Taking a cruise should be a splendid and fun experience for everyone and Sweet Tea Gals has some handy information, advice and ideas for those getting ready to take a cruise.

Most Importantly: Do Your Research!

When preparing for a cruise trip make sure to research the different cruise line and ships to find the cruise that fits your needs best. This can be done easily by searching out each cruise line using the internet and investigating each ship in the different cruise line families right down to being able to pinpoint a room. This really comes in handy.

Not all cruise lines are the same. If you are looking for romance, or  family fun, or perhaps want to take an adult cruise with no children aboard check with your cruise lines, research the different ships and what is offered and if needed go through a travel agent to make sure you are getting what you want.

My first experience on a cruise was for my wedding and we used the Princess Lines choosing the gorgeous ship Caribbean Princess.  The ship itself was geared more for adult fun with its many bars, shopping areas aboard, elegant formal dining rooms and casinos. I do not recall seeing a whole lot of children aboard.  The ship did offer activities for kids scheduled daily and parents could leave their children with the recreation crew and go do what they planned. The Princess worked well for our purpose as we were taking young teens and children, who planned to swim in the pools and enjoy shows geared for their age, our parents who would want a more quiet atmosphere and our friends who would enjoy the bar and pool areas.  The ship was beautiful and our stewardess surprised us each day with special things placed in our room for the honeymooners.  Our stewardess also picked up quickly on the fact that my stepdaughter had chosen to stay with her dad and I in our room and added an extra cot for her and each day made a special towel animal for her bed.  On my wedding day the stewardess helped me with my dress and after we left the ship at St. Thomas for our wedding,  she added rose petals, chocolates and champagne to our room.  We had not asked for any of these special amenities, our stewardess was very attentive to all her passengers needs and why they were on the cruise.  My mom and our other guests were on different floors and each had special amenities added to their rooms each day as well.  This impressed me! Our port-of-calls were St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We had planned to be married on the beach in St. Thomas and I called the Caribbean Princess line to find out if they could recommend a wedding planner on St. Thomas to assist us in arranging our wedding for us.  They were happy to oblige and we were married on St. Thomas without a hitch, the wedding planner that was recommended did a wonderful job and the scenery and ceremony were absolutely beautiful.

caribbean-princess
Princess Cruise Line-Caribbean Princess

My second cruise was with Carnival Cruise Lines aboard the ship Destiny. Carnival has always been known for the party ships of the seas since the 1980’s. Many of my friends and even my husband had cruised on the Carnival  line during the 80’s and loved it.

Rick Springfield Cruise 11-14-08-Carnival Destiny at Port-Key West FL
Carnival Destiny at Port-of Call in St. Thomas

On this cruise my husband, myself, and two of our closest couple friends planned on cruising with ‘Rick Springfield and Friends’. This was back in November 2008 and as we boarded the ship I immediately noted the difference in the size of the ship compared to the Caribbean Princess. This ship was quite a bit smaller than the Caribbean Princess Cruise ship and although it had many amenities it wasn’t quite as beautiful or as gallant of a ship. The rooms were a bit smaller compared to our other cruise even though we once again had a balcony room. Our steward for this cruise took care of everyday needs in our rooms but there wasn’t that extra special touch provided by the Caribbean Princess. This cruise was a much more laid back atmosphere and most passengers on board were there because of Rick Springfield. That ship sure did rock with all the concerts given by Rick Springfield throughout the cruise. I sure loved the entire cruise!

Rick Springfield Cruise 11-14-08-Rick and John
Rick Springfield and John Waite!

Since this was my second cruise, we were again stopping in Cozumel and since two of the couples with us had been with us on our wedding cruise we all stayed around the port area, shops and restaurants.

My third and most recent cruise was once again with Carnival aboard the ship Fantasy. I had been asked to go by my bestie and the other half of Sweet Tea Gals, Lori, my cousin and my Aunt.

Carnival Fantasy-Ship in Port at Cozumel Mexico
Carnival Fantasy Sails Into Port-Cozumel

I had done some research on the ship and knew she had been updated, I also clued in very quickly that Carnival had adopted a lot of Disney Cruise Lines rules. A-ha, Carnival had decided to gear itself toward family time and fun. I noticed it immediately as I boarded the ship. Kids and their parents were everywhere. In fact throughout the cruise several passengers commented to me in conversations that they didn’t expect so many young children aboard.  Apparently these passengers did not do their research. I already knew the ships had added water slides on the top decks and had researched daily itineraries and Carnival Lines were now offering Kid And Teen Zone Areas and a lot more activities geared toward the whole family and activities geared for specific ages. It was a whole new experience this time aboard a Carnival Cruise ship and this was the best cruise by far.

Even though there was not the extra special touches added and our steward on this cruise was barely seen we still had a blast.  Not much time was spent in our cabin which was a good thing because the cabin was located on the lower decks and it was an inside cabin.  It was small.  With four of us in the cabin there was no room for anything extra.  It was at times difficult for all of us to get ready, for the day or evening, at the same time  because of the limited space but we quickly adjusted.  Thank goodness we are not the fancy kind of folks or we would have been in trouble trying to properly dress in evening attire.  Those shorts, tees, summer dresses and khaki’s for the young man, made it easier and we gals definitely didn’t have enough room to spend too much time in front of the only mirror in the cabin putting on makeup.  Hey, we southern gals know to touch up our lips with a bit of color to make ourselves presentable before steppin’ out for the evening.

Of course Disney Cruise Line says it all-it is Disney and it will be for kids of all ages, that’s a given.  This is a cruise I definitely want to do some day!

Cruisin' Made Easy-Cruise Tips10.jpeg
Cruising Made Easy 101

 

Cruise Lines Offer Holiday Cruises-Check Them Out!

 

Sweet Tea Gals Best advice: Do Your Research!

http://www.princess.com

http://www.carnival.com

http://www.disneycruise.disney.go.com

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