I got back earlier this week from my first trip of 2010; a birthday cruise for my Aunt. I have nothing to compare this trip to, as I had never been on a cruise before, but I enjoyed it. We were originally suppose to go to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, but were re-routed to Mexico because of a last minute scheduling change. Because this trip was in celebration of my Aunt's birthday, my family decided not to cancel the cruise though we were all bummed not to go to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The weather was cloudy at one of our port stops, but it was just nice to relax, chill on the beach and spend time with my family for a few days. I appreciate having had a brief respite from winter weather even more so now because of the snow blizzard we are currently experiencing in the DC area. Here are a few lessons learned on my first cruise:
- A room with a balcony is the way to go. Balcony rooms cost a bit more, but I personally think it was worth the cost. It was nice to get a view of the scenery when we got close to land and I enjoyed reading and drawing, seeing the sun rise/set with a view of the water.
- EVERYTHING is a separate cost on a cruise, so be prepared to budget for that. Everything from alcoholic AND non-alcoholic beverages, to photos, to gym classes, to land excursions cost extra money and I wasn't expecting that. It's also customary to tip (maitre'd, waiters, housekeeping stewards) crew members outside of the tips they include in the price of the cruise package on your last day.
- The food was so-so on my cruise, but there was LOTS of it, so exercising in the gym is a good idea. It was easy to eat more on the days when we were at sea all day, so going to the gym during the trip is a good idea. I was a bit of a slacker and only took took one pilates class during the week, but if I take a cruise in the future, I'll go the gym every day.
- Pack some Dramamine or other motion sickness medicine in case the water is choppy. I got slightly motion sick and should have packed some Dramamine to ward this off. I learned my lesson.
- Pack scarves/cardigans because the air conditioning is ARCTIC. The weather was not exceptionally hot (high 70's and low 80's) for most of the trip, and I'm not a big fan of air conditioning anyway, so packing one or two cardigans and a scarf were necessities I didn't think much about but was so happy that I packed.
- A no-fuss hair style is the way to go. I got a simple hairstyle that was easy to manage and would definitely get the same style again on my next cruise.
- Don't miss the demonstration where they show how to make towel animals next time. I loved getting the little towel animals on my bed each day and was bummed that I missed the demonstration of how to make them on one the the day's activities, I'll be sure to attend the demonstration on my next cruise.
I didn't have to make any unexpected purchases on the trip and bought myself one souvenir, a pair of silver earrings for $35. I paid for the cruise and airfare to and from the Miami Port where the ship left from in advance. Other expenses during the cruise included:
- Hotel for one night in Miami: $95
- Taxis rides (to/from airport, at ports): $60
- Food in Miami: $50
- Souvenirs for other people: $25
- Miscellaneous Tips: $25
The entire trip cost approximately: $1,000 (yikes!)
I've actually accomplished my New Year's resolution to take an international trip in 2010 already! I will now focus on diverting money each month into my depleted travel fund because I plan to take a major trip in the fall, want to make one weekend trip in March for my birthday and another weekend trip in the spring. I'm happy to have trip saving/planning to focus on since winter seems to have hunkered down to stay for a while...