So what does this nomadic backpacker think of the cruise he went on? IT WAS AWESOME. It was so enjoyable that when it came time to head home, I didn’t want to leave. I missed it. I was surprised, because before I left, I didn’t really have high expectations for my cruise. After all, a cruise ship is simply a floating resort. How great could all that sitting around and relaxing really be? Wouldn’t it get boring?
I think cruises make for great vacations; everything is taken care of for you, and you just need to show up for dinner. And that’s exactly what my cruise experience was like. It was filled with buffets, cheesy entertainment, lots of drinking, and large amounts of time at the pool. A cruise was pretty much everything I thought it would be.
But who would have known that could be so much fun! Not only did I find the whole experience fascinating and a great opportunity to people-watch, but I actually liked being on the ship itself.
I wanted to stay longer.
What I Liked
- Starbucks – Being able to get my iced tea lemonade every day after the gym? Blissful.
- The gym – Being able to actually go to the gym every day? Even more blissful. (Though I only went three times.)
- The buffet – So many food options, so much eating. The ship had everything I could have ever desired, including a great salad bar. I think I ate healthier that week on the cruise than I have in months.
- Sushi – The Oasis of the Seas had a Japanese restaurant, and being able to get my sushi fix in the middle of the ocean was heavenly.
- The friendly staff – The members of the staff on the boat were utterly amazing. The bartenders at the Schooner bar were hilarious; our room attendant was friendly and helpful, and put up with my million requests. But the real prize goes to our dining room attendants, who were some of the best servers I’ve had in recent memory. They made excellent conversation, it was interesting to learn about their lives back in India, and overall, they took good care of my friend and me. They deserved that extra tip!
- The rising tide bar – In the middle of the ship, there’s a little bar that moves between the 5th and 8th deck. Cheesy but surprisingly fun.
- The adventure area – Rock walls, mini golf, and wave pools = fun.
- Late-night dining – Pizza at 3am? Dessert at 1am? You had me at “please make me fat.”
- The comfy beds – I didn’t expect much from the boat’s accommodation, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well I slept. The bed featured one of those foam mattresses, and I rarely wanted to get up.
- The casino – I actually made most of my friends at the casino bar. It turned out to be one of the best spots to meet people.
- Daily trivia contest – A daily chance to show off my knowledge of arcane facts for cheesy prizes? Excellent (I say in a Mr. Burns voice).
What I Didn’t Like
- The lack of a movie theater – They played movies in the outdoor theater once a day, but why couldn’t there be an operational movie theater on the boat? If this is an entertainment complex on water, why can’t we go to the movies? It’s not like people are going to hide in their room 24/7. It would have been nice to take a break from the sun with some popcorn and a flick. Come on, Royal Caribbean (RCCL), Disney cruise ships have them!
- Not enough pool area – 6,000 people on the ship and there are four tiny pools that were always crowded and loud. Seems like this would have been the most obvious thing to include when you’re designing a new ship!
- Hairspray: The Musical – RCCL paid a lot of money to have these cast members perform on the Tony Awards to show off what you could see on the boat. But, really, when I saw the show on the boat, all I could think was “this sucks!” Poor casting, poor voices, poor everything.
- Being nickel-and-dimed – When I went on my cruise years ago, everything (except alcohol) seemed to be included. Now it seems that everywhere you go, things cost extra. RCCL really knows how to take money from you, with shopping sales, extra restaurants, expensive on- and off-board activities, charging for soda ($45 dollars for a week!), and $4 bottles of water.
- No free water in Labadee – RCCL’s private resort area in Haiti only had free water during lunchtime despite the cruise log saying that water would be provided. Apparently, they mean for a fee. Seems dangerous when temperatures are 90+ degrees!
- Small showers – The bathrooms in the rooms were kind of small. You could fit inside them, but there was no stretching out.
- The buffet closing – I didn’t get why the buffet closed in the middle of the day for an hour. What happened to all-day buffets?! How am I going to get fat if the buffet is closed?
My friend Jason asked if I would go on a cruise again. And you know what, I would. In a heartbeat. Before I went, I wondered if I would I hate my cruise. Would I be able to cope with such a sanitized travel environment? Would I be able to relate to people whose idea of “travel” is a trip to Señor Frogs?
I did — and I even enjoyed myself. While it wasn’t perfect (nothing ever is), the cruise wasn’t the dreadful experience I thought it had the chance to be. I’m a cruise convert now and will go on one again soon.
Because sometimes it’s good to withdraw yourself from your normal routine. Sometimes you just want to sit around with a frozen drink in your hand and get a tan.
And it turns out a cruise is the perfect place for that.
Note: Royal Caribbean covered the cost of my cruise.