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Lisa Wheeler

Age: 41

Occupation:Children's Book Author

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Navigator of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 4th, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I took our first cruise last week. I am fairly organized and like to know what to expect. A few things cropped up during the cruise that I wish I had known about ahead of time. Despite this list, we had a wonderful time and are already dreaming of our next cruise. This is just an FYI for people who like to know what to expect.

1. Transfers—Our travel agent highly recommended paying $20 each for transfers from the airport to the ship. We were told that someone would meet us at the baggage claim, help us with luggage, and transfer us to the pier. A good deal, we thought.

In reality, we hauled our own luggage, had to hunt down the RC people, and it took 1 ½ hours from Miami airport to the pier. We were so stressed out by then.

My friends took a cab, paid $21 and it took 20 minutes. Plus, they didn’t have to haul their luggage as far.

We spoke with others on the ship who were happy with the transfers from the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

On the other hand, the transfer back to the airport was stress free and we got what we paid for. Next time we will just take a cab.

2. Boarding—The wait in line to get on the ship wouldn’t have been so stressful if we didn’t have the ordeal with the transfers. But adding another 11/2 hour line made for a bad start to a great trip.

3. Life Jacket Drill—We didn’t know that there would be a life jacket drill before leaving the dock. We were caught unawares. During the drill you cannot use the elevator. We had just walked down 4 floors to get a coffee when we heard that we had to walk back up, get our life vests, and walk back down 5 floors. At this point, my husband and I were wondering if we had made a horrible expensive mistake. Not the way to start off a relaxing vacation. If we had known about this, we would’ve stayed in our room and waited.

4. Liquor—If you buy liquor onboard at the shops for consumption on the ship, there is a $9.50 usage fee. This doubled the price of our ‘cheap’ bottle of rum!

5. Cigarettes—They sell cigarettes onboard for low prices. (Buy 4 cartons get one free for $75) We don’t smoke, but my husband went for this deal because they sold the brand of a guy he works with. Because it was for sale on the ship, I assumed it was okay. Nope. The customs officer pulled us aside and informed us that only one carton per person was allowed and three cartons had to be destroyed.

6. Pop/soda—The price of soda tickets has risen to $42 per person. Not worth it unless you drink gallons of pop a week. There is plenty to drink on the ship, like iced tea, punch, water and coffee that is all included.

7. Photos—I didn’t mind it, but I had no clue that the ship had photographers who take your picture at dinner, before dinner, when you get off the ship, on formal nights, etc. This was a nice perk, but this was something no one had mentioned to us.

8. Dinners—Although I knew 2 nights were formal, I thought that the ‘casual nights’ meant shorts and such. I had only packed one pair of khakis for my husband and he had to wear them to dinner each night. I’ll know better next time. Casual dinners are not jeans and t-shirts. It is khakis, polo shirts, button downs, and blouses.

Once we got past the first day, we relaxed and had a wonderful time. There was nothing to complain about and I will cruise with Royal Caribbean again. (Hopefully next year!)

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