My first time on a cruise ship was in February of 2018. I went with my boyfriend to celebrate our 5-year anniversary, and we both decided to go on a cruise because neither of us had been on one before. We decided to go with an 8-day cruise with Norwegian that would take us to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Ochos Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and finally Cozumel, Mexico. Including the price of flights and the cruise itself, we paid roughly $1500 CAD per person. That total price did not include all of the extra things we had to pay for including airbnb’s, Wi-Fi, excursions and more, which I will get into below. Combining the extra things we had to pay for and the original flight and cruise our grand total per person came out to approximately $2500 CAD. With that being said, here are 5 things you need to know before going on a cruise.
1. Be ready to pay for anything and everything
At first, cruises sound like a dream come true, but there are a lot of things that come at price. For example, on the cruise we were on Wi-Fi was an extra $140 CAD for the duration of our stay, which was the most basic plan. Only one device was allowed to use it at a time, and we only had access to social media websites, and apps such as Instagram, and Facebook. Other things that we had to pay extra for were any alcoholic beverages. Beer started at around $7.90 CAD, and wine started at $9.30 CAD. Now we had the choice to add alcoholic beverages to our cruise plan but we opted out of it just because we felt like we weren’t really interested in drinking during our trip. Also, some of their entertainment such as their “Cirque Dreams” shows was extra. This particular one was $130 CAD per adult and it supposedly mimicked “Cirque De Soleil”, which we were really interested in watching but opted out due to the price. There are some free shows that we did watch though, which were great like their “Burn The Floor” show, which showcased some amazing dancers. All in all, just make sure you have some extra money on deck (hehe get it?) to bring with you so that you can enjoy these extra perks if you want to.
2. Choose which excursions you want to do at each port early
Usually when you first board a cruise they will assign you a section to gather in and staff will then brief you on safety instructions, as well as the excursions that will be available to purchase, and any other important information. It is extremely important to remember that there are limited spots for excursions and you will want to figure out which ones you want to go on really quickly. When we went, we had a basic idea of which ones we wanted to do because we had previously gone on the Norwegian’s website and looked at all of the ones that would be available to choose from. We ended up booking about an hour after the meeting with the staff and had no problem getting a spot, but I wouldn’t wait any longer than 1 day after the cruise has set sail. For reference we chose: “Blue Hole River Tubing With Lunch” in Jamaica, and “Playa Mia Deluxe Beach Break” in Mexico. The first excursion cost us $195 CAD per person, and the second one cost us $150 CAD per person. It’s important to note though that even if you don’t end up doing excursions with the cruise line you can easily find transportation to the nearest beaches at each port. For example, when we arrived at George Town, we took a quick bus ride over to the Seven Mile Beach (which was omg so beautiful) for about $10 CAD. Just be careful and smart when choosing whom you go with.
3. If your cruise has water slides be prepared to hardly go on them
It was actually quite disappointing that we were only able to go on the water slides one day during our trip. This is because most of our “sea days” were very windy and for safety reasons the water slides were closed. Totally understandable, but it did suck if I am being honest. The only time you were guaranteed to go on them was when the ship was at a port, but are you really not going to explore the Bahamas so you can stay back and go on the waterslides? Nah didn’t think so.
4. Choose destinations that you would never go on your own
What I mean by this is although our cruise was fun and we saw some beautiful places, to be honest, we could have gone to each place at a decent price for a week on our own. In my opinion, try to find a cruise that will take you to places that are crazy expensive to go to for a week on your own. For example, the next cruise we will probably go on will be one that goes to all of the Hawaiian Islands, or all of the Greek Islands. Basically the more exotic the ports are, the more you are getting out of your money.
5. Give your uber driver enough time to find where your port is located
Honestly this tip could literally make or break your trip and it almost screwed us when we went on our cruise. Our port was in Port Canaveral however; we were staying at an airbnb in Orlando the night before. By car it takes approximately 45 minutes to get to where we were to the port so we gave ourselves an hour to get there. We thought that it would be enough time but guys omg we almost missed our cruise. Our Uber driver got lost and couldn’t find the port entrance so we were doing circles for about 20 minutes and like I said if he hadn’t figured it out we were definitely going to miss our cruise. So save yourself the stress and give yourself an extra 45 minutes to be on the safe side to get to your port.
EXTRA TIP: Try to find a flight that will allow you to avoid staying the night at a hotel
Unfortunately for us, we had to arrive and depart from our location a day early and a day later. Since our cruise was departing and arriving at noon we were unable to find any flights that would give us enough time to get from the airport to the cruise ship, and from the cruise ship to the airport. This meant we had to add to our total cost of our trip and book an airbnb one night before and after the cruise. Try to find flights that arrive at least 5 hours before your port time and 5 hours after you arrive back to your original port to avoid missing either your cruise or your flight back home. (in some cases though it might be easier to go early and stay the night at an airbnb/hotel)
And that my friend basically wraps up a good chunk of important information you should know before going on a cruise. Overall, my boyfriend and I did have such an amazing time celebrating our 5-year anniversary on a cruise. The food was amazing (our favourite was the “Garden Café”), the ports were beautiful, and our time together was incredible. We definitely learned some important things along the way that we will remember for next time and I hope I was able to provide some important information that you can take before hoping on a cruise. Let me know your thoughts and if you have any tips of your own from your experiences share it in the comment section below.
Until the next adventure,