except for the best gym times and Trivia).

As for food ashore: this is where we do significant research for any cosmopolitan port and we will often plan the day around a pre-scheduled restaurant meal. Same goes for UNESCO and various attendance limited antiquity sites. 

 

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