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Personal experience: 10 tips for those who are going on a cruise

We spent on the cruise ship 7 days. Route Galveston (Texas) -Jamaica-Cayman Islands-Cozumel-Galveston. The day before, my husband and I had many questions, I had to interview my friends and call the company a couple of times. But then, having armed ourselves with other people's instructions and having gained personal experience, we ourselves can now call ourselves experts and share tips.

1. Is it worth it to go on a cruise?
We are a young family with a 2 year old child. Week of vacation. We wanted it to be beautiful, inexpensive and no organizational issues this time. And the liner departs from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which is an hour's drive from Houston. In our case, all the components coincided: if you have a port nearby, you do not want to organize anything and just want to relax, then yes, it is worth going on a cruise.

What is “cruise” anyway? This is a journey on a huge ship-city, where there is an endless amount of food, music, events. Where there are friendly neighbors and employees around, the sea and no worries. Eat, sleep, have fun. Go out on the islands from time to time, swim, go on excursions.

Photo by the author

We wanted beautiful, inexpensive and no organizational issues this time. Photo author

2. How to choose a carrier?
Ask your American friends or colleagues. They love to cruise. It turned out that every second of the respondents has been on a cruise several times or is eager to go there and knows a lot of useful information. Choose a company according to your place of residence so that it doesn't turn out that you need to get to the port by plane or with transfers. We chose Carnival, bought on the official website. You can buy on, which often offers tempting bonuses, but you must have an American passport or green card. If you do not have either one or the other yet, you will have to buy directly from the carrier.

For a cruise that has a route with visits to other countries, you must have a passport with a US visa. But only! No other visas are needed if you are sailing from the USA. Passport is checked only when you return back to the USA. In the ports all go on a cruise card, there is no customs.

3. What to take with you?
To be honest, I got into a mess by focusing in my wardrobe on swimwear and everything connected with it. We spent most of the time inside the ship. And it's cold inside - 18-20 Celsius. Do not limit yourself to pareos and light sundresses.

But evening dresses do not forget. For dinner, at least 2-3 times for a cruise you will be asked to come in elegant clothes.
Bathrobes, hair dryer, shampoo, refrigerator in the rooms. Towels can be taken from the ship to the beaches when you make stops on the islands.
Drinks in plastic containers cannot be carried on board, we had to throw out the water. But soda can be served in cans, as well as a bottle of wine / champagne per person. It's definitely worth taking alcohol on board. It is usually not included in all inclusive. But you don't need to take food.

4. Check-in and parking
On the site, you must select the time of registration If possible, take an earlier date. You will rest more. After all, the ship is already at your disposal until the very departure. We managed to see enough of the dolphins and the beauty of the city from the height of the 10th deck, had lunch, slept - and all this before sailing. Increased rest time by half a day.
When you register also do not forget to write the child in the garden.
If you check-in time at one o'clock in the afternoon, then you should come at least in 12. You need to put the car in the parking lot, and you can get to customs by shuttle. With port parking there are no problems. We booked online and paid about $ 10 per day. But even on the spot there will always be free places. If you are not by car and you have to fly to the port, please note that cruise campaigns offer a transfer from the airport. Worth $ 40 per person one way.

5. Which cabin to choose?
The cost of the tour depends on the category of cabins. They are 4 types: without a window, with a window, with a balcony and suites (this is already an apartment). The carrier adds $ 50-100 for each of the options: floor, the ability to select a particular cabin.
We were advised to take the cheapest one, since it is allegedly impractical to spend time in it. But, since we are with a child who sleeps after lunch, we took the cabin, even though the economy version, but with a window on the lower first deck. They did not pay extra for the right to choose a particular cabin. We were given at the very stern. This is considered not the most convenient option - it is better to have the cabin in the center.

But, overall, I am extremely pleased with this choice. Close to the water, you can watch the waves and close to the exits.

In ports, disembarkation starts from the bottom up. We were on land before the rest of the decks.
The service, in terms of housekeeping, is equally excellent on all decks.

6. Is such a holiday suitable for children?
Definitely yes. One kindergarten is worth something. It is possible to leave under the supervision of children from 2 to 12 years old from 10 am to 22 pm. It is possible from 22 pm to 1 am, but for a fee - $ 6,75 per hour.
In the garden, children sing, dance, paint, have fun. If you don't want to leave it in the garden, then the pools, slide, playground on the deck, playrooms are at your service.
7. What to do in the ports?
During the week-long cruise, we visited 3 in different states. Usually arriving at the port in 8: 00, and back to 16: 00. It would seem a whole day. But feel free to subtract 3-4 from this hour. This is the time for landing and landing and the road from the port to the city / beach. Therefore, time is quite short. Decide in advance what you want to see. It is better to move away from the place where tourists gather. Because when residents of poor countries see guests from an American cruise, they try to make the most of them. And they are waiting for ships, as apple dealers at the railway station are waiting for trains with visitors from Sochi.
In relation to the Caribbean destination, I would recommend going on a tour of the island in Jamaica, diving with stingrays in the Cayman Islands, and in Cozumel the sea is beautiful and the city beach is also.

On the ship selling excursions. They cost, on average, $ 60-120 per person. Getting off on the Cayman Islands, we bought the same excursion, as suggested by ship, 30% cheaper.

Photo by the author

There are many bars onboard, 2 large swimming pools, 6 jacuzzis and even a waterslide in the 3 floor height! Photo author

8. What to do on board?
There is where to walk on board (290 meters long after all!). The program of events is very rich, the ship provides a theater and a club for performances, many bars, 2 large swimming pools, 6 jacuzzis and even a water slide with a height of 3 floors! For sports lovers: a fitness room, a sauna with it, volleyball and basketball courts on the deck, covered with a net, a mini-golf course and a circular jogging track on the uppermost deck. Sunbeds are everywhere, and there are always free ones. On the bow of the ship there is a quiet recreation area for adults only: there are soft sun loungers-beds on which it is pleasant to lie and read a book at any time of the day or night. Above the largest pool hangs a huge screen - 5 by 10 meters - on which the latest movies are shown every evening. If you want, then come to the casino: blackjack, poker, roulette, button bandits - everything is there. And, of course, food - the buffet is almost always open, if you wish, you can order a chicken and potatoes directly to your cabin at any time of the day.

9. How much does it all cost?
The website says that a 7-day cruise starts at $ 350 per person. In fact, this, of course, does not include taxes, the presence of a window in the cabin, the floor. This is the bare minimum. Even if you pay 50% of the cost for a child's voucher, taxes will be taken as from an adult. Our taxes were $ 90 per person - that is, an extra 270 bucks on top. Also consider the tip, which will be charged automatically - $ 12 per person per day! We count: 12x7x3 = 252 bucks. At the entrance to the ship, everyone is given a card for payment on board, the tip will be written off from it, and when you leave the ship, you will not be released if there is a minus on the card. The last 2 days there were permanent queues at the card replenishment department - everyone covered the debts on cards.

Photo by the author

Children on a cruise will not be bored. And if the parents want to relax, there is a kindergarten on the ship. Photo by the author

10. Last tip: relax!
The main thing to remember on the cruise was announced by our host at the first meeting: “I want you to forget about everything and vow to have 7 days of full rest! You have already paid for everything! ”.

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