I recently received a company trip for a cruise from Boston to Montreal aboard the Maasdam for September. I've never been on a cruise nor had the desire to take one. My wife and I have more of a backpacking and hiking mindset when it comes to vacations. I've been trolling around this board looking just basically for reviews of the ship and tips for ports of call excursions.
1. As first time cruisers, What are the "must-dos" on a cruise ship? I realize having fun would be the first answer. We really just don't know what to expect.
2. Are there certain sections of the ship that are more stable in terms of seasickness than others? My wife is a roller coaster rider but I can just barely handle merry-go-rounds.
3. For a september cruise, Is it safe to say that we'll be with the older crowd rather than the young party atmosphere?
Cabins - Anything midship is best for first time cruisers... please ask them not to upgrade you if you are able to reserve a midhip cabin.
Must dos on the ships... that is really up to what you like to do... personally, food is high on my list so the Pinnacle Grill is a nice evening's event. Take in a few shows... the comedians always seem to be decent.
Do not skip[ out on the formal evenings. They really are quite nice and a chance to 'glam up' even just a little.
Briefings on your ports of call are usually interesting and informative... always better however, after a glass or two of wine! Remember, on HAL, you can bring wine on board!
Good advice above. It is very doubtful that you will get seasick. amidships is better if you are concerned. Also if you are concerned go to the the drugstore and buy some Bonine (meclizine). Very effective.
The best thing about cruising is enjoying the scenery coming into and sailing away from port. For that reason, if it works for you, get second seating so you will have plenty of time to clean up after being in port all day, change and have a drink during the sailaway before dinner. Being stuck in the dining room for early seating during sailaway is bad news. You miss a lot.
Also unless you just don't like your fellow man, ask of a table for 6 or 8 you are likely to make long term friends. We have had wonderful table-mates over the years!!
Landlocked in Denver, but cruisin every chance we get.
Polynesia, Carib. '86
Cr. Odyssey, Scandinavia, '91, 30 Day S Pac. 2002
Crystal Harm, Aust., N.Z., '94
Royal Odyssey, AK,'96
Old Cr. Pr. Canal, '97
RCCL, Carib, 1998
Volendam, Car, 2000
Ryndam, 35 day S. Am., Antarctica, '03
Is. Pr., Canal, 2004
Statendam, 34 day China, Japan, AK '06
Cr.Pr., Carib. 08
Eurodam, Atlantic, Med. '10
Is it more cost effective to go on your own at ports or use the excursions that the ship provides?
It's almost always more cost effective to do it yourself, however it does depend upon the port you are visitng and how comfortable you are there.
You should know what time allboard is for the port because these time are strickly enforced. The captain doesn't wait for passengers, unless there are ALOT of them on one of cruise lines shore excursions. It's not great when you are left behind!
One of the things that we used to do is just walk around the port/town/city we were visiting, but we found that we really missed alot of information about what we were seeing. Now we usually book something in advance of the cruise or go with a shore excusion offered by the cruise line.
Several of the Canadian port cities have 'hop on hop off tours' which are really great and affordable ways to visit the cities. You should start your planning/research now so you can be prepared with ideas when you arrive.
Congrats on winning a first time cruise. As hikers you can plan to do a lot of walking. Your ship is big. We get our exercise by not using the elevators. Depending on your cabin location you can be looking at 6 to 7 deck changes from one venue to another. Also your ship has a great walking deck (teak) and a fine gym. We like to find another couples with similar interests to do the shore thing with. Your ports should be easy to navigate due to your schedule. HAL will give you a "port sheet" for each port listing the best sites to see. Also the "port talks" listed in the daily schedule are helpful and can be seem on your tv so you don't have to cut into your day. Have a great time.