CAPTURING THE ADVENTURES OF OUR LIVES....Mary Anne Benedetto's travel experiences and beneficial information about interesting places. Her posts will entertain and enlighten the armchair traveler, as well as the seasoned visitor, to various national and world locations.
Do you prefer to spend your
cruise time cuddling on cruise ship deck chairs with your sweetie, or do you
like to travel with groups of friends?
Costa Maya, Mexico
Fred and I have enjoyed three
cruises during our almost thirty-six years of marriage. The first was our
honeymoon cruise from New York City to Bermuda, and the second was a Western
Caribbean cruise from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios,
Jamaica. Last fall, we received an email from a golfing friend who had booked a
seven day Exotic Western Caribbean cruise that would sail in early February,
2016 from Port Canaveral, FL. He wanted to organize a group to sail on this
Although we had been to
Cozumel, this voyage offered the opportunity to visit some additional ports
that were not covered in our prior cruise--Belize, Isla Roatan (Honduras) and
Costa Maya, Mexico. So we asked around and found several friends who were
interested in joining us on this winter vacation.
Our two previous cruises were
strictly “us time,” so we thought it would be fun to enjoy a journey with
people we already know and like. This traveling group was comprised of five
couples, including three individuals who were first-time cruisers.
I imparted all of my cruising
knowledge to guide the newbies through the process, which truly does involve
many details that require attention. Knowledge is power, and I wanted to be
certain that they were well-informed. Cruises are not one-size-fits-all. It is
helpful to decide whether you want a casual or a more formal cruising
experience before you book. A little bit of research goes a long way to
educating everyone about the ships, accommodations, styles, ports, prices and options.
If you are planning a cruise
that includes friends and/or family or a combo of the two, here are some
valuable tips for you:
1-Some folks like to dine
early, some prefer to dine late. Discuss the dining room seating time in advance and be sure everyone is
in agreement. Some cruises also have a flexible time dining option, so it is
helpful to iron this out for everyone to be on the same page if they want the
group to dine together. Adjustments can be made to a reasonable extent, but it
is far better to settle this issue in advance.
2-Establish that breakfast is “on your own”
unless there is some reason why it is essential for everyone to meet for
breakfast. This gives each person ample flexibility in the time they wake up
and make themselves presentable for the other passengers to see. Some folks
love to see the sunrise from their balconies and then embrace an early morning work
out in the fitness center. Others enjoy sleeping in while they are on vacation
and are in no rush to hit the deck running. In terms of trying to corral
everyone to breakfast at the same time, frequently it is not that easy to
secure a table in the breakfast buffet area that will accommodate a cast of
thousands or even dozens. Keep it simple first thing in the morning. Let
everyone relax and do their own thing.
Mayan Ruins in Belize
3-Be certain that each individual
in your group carefully reviews the
excursion options and chooses what THEY want to do. Some excursions
require physical agility, and not everyone in your group may be able to keep up
or navigate difficult terrain or steep stairs. Booking an excursion for each
port is not a requirement, and not everyone is comfortable in a tender (small
boat) that may be bouncing along on rough waters to take passengers from ship
to shore and back in some ports. Read the reviews which have been written by others who
have taken those same excursions. You will receive a great deal of insight from
these testimonials. Not everyone has the same experiences, so you will read the
good, the bad and the ugly and then make your own decision. Excursions are not
usually cheap, so choose the ones that appear to give passengers the best
encounter for the relatively short time you are in port. Just remember that if
everyone makes their own choices, they cannot blame you if they are not charmed
by the experience.
4-Encourage everyone to
invest in non-drowsy Dramamine and
motion sickness wrist bands. Seas can swell during any season when a
storm pops up. It is far better to be prepared for the worst and not have to
use these items than to need them and either not be able to buy them or have to
spend a fortune to acquire them.
Port at Isla Roatan (Honduras)
5-Please remember that when
traveling with folks who have never cruised before, there is always the
potential to have someone in your group who becomes cruise-phobic once you are already out to sea and they get
antsy because they are locked into following the program for the next seven or
more days. Occasionally, there is a cruiser who feels confined or trapped by
not being able to simply say after a couple of days, “I don’t want to do this any
more.” It really is not their fault. They have never been in this situation
before and could not predict that they would feel this way. Try to encourage
them by keeping them busy with activities and the multitude of fun things to do
that are available to them on the cruise.
Warning! One last tip that
comes to us from Cruise Expert, Kate Jensen: For any travel outside the U.S.
borders, be sure that everyone in your party has a valid passport that does not
expire within six months from your trip departure date. That sounds like a no-brainer, but Fred
and I actually have a friend who was on his way to the Newark Airport for a
fabulous golf trip in Scotland with his buddies and discovered that his
passport had just expired. He had some serious scrambling to do to get to
Connecticut to obtain an expedited passport renewal and re-book a flight to
catch up with his friends. He missed most of the golf outings and spent a
fortune securing a last minute flight.
Back to the benefits of
cruising, Fred and I believe that cruises are a fabulous way to experience a
variety of destinations for short periods of time, gaining insight on whether
or not we would have the desire to return for a longer stay. A cruise offers
the opportunity to do as much or as little as you wish. You can stay busy from
morning until late at night, or you can kick back and do nothing. The sunrises and sunsets from your balcony can be amazing and unforgettable. One thing is
for certain--you will never go hungry on a cruise, and each port is a new
If you have any questions about cruises, contact Kate Jensen who is
an expert resource:Kate
Jensen, ECC CruiseOne-Myrtle Beach (843) 655-5158 cell phone
See you soon for a visit to another fabulous location...