My previous post was written in somewhat of a hurry; I wanted to get it posted before we left port, and we had an invitation to go up to the Helipad at the front of the ship to watch us depart.
There were a few other observations I wanted to make, for the sake of completing my thoughts, as well as for anyone considering a cruise.
Cruise Card is King
On Celebrity, the card is called a Seapass Card, and I imagine other lines use similar terminology.
Once you’re booked onto the cruise, a photo is taken and a card is issued. It’s just like a credit card – same size, same plastic, same magnetic stripe. It includes your room number, name, class and, on the back, a barcode.
This card is your gateway to everything and is pretty much the most important thing to keep with you. The ships are entirely cashless; any purchase you make – food, alcohol, perfume, novelty magnets, clothing, etc. – is charged directly to your account, which is then charged to your credit card at the end of the voyage.
Furthermore, this card is your key to getting on and off the vessel. You’re scanned out and scanned back in again, making for a highly efficient process for getting circa two thousand guests on and off the boat at each location.
I wondered how I’d do with just … being on a boat, being very distrustful of the sea and so on. But it’s just fine. There’s a definite mild motion, but I got used to it within the first hour. It actually felt odd during the few occasions I couldn’t feel it.
The only time things got really choppy was during our 760+ sojourn from the Dominican Republic to the Bahamas. We were ploughing through pretty rough seas (compared to the rest of the trip) all night and into the morning. The cabins were creaking as the ship swayed and there was definite side-to-side motion.
Even that, though, didn’t make me feel any ill effects, or in any way feel unsafe.
The music on board is great. How do you create an ambience in the common areas that appeals to your customers, when your customers run the gamut from children through teenagers and young adults, all the way to overweight octogenarians on mobility scooters?
Somehow Celebrity manages it. There’s a very appealing mix of ‘hits’ from the last few decades, seamlessly woven together. If you’re not paying attention it’s a perfectly inoffensive background track to your day, but if you stop and listen there’s also plenty to bop along to.
Packing, and Evening Chic
Celebrity does what it calls Evening Chic events on sea days (any day the ship does not dock somewhere). Essentially it’s an invitation – and in some restaurants a stipulation – to come dressed to the nines, or at least smart casual – to evening events.
When packing for this trip, I was a bit restricted. As well as this holiday, I also had to pack everything I had into suitcases to move myself to America. As a result, I concentrated on clothing for the day events (shorts and t-shirts basically) with just a couple of nice (but still casual) shirts thrown in. I also was limited to a smaller suitcase, and so had to pack accordingly.
My recommendation would be to definitely bring your finer attire. Shoes too. People get seriously dressed up on this boat (which makes sense, some are paying north of $6000 for the fanciest suites) and it’s better to blend in than stand out in such a crowd.
One comment on the clothes; there is no iron in the room, nor is one allowed. Naturally anything that’s a fire hazard is heavily controlled on a ship. There is a laundry service but it’s expensive. Do with that information what you will.
I also had to bring my work things with me – I wasn’t about to leave a bunch of expensive laptops in a car somewhere for over a week – and so my ‘other baggage’ was limited too.
Whilst there are plenty of excursions you can pay for, sometimes it’s fun just to wander about your destination. Either way though, you need to come prepared. A camera, your Seapass Card (and sometimes your passport), some water (as much as you can, really), along with potentially beach towels, changes of clothes / shoes, and so on.
I thoroughly recommend a light backpack. It means you can sling everything on your back and keep yourself free and mobile. We’ve been using tote bags which just aren’t as wieldy and practical.
(Bring Your Own) Evening Entertainment
The cruise director and entertainment director go to great lengths to lay on activities to keep everyone busy and having fun. Naturally, they’re a mixture of things. This cruise seems pretty heavy on things that would appeal to an older crowd (playing to the demographic) as well as an endless array of shopping opportunities.
Sometimes, you just want to get away from it and spend time in your room chilling out with a movie or whatnot. For us, it was Empire and Game of Thrones.
Bring a device (laptop, iPad) and an HDMI cable. I hooked my MacBook Pro up, but couldn’t make the ‘Source’ button work on the TV. A quick call to Guest Relations however, and they sent up someone to unlock the unit and give us access.
Sunbathe (and bring plenty of sunscreen … and books!)
We’ve only done this once so far, not counting the beach on St Marten. The sun down in the Caribbean is incredible. Naturally some cruises will be in cooler climes but, if you’re on something like this (Bahamas / Caribbean), it would be criminal not to enjoy the sun.
Wear plenty of sunscreen, but make sure to sit outside and enjoy what Mother Nature provides.
Whatever you do, do it with a smile
That’s the motto of Sara, our ever-excitable Cruise Director. She’s right though. There is literally nothing on board that isn’t enjoyable. If shopping isn’t your thing, just don’t do it. Don’t like the crowded and noisy outdoor pool area? Go into the Solarium, an adults-only indoor pool section with calm, relaxing music and water features.
Not keen on Food Type X? There’s an whole other alphabet to choose from. Restaurants and bars to suit pretty much every taste and requirement.
If you’re the type who gets bored easily, make sure you bring your own entertainment (books, videos) but also take part in the activities on board. You can easily sink two or three hours into watching the incredible Hot Glass Blowers on this ship, and they make something different at every show so you can go multiple times. Our ship even has its own library where you can sit in peaceful tranquility and read.
Be as active or inactive, social or anti social, loud or quiet as you like. You can absolutely customise this trip to your specifications (for no extra outlay, just a bit of time exploring and planning for your day) and be totally happy with the experience.