Let’s get a couple of things covered right up front:
- I hate cruises.
- I’ve been on 3 cruises with 3 different cruise lines, so despite #1 I feel pretty credible to speak on this topic.
- As someone who freaking loves seeing the world, I freaking hate modes of transportation. Weird.
Alright. So, now that I’ve been honest with you about some hard confessions, let’s get down to the important stuff. Because yes, despite getting horrendously sea sick and hating the cheesy touristy-ness that is a cruise trip, I have spent two college spring breaks and one bachelorette party on some “majestic” floating hotel so I can offer some knowledge bombs to help you get the most out of your seafaring adventure.
(For what it’s worth, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I dislike things that most people love. I think Disney is super annoying, despite living in Land of the Mouse. I don’t “get” the deal with panda bears – they’re lazy and boring. And yes, I was “first world” enough to spend college spring break trips cruising to the Bahamas like out of some Mary Kate and Ashley film but bleh, I’ll be a brat and pass next time.)
- Not all cruise lines are created equal. Consider the time of year you are traveling and what the cruise line you’re booking with advertises. Think about who else is going to find that time of year and those amenities attractive. And then be okay with the fact that you’ll be stuck on a floating metal vessel with them the entire time. Don’t book on a Disney cruise if you don’t want to be around young children, and don’t book the cheapest ship during spring break if you don’t want to be surrounded by Florida’s collegiate drunkest.
- Most cruise specials are for the smaller, crappier ships. Sure, all cruise ships have hot tubs and swimming pools and 24-hour ice cream bars. But there’s a reason your 5-day Bahamian adventure is only costing you $340. You’re going to be on the oldest and least tricked-out ship.
- Pack Seabands and Dramamine. Especially if this is your first nautical adventure, but even if it isn’t, pack a pair of Seabands and some sea sickness medication. Seabands are medicine-free, and look like tacky sweatbands from the 80s that squeeze a pressure point on each wrist to help stave off sea sickness. Dramamine makes most people extremely sleepy, so it’s helpful to fall asleep at night, especially if the motion of the ocean is the actual ocean motion and is getting in the way of that other kind of fun “ocean motion”.
- Pack one nice dress or outfit. Most cruises, even if they offer dining at your own schedule, will have one night of a fancy dinner. Make sure you pack a nice dress or outfit to wear that night. I usually went with a bodycon pencil skirt (very forgiving for all of the late-night pizza I was consuming, because calories in international waters don’t count) and a nice top to tuck in. I would attempt to wear heels, but if we’re being honest here, between the boat rocking and my consistent state of tipsiness, I wasn’t making it to dinner without a broken leg had I committed.
- Cruise cabins are hella tiny. If you’re bunking with anyone else (let alone 3 other girls because #ChampagneTastesOnGrapeJuiceBudget) pack smart and light. D:C offers no shortage of packing lists, and while I don’t have a cruise-specific one (yet) my Key West packing list should be on point for a Spring Break trip. If you are bunking with a bunch of girls (or guys) coordinate on who brings the hair dryer, the curling iron, and the big bottle of shampoo and body wash. You can hardly fit four tooth brushes in a cabin bathroom, let alone four different hair appliances.
- Cruises don’t have the same strict baggage requirements that airplanes do. Which can make adhering to #5 much harder… but resist the urge to actually bring two checked bags and a carry on. Unless you are cruising to the Mediterranean for 3 weeks, you don’t need it.
- Most cruise lines will allow you to bring 2 bottles of wine on board. This means pack two bottles of wine or champagne. Go with screw top or make sure you buy screw-top bottles. The lines will charge you a cork fee to open it and drink it at dinner, but if we’re being realistic this is a Spring Break trip and that champs is getting made into a mimosa with free buffet OJ to pregame your day in Nassau while you unnecessarily curl your hair in a tiny mirror.
- If you decide to be sneaky and pack liquor, actually be sneaky about it and don’t do it. I’m not telling you to smuggle liquor on to cruise ships to avoid having to buy overpriced cocktails at the boat bars. I’m also not telling you that if you went against me and did, to not put food coloring in Listerine bottles because #OldestTrickInTheBooks. I’m also not saying to put it in a saline solution bottle and pack it with glasses in your toiletries case and also use a hair-dryer to heat-seal the plastic seal wrapper back over the top. I’m not saying any of that. Don’t do it.
- You can order two appetizers at dinner. If you really can’t decide between two appetizers, or two desserts, order them both. Is it glutenous? A little. Is it going to annoy your waiter? Maybe. But what’s the point of an all-inclusive cruise if you can’t be glutenous and eat 3 dinners and midnight pizza and morning ice cream?
There ya go… cruise tips that you won’t find on some sponsored blog singing the praises of their free nautical adventure to Mexico. I received 0 free cruises for writing this post, and I’m very okay with that. If anyone wants to fly me to Mexico and put me up in a resort to review, I’ll take the hard task of that job… for now, let me live vicariously through your Spring Break adventure stories in the comments.