Again we were up early and despite having a very good time on the cruise, we are excited about going home. We had breakfast and was in our designated zone for debarking well before the appointed time. We were not supposed to debarking until 9:20 am but due to the efficiency of the cruise line we were off by 9:00 am. This efficiency continued through getting our luggage and proceeded through customs. Leaving customs we discovered Delta had a check in station located at the pier. The line was long but it moved swiftly. Once we boarded the transfer bus, we were back to the airport by 12:00 pm. Waiting on our plane, we had lunch, charged our electronic devices and tried to be patient as our plane did not leave until 2:48 pm.
On the plane I decided to do a retrospect of our cruise and what I would change or look out for on the next cruise. Below are just a few additional tips and recommendations.
Book excursions before you leave home: Our travel agent, L’Anda, encouraged us to book excursions early and so we booked all of our excursions before leaving home. This was good, because we were more likely to get the excursions we wanted.
Pay close attention to announcements in tender ports : Next time if there is a tender going to one of the ports of call, I will listen very carefully to the port announcements. What I heard is if you had an excursion already planned you didn’t need a tender ticket (a ticket that allows you to get off the ship and is given out on a first come first serve basis). What I didn’t hear is that the only excursions not needing tender tickets were the ones booked directly through the cruise line. While excursions purchased through other companies are less expensive and typically smaller than excursions hosted by the cruise line, they do not come with pre-arranged tender tickets. Because of this little hearing error on my part, we almost missed our tour. We had to get the attention of a crew member to get off earlier than we were supposed to.
Purchase a beverage plan : Do get a beverage package, even if it only the least expensive one. That is what we had and that saved us tons of money. A coke is about $5.00 and a bottle of water even more. If you wanted mixed drinks or alcohol of any kind the price was very expensive, if not in a beverage package.
Take advantage of everything the ship has to offer: Although the cabins are nice, being out and about on the ship, you have the opportunity to meet so many people and participate in many of the activities you would otherwise miss. Because we were moving throughout the ship so much, we just happened upon several raffling contests and even won a couple of them.
Specialty dining pricing is a food only cost: Remember, when you book a speciality restaurant, the price is only for the food and plain water. If you want anything more it has to be in your beverage package or you have to pay extra.
Try all the restaurants that you can: Do try all of the restaurants included in your package, as well as at least one of the speciality restaurants. Don’t eat solely at the buffet. Although the food is easier and quicker to get, it is a buffet and, after a while, you will notice the choice of food is the same for each meal every day and you get tired of it. Additionally, there will be so many other restaurant options, you are really missing out if you don’t check them out. Remember, the buffet is open longer than the other restaurants. So, if you don’t like what you had for you meal (or get hungry later), you can always go to the buffet and get something to eat.
An internet plan might not be necessary for you: You don’t necessarily need an Internet package. They can be expensive. In some of the ports of call you may even be able to connect to your own server. Besides, if you stay on your devices all of the time; imagine how many opportunities you will be missing. It was so nice to go to dinner and see people talking to each other, have a break from hearing all of those different ring tones every five minutes, and to see children actually playing with each other. Give yourself a break – unplug for the 7 days.
Sign up for the loyalty program: If there are reward programs offered by the cruise line, sign up. If you sail with this cruise line again you will be entitled to a few extra perks. The more you sail the greater the perks.
Consider booking your next cruise on board: The cruise line has a program where you get discounts if you book your next cruise on board and our agent let us know that Dream Vacations doubles that discount. If you are planning on going on another cruise the next year, this is a great way to save money.
Book early and book with an agent: Make sure to book early and especially with L’Anda Johnson at Dream Vacations. She will get you the best deal for what you want and just as important, she will remind you when there are things that need your attention. The closer to our sail date she either called or emailed us with all sorts of reminders. Because of her, I knew I wasn’t forgetting anything and was not worried about anything. This made my vacation more enjoyable!!