What I Learned from My First Cruise!

Hello Lovelies!

It’s 2018 and I have not written here in months! It’s safe to say I got pretty busy with various projects- but I have missed blogging and since I’ve had an amazing experience travelling, what a better time to begin writing again? We went on our very first cruise and though I researched the “do’s and don’ts” of cruising, we learned what things we would and would not do again, so I’ll share it with you!

We thought that since we were north of Australia, we should see it while we are on this side of the world. You’d think that living in Guam it would be fairly easy to travel to Australia.  WRONG.

For one thing, there are no direct flights to Sydney or ANY Australian city. The quickest way would be to fly north to Tokyo and then down to Sydney – but ahem, at $2000 per ticket, that was not happening! We ended up booking a flight to Manila in the Philippines for considerably less, but we’d have a LONG layover – I’m talking 12 hours! I decided to rent a hotel room near the airport (for just $35 USD!) so we could at least be comfortable.

If you are active duty military, military family, or a vet, I HIGHLY recommend going through militarycruisedeals.com.

Without their help, we would have never secured the deal we got for a 13 day cruise with Princess Cruises from Sydney to around New Zealand! Regardless of which travel agency you use, it is ideal to book at least six months ahead to pick the type (and location) of your room.


What I Would Do Again on a Cruise: 

  1. Stay in a hotel the night before sailing. Since we were flying in super early in the morning, there was no way I wanted us to be exhausted and trying to make our port in the same day. Having that night before allowed us to relax and begin “vacation mode.”
  2. Get a Balcony Room. The deal we got with Princess allowed us to afford a balcony room, and I have to say it was definitely worth it. Just being able to walk out and feel the breeze and see the waves while having breakfast is awesome. Booking early also allowed us to choose a room away from the elevators and not on the lower level (less rocky).
  3. Talk to Others! It sounds bizarre, sure – but don’t be afraid to do a couple of dinners at a shared table. People are on vacation and are relaxed, more likely to keep conversation light. This is especially fun if you are on a cruise with lots of people from other countries! The Aussies we met were incredibly nice. We also talked to people while playing trivia, at the bar, plus our servers -meeting Canadians, Brits, Phillipino, Serbs, Russians, and Chinese along with other Americans and Aussies!
  4. Do The Activities! You can only lie in the sun so long, so check out the activities going on. Every evening we would get a newsletter about the next day’s port stop and onboard activities. From trivia, to karaoke, to attending an art auction, to game shows – there is something for everyone!
  5. Dress Up for Formal Night. Don’t groan at the thought of this; it’s actually pretty fun to see everyone all dressed up for dinner, plus if you want special pictures taken the ship photographers will be doing portraits (for a fee of course). It’s like Prom for Adults; but you’re allowed to drink alcohol! On our cruise, servers passed out free champagne.:)


6. Explore Every Port. Princess’ reps were great with handing out maps and information on “where to go” at every stop. Plus, there were always shuttles to take us into a main area so it was simple to get around and make our way back. Don’t let a new area intimidate you from checking out the scene!

7. “Pre-Booking” the Next Cruise. Now, this is something that Princess Cruises offers – I don’t know if other lines do this (check with them), but before our cruise ended we were given the option to place a small, totally refundable deposit on a future cruise in order to receive extra onboard credit. Since we could still use our travel agent and use it with any sales, we went for it. If we didn’t book a cruise within two years, we would be refunded the money, so it was a no-brainer!

What We Wouldn’t Do Again:

  1. Purchase a “Unlimited Soda and More” package. Neither of us drink that much soda (I don’t at all), and it was disappointing to realize that this “unlimited” did not include coffee, tea, and juices in all bars/restaurants. I think we could probably save money on it in the future.
  2. Go to the salon. We decided to renew our wedding vows on this cruise (which was totally worth it!) and thought getting ourselves pampered on the day of would be nice. Honestly, I didn’t get service that was any better than what I usually do (in fact; my stylist and nail tech are better) and the prices are too much for what’s offered.
  3. Book excursions with the cruise line. We quickly realized that we could have saved quite a bit of money booking excursions in the port. One thing that made me want to book the excursions with Princess is that they guarantee getting back to the boat in time. Frankly, the agencies are parked right by the port and it would be bad business to not guarantee the same. We’ll definitely do it differently next time!


Most of all, the biggest “DO” is go with a upbeat and “go with the flow” attitude. Little things might pop up, so don’t sweat those little annoyances.

In upcoming posts, I’ll profile various ports we visited plus the packing essentials for any cruise! Where have you cruised? Cruise lines you traveled with? What would you do differently? 

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes:)

xo, Melanie.


One thought on “What I Learned from My First Cruise!

  1. Glad to see you broke your cruise virginity! Once you’ve had a taste, you gotta have MORE.

    Speaking as a former cruise ship employee and cruise travel advisor:

    While the staff is covered as far as your daily service charge (usually $12/person/day on most lines), staff who can sell liquor/soda packages/anything packaged do so because it adds money to their paycheck, regardless of the value of the product. Unless you are an alcoholic in denial or require gallons of diet coke per day, it is best to order individually, unless you do the math and realize that feeding your addiction is cheaper.

    If I remember right, the salon employees are part of a national chain that supplies employees to multiple cruise ships. The most talented are ideally on the luxury ships. Princess is a great company, but not a luxury brand, and with the larger ship, they are probably overworked. Definitely overpriced – there’s a service charge on salon services as well, just like alcohol. Skip the salon unless you have a beauty emergency.

    Excursions – double edged sword, and you have to know your adventure style. If you are a Responsible Human Being ©, you can do without the security of the ship’s staff (depending on your travel destination). Doing the excursions with the ship your first time is probably a good idea, but as you mentioned, once you realize what’s involved, you can learn from it and save the money next time. Do not test the departure time. It may be the only time you’ll ever see that port in your lifetime, but that’s the rules of the game. If you like it so much, come back for vacation next time 🙂 They WILL leave you, and you will have to secure passage to the next port to meet the ship again. Choice is yours!


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