This post was most recently updated on March 5th, 2020
Last night, I arrived home from my first cruise. All week on my cruise I was wondering how I would approach writing about it. It was an incredible experience, and there’s so much I’d love to share with you! This morning I awoke with thoughts about the things I was already missing. Bam! That’s it!
I’m going to tell you what it’s like to come home from your first cruise, and then you’ll know what a first cruise is really like! Our first cruise was with Carnival — a seven-day western Caribbean cruise departing from New Orleans. Everyone asks how we chose this cruise. I will tell you: 1) location 2) itinerary 3) reviews and 4) price.
Everything fell into place for us and the stars aligned so that our first cruise was with Carnival. Granted, I don’t have anything else to compare this cruise to, except for how I felt when we got home. So here’s what it’s like to come home from my first cruise:
I nearly walk into doors
On the ship, every door opens automatically for you. Well, except for your cabin door — that remains locked for your privacy! But every other door senses you coming and opens for you, and you get used to it fast. Yesterday, we were strolling around the French Quarter after debarking from our ship. We went inside a small mall and I nearly ran into the doors because they did NOT open for me! Sheepishly, I made a note to myself that I wasn’t being spoiled any more.
I miss the glorious sunrises and sunsets
On a cruise ship, there is no bad sunrise or sunset, because there is nothing to block your view. At home, do you ever get to see the sun rise or set on a normal basis? I’m guessing you’re also too busy to take note. And do you have a gorgeous view of the setting sun reflecting on the ocean? Even if the sky is cloudy, you’ll get some amazing light and cloud drama! So, yes, I’m missing that a lot.
I have to cook my own dinners again
This is a biggie! I didn’t have to prepare a single food item to eat for 8 days straight. I could eat on whatever time schedule I preferred. I could eat three square meals a day or 6 smaller meals a day. I could eat buffet or gourmet. I could be pampered or I could eat fast food (and it was good!). I don’t know about other cruise lines, but Carnival’s food is superb! Every dinner was fine dining at its best, and the menu was different every. single. night. I loved trying new foods every night! Appetizers, side dishes, main entrees, even desserts. And if you ordered something you really didn’t care for, you could ask for something else.
If you wanted to ramp it up from that, you could upgrade to a dinner at the Chefs Art Steakhouse, and then you’d really feel like royalty. There, we enjoyed a meal where the waiter was attentive to our every need and seemed to have no one else to concern himself with, but us!
Right now, for example, I’m quite hungry. Lunch time was two hours ago, and I still haven’t gotten up from my computer to go fix something to eat. I wish I could get room service!
My evening entertainment consists of watching TV
My husband and I have a favorite TV series we watch an episode from when we have time in the evening. That’s pretty much it for our entertainment. On date nights, we might go out for a meal (weekly) or to a movie (rare). But on the cruise ship, we had several options every single night. Yippee for grand date nights every single night of the cruise! We enjoyed clean comedy acts, dancing parties, full-length movies snuggled up in fleece blankets on the deck, or musical performances with very talented singers/dancers and stunning special effects. We also participated in dance classes, a Mardi Gras party, miniature golf, a cooking demonstration, strolling on the promenade deck, and hitting the pizzeria for a late-night four-cheese Italian pizza!
Another bonus was our waiters. Several nights, they turned on the music and danced for us as we ate. It was quite a show and so much fun. Eating with a smile on your face is a good thing!
I have to make my own bed
On Carnival, you are assigned a cabin steward (ours was Gusti, and he did a wonderful job!). Your cabin steward makes sure your room is cleaned every day with bed made, pillows plumped, towels replaced, a new towel animal perched on your bed (!), and the carpet vacuumed. He probably did other things for us, too, that I’m unaware of. We could have had turndown service in the evenings, too, but it was our first cruise and we weren’t used to being so pampered. So we told Gusti we didn’t need that.
Now I have to make my own bed, and my carpet is NOT getting vacuumed every day, and I have to take my own wet towels to the washing machine and clean them myself!
It’s almost too quiet
I happen to really like music, and nearly everywhere you go on the ship, you will hear it. Near the pool on the Lido deck, we often heard Caribbean music, and in the lobby outside our restaurant, there was usually a stringed trio playing beautiful instrumental music. (Had to laugh when I recognized the theme song from Titanic once!) There was a duet called Unity that sang and played contemporary music several hours a day in the Ocean Plaza where we could just sit and enjoy the music, play a card game, or sip on a soda.
If you wanted peace and quiet, you could certainly find that, especially in your cabin (I never heard any noise from any of my neighbors). But I loved all the great music, and it feels a little too quiet in my home now. Carnival, do you sell a sound track of cruise music?
I’m waking up in the same location every day
Today I woke up at home, and tomorrow I will also wake up at home. There won’t be anything new to explore or to take a photo of.
I love (ABSOLUTELY LOVE!) to explore new places. And so does my husband. And one of the best things about our first cruise was realizing that every day we were in a new location. It was motivation to get up and go see where we were, photograph a sunrise or the port, and prepare for amazing shore excursions on our port days. And boy! did we take advantage of port days! How else can you see three different countries in one week so easily. We never had to pack and unpack for each port or figure out where we’d be staying. We would just magically arrive at a new place each day, and it was amazing!
I’m not sure you realize just how incredible this was. Let me repeat. It is a DREAM COME TRUE to wake up to a new place every day and capture every moment of it in photos and memories we will have for a lifetime!
We have to go back to our real-life responsibilities
And that means my husband and I are separated for many hours a day. I happen to really love my husband and I love to be with him and do things with him. We’re also best friends and we enjoy a lot of the same activities. So being with him on the cruise 24/7 was so nice. And I miss that!
I have to carry my purse now
On our first cruise with Carnival, we were surprised to learn that it’s considered a cash-less cruise. Which basically means, I never had to carry any money with me. For anything. They kept our credit card on file and it was tied to our ship account. I just wore my room key/ID card on a lanyard, and it’s all I ever needed. For room service, a shore excursion, or for a fancy drink with an umbrella in it (mine was a virgin drink!), for some great hair products on sale in the spa, or for any of the great souvenirs they sell on board. And somehow I ended up with a credit on my account, which I happily “spent” without carrying any money with me! We chose to pre-pay our tips when we booked our cruise, so we didn’t have to worry about how to tip anyone, either.
My husband also really appreciated not having to carry his wallet around. He just put it in our room safe on the first day and didn’t have to worry about it again for the rest of the trip.
I’m wishing I had an interactive scheduler at home
Carnival has a new app called the Carnival HUB, and it made everything so easy for our first cruise. Every day, we used the app to get the weather, the ship time (that’s important when you’re going onshore in a country with a different time zone), the schedule for every event, restaurant hours, our cruise account info, various instructions, and so forth. We could “highlight” the events we wanted to attend, and we’d get a reminder when it was time to go. Since my husband and I were linked, I could see what he had highlighted, too, for the few times we decided to do something different. All of this was available to us without needing wifi.
At home, I use a Google calendar which is good but not nearly as interactive, and it certainly doesn’t give me all the information I need in one place! We miss the Carnival HUB!
Anything from home I missed on my first cruise?
Just to be fair, I guess I should include the things I missed from home while I was on my cruise.
Oh! I did miss my blow dryer. The ones provided on the ship are very low wattage. While they will dry your hair, you must be rather patient.
I also missed my shower with its massaging rain shower head and water pressure. However, I must note that never at any time of the day did I encounter a cold shower or lack of water pressure sufficient for a nice shower on the ship. It’s just that I have a great shower at home!
I also missed my family. No more than normal when I can’t be with them. But it certainly would have been a lot of fun to have them there with us! I guess that means we should probably plan a family cruise someday.
I would like to thank Carnival for complimentary internet services aboard our cruise so that I could regularly post on social media. I also received a complimentary invitation to the Chefs Art Steakhouse one evening and priority check-in when boarding. These were very much appreciated, and my review remains an honest summary of our experiences!
I will continue to share more information about our first cruise with you in subsequent posts. See my Cruise Tips Mythbuster post to learn which tips you really need. Be sure to read about our port day adventures in Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan. And please, feel free to add in the comments below, your first cruise experiences. I’d love to have you share them with my readers!