Expedia's first time cruiser Sarah Dean hits the high seas
Multiple destinations, minimal planning attracts a lot of people to cruising. I’ve always been curious about cruising, but also a little too skeptical that it wouldn’t be the right fit for me. The risks seemed too ominous to overcome. From my fear of sea sickness to the anxiety of spending my precious vacation time with thousands of my closest friends and their energetic kids, my apprehensions always outweighed my curiosity. A new role as Expedia’s Cruise product manager, and it was time to face my fears. A three night Caribbean taster cruise aboard the MSC Divina seemed like a good place to start.
I can officially say I finally understand why so many people love to cruise, here are three revelations that got me there:
The motion of the ocean
Fear of seasickness is probably the top reason I haven’t chosen cruising as a vacation in the past, so when I decided to go on this cruise I was freaking out. Just a little bit. Everyone I consulted said the ships are so big I wouldn’t feel any movement. I boarded the skip with my irrational skepticism in tow, fully expecting that if the seas got rough, I would be living in my own episode of The Deadliest Catch. Once I got on board and got my bearings on the ship, I didn’t have any problems.
The best way to describe how the motion of the ocean feels is to imagine yourself riding on a passenger train. As the rails of the track guide the cars forward, you can feel the car shift from left to right ever so slightly. It didn’t make me feel queasy or interrupt my fun filled vacation at all, but here are a few tips for first timers:
- Take Bonine before boarding and each night at 10pm. It will make you less drowsy than Dramamine and helped to stave off any potential seasickness.
- I always heard people say that if you’re concerned about seasickness, it’s best to be in the middle of the ship. The few times I did feel the ship move I was either at the front or the back of the ship. I recommend taking this advice when booking your first (or next) cruise.
Finding moments of peace
Another of my top concerns was feeling crowded. I was worried the ship would be swarming with kids and I’d have to retreat to my cabin to find peace and quiet. Surprisingly I found it easy to find moments of peace each day.
First, there was an adults-only area on board which included a bar, sun-bathing chairs, and a pool. The no-kid policy in these areas were pretty strictly enforced by staff making sure to remind any stray children to relocate. It was nice to lounge about in the public spaces without kids yelling and running all over the place. There were also several decks with long catwalks where there weren’t any amenities/outdoor activities and they were usually very peaceful. We found ourselves walking along this deck a few times during our trip, taking in the view and the sound of the open seas.
Second, we did end up retreating to our cabin nightly, but it was to enjoy the beautiful views from our balcony. Watching the sun set over the horizon was a perfect, peaceful moment. Our balcony had plenty of space – enough room for two chairs and a foot stool – but the balcony rail was solid metal which meant that when we sat in the chairs on the balcony we could barely see the ocean over the rail. I noticed that most of the balcony cabins in the middle of the ship had glass rails so they wouldn’t have the obstructed balcony view. Next time I’d pay attention to that detail when booking my cabin.
Travel in comfort
I definitely underestimated how much I would love cruising as a form of transportation. We boarded the ship in Miami after a 7+ hour series of red-eye flights. We were exhausted, stiff, and seriously ready for some R&R. That evening, as ship set off into the sunset and we watched Miami fade off into the distance, we finally started to unwind. After such a long day of travel and new experiences, we hit the hay early, eager for the next day’s adventures.
Sunday morning’s wakeup call came with the loud ‘toot’ of the ship’s horn. I rushed to the balcony to see what the day had in store and was greeted with tropical gloriousness – how amazing to have gone to sleep in a comfortable bed and wake up in the Bahamas! As I took in the swaying palm trees and turquoise water, I had a lightbulb moment – THIS is why cruising is a fantastic vacation option! The contrast between an uncomfortable red eye flight and a night rocked to sleep aboard a ship was staggering. Don’t get me wrong, not everything about cruising is 100% tailor made for me. I think the cruise industry is facing a challenge with how they continue to cater to long time customers who are used to the traditional cruising experience while luring in new, younger customers after a more casual experience. For me, cruising is a vacation option I’ll choose in the future when I want to see multiple cities and countries and I want to do it in true comfort.
Will you give cruising a go?
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