Help! I'm going on a cruise!!

OK - Ms Damn Mr Damn and the whole Damn family are going on a cruise next month - brothers, sisters, parents, grandkids, spouses, etc.

This is to celebrate the parents 50th anniversary.

Help! I’ve never been on ANY boat but a small ferry. What should I expect? What should I pack?

And more important, what should I NOT do so I don’t look like a total noob?

May I recommend packing A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace?

You should expect excessive amounts of food.

What to pack will depend on the cruise line. They range from casual (Carnival) to very dressy (Holland America). One thing you’re sure to need is lots of money.

Have fun. The more you exercise, the more you can eat!

One thing that kind of suprised me was the dinner situation. If you eat in the dining room for supper, clothing was always semi-formal. That wasn’t too much of a problem for myself as was able to barely sneak by with docker-type pants and a nice shirt… I felt slightly under-dressed but screw 'em. Other men wore suits. However, Mrs. Bernse had to buy a dress in Antigua as she only packed one “nice” one and was getting self-consious of wearing the same dress after two nights.

As per money - that really depends on the individual and their drinking/buying habits. My bar tab after our 7 day cruise was only $80US. I didn’t buy anything else on board. I bought a box of cigars in St. Maartan and some t-shirts on the other islands. I think I spent maybe $300 in total, including the booze.

If you’re one that likes to shop and buy souveniers and get suckered in on the photos on board, it’s easy to spend a lot of scratch.

Where is the cruise going? Which line?

Something else about the dinner situation. There was a formal night. Black tie affair and evening gowns for the ladies. I didn’t even know about it until we were on the ship. From what I understand, it is a fairly common practice on cruise ships as well. If you have a Tux, you may want to pack it.

However, most cruises now have 24 hour food of some sort, so you can do away with the dining room altogether if you so wish.

We’re going on the Big F***** Boat - Carnival Conquest - I think around 3000 passengers.

It’s out of New Orleans. So no matter what happens, at least I got New Orleans out of it.

They promise me the boat is big enough that I can “get lost” if necessary.

Food sounds fun, but is there anything else to do - casinos and I don’t mix well and I can’t be in the sun because of prescriptions.

Look up the boat on Expedia. It will give descriptions of each deck. You should not find your self bored on a cruise ship. :slight_smile:

They should be sending you a big folder full of information and other crap.

When I last took a Carnival cruise back in the late 80’s, we had at least 1 formal dinner night per 5 days. The other nights were nice pant or dress IIRC.

My recent experience was on Holland America, so I’ll share it strictly as background that may apply.

We had 2 formal nights, 4 nice nights, and 3 casual, I think. It meant quite a bit of extra packing, which kinda sucked. Especially for the men.

Your room steward is your freind and personal valet. Cleaning, laundry, special requests- give them all to him and he will make it so. Be sure and tip him well at the end of your cruise. The maid too.

There is usually a spa onboard, if you want any treatments on sea days make the appointments the second you get on the boat, otherwise you will miss out. Appts are easier to get on good port days, when most people will be off the ship.

You will be able to eat just about anything you want, at any time. Enjoy or restrain yourself, depending on your situation. Usually, the dining room selection can also be delivered for in-room dining.

Take a few port tours. They are usually led by competant guides and you will get to see a bit of the local stuff.

International cruises mean duty-free shopping. Go for it, the savings are significant. iF you are in St. Thomas, I highly recommend Irish linen, Bay Rum aftershave, perfume, etc. Booze and cigarettes are very cheap duty-free if you or someone you know indulges. Read the Customs information provided by the cruise line very carefully BEFORE you shop to avoid paying a duty on overages when you return to the US.

Most newer ships have a wide range of activities. Check out the daily schedule which should be delivered to your stateroom each night. There are also movie theaters and in-stateroom cable.


You should have a blast! You mention that you’re on some prescriptions, so take this for whatever it’s worth: you may get seasick, so it might be worthwhile to arrange for some motion-sickness medication, like Dramamine. My honeymoon was a cruise, and I got mildly seasick-- I’d feel like absolute crap every morning, but be fine within an hour or two of getting on land. Certainly didn’t ruin or impede anything, but it would have been nice to avoid that entirely.

You might want to check out the thread on IMHO on this same topic.

OOOOooo Thank you!

I rarely go in IMHO - heading there now…

Let me know if you’re headed to Trinidad on the boat.

Sneak on your own booze. They royally screw you for ALL DRINKS!! (yes, that includes soda) I pirated on a twelver at each port, kept em on ice and had a wonderful trip.

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

I’ll second that. And just skip to the title story once you’re on board.

Thanks all!

And I’ve order the book on Amazon!!

Check out this site:
Cruise Opinions

You’ll get some pretty good opinions from people who have recently cruised on your boat.

My advise is, smuggle a bottle of your favorite adult flavoring, and take advantage of the free soft drinks.

Concerning the free soft drinks…

nope - not on Carnival

And as of February, you aren’t allowed to bring soft drinks on board either.

So… Now I’m smuggling both hard and soft drinks.



My wife and I just returned from a 7 day honeymoon cruise on Carnival from Tampa to the Caymans, Cozumel, New Orleans and back. It is VERY nice, and you can make the trip as cheap or expensive as you would like.

If you look at the itinerary, any day that the the ship is “At Sea” vs. being in port, will usually be a “formal” dinner, but that is no big deal. On Carnival, formal merely means a tie, and dinner jacket. I had packed neither one, so I simply wore slacks and a polo style shirt. They didn’t even blink at me once.

You can eat 24x7. They will assign you a dining room, and early or late seating for all meals. A piece of advice for any meal: If you don’t care for something, or want to try something else in addition to your meal, DON’T hesitate to tell your waiter. He will bring you exactly what you want, and as much as you like of it. Try the 24 hour pizza parlor, too! I thought it was even better than Dominos or the other chains.

Sneaking on liquor: Yep, done that too! If you like vodka or clear booze, take a six pack of large bottled water and empty out the two center bottles. Refill with clear alky and reseal. Place this in your carry on luggage. We went through 2 metal detectors, but did not see any bag searches taking place. Being an Irish Whiskey guy myself, I took a 1.75 liter bottle of the brown Listerine, emptied the bottle, cleaned it out thoroughly, and refilled it with Jamesons. It worked quite nicely.

As far as ports of call, I don’t obviously know where you are putting in, except for New Orleans, so I will give you a recommendation for a very nice club, called “Howl at the Moon”. Dueling pianos, and a lot of fun. Bourbon Street is a unique and interesting place. It has a smell uniquely its’ own.


Oh, one thing that I forgot to mention: They don’t tell you about the soft drink card, so you HAVE to ask for it. $25 per person, and they will give you a card that will allow you to have all the soft drinks you would like, for the whole trip. If you are smart, buy one card for every two people, then have that person “buy” the drinks.


Thank you very much O! Very good suggestions. Is there anything that you wish you had remembered to take with you? (I’m going to wal-mart and I’m making a list)