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JMazzi

First Timer!! Tips, tricks, useful info?

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Hey everyone, first of all just wanted to say finding this site has been great. I found a lot of information regarding dining / beverage and travel!

 

But really I'm just looking for some little tips and tricks while aboard (or prior) to enhance the experience a little bit, and what to pack (obviously bathing suit, sunscreen, long pants for dinner) that might not be something a first time cruiser would know to bring (I saw a thread where someone mentioned straws LOL). 

 

Anyway, my girlfriend and I will be on the Norwegian Sky sailing out of Miami to the Bahamas on the 3rd of October, we are both super excited. We got the included beverage package for liquor and one free dinner (we chose Cagneys). Thanks in advance everyone! 

Edited by JMazzi

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Welcome!

 

The first thing is most people over pack, not necessary. You only need causal comfortable clothes. I typically only pack two outfits for dinner as I am careful to not spill on myself and if someone sees me in the same outfit twice Oh Well! I never bring heals or stockings! And no jacket for my husband!

 

I bring refillable water bottle for the room and off ship, I also pack a power strip to keep all chargeable's plugged into one spot so I don't forget one there!

Zip lock bags for wet items

The ship will provide beach towels but bringing a beach bag can be handy for off ship

The ship has lots of free sea sickness pills on board, so no need to bring them

Carry on board swim suit and your must haves as sometimes your luggage doesn't show up till 7 or 8 at night depending on how things are going

Once on board we check out the lay of the land and have a late lunch in the buffet. For sail away we like to sit in the outside portion of the buffet at the back of the boat and watch the port disappear!

Join your "Roll Call" go to the "Meet and Greet"

 

Have fun!

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9 minutes ago, mcmomny said:

Welcome!

 

The first thing is most people over pack, not necessary. You only need causal comfortable clothes. I typically only pack two outfits for dinner as I am careful to not spill on myself and if someone sees me in the same outfit twice Oh Well! I never bring heals or stockings! And no jacket for my husband!

 

I bring refillable water bottle for the room and off ship, I also pack a power strip to keep all chargeable's plugged into one spot so I don't forget one there!

Zip lock bags for wet items

The ship will provide beach towels but bringing a beach bag can be handy for off ship

The ship has lots of free sea sickness pills on board, so no need to bring them

Carry on board swim suit and your must haves as sometimes your luggage doesn't show up till 7 or 8 at night depending on how things are going

Once on board we check out the lay of the land and have a late lunch in the buffet. For sail away we like to sit in the outside portion of the buffet at the back of the boat and watch the port disappear!

Join your "Roll Call" go to the "Meet and Greet"

 

Have fun!

Really appreciate the detailed reply, especially the towel part. I was going to pack my own. And I would not have even thought of the water bottle, even after reading how much bottles seem to be on the ship. Can you get regular tap water or is all water charged? 

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You'll have a great time. I just went on my first ever cruise in March on the Norweigian Epic. My husband and I loved it. You're doing a good thing by coming here to research - I learned a LOT about what to expect. My first piece of advice is this: keep in mind that everyone here has different "favorites" and "hates".  Take anything negative you read about your ship with a grain of salt and tell yourself you're going to have a great time, and you will. Epic is arguably the most hated ship out there if you read reviews, but we LOVED it.

Get the reusable straws from Amazon if straws are important to you. If you drink a lot of water, take a Nalgene or something so you aren't having to buy bottles. I drink water literally all day and the water on the ship is fine. Use the beverage package to try new things.   You can get continental breakfast delivered to your room for free but the other stuff has a room service fee. So, you can order coffee to enjoy on your balcony in the morning, etc.  before heading out for breakfast. Make your Cagney's reservation now if you haven't yet.  Try the wings at O'Sheehans/ The Local (whatever its called on your ship). Decide where you want to be for sail away and get your drink in hand, this was one of the most exciting parts for us, heading out of Port Canaveral with an Aperol Spritz on our balcony, embarking on our first cruise experience. 

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How exciting, your first cruise! I am sure you will enjoy it very much.

 

Like mcmomny said, join your roll call, it’s a great way of getting to know the people on your cruise before boarding and also a great source of tips for what to do in port!

 

YouTube can be a great source of info on your particular ship. Make sure that you have plenty of time to get to the ship if you are flying to your embarkation port. Personally, I would recommend not hitting the buffet right after boarding, there might be lunch in one of the dining rooms or you can head to the pub if your ship has it for a much more relaxed experience.

 

Make time to explore the ship to discover your favorite spots.You have the drinks package, so you will definitely find a favorite bar and bar keeper. There are so many lovely people on staff, make sure to remember the names of your favorites and fill out Vacation Hero cards, you can get them at reception. They help staff get recognition and rewards, besides tips this is a great way to show gratitude to them.

 

I always like to treat myself to the spa pass in order to have a place to enjoy some quiet time. Look into that if that’s to your taste.

 

Overall - enjoy! And have the salmon tartare if they have it as an appetizer in the main dining room. 🙂

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Water bottles can be refilled for free at the water dispenser at the buffet!

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Just to add on to this:

 

1. Make sure that if either of you take medicines, that you pack them in your carryon. As another poster stated, it can take some time for your luggage to get to you.

 

2. There aren't a lot of plugs in staterooms, so a power block is definitely a good thing to have. Make sure it is not a surge protector or power strip.You can get power blocks on Amazon, if needed.

 

3. If you plan on being around the water (either ship's pool or the ocean), a waterproof phone bag is not a bad investment (especially if you are clumsy like I am, haha).

 

4. Download Norwegian's cruise app before you leave for your cruise. I believe it will show you your reservations, as well as a schedule of activities on the ship. It also allows you to check your account and see where charges have been made.

 

5. As an adjunct to #4, if the two of you want to see any of the shows on the ship, reserve them now before you leave. While you can reserve once on the ship, and there is also an option to just show up and see if there are any seats available, either or both of these may mean you don't get a seat.

 

6. Have a really great time on your cruise. 😄

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53 minutes ago, billslowsky said:

Read up on the disembarkation procedures.  It's not necessarily straightforward the first time.

 

And where exactly would I find that information? I tried looking on ncl but their website isn't that straight forward. 

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5 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

 

And where exactly would I find that information? I tried looking on ncl but their website isn't that straight forward. 

 

Pay attention to the Freestyle Daily a couple days before the end of the cruise.  It will tell you when the tags will be available and where to get them.  This will ensure you get down to wherever they are and get the debarkation time you want.  (We always just sit on the ship until the very last call, so its not a big deal what color is left).  What this means is that you will have to have your luggage packed and outside of your cabin the last night by 11 pm. and you won't see your luggage until you get into the terminal the next morning.  Be sure to leave out an outfit for the next day and any/all toiletries you will use at night and in the morning, don't pack them in the luggage.

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2 minutes ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

Pay attention to the Freestyle Daily a couple days before the end of the cruise.  It will tell you when the tags will be available and where to get them.  This will ensure you get down to wherever they are and get the debarkation time you want.  (We always just sit on the ship until the very last call, so its not a big deal what color is left).  What this means is that you will have to have your luggage packed and outside of your cabin the last night by 11 pm. and you won't see your luggage until you get into the terminal the next morning.  Be sure to leave out an outfit for the next day and any/all toiletries you will use at night and in the morning, don't pack them in the luggage.

 

In the airport terminal? We are flying into Ft Lauderdale and taking the NCL transport service to Miami where we will depart, will they hand me my luggage or I'll meet with it at the bus prior to departing back to the airport? 

 

I'm assuming the Freestyle Daily is a pamphlet of information, I think I saw a picture of one on this forum. 

 

Thanks again everyone for all the tips and help!!! 

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6 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

 

And where exactly would I find that information? I tried looking on ncl but their website isn't that straight forward. 

That's a really good question.  You could do some searches on this site - I found one from 2015 that wouldn't answer enough - but you will get some papers in your cabin two nights before the cruise ends with some instructions about selecting the time you want to get off the ship and color coded luggage tags.

 

The earliest slots are saved for people getting off who are carrying their own bags.  Then comes the higher tier rewards members.  Then comes everyone else.  You decide which time slot you want and get the color coded tags down in the atrium that you attach to your bags (replace the ones you used when you boarded) and put your bags out in the hallway late evening on the last night of the cruise.

 

For disembarkation, despite being told you can stay in your cabin past nine am, you'll be rousted out much earlier so that they can redo it for the people boarding that day.  You can hang out with whatever bags you still have (make sure you have passports, meds, etc. with you) in a designated area.

 

Your color coded tag will also direct you to where you pick up your bags before going through customs.

 

Don't be surprised when half the passengers try to get off earlier than what their time slot indicates.  They just do.  And it takes a while between the line on the ship - they scan your cards on the way out to account for everyone - and getting your bags which will be lined up in rows, search for yourself - and then customs.  For most US citizens, customs goes very quickly once you get to the front of the line.

 

There's a video they show on the last day on the in-room tv.

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4 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

 

In the airport terminal? We are flying into Ft Lauderdale and taking the NCL transport service to Miami where we will depart, will they hand me my luggage or I'll meet with it at the bus prior to departing back to the airport? 

 

I believe you have to personally take your bags through customs.  There should also be a specific time slot for disembarkation since you are taking their shuttle.  

 

Somebody's going to tell you on this board not to take the shuttle, there are quicker and cheaper ways to get to the airport (there are) but do what you're comfortable with, especially the first time out.

Edited by billslowsky

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1 hour ago, mcmomny said:

Water bottles can be refilled for free at the water dispenser at the buffet!

Just don't fill them directly from the dispenser.  They'll lecture you.  You need to fill a glass then pour it into your bottle. 

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12 minutes ago, billslowsky said:

 

I believe you have to personally take your bags through customs.  There should also be a specific time slot for disembarkation since you are taking their shuttle.  

 

Somebody's going to tell you on this board not to take the shuttle, there are quicker and cheaper ways to get to the airport (there are) but do what you're comfortable with, especially the first time out.

 

Most prices I was looking at were around the $40-$60 range one way, while the cruise lines was $50 total (unless I was missing something). 

 

And this Roll Call I've been seeing, is that put on by the cruise line or is it organized by members of this community independently? 

 

Thanks Bill and everyone else. 

Edited by JMazzi

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3 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

 

Most prices I was looking at were around the $40-$60 range one way, while the cruise lines was $50 total (unless I was missing something). 

 

And this Roll Call I've been seeing, is that put on by the cruise line or is it organized by members of this community independently? 

 

Thanks Bill and everyone else. 

It gets organized by someone here with the cooperation of the ship.  They'll schedule a time and meeting place.  Look it up on the site, you'll get an idea of how many people, and a lot of them have been on numerous cruises and be helpful with your questions.  Especially if you let them know you're coming as a first time and have questions.

 

They can also explain little nuisances like why you got billed a dollar for that drink you had at sailaway even though you had the beverage package (local tax while in port).

Edited by billslowsky

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If you are hand carrying your luggage ignore all this:

 

The last night of the cruise you'll be putting your luggage outside your door by 11pm (they'll give you the exact time) so pack your carry on accordingly.  PJ's, clothes for the next day, meds, the right shoes and whatever you'll need before you reunite with your luggage.   People have been seen leaving the ship in their PJs because they forgot to leave out an outfit - don't be those people.  👍

 

You'll have time with your luggage to move things around before you check them into your airline so don't worry about the 3-1-1 rule until you're ready to check your bags. 

 

Oh, and as someone said above, you'll need less clothing than you think you will, but on our last 11 night Miami-Pamana Canal cruise we were happy we had 2 swimsuits each but we spent LOTS of time onship and off ship in swimgear. 

 

Have fun!

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1 hour ago, billslowsky said:

The earliest slots are saved for people getting off who are carrying their own bags.  Then comes the higher tier rewards members.  Then comes everyone else.  You decide which time slot you want and get the color coded tags down in the atrium that you attach to your bags

 

In my experience, you will not be choosing your tags if you are taking the NCL shuttle.  They provide you with the tags in your stateroom when they assign which group you are leaving with to accommodate their shuttle times.

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If you are enjoying your cruise, go to the CruiseNext desk and buy 2 certificates for future cruises.  You basically pay $125 for a $250 deposit voucher.  They are good for 4 years and are transferable (meaning they are pretty easy to sell for what you paid $125) online.

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1 hour ago, JMazzi said:

 

In the airport terminal? We are flying into Ft Lauderdale and taking the NCL transport service to Miami where we will depart, will they hand me my luggage or I'll meet with it at the bus prior to departing back to the airport? 

 

 

I meant the terminal building at the port.  You will have to get your luggage and then get in line to go through customs and immigration before you get out to the bus area.

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3 minutes ago, Sauer-kraut said:

I meant the terminal building at the port.  You will have to get your luggage and then get in line to go through customs and immigration before you get out to the bus area.

 

Ok. So on the way back, since I'm not flying out of Miami, I should just carry my suitcase off the ship? 

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10 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

 

Ok. So on the way back, since I'm not flying out of Miami, I should just carry my suitcase off the ship? 

 

It doesn't matter, you can do self carry off or just do the normal disembarkation and get the bags from the terminal building. Either way you still have to go through customs and immigration.  I do the latter as we are never in a hurry to get off the ship and our flights are later in the day.

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2 minutes ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

It doesn't matter, you can do self carry off or just do the normal disembarkation and get the bags from the terminal building. Either way you still have to go through customs and immigration.  I do the latter as we are never in a hurry to get off the ship and our flights are later in the day.

Thanks so much for your input. 

 

Do people normally bring soaps and shampoos or does the boat provide that? It's like pulling teeth trying to find some of this info on their site

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6 minutes ago, JMazzi said:

Thanks so much for your input. 

 

Do people normally bring soaps and shampoos or does the boat provide that? It's like pulling teeth trying to find some of this info on their site

 

The SHIP provides soap and shampoo.   If you aren't particular about brands what they provide is just fine.

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