When Royal Caribbean asked me to join them on the inaugural sailing of their new ship, Symphony of the Seas, I pretty much said yes right away. I had never been on a cruise before and I needed to see what this #cruiselife was all about. The experience was awesome, so as a first-timer, I wanted to share the top 5 things I learned on my first cruise.
1. Cruising is a lifestyle
Call me naive, but I had no idea how much cruising is a lifestyle. People had their routines DOWN. I, on the other hand, certainly didn’t. Here are a few things I realized fairly quickly:
- Your SeaPass card is your key to EVERYTHING. It’s your ticket on and off the ship, how you pay for everything on board, and the key to your room. Bring it everywhere. Don’t lose it.
- To drink package or to not drink package. It’s pricey but if you’re looking to get saucy on your cruise, it’s worth it. There are some decent wines by the glass included as well as any fresh juices. It made my cruise experience a lot more enjoyable not having to worry about how much each little thing cost.
- Formal night is not required. While some folks are super into formal night, it’s just not my thing so I didn’t bring a gown. There were two formal nights on the ship, so those nights I booked a dinner reservation in a restaurant rather than eating in the dining room.
2. Get your bearings
If I haven’t already hit it home, the Symphony of the Seas is pretty big so I recommend exploring as soon as you board. Get to know which side (port or starboard) and end (forward or aft) of the ship your room is on. This is will save you LOADS of time.
Also, take a couple laps around the ship and get to know the different places where you can get water, coffee or anything else you might want. (Again, this is where the juice comes into play for me. Getting some fresh ginger and apple juice was so key.)
3. Book dinner reservations
This is a no-brainer for me on most trips, but I had no idea this was a thing on a cruise ship. Seriously. The Symphony of the Seas has some pretty amazing restaurants, so as soon as I realized my mistake and ran to the phone and called every restaurant to see if I can get a late dinner. I lucked out in most cases, but for me, the early dinners are a bummer, so I was pretty happy when I could get one around 8 p.m. This give me plenty of time to freshen up after my day exploring the port city.
4. Do your research
Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, was sailing around the Mediterranean leaving from Barcelona and visiting ports in Palma, Marseilles, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Naples. They had me at cruise, but with these ports, there was no way I could say no.
The best thing I could do to prepare was to do some research on each port city ahead of time. I opted to go on a Shore Excursion every day, and with only a short amount of time to explore each city, the only way I would be able to see what I wanted to was to organize everything. Whether that’s saving posts on Instagram or on a Google Map (or both!), I made sure I knew what I wanted to see, eat and do before I even boarded the ship.
5. Enjoy every minute
It’s kind of awesome to visit a new city or country every day and not have to do a lot of heavy lifting, so enjoy every minute of your cruise. Unpack when you get on board, go rock climbing, surf a wave, catch a show, grab a cocktail, have a bite to eat, and wake up fresh, ready to explore a new place – every day.