It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, but I’m so happy to be getting back into the swing of things! I just graduated college with a BFA in Fashion Design and Product Development from Stephens College so the past year has been crazy busy! To celebrate presenting my senior collection (which you can view on this site) and earning my diploma my boyfriend and I took a Caribbean cruise! I had cruised before, but never on my own so I learned a lot of useful information on this vacation that I wanted to share. We cruised on Carnival and some of this may be specific to their cruise line, but will be useful advice regardless. Here are a few Do’s and Don’t’s I came up with from my experience!
Pack heavy! Whoever heard of traveling anyways? On this cruise I felt that I was majorly overpacking, but the amount of clothing I had was the perfect amount. We went on a seven day cruise so I packed 14 outfits and, sure enough, I went through all of them. You are inevitably going to get the outfits you wear to port sweaty and sandy by the end of the day. I always wanted to clean up and change before dinner anyways so the amount of outfits I took was perfect. I had a combination of casual, "going-out" attire, and more formal dresses that I could easily style into different outfits. I also didn't want to do laundry so this made it easier to relax. This also applies to swimsuits!
Attend cruise events! I thought the cruise events would be cheesy and not my cup of tea, but you are never too good or old to have fun! I had a blast at all of the events I went to on the ship. That was how we ended up making friends and meeting people. Get out of your comfort zone!
Bring your own water, soda, drinks, etc. Carnival cruise actually allows guests to take in a certain amount of unopened beverages. We didn't know this, but it could've definitely been an added bonus!
Buy the drink cards! The drink cards seem super pricey at first, but really if you're planning on drinking then you will definitely save money with the drink card. The price is daunting, but the basically unlimited drinks were totally worth it and the gratuities were already taken care of so there was no need to tip extra and worry about finances. Unless you had incredible service of course.
Plan your port trips in advance. When we were on port in the Dominican Republic we hadn't planned anything at all. This was the only port where this became a problem. We had a local take us to a beach and it wasn't really that great. It was super windy and the waves were a little too strong for swimming. We didn't end up spending as much time on the beach as I'd wanted and it was a huge bummer. Have a plan in advance and read reviews for every port. If you are ever in the DR I would recommend this as the port you do an excursion!
Forget to take a book! Disconnect from the world and get lost in a book on the Lido deck. So relaxing and I never have time to delve into a book so a vacation is the perfect time. It's also the best way to survive long layovers.
Take your own towels! I made this mistake and wasted suitcase space because of it. Most cruise lines provide you with plenty of towels and don't even let you take your own off of the boat.
Forget your basic medications! I thought I would be fine without my tums because I don't need them too often, but I definitely did and had to purchase them there. Everything on the boat is ten times more expensive, so even if you don't think you need it bring it if it will fit! And seriously bring that Dramamine, if ya know what I mean!
Take your gratuities off of your bill! We didn't realize that gratuities aren't included in your initial bill and a lot of people were taking there's off of their bill. This is honestly a really greedy thing to do since these people don't make a huge sum of money and probably rely on their tips. The staff is always incredible and they deserve the tips. Remember to factor in money for the gratuities when planning your trip.
Over pack for ports. On the first day we were in St. Thomas and I packed way too heavy. It made the travel more work than it should've been, Only take exactly what you need and backpacks are much easier than beach bags.
Take spray on sunscreen! I don't personally think that the spray on sunscreen we took with us worked at all. Every day I got burnt no matter how much I applied. Stick to the lotion and buy it before the cruise to avoid marked up prices.
Pay for the boat wifi. At the end of the day you're on the cruise to disconnect and relax. The extra fee for the wifi is high and most people said there's didn't work. I was so happy that I opted out of it because the experience was much better.
Do the excursions offered by Carnival. We didn't plan on doing any excursions until the day before our San Juan port. Of course the one excursion we were interested in was sold out. We planned on just exploring, but when we got off the boat there were a ton of other companies offering the excursion for the cruise guests and it was so much cheaper. Our cruise guide was amazing so if you're ever in Puerto Rico I know the guy for you!
I hope you enjoy my cruising advice! The swimsuits above are from Old Navy & Target. Some of the one pieces could easily double for bodysuits if you wanted to pack lighter. They were also all super affordable.
Complete your look with my suggestions:
Red Cold Shoulder One Piece
Retro High Waist Bikini
Push Up Bikini