Top 10 Things I Learned On My First Cruise

I recently returned from my very first 8-Day cruise to the Bahamas. I expected it to be a nice, family vacation and nothing more. In actuality, I enjoyed it so much, I can’t wait to do it again. I won’t bore you with every detail about my vacation but I thought a short, humorous list of what I’ve learned might be in order.  So, here are the Top 10 things I learned on my very first cruise to the sunny Bahamas with stops in Nassau, Freeport, and Florida.

10. I want to do it again

Before I say anything else, I’ll just reiterate that while I thought it would be a decent time, my family and I really had a great experience. One thing I enjoy about vacationing is the ability to go somewhere you’ve never been before. I’ve been to Florida way too many times but never to the Bahamas. We even got a cruise out of New York so there was no need to spend money on expensive air fares just to get on a boat. Perfect trip! Bring on the next cruise.

9. Massage Sandals are not for me

I am admittedly not a sandals kind of guy. The last time I bought a pair was in 2008 for our family Disney vacation. I used them the whole time and hated how they looked on me, and hated how they ripped my feet apart in various ways. This vacation, I said I’ll get something simpler than those hippie-looking ones with straps everywhere. I found a pair of these Adiddas slip on sandals that look a lot like slippers. They have these little bumpy nubs covering the entire footbed that are supposed to “massage” your feet as you walk around. If by massage they mean inflict medieval-like pain, then mission accomplished. I wore these torture devices to Nassau, where we did a lot of walking around. The first 15-20 minutes were just fine but all of the sudden there was this pain, like little needles jamming up into your feet every step you take. It was like walking on broken glass over and over again. I was walking like an old man who just had a hernia operation. I admit, I was laughing along with the rest of the family but why oh why did I try these things? It was the only negative part of the whole trip and it was my own damn fault.

8. Walking on the boat while on rough seas feels intoxicating

We had some rough days at sea, mostly when we departed and then came home. Most of the time you’re on the boat, you don’t really feel the movement of the ocean, but on those rough days you couldn’t even stand up straight. I noticed that on those days, while trying to walk, it felt exactly like being really drunk. Not a huge revelation when you think about it, but the first time it happened, I remember having to ask myself if I had a drink that day.

7. The eggs sucked

Cruises are famous for their all-you-can-eat buffets and I certainly indulged like it was a week long Thanksgiving dinner, many times a day. The only thing they didn’t get right for me were the eggs. Every morning, I’d heap a load onto my plate, hoping they’d be different but no dice. They tasted watery and lacked the same consistency as the eggs you get in a diner, for example. Then I thought, they couldn’t possibly store that many eggs on a ship, so they must be using something out of a carton or maybe powdered eggs. I’d try them every day, though. Never finished them, but tried them.

6. People in the Bahamas are nice but…

I really enjoyed the Bahamas. The beach was perfect: No shells, clean sand, crystal clear water, lots of room, no seaweed. It was truly beautiful. The Caribbean people are very friendly and love to talk to you in that fun, Caribbean accent. Walking around the shops, however, you definitely got the feeling some of these folks were cutthroat people who, after sundown, might rob you blind.  Some might not wait until then. I’m being a bit unfair here, though. Most people were super nice and friendly. They just want to sell you stuff. A lot of stuff. We’re not used to that here in the USA with our 24-hour shopping and fancy interwebs. So it was a bit of a shock but we got used to it. You just have to learn how to say no, which will still buy you a dirty look.

5. You’ll never be bored

Every night we received a simple two page agenda for the following day’s activities on the ship, complete with a nice little tear-off section with a schedule. From sun up to sun down, our boat was LOADED with multiple things to do at multiple times. You could easily plan your whole sea day out in a matter of minutes each morning. There are kids clubs for all ages. They go off to these clubs and you might not even see your kids all day, which is great if you’re on vacation and trying to relax. The entertainment isn’t just lame stuff either. There are lots of live shows, a casino, contests, games, chances to win money, shopping deals and loads more. I was highly impressed with the amount of things to do.

4. Karaoke is taken VERY seriously

I’m a musician, but I’ve never really been big on Karaoke for some reason. I was going to make a go of it this time around, however. I didn’t participate but I really wanted to watch. I was curious if it was all going to be awful (in a good  and entertaining way). I actually gave some thought about why I didn’t feel like partaking. I guess I just feel like I do that stuff at home for real and I didn’t want to do things I do normally while on vacation. I’d rather watch other people sing. I was prepared for train-wrecks but man, let me tell you something – these people could really sing! Only maybe 1 of every 10 singers who got up there was a bomb but these people really nailed their songs! They had auditions for people to be in a show at the end of the trip and they definitely deserved to be there. Next time, I might try and join them.

3. The musicians/bands are very good

Being a musician, I was of course spying on all the live entertainment. There were at least two guys who simply played acoustic guitars in very prominent areas on the boat where lots of people can sit and drink or just pass through. The thing I noticed was that one of them used backing tracks and the other didn’t. The one who didn’t was a better singer and player, I thought. He also played many different styles. The other guy with the backing tracks (sometimes just another guitar, other times drums, and he used a harmonizer on his voice) wasn’t as good and I noticed as the week went on, he seemed to be playing the same songs over and over. Once thing for sure though, they worked really hard every day/night. The other full bands on the ship were really good. They were tight and nailed everything they played. They had horn sections and whatever else they needed. There was a piano bar but I only heard the guy as I walked by a few times. He sounded good and had lots of people singing along. I must have heard “American Pie” about 20 times from all of these musicians/bands. Near the end of the trip there was a “Beatles” show. This was in the main theater and was worthy of a Broadway show. Revolving stage parts, great live band in the pit, lots of singing and dancing – a good time had by all!

2. The staff is friendly, courteous, and funny

Living on a boat for a week, you get to know everyone and see many of the same faces over and over. Many of those familiar faces were the entertainment crew. These guys and girls were absolutely hilarious. They don’t just do one thing either. They might be running a trivia contest one minute, then running off to host Bingo another. They might host a “Men’s Hairy Chest Contest” (very funny!) one minute, and then singing in a show the next. Very rarely did I pass a crew member without them saying hello. The food staff, the crew, the entertainment, the cruise director (a guy named “Tex”), his assistant (Chris), the cleaning crew – everyone. Top notch and professional. Whatever you need, you got it. I really enjoyed that.

1. I don’t get seasick

The only thing I was slightly worried about beforehand was if I’d be seasick at some point. We had some very rough waters on Days 1-2 and 7-8. Much to my surprise, I never once felt nauseous. This makes #10 on my list much more likely to happen sooner. I did notice that there were many people wearing small, round patches behind their ears. It turns out these are for motion sickness and they last a few days. So even if I was to get sick next time, I could just slap on a patch and enjoy. It’s a great feeling to know you’re not really prone to being seasick.

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So there you go. If you’re on the fence about taking a cruise, don’t be. Do it! I’m thinking Bermuda might be on my radar next…

 

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