I can already hear the groans. But I just came off a four night cruise down to Mexico and I can’t stop buzzing from the ride. Royal Caribbean has been our drug of choice for our last several trips. You can call me a convert. Took over three decades of protest before I boarded one of these magnificent sea monsters. Yeah, well, took one trip and I fell under their spell. So, I’m here now to educate you cynical masses. Follow these 10 rules and discover a floating world for travel, fun and relaxation.
Rule Number 1: Surrender to the cruise
Whatever your preconceived notions are, ditch ‘em. Not because you’re wrong, but because you’re right. Yes, it’s corny. Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, you can irrationally feel like you might jump overboard. Cruising is all those things you’re thinking of. And the sooner you give in to those cheesy queasy feelings, the sooner the out and out beauty of cruise life will reveal itself. But you must, you must, you must get out of your own way and push past every silly impulse you may feel. Lay down your onshore personality and give yourself over to the spirit of the sea.
Rule Number 2: Acceptance
Let’s start with little kid passengers. Scratch that. Let’s start with little kid passenger parents. Unfortunately, you can’t blame them for the auditory nuisance their offspring produce. If I had it my way, no cruise would allow aboard a human life form younger than, say, 30 years old. Bottomline, if they need a stroller, they need to stay home. Cruises are no place for kids we had no say in bringing into this world. So know, going in, a 5 year old’s sharp wail will ruin that climatic emotional moment during the Broadway medley show. When you hear it, though, take a deep breath and remind yourself of one thing: That kid’s not yours. And the casino’s adult only.
Rule Number 3: Indulgence
Forget your dietary restrictions. Forget your anxieties about karaoke. Forget your prejudices about what people look like (especially in their bathing suits). Indulge every chance you get. If that means a mid morning nap, do it. If that means a mid afternoon nap, do it. If that means spending the whole day in your cabin, do it. The nominal fee for room service is a small price to pay. Best deal of the day. We’re talkin’ about 10 bucks tip included for your pick of the litter (on RCL). Don’t hold back, either. Throw your weight around. Order both sides of the menu. But leave your plates outside your door in phases. Call it the room service walk of shame.
Rule Number 4: Use the stairs
Offset your well-earned increased caloric intake by forgoing the elevators altogether. Theirs a price to pay for the free buffet. And you can combat it with a little calisthenic artillery. Use the stairs, yes. But also go for some walks. Explore. People watch. Talk shit about the people you’re watching to your spouse and/or traveling partner while you cross the ship. It’s loud. No one will hear you. Have at it. Just get your steps in. Stop for some sun. Sit for a smoke. Then walk it back up. I did a side by side health app step comparison. Cruise legs vs Home legs. 10 to 1. That’s 10k to 1k. Your post-cruise body will thank you.
Rule Number 5: Take a taxi
Excursions are expensive. Scope out the landscape first. Decide what you want out of your port. And give your money to the locals. They’ll take care of you for a fraction of the price. Blow past the tourist traps. Get to the heart of things. Cash is king. Treat yourselves like royalty. And save a few dollars for your post-cruise Uber. Now I will admit, there are exceptions to avoiding the excursion. Taking a taxi is a mentality. And sometimes you will have to change up your thinking. This is no one size fits all. Do your homework. Make the call.
Rule Number 6: Under-pack on your cruise
Like I’m gonna under-write this section. Simply put: Don’t take too much. I wore the same pair of socks four nights straight. Nary a bad whiff off ‘em. Plus you buy stuff so leaving room in your suitcases will only benefit your night-of packing. Bringing your bags onboard is also a good idea. The more control you have over what you have, the more freedom bells ring (and the earlier you get on and off your ship.)
Rule Number 7: Visit the ‘sino
This is where it gets tricky. Play your slots right and these cruising companies reward you. Offer after offer for trip after trip will arrive in your inboxes and mail boxes. Forgo the ticket fees, just pay the taxes, and save yourselves a truck full of moolah. But you gotta play. And the real score, play as long as you can, with the least amount of money. Stretch that $20 with 30 cent bets and you too will be inundated with the same trip taking offer flyers we are. It’s like Christmas every time we relieve our over stuffed mailbox of these things.
Rule Number 8: Don’t drink too much
First things first, it’s expensive. Whether you buy the drink package or pay out of pocket, this is easily a financial leak. Make those drinks you do have, moments. Memorable moments. Secondly, hangovers steal away your time. Time in your best condition. It robs you of big laughs because your head hurts too much. It takes a toll on your body so you’re less likely to leave the cabin when you planned to. And third, you drink the whole year round anyway. Do something different. Treat yourself different. You can always go back to your functioning alcoholic ways back onshore. And if you just have to, you’re allowed one bottle of wine per cabin. That should get your boozy necessity a’bubblin’.
Rule Number 9: Food is what you make it on the cruise
Really, they make it. But the sentiment remains the same. You’ve got mad options. So, forgive me, this rule may take a while. And a paragraph break. Okay. For me, I remain of the fickle variety. I’ve been a fervent buffet frequenter to a dining hall, three course aristocrat. Freestyle dining is your best bet. And they won’t prevent you from making reservations for the next night. Same table, same waiter. There’s something joyous about no matter how many people you’re with, always meeting for dinner. You know, in a proper way. Wearing socks. Winding down the day together. The food is made to order. A huge incentive. Dress the part, dammit. You will encounter people completely ignoring the dress code. I’m talking backwards hats. Cargo shorts. And flip flops. Feel for them. For they know not how they look. Or walk upright. Don’t be shy. Order every damn thing you wanna try. No one will judge you. Especially not me. I’m a card carrying Windjammer member of the pro-buffet party. Ridiculed, yes. The oft-maligned too-stuffed majority. But the thrill of empty platting around each station before going back to your decided dishes is the thing of delectable dreams. Damned if I don’t dig the chaos of the whole set-up. And unlike the dining hall, you’re 99% guaranteed a spot by the window plus some much better tunes to eat to. See what I’m saying? But two heads of the same coin, really. I didn’t even get into the special dining. Those ritzy veneered entrances positioned around the ship. And I won’t. Cuz they’re bullshit. Gotta fork over a lot of flow to use their forks. ::curtsy::
Rule Number 10: Screw all things FOMO
See, that’s the whole thing about cruising. You don’t ever have to get to everything the ship offers. What you don’t do this time, do next time. Even though I’m on a horrible streak. The elusive soft serve ice cream cone. I’ve seen it in videos. I’ve been feet away from the actual distribution station. But after a half a dozen trips I still have gone without this free amenity. This sweet swirled miracle. The point is, if it’s raining, and you don’t wanna get soaked walking to your present port’s town, don’t worry, you’ll come back. That’s part of the lifestyle. Never having to say goodbye.
… the whole cruising life is a la carte. From your food to your view, the beauty is you get to choose. I don’t know about you, but when I’m onshore, my choices diminish at every turn. But when I’m out there. Out there on that smoke billowing sea dwelling village of a vessel, choice is the sea air we breathe. And quite frankly, I find nothing cheesy or queasy about it. Now, these were just the first 10 rules. Like this article and I’ll publish the next 10. Til then… Ahoy, you land dwelling cruise life deniers!