Episode 2


By Jenna Pierce

Growing up in Orlando, cruising was always one of my favorite types of vacations. My family lived a short drive away from four major cruise ports, so I tagged along on dozens of trips with my family, family friends, and then later, college buddies. But when my husband and I decided on cruising for our honeymoon—and all of the planning fell on my shoulders for the first time ever—there were things I learned through that experience that I found worth sharing. Here are some tips to help you feel less overwhelmed and enjoy more on your next cruise trip!

Plan to Spend a Day or Two Exploring Your Port City
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in a state like Florida where so many cruises depart daily. This means that a majority of cruise-goers fly or drive a significant distance to their port city. And, as we all know, airline travel can prove to be very unpredictable. Give yourself a day or two of cushion to ensure you don’t miss the ship! And what better way to kick things off than a little pre-vacation in your port city? Even if you’re driving to your port, giving yourself extra time ensures that you give your trip a relaxing and stress-free start.

My husband and I now live in Arizona, so we had to fly into Miami to meet our ship. We decided to rent an Airbnb right on South Beach for two nights prior to our departure day. It’s funny, even though Miami is close to where I grew up, it really does feel like its own little state. It’s one of my favorite places to “play tourist”.

We rented bikes and rode along the water, enjoying the glistening views of the sun; participated in the famous South Beach nightlife (with maybe one cocktail too many!); and enjoyed delicious local food. My husband had never been to Miami before, so it was fun to show him all of the culture South Beach has to offer. If you find yourself in Miami, I highly recommend finding a Cuban café and trying some mouthwatering empanadas!

Book an Oasis-Class Ship
When my husband and I were deciding what to do for our honeymoon, we originally wanted to visit a little coastal town in Italy or Greece. But after a year and a half of wedding planning, the last thing I wanted to do was plan a vacation. So instead, we took the easy route and booked a room aboard Symphony of the Seas, which at the time was the largest cruise ship in the world. Booking it literally took me ten minutes and I was so relieved that all I had to do was pack and make it there on time.

And let me tell you: The ship was literally like a floating city. They even had a “Central Park” in the middle of the ship with trees, plants, and flowers. On top of all the beautiful destinations we visited, there was not a single moment where we weren’t having a blast when back on the ship. Have you ever tried a Flowrider (surf simulator)? I highly recommend it. When we weren’t mastering our on-ship-surfing, we were putt-putt golfing, ice-skating, zip lining, rock-climbing, cruising down waterslides, and competing over arcade games. On the last day of our cruise, my husband and I were running from activity to activity because we didn’t want to leave without trying everything.

We were also blown away by the performances. Almost every night on our week-long cruise we had a show scheduled. There was an amazing ice-skating show with gorgeous costumes and performers impressively flipping and lifting each other all over the ice. We also saw the musical performances “Hairspray” and “Flight,” which, in my opinion, were better than some shows I’ve seen on Broadway.

Our favorite was “HiRo,”which was performed in an outdoor aqua theater by extreme-sports athletes using trampolines, high dives, tightropes, slack lines, trapezes, and cables. Needless to say, our jaws were on the floor the entire performance. After we left the show, we were still in awe how the entire cast could do such high-intensity tricks on a rocking boat in the middle of the open ocean! This show, in particular, is one that everyone should add to their bucket list.

Book Your Excursions Through Royal Caribbean
It’s pretty well-known that booking excursions through cruise lines can be slightly pricier than doing it through third-party websites. Now that I've done both, I can assure you things just run a little bit smoother when going through the cruise line.

A few years ago, we used a third-party vendor to book a catamaran snorkeling tour while in St. Kitts. It was clearly stated on everyone’s printed pass that start time of the excursion was 11:30 a.m. Everyone arrived on time and ready to go—when the tour guide told us the start was actually 12:30 p.m. and all of our passes were incorrect. This wasn’t a huge deal for us (although sitting there for an hour in the heat wasn’t the most enjoyable experience), but other people waiting with children had to opt out of the excursion and do something else with their short time on the island. The whole thing just seemed super disorganized, and also stressed us out in returning to the ship on time. We decided to take our chances though, and once the tour started, it was an absolute blast (and we did make it back to the ship with plenty of time). But having gone through this, I’d recommend paying the little bit extra to avoid the headache. A major benefit to booking through Royal Caribbean is the guarantee that you will not miss the ship even if a tour is delayed.


Download the Royal Caribbean App Before You Depart
One of the best things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your cruise is to download the Royal Caribbean app before you step aboard. The app makes everything SO much simpler when it comes to planning out your vacation. You can start making reservations for shows and restaurants a month before your cruise begins. This way, you can make sure you give yourself an opportunity to see all of the performances without waiting in long lines at the reservation desk on the ship.

We spent maybe fifteen minutes booking things on the app about a month before our trip to avoid the hassle of waiting in line. Things do fill up fast, so make sure you don’t wait until the last minute on this one. The app also allows you to upload your passport information to get you through the lines faster on embarkation day. Once on the ship, the app is free to use with the ship’s WiFi and you can see and schedule any activities available for that day. It was nice to see a full list of all the entertainment on the app, some we didn’t even know were available, so I definitely recommend using it to get the most out of your experience.

Jenna is a photographer and traveler, based in Arizona. She is the ultimate travel guide expert with a focus in honeymoon destinations and cruises.

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