Adventures of a First-Time Cruiser

» Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Carnival Sunshine - 2014, The People | 0 comments

Adventures of a First-Time Cruiser

When we were planning the first issue of Fun Time Cruisers magazine we thought it might be interesting to include an article based on the experiences of a first-time cruiser. We posted requests to get volunteers on several Facebook cruise-group pages but never got any serious responses.

For our second issue we planned to report on our cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. We were really pleased when first-time cruiser Lucy Reed volunteered for the job. Lucy lives near Birmingham, Alabama. She works in IT at the operations center for a local bank.

We originally planned to do a video interview during the cruise, but the timing just never worked out. So instead I talked to her over the telephone several weeks after the cruise. Here’s what she had to say.


How often do you travel for vacation and what types of vacations do you take?

Before this cruise I hadn’t taken a vacation in years. So this was my big splurge. I had never been on a cruise before and I really thought that would be a leisurely way to have some fun.


Why did you decide to go on a cruise, and why this particular one at this particular time?

Well because of my friend Theresa. I think she had been on a total of 14 or 15 cruises. I think she started cruising with the bloggers group on BC 5.


She’s a regular cruiser then?

Yeah. She had a lot of experience with it. She and I went to college together years ago. I had not spoken to her in a long time, and we just kind of found each other on Facebook. She told me that she was going on a cruise. I actually thought she was talking about an Alaskan cruise at first.


Did she suggest you go on the cruise, or did you ask her?

She said that she was going on a cruise and I think my response was, “Oh wow, I’ve never been on a cruise, I’d like to go on a cruise.” She didn’t have anybody as roommate at the time. So she suggested that I go and we could split the cost.


So you went on the cruise. And now that your back home, from an overall perspective, did the cruise match your expectations?

I had not been on one so I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what kind of activities they would have on board.

There was one day we were looking at the Fun Times where they have a list of activities. I said, “What in the world does this mean?” She said, “Oh they do trivia.” So we went and there was a guy who was asking questions about all of the James Bond movies. I never have been much of a James Bond person.

But there was another one coming up. It was all about Carnival history … questions like how many burgers are served. I think the guy running the trivia was Russian. Everybody died laughing because when he said “burgers” it came out like “boogers”. Somebody made him go back and reread the question just because they wanted to hear how he pronounced it again. So he very carefully said “bur – gers” … but it was too funny.

Anyway, it was about the history of Carnival. I had heard of Carnival before going on this cruise, but I didn’t know all of the history.


So that was good timing since you were able to learn a little bit about Carnival.

Yeah. And a couple with their little girl came and sat down with us. They said, “You want to play with us?” And we said, “Sure.” Along with Theresa they actually had some really good answers. Then there were some questions about the kid’s camp and their little girl was there so she knew about it. They didn’t give out any prizes or anything, but it was interesting to hear some of that.


If you could summarize, what were the best parts of the cruise for you personally? What were some things you enjoyed the most?

I guess really the food … it was the best food. In fact, I told one of my co-workers if she ever wanted to go on a cruise, the stuff in the main dining room was really good.


So did you usually eat in the main dining room in the evening?

We did. There was one night we went to the Italian restaurant. Theresa wanted me to go try that. We had some really good desserts in there. I had never had authentic, Italian food … made by Italian people too.


So one of the best parts for you was the food. Does anything else stand out?

Just the atmosphere I think. It’s a fun atmosphere. There are a lot of things to do. You have a choice. It’s not like the group decides we’re going to do this one thing. Not everybody likes to do the same kinds of things so there’s a lot of choices around. Plus it didn’t seem like anyone was really pushing you to do such and such. Nobody said you have to make a choice, you have to do it now, or whatever. It was kind of a laid back atmosphere and I liked that.


Did you get off the ship in all three ports?

No, I didn’t. I think the first one that we got off was with one of the blogger groups at Mahogany Bay. That was probably another one of my highlights.

I love animals and they had an animal rescue. There were a good many cages … more of the birds than any other animals. There were several Macaws. Of course I reached up and tried to pet them and one of them tried to take my hand off.

There were also several little spider monkeys. One of them named Lisa was just adorable. She’s only a year and eight months old. All you have to do is just open your arms and she climbs right in. Just a baby basically and lovable. She would lean over and hug on you. We played with her for a while. We were like, “Oh we want to take you home with us.”


So that port stop was a highlight for you then?

Yeah, but along the same lines, I got bored. We went to an outside bar. I’m not an alcohol drinker. But we were hot and sweating, so I drank one or two alcohol-free strawberry daiquiris. Anyway I got bored and went back to the rescue.

Lisa was in a cage by herself but there was another cage on the other side. There were three other monkeys … I guess they’re called capuchins. I had made the mistake of wearing a little stretchy bracelet. Well one of the monkeys decides, “I’m getting that bracelet and it’s mine.” So he reaches out and grabs it and pulls as hard as he can. It broke and he gathered up most of the beads. I wasn’t upset about that … it was just an Avon bracelet.

So I had to go get the rescue guy. I said, “I’m so sorry, it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have done this.” Anyway, he retrieved all of the beads. I just didn’t want the monkey to swallow them.


Were there any negatives … anything about the cruise that you thought, “I didn’t care much for that.”

The cabin was really cramped. We had to squeeze around the beds because of the way they had been positioned. But it wasn’t that bad considering you don’t do a whole lot in the cabin when you’re on a cruise. I didn’t expect to have a cabin to look out. I figured it would probably be a lot more expensive if you had a view. I just wish I could have fit more in.


What kind of cabin did you have? Did it have a balcony or a window?

No, we had neither one. We had an inside.


Was there anything in particular that was a surprise to you? Something for which you might say, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that!”

Well, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as expensive as I assumed it would be. I thought a couple thousand at least. But we booked it ahead of time early enough to where it wasn’t.


So will you likely cruise again sometime?

Oh yeah. In fact I was telling Theresa a couple of nights ago to let me know if she ever wants to go on another one and needs a roommate.


Is there anything you would do different next time based on the experience you had?

I think I would try and plan it a little bit better so I could get more things in. There were a lot of things that I wish I could have done, but I wasn’t able to fit them all in.


Any particular advice or tips you’d like to offer to other first-time cruisers?

Have a friend or roommate that you’re going to be staying with. Theresa and I would both look in the Fun Times and she would find something that I missed. So it helps to have a second pair of eyes.


Is there anything else maybe I didn’t ask you about that you think anybody reading this might like to know about first time cruising?

Oh goodness, I don’t know. I guess just the main thing is try to fit in as much as you can with all the activities. Some things you might find are not as fun as other things. But there’s so much to choose from I’m sure you can find something that’s going to be fun and enjoyable.

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