Saturday, April 15, 2017

5 Tips for First Time Cruisers

In my last post, I mentioned we took a cruise and had a little misadventure in Puerto Vallarta.

This week, I thought I'd share a few of the highlights of our trip, in the form of general tips for any other first time cruisers out there. Because I don't mind getting laughed it.

I know you're thinking, "All right already with the damn cruise!" This is my last cruise post, I promise.

1.  Proofread any texts sent during the sail away party.

The sail away is a big deal. It's when you first pull away from the starting port and everyone is up on deck, all excited and happy (and 7 pounds lighter than when we dock a week later) at the thought of a responsibility-free week filled with food, fun, and adventure.

And booze. Don't forget the booze.

Aren't the anti-barf bands I'm wearing on my wrists sexy?

I was just starting on my second of the above pictured cocktail when the DJ started playing the song We Are Family by Sister Sledge. So of course I thought of my family back home and decided it was a good time to share my buzz joy with them and let them know how much fun it would be if we all went on a cruise together.

This is what I sent:

My auto-correct is a lot more fun than I am.

That was supposed to say, "It's making me miss you guys," and not imply I wanted to get naked and honk things.

So, my future cruisers, enjoy the sail away party, but... proofread.

2.  Be adventurous and try new foods and drinks.

A cruise is the perfect place to try new foods because there is so. much. food. And it's all free. So, when I saw Escargot on the menu in the dining room one night, I decided to try it.

I'm not sure if I would have been so intrepid if the little slitherers were still in their shells, but fortunately, these were de-shelled already.

Here's how that went:

Honestly? They tasted pretty good, but it's hard to forget the fact that they're snails. So, once was enough for me.

Then there is my husband, who's idea of "trying something new" is to dip his fries in ranch instead of catsup. Needless to say, he wouldn't try the snails.

But I have to give him props - he was a good sport in my endeavor to find an alcohol he might like.

In case I haven't mentioned it before - Fred's not a drinker. Not because he's on the wagon, but just because he's never found an alcohol he likes the taste of. So, because I wanted someone to commiserate with in my debauchery, it became my mission on the cruise to help him find a drink he liked.

Turns out, margaritas are probably his least favorite:

In the end, guess which drink he actually ordered two of?

That's it...come over to the drinking side, my pretty!

A strawberry daiquiri - probably the least manly drink there is. Go figure.

3.  Read the ship's newsletter so you don't miss important events.

There's all sorts of fun activities and shows happening throughout the day and evening on a cruise. They list them all in a daily newsletter and deliver it each night to your room so you can plan out the next day accordingly.

I liked to circle the must-dos, like this:

Don't judge me - drinks are generally $8 - $10 a pop.

4.  Don't feel pressure to engage in every activity.

Aside from Happy Hour, there are dances, games, competitions, classes, and loads of other things to do on a cruise. They try pretty hard to keep everyone entertained.

But sometimes you just want to chill out, and that's perfectly okay too. This was our favorite thing to do during the day:

Aren't we the exciting pair?

5.  Things may not go as planned, so roll with the punches.

Remember how our hike in Puerta Vallarta didn't go quite as planned? I'm happy to say that our next two port visits went much better, although they did have their own surprises.

Oh, Mazatlan, what do you have in store for us?

In Mazatlan we visited Stone Island where we decided to kayak.

FYI - the ocean isn't a good place to learn to kayak. Or maybe the two of us are just too uncoordinated to figure out how to use the paddles in sync, stay upright, and battle the waves all at the same time.

I was optimistic we could figure it out, but Fred had his doubts after he slipped getting into the kayak and then couldn't sit up and was flailing on his back like a panicked bug until the attendant righted him.

When the first wave hit us, we were supposed to paddle together and ride the wave out to sea - or a few feet from shore, at least.

Instead, we immediately flipped over.

Fred declared kayaking done.

So instead we rode a banana boat. Have you ever ridden a banana boat? It's a long raft shaped like a banana that you sit on (one in front of the other), with a handle to hold onto. Several people can ride at once. The raft is attached to a speedboat with a long rope and you're pulled through the water.

This worked well because there was absolutely nothing required of us, other than to hang on tight. And surprisingly, that, we managed.

In Cabo San Lucas we looked forward to a tour in a glass-bottom boat.

Let me just tell you that the advertisement used the word "glass-bottom" a bit loosely. Yes there was some glass and yes it was in the bottom of the boat. But it was more like a small glass window that, if it weren't being used as a storage box and were clean, we may have been able to see out of it - bottomed boat.

But no matter, because we had the option of having the tour guide drop us off at a little secluded beach to snorkel and swim for a couple hours so we did that instead of finishing out the tour. And that was heavenly.

That's our cruise ship in the distance. We figured if the tour guide didn't come back to get us, we could always swim for it.

My point is...even if excursions don't go exactly as planned, be open to alternatives and laugh about the negatives. Because, hey, a bad day on a cruise is still better than a good day at home. Well, unless it's the Titanic...or Norovirus...but you get my drift (no pun intended).

This post is a loose interpretation of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt to share a spring break memory. I figured the cruise was our little break and it was in the spring, so...

Hey, if the glass-bottom boat guys can do it, so can I!

There's a lot of stuff to learn about cruising. Here's 5 things we learned on our first cruise that might help somebody else (laugh).

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