My first cruise - advice sought!

In a few weeks I will be going on my first cruise. It leaves from Baltimore and stops in Florida and the Bahamas. I am traveling with friends that have been on cruises before, but not in the wintertime. What I’m struggling with is how to prepare to dress on the boat while it’s at sea, before we hit the warm weather. Do I want to bring sweaters as if it’s cold outside, or am I likely to be comfortable in a tee shirt since I don’t imagine I’ll go on deck in those first two travel days? I am an anxious packer as it is, and I need guidance! Thanks in advance!

One big concern on cruise ships is norovirus. Not to scare you but here are some thingsyou can do to reduce your risk.

I presume you’ll be cruising on Royal Caribbean. Even if you don’t plan to go on deck, bring some warm clothing. The doors to the decks get opened and closed all day and you will feel the cool (cold?) breeze as you’re walking up and down the steps in the corridors. Also, your muster station may be outside. If your stateroom has a balcony, you may have occasion to open it. It is not that much of a hassle to bring a few extra pieces of warm-wear, and you may be happy you did.

I’d bring something. Just the ocean mist being kicked up and the speed of the boat in motion is enough to give a chill in pretty much any weather. Normally, however the top decks are walled off so common areas such as the pool decks are usually pretty calm. More unprotected areas, however, can get quite windy.

I would bring a wind breaker or something like that. The weather will vary quite a bit.
Once you get close to Florida, it’ll be t-shirt and shorts weather, most likely - We hit 85 degrees today. Of course, it’ll be cooler in a few weeks.

So yeah…I’d plan for some cold days, and some really nice days. But you can typically get anywhere you need to by staying inside, if that’s your preference.

Advice: Don’t be late getting back to the boat after excursions. The boat waits for no one.

Bring some warm clothing, because going out on a nearly deserted deck is fun.

Yes you can get sick, but you can get sick anywhere. Cruises are kind of paranoid in making people use hand cleaners before going into eat. I’ve been on five and have only gotten sick once - but that was from Greece in the cold rain, nothing from the ship.

And have fun.

They nail you on the cost of drinks. If you plan on even a moderate amount of drinking, it’s worth it to smuggle your own aboard.

People always say this but it is not true. The Captain will hold the ship a reasonable amount of time after the scheduled departure for late-returning passengers.

This is bad and potentially devastating advice to give someone. Yes, the drinks on board are somewhat overpriced but if you know you are going to have alcoholic beverages more than simply occasionally, then you should consider a drinks package, which will lower your costs.

Many cruise lines have strict policies regarding smuggling alcoholic beverages aboard and increasingly effective measures for detecting smuggled contraband. If caught, a passenger can suffer confiscation, which would be a best case scenario, fines, and, in some cases, ejection from the ship.

This guy was caught with a fifth of tequila on my last cruise.

Have a look at the cruise critic forum, you will find the answer for every question, and more.

Can someone tell me how to put the link in a highlighted word please?

Here’s how to create an embedded link that refers to the website

Here’s an example of an <>embedded link</url>.

(But instead of ‘<’ and ‘>’, use ‘[’ and ‘]’.)

Use Cruise Critic with your eyes fully open and mind fully engaged. They have a tendency to remove posts and delete whole threads if they contain either too much negative information, factual or not, or too much criticism of a cruise line or its practices, warranted or not, Costa Concordia notwithstanding. There’s information certain cruise lines don’t want put out for public consumption, or emphasized, and Cruise Critic toes that line.

The above stated, Cruise Critic is a very good resource for cruising information. Just don’t go in believing you will get the whole story on controversial issues.

Cruise critic was a great source of information for me when planning our first cruise last year.

Keep in mind that everything expressed there is a single persons opinion but when reading them all you can get a pretty good sense of what to expect. There are roll call forums so you can connect with people who are actually going to be on your sailing.

I would definitely bring a sweater and a windbreaker so you’ve got options as you move around the ship. At this time of year you also need to understand that although warm sunny days are normal for the Caribbean they are not guaranteed and you may find a use for that sweater after the sun goes down even when you’re there.

Cruise Critic is a good resource to get an idea of what’s going on on your ship and for notices about little things that you should try (or avoid).

I’ve not been on the ships out of Baltimore, but I assume the shows are fairly similar to the ships out of Boston. There is one stage show (Broadway to West End, or something like that) that is… um… unique. It is terrifically bad. So much so that on our second Royal Caribbean cruise we absolutely had to see it again!

The food on the ship is good, not great, but good. My tip would be to try one of the up charge restaurants on the first night. In my experience, the first night in the main dining room is very very slow. It kind of makes sense since all the waiters need to greet everyone and make a bit of small talk (and try to sell wine packages). Also, for some reason, most people avoid the up charge restaurants on the first night, so if you do go on the first night, you get great service.

Now I’m jealous. Have a great trip!

I went on my first ocean cruise this year (I had done a Nile cruise a couple years ago, and there are some similarities, but really a lot of differeneces). It turns out that cruises aren’t my style of vacation, to each their own really. But having said that, it was still a good time. Here are my suggestions based on my one cruise (maybe more experienced cruisers can amend these):

  1. Pack motion sickness items. I get motion sickness just reading a paragraph in a moving car so I got Dramamine before I left. It wasn’t just the slight rocking of the boat, it was that our view was just above the waterline and there was enough bobbing that could’ve caused a problem. I ended up being fine though.

  2. Dress in layers. It’s easier and allows you more variety. Pack a similar color/style so you can mix and match as needed.

  3. Get your budget in mind. Understand that, depending on the ship, there are lots of extras that are not really known in advance. Are you OK drinking water for the whole trip or do you want a soft drink package? Or an alcohol package? Even for those who get the all-you-can-drink special, it can mean long waits to get to the bartender. Then there are tips and excursions and more tips. There are also things like casinos and photos that will add up more money. And tips.

  4. Make all communications at the ports while you can. Calling from the ship is really expensive.

  5. Manage your expectations with regards to the food. The regular restaurants were buffet style and the fancy restaurants were waiter served. Most of the food I had was pretty basic food that was not adventurous. (That’s the nice way of saying bland.)

  6. Bring something to do. Yes, the ship is full of lots of things like eating or sitting by the pool and eating, or walking back and forth to the room between eating. I brought a couple books and some board games that saved the cold and rainy afternoon at sea.

  7. Pack some earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. There are some long hallways and there are some rooms right by the elevators. If you’re in a room by the elevator, you’ll probably experience a noisier time.

  8. Expect lines boarding and exiting the ship. These are floating cities with narrow people funnels.

It is true:

Make sure that the lifeboat drills are done. look at what happened on the “Titanic”-wear warm clothing if your ship hits an iceberg!:smiley:

Your videos aside, I can tell you from personal experience on more than one cruise line that ships will hold for a reasonable amount of time, at captains’ discretion of course, for late returnees from excursions.