Sometimes when you mention you are going on a cruise people look at you and say ‘Oh nice, I couldn’t be trapped on a boat’. Some people are initiated with larger cruise ships and think the number of people who will be on the ship would be overwhelming and that they would get bored between ports. To me that is not the case and its a different type of vacation than my norm.
Starting Your Vacation
The cruising experience is easy from the start when you board at the Port of Miami. You first drop your luggage with the handlers who will ensure your bags make it on the ship and to your room. If you download and use the Royal Caribbean app you can check-in and get your boarding documents. You just have to walk up to the guest services where you show your boarding documents and they take your picture to associate with you card which is your everything on the ship. Once you get your picture taken, you go through security (just like the airport) then go through the gangway to board the ship.
When you first board the ship you cannot go directly to your state room but you can go anywhere on the ship and explore. Most bars and restaurants are open so you can get something to eat and drink as you wait to get into your room which is usually around 1. On our last cruise we head up to deck 8 and sat in Park Cafe in Central Park. Since we had breakfast before we boarded the ship so I just when for a light snack of fruit and water. Yes if you want alcohol, soft drinks, or speciality coffee drinks (aka Starbucks) that is extra. You can get drink packages for the week at a flat price and get a drink card, but if you don’t drink a lot of alcohol or soft drinks it may not be worth it to buy the package and just pay a la cart during the week. Water and iced tea is available at no extra charge.
Once you can go to your room you will receive your room key which also doubles as your credit card on board. This card is attached to the credit card is linked to this card so if you want to purchase a drink, make a purchase in a store you use this card. You luggage may also be sitting outside of your statement at this time. You usually have until 4 o’clock before you have your muster drill so you can wander the ship and get yourself acquainted, unpack, or lay by the pool. You will be called for the muster drill and your card will indicate the section you are in. Just follow the signs to where you need to go. Once muster is done you are then you will then leave port to start your vacation!
If you have scheduled dining time for the dining room the first night is usually casual so you can wear the clothes you boarded the ship. The first night in the dining room you will meet your waiter and assistant waiter for the week, the manager of your dining room manager, and the head manager. If you have any special requests for your meals for the week this is night to do this. Each night you will have a different menu at dinner so you will have choices and you can order as little or as much as you would like – if you want appetizer, entree, and dessert go for it – want to try 2 appetizers, no problem! If you don’t want to eat in the dining room you have other options – the windjammer which is buffet style, Sorrento’s which is pizza, Johnny Rockets (which is additional cost), or a speciality restaurant(s).
The Allure of the Seas has several speciality restaurants (for additional cost) that you can try include:
- Giovanni’s Table – Italian
- Izumi – Sushi/Japanese
- Samba Grill – South American Steak House
- Chops Grill – Steakhouse
Just like a drink package you can also get a speciality dining package if there is more than one restaurant you would like during your week. If you just want to try one restaurant one night you can do that as well.
For your other meals during the day you have several options through the ship. For breakfast you can hit up the Windjammer, dining room, the Solarium, Johnny Rockets, Park Cafe, and some speciality restaurants. There are some places you can stop for a sweet treat, such as the Boardwalk Donut Shop on the Allure of the Seas. For lunch you have all of the same as breakfast options as well as the Promenade and Sorrento’s. As you can see – you will not go hungry while onboard!
Usually the attire on cruise ships is casual – shorts, bathing suits, coverups, etc. are acceptable during the day. At night – things are a little different. The dining room discourages shorts at dinner and encourages ‘smart casual’. You may be thinking what is that? Well, think sundresses, jumpsuits, khaki’s, polo shirts. Usually there is at least one formal night. Gentlemen, think tuxedos, suits. Woman, think cocktail dresses, evening gowns.
There is entertainment everywhere you turn all throughout the ship. During the day you can find contests on the pool deck, bingo in the main theater, arts and crafts, and many more. At night there are just as many options – check out a show at the main theater. This could be a production of Mama Mia, a movie, or a special headline act. During the week you can also catch a comedy act or an ice show. On a larger Royal Caribbean ship you can also catch an aqua show with Olympic level divers and acrobats. And don’t forget the family fun you can have on the Boardwalk on ships like the Allure of the Seas.
If your looking for something a little more lively, you can go to the dance club, piano bar for a little sing along or catch a jazz trio. If you want something on the quieter side grab a book and take a seat in the library. If you’re feeling like a card shark or want to hear the musical sounds of slot machines check out the casino.
If your pleasure is window shopping or finding a perfect souvenir walk along the Promenade and check out the shops that line the deck. You can find stores such as Kate Spade and Coach.
The most important thing to remember about cruising is – Sit back, relax, and enjoy!