I just returned from an eight-day, seven-friend, four-island cruise through the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Legend; and a week later I’m still suffering the lingering havoc that multi-course meals, endless sun, and sixteen smuggled-in bottles of wine can wreak on your body.
Although a frequent traveler, I’m a cruising newbie, so my pre-sail prep was limited to stealthily sealing vodka in water bottles, selecting the perfect formal night attire, and checking in on Foursquare to earn the “I’m on a Boat!” badge. I learned very quickly, however, that there is much more to a cruise than show tunes and all-hours ice cream on the Lido deck. Here is what I wish I had known:
BYO Booze (and Umbrellas): There are mai tais in coconut shells aplenty, but the rush of sneaking booze onto a cruise is the best thing since sneaking Goobers into a matinee. But if you’re going to try the old vodka-in-a-Scope-bottle shenanigan, run the thing through the dishwasher first.
BYO Balance: As illustrated by the first conversation we overheard in the dining hall, water is wavy: Wife: “Wow, this boat is wobbly.” Husband: “That’s because you forgot your other shoe.”
BYO Reading Glasses: I prefer my vacation reading to be a little more of the “Who Wore it Best?” variety, but on this cruise much reading was required. Signs everywhere tell you what not to do, who not to do it with, and how old you can’t be when you don’t do it. I was so busy ensuring I used my blue towel for the beach and my white towel at the pool and that I didn’t feed the gremlins after midnight that I missed the whole spiel about “ship time” (see BYO Watch).
BYO Watch: A scooter tour of the beaches of Cozumel concluded with a dramatic run to the honking ship whilst five thousand passengers cheered us on from the Lido deck. Apparently, they have this thing called “cruise time,” and “island time” is a myth to make you feel like you’re on vacation. I’m just grateful no one hurled a coconut at us. And no worries, some stranger immortalized the moment YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC_1YX9QAJY&sns=fb
BYO First Aid: I’m fortunate not to be a victim of motion sickness, but I’m definitely susceptible to too-many-chocolate-lava-cakes sickness and not-enough-water sickness and shower-is-so-damn-small-my-legs-are-shaved-but-dripping-blood sickness.
BYO Cash: Cruises are equal parts all-inclusive and please-by-this-Rolex. After the excursions and the water shoes for the excursions and the water bottles for the excursions and the souvenirs you had to buy after your excursions, you’ll be more than ready to consume your money’s worth of free sushi and Lucky Charms.
BYO Elastic Waistband: Cruises magically make every meal a seven-course extravaganza of awesome. From the world’s greatest chicken fingers to the had-to-try-it alligator to the lobster to the soufflé to the oysters to the random-but-tasty chilled strawberry soup, each bite brings you one step closer to a well-deserved antacid. Worry naught about the calories; you’ve already burned them running to the ship.
Save for a few shin nicks and a day five banana shortage, our Caribbean cruise was pretty darn awesome. I’m full, I’m happy, and I have 187 views on YouTube to show for it.