OMG! I am a first time cruiser. I kept hearing how wonderful it is to be on a ship and I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. Well...it was WAY beyond our expectations to say the least! I spent almost a year trying to figure out what needed to be done to just decide on cruise lines, destinations, ship configuration, best dining options, how to tip...you name it...I hate surprises so it is important to be prepared for what to expect as best I can.
After a year of checking into it...and waiting for my partner to retire...we drove to Florida and spent time there acclimating to the warmer weather before going to Miami to meet our cruise ship. We had booked the Faster to the Fun pass and scooted right through immigration and customs and onto our first cruise ever. We sat in the buffet room eating our first meal within about 7 minutes of boarding the ship. We had heard about the food forever and we were in the Miami harbor looking out the window of the Carnival Liberty enjoying every moment on board. We were on board for 5 hours before even leaving the dock.
Our room was an ocean view mid ship lowest level because we had no idea if we would be sea sick or not. The room was very spacious and we LOVED being able to see the ocean outside. It was more than we ever hoped for and we were never seasick even once!
We had worried about tipping, but it was all prepaid along with our awesome shore excursions. I can't even begin to tell anyone how often we got lost on the ship to begin with...and actually clear until the end we were not totally sure which way to walk after leaving the elevators.
The shore excursions were outstanding. We had our dolphin experience as well as swimming with manatees. We purchased the requisite inexpensive t-shirts as well as a piece of hand made wall art for our deck back home. We zip lined, cave tubed, snorkeled with dolphins, fed sting rays, and swam with sea turtles. It was one of the best trips we have ever been on.
The food was amazing and we were on the Dinner My Time so we had lots of different people to sit near, different times to eat, and saw lots of different people all of the time. We ate dinner in the dining room every night and it was wonderful to be able to get whatever you wanted every meal.
After wandering all over the ship to find our favorite place to lounge, we chose the adults only area at the back of the ship with hot tubs and a swimming pool and a bar right next to it all. The lounge chairs had towels in them and we rarely were able to get a lounge chair, but we did sit in other chairs there and spent a lot of time in the hot tub.
We are not people so we did not do much with ship entertainment. We went to some of the shows, but we would be tired after so much fun on the shore excursions so we sort of retired early by 9:00. Then the surprises would come in the form of towels posing as different cute animals, and somehow our beach towel would transform into a clean fresh towel. We really went through the beach towels since we spent so much time in the water. We were also glad we had two swim suits as it took awhile to dry them.
When we returned to Miami we went through a period of mourning the end of our wonderful cruise. And as soon as we drove back to Iowa (which was cold and snowy), we started planning our next cruise. We have plans to be cruise addicts in no time. I already have decided to extend our time on a cruise, and to branch out into more cruising fields.
We just can't say enough about what a surprise it was to learn what others already knew...which is that we too, LOVE cruising!! We already took our photos and made a book on Shutterfly to celebrate and share our experience. And we posted MANY of our pictures on FB for our friends to enjoy.