The cruise industry, especially here in the Middle East, is seeing extraordinary growth with first time cruisers making up an increasingly large percentage of passengers. So, Cruise Arabia has put together a little list of the FIVE things you should NOT do on your first cruise, if you want to get the best value from it.
A cruise ship, even a small one, is a world unto its own, where a different atmosphere, camaraderie among passengers and sense of relaxation reigns. It is a truly unique holiday experience and one that has been proven to be highly addictive for most cruise passengers (the industry has a return rate of more than 60% according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association).
And those who go on a cruise and enjoy it, frequently tell their friends and family about how good it was. It is for this reason, according to Helen Beck, Regional Sales Director for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, that the Royal Caribbean brand has found such strong traction in the Middle East market.
“We get great word-of-mouth publicity,” she told Cruise Arabia, “which is the most valuable publicity of all and because we have an office here in Dubai serving the Middle East, through which we service our Europe itineraries, we’re able to remain market leader, controlling around 30% of the Middle East cruise market”
Don’t overdo it on the first day.
Even cruise ships classified as small by the industry are very large vessels, with multiple public rooms and activities going on throughout the day and night. There are several decks of cabins and public rooms, sometimes as many as 16 (aboard Allure and Oasis of the Seas) and the temptation to explore every inch of the ship before you’ve even sailed can be overwhelming. What’s down that corridor? What does the main dining room look like? Shall we have a drink by the pool and then try and catch the lunch buffet before the sail away party? The last thing you want to do is wear yourself out before your cruise has even begun. You’ll have several days to fully immerse yourself in the onboard lifestyle, so take your time and relax.
Don’t try to eat at every dining venue.
All cruise ships have more than one dining venue, even the smallest have a main dining room, pool buffet and bar that serves ‘pub grub’ snacks. The larger floating resorts cruise ships have as many bars and restaurants as a small city – there are more than 20 aboard most large cruise ships and the cruise lines have designed these for-a-fee speciality restaurants to be extremely inticing and you might feel like you’ll die from disappointment if you don’t try as many as possible, but you’ll end up spending a lot of money and feeling too full and uncomfortable to really enjoy your cruise. In addition, you’ll miss out on the special items and the more intimate nature of eating in the main dining room, where you’re assigned the same waiter throughout the cruise on most ships.
Don’t stay in your cabin for hours at a time.
Here at Cruise Arabia we recognise the special appeal of a balcony cabin as much as the next cruise passenger, but avoid the temptation to spend all your time in your cabin. It should be used as a ‘base of operations’ where you change for dinner, sleep and perhaps nap in the afternoons if you plan on big nights at sea in the ship’s nightclub. Spend too long in your cabin and you’re sure to miss out on some of the best aspects of a cruise, such as the range of entertaining activities and games taking place at various locations onboard, and the more staid traditions such as sun-downers on Lido Deck at dusk. From sunrise until 3am in the morning on some cruise ships, there is always something going on, so check the daily program for the entertainment, games and activities that most interest you.
Don’t think you’re too cool for the cruise.
It is only acceptable to spend most of your cruise relaxing in your cabin or on your private balcony if you’re a veteran cruiser and have seen it all before. But, if you’re a first time cruiser or still a newcomer to the cruise experience, make an effort to get involved in the games and fun going on each day. Cruising to a large extent is about partaking in ‘cheesy’ activities like karaoke, Battle of the Sexes, dance classes, game shows and ‘dress the mummy’ games. What happens at sea stays at sea, and unless you make good friends during your cruise, you’re never going to see any of these people again, so let your hair down. Even if you don’t take part, being a spectator is 90% of the fun most of time anyway.
Don’t forget the crew.
A cruise ship is like a swan gliding along on the water, the part that’s visible, the fun, the laughter, the good food and excellent entertainment, appears to happen seamlessly, but beneath the surface the feet are paddling furiously driving it all forward. Cruise ship crew are often paid just minimum wage and work far from their friends and families, they work long hours for your enjoyment, so don’t forget to smile, thank them for the work they do for you, and perhaps leave them a little something at the end of the cruise. After all, we should all treat others the way we ourselves would like to be treated.