Hi there, I've been reading these boards for about 6 months in preparation for my first cruise and I learned so much! I had the best experience and totally enjoyed all aspects of the cruise. My best advice to new cruisers is to do a bit of homework (via these boards) and then relax and enjoy. The biggest thing I noticed (via the "cruise grips" board) is that some people will complain about everything. I even saw that on the cruise - people complaining about the silliest things. Relax and enjoy yourself. Don't expect things to be perfect - some people will be rude, some things will take too long, and some things will not work out, but if you go in knowing that these things will happen, you won't be disappointed and they really won't bother you at all. By the way, we went on the non-smoking Paradise and it was AWESOME! No smoke anywhere - so nice to go on deck or to the bar and not have any smoke. If any of you are non-smokers, I highly recommend it. If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them, but unfortunately, only through the boards (personal email at home is not working right now). Happy cruising all!
Glad to hear you had a good time. Most everyone does.
I'd like to add to the advice for first timers. The above post is right on. Relax, and forget about the little annoyances. What I remember about my first cruise was packing a bunch of fine clothes. I was under the impression people would be dressed in nicer outfits even during the day roaming about the ship. I remember wishing I had packed some regular shorts and T shirts.
Donna, now that I've been on the Paradise, it will be really hard to consider another ship with smoke (I'm allergic and get quite ill around any smoke). So, now that I;ve done the Paradise Western, I guess my only other option is Paradise Eastern. But, the eastern itinerary didn't really appeal to me - seems like it's the same ports that everyone goes to (the reason I liked the Western one was because it was different with Belize and Roatan). Although I'm dying to go again, not sure I want the eastern route and don't think I can go on a smoking ship, so I may have to wait a while (I won't be able to afford it again for a while anyway).
Also, in response to Thomas' comments on dress code, I completely agree. I took way too many dress clothes for dinner (other than formal nights, everyone wore jeans in the dining room!). Take casual clothes for daytime and evening, with a few dressier things.
Glad you had a great time! I hadn't thought about the smoking issue at all -- do the "smoking" ships allow it everywhere on the ship? Is it bad for those of us who don't want to be around smoke? Do they have nonsmoking cabins?
Glad to hear the Paradise was nice especially with no smoking. We are taking our boys ages 5 and 9 in March of 04 along with 2 other families...I have found this board great for answering questions I have..nice to hear about the casual dress at dinner,,that will make my husband and kids happy!! Now if I can just find some decent priced airline tickets out of Cinti, OH or Dayton, OH I will be set!
Most all the ships do not allow smoking in the show lounges, dining rooms or indoor public rooms. Smoking is allowed on outdoor decks and then on only one side of the ship, bars, and casinos. Staterooms are usually smoking allowed.