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Surprises That Await You

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For first time cruisers there are many things which are going to surprise you.

Whether you arrive at the port by bus, shuttle, or private vehicle, when you first arrive dockside, to see your ship, the first surprise is just how big that ship looks. And it doesn’t matter if you’re sailing on a smaller vessel, or one the ultra mega ships, the first sighting can’t help but impress you. You first sighting can’t help but impress you, and further build your excitement and anticipation.

Once you’ve completed the check in process, and crossed the gangway, you’re first glance at the ship’s interior will be a WOW moment. Once again, it’s hard not to be impressed, looking around and realizing this is not a hotel, or a building, but a ship that is going to transport you through the water to distant ports.

Shortly after that, you’re going to enter your cabin. And, unless you’ve booked one of the top suites on board you’re going to be surprised at just how small your cabin is. Standard cabins measure anywhere from 150 sq. ft. to 250 sq. ft. Mini-suites may be around 340 sq. ft. So your living space on the ship may be about the size of your bedroom at home, and that space will include the bathroom, closet space, sitting area, and sleeping area. Some of that area serves duel purposes (no you won’t be sleeping in the closet).

Perhaps the most surprising thing about your cabin will be just how easily you’ll adapt to living in and enjoying that space!

The other thing that is really going to surprise you is just how many times you are going to “lose your cabin”; that is if you’re at all like me,  directionally challenged. I just walk around like I know where I am going, and often end up on the wrong end of the ship, or on the wrong side of the ship. I refer to this as my excercise program (eliminating the need for gym visits).

And when exiting the cabin, there is at least a 60% chance I’m going to turn the wrong way; in the opposite direction of the place I am trying to go to. I’m betting that most of you are inflicted with the same directional disease (well, maybe not the women).

When you first see the ship’s main dining areas (the main restaurants, and the buffet area) you are going to be surprised at just how big they are, and the large variety of food available. Once you’re done being surprised by that, and find out about the other alternate facilities where food is available – like pizzarias, poolside grills and alternate restaurants – you’re likely to go from surprised to impressed.

If you haven’t researched in advance, you may be surprised that some of those alternate restaurants require you pay an extra “service fee” if you choose to dine in them. Often you’ll find that meals served, and the service offered in these restaurants that do charge an extra fee, are equivalent to dining in restaurants at home where it might cost you $50 -$75 per person, and on board you are paying somewhere around half that cost.

A very pleasant surprise, if you don’t already know, is room service is generally free (include in the fare you’ve already paid for your cruise).  There are a few exceptions, like some ships which charge a small fee for very late night room service delivery. You can inform yourself of any exceptions by reading the ship’s daily newsletter which is left in your cabin each evening.

It is possible to take all your meals on the ship without paying anything extra, above what you’re already paid for the cruise.  I do however recommend budgeting for the extra expenses, so you can take advantage of all the variety offered on the ship.

While on the subject of budgeting, the biggest surprise on board may be just how many opportunities the cruise line will give you to separate yourselves from your money. Let’s face it, their job is to encourage you to spend!

Drinks (alcohol, soft drinks/sodas, specialty coffees) can quickly inflate the final amount you spend on board. If you consume a lot, don’t be surprised when your final statement is much larger than you accounted for.

Do not expect that you’ll be paying liquor store or grocery store prices! You should expect to pay the equivalent of prices similar to what you would at a land based restaurant/bar/lounge.

Consuming without consideration for costs will lead you to one of the most unpleasant surprises possible; spending much more than what you budgeted for.

There are many more surprises that await you than I can include in one article. And I can assure you many are far more pleasant surprises than negative ones.

One thing that should definitely not surprise you is after you’ve been on your first cruise, chances are very high that you’re going to have a strong desire to go on your next one!

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Mike Mastellar
Time April 3, 2013 at 8:22 am

There isn’t too much that surprises me anymore. You really can spend as much, or as little, as you want when you are on board. I’ve found that I spend less now then I did a number of years ago. After a few cruises you no longer buy the photographs, fewer cocktails and shop purchases. However, I do find that I frequent the additional charge restaurants more, even though, on some lines, they have gone up considerably.

BTW: Let me know where I can find one of those 340 square foot “mini-suites”. 😉

Comment from Bob
Time April 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

Another surprise fro many is that you can buy package liquor aboard or on shore but don’t get it until the end of the cruise.

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