Caribbean Cruise & Travel Tips

Cruise travel tips you will want to know before you set sail.

Caribbean Cruise image

You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned I was away on a week long cruise.  I’ve finally had time to sit down and go thru all of our pictures and wanted to share some of the Click Retreat to the Caribbean with you all!  This post will be picture heavy and part one of two to break it up a little.  Since I had never been on a cruise before,  I thought I would make this post about life on a cruise ship, and share some cruising tips I learned.

**I also took a lot of video on the trip and made a fun little 1 minute video – be sure to check that out at the end of this post 

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship image

Last summer I heard that the Click Retreat was going to be a Caribbean Cruise and if that didn’t sound enticing enough…..it was going to be in January! Smack in the middle of winter, after all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and the best part was, it had a “I can’t pass this up” price tag!  A photography and blogging workshop that took place on a cruise?  I signed up fast , got my first passport, started marking down the days and collecting cruise travel tips.

lunch on cruise ship image

The retreat was a great size….about 50 people and was geared to bloggers who happen to be photography enthusiasts as well. I brought Allison with me (since she helps me with my blog) and went only knowing a few others who were going and we came home with many new friends. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s THE best perk of blogging…….the connections and friendships made are priceless.

We had 3 full days that were spent entirely on the boat.  We had several photography and blogging sessions, a few special dinners at various premium restaurants on board the ship, and private tour of the ships’ galley by several of the boats’ chefs (which I was so disappointed that I missed)

Roayl Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship image

The cruise was such a fabulous price because the Click Retreat was sponsored, in part, by Southwest Airlines and Royal Caribbean.  Our ship, Oasis of the Seas, is one of the two largest cruise ships in the world.  For our first cruise, we definitely went with “go big or go home”.

on deck of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas cruise ship image

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

The ship is 17 decks high with 7 ‘neighborhoods’ and holds over 5,400 passengers, and more than 2,300 crew members.

Even though we were on the ship for 7 days, we didn’t even begin to touch on everything the ship has to offer!  You could cruise multiple times and have a new experience every time.  There’s definitely something for everyone.

The Oasis of the Seas has  27 different dining options, 20 bars, a rock climbing wall, a zip-line, five swimming pools, a mini-golf course, surf simulators, a basketball court, ice skating, a living park, an amphitheater, a boardwalk with a carousel, youth & teen zones, duty free shopping……..and so much more.  Pretty much every incredible experience you could possibly imagine for everyone.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship details and cruising tips at TidyMom.net

We loved that you never needed to find someone to ask how to get some where,  or what there was to do – each deck has an electronic self help board to help you find out what you can do at any time on the ship.  From show times, to when you can go ice skating…..it was all just a click away.

This ship is BIG…..I wore my Fitbit and logged an average of 10,00 steps a day (some days less, some days more).  We took the stairs a lot, and got lost a few times, but like the electronic board, there was also maps of the ship deck details on every deck.  The ship model/map was positioned the same as the actual ship, so if you didn’t know if you were at the front or back of the ship, you could easily find out by looking at the ship model (and yes it was very easy to get turned around, even for someone who’s usually very well oriented with her directions 😉

We loved that there was even a Starbucks on board (not far from our room) !!  One evening Allison stopped by to grab a drink with out me, and they asked where her side kick was—- that was our first clue we had been getting a lot of Starbucks 😉   I’m addicted to the Flat White lately.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship quiet spot

Even though there are some where around 6,000 people on the ship we were still able to find quiet spots that were not crowded, like the Sun Deck.  It’s a little hidden deck that’s tucked away on deck 14 behind the kids areas.  The Sun Deck is a little hard to find, so I think many people had no idea how to get to it.  It was a good place to go when you wanted to get away from the larger crowds.

Pina Coladas in a fresh pineapple on board the cruise ship image

Drink Packages

We did drink more than coffee from Starbucks.  The ship makes these pina coladas in a fresh pineapple on deck 16.  They hand you the inside of the pineapple to snack on while they make your frozen drink for you. – They were just over $7 a piece, not bad and so fun and refreshing to drink!

The ship has drink packages you can purchase, but for us, since we mainly drink water, we just paid for the few drinks we had during our cruise. Royal Caribbean has several drink packages from soft drinks to cocktails……if you consume a lot of beverages, or don’t want to have to worry about it, a drink package might be the best option for you. Either way, they swipe your sea pass card and it’s credited to your account or package.

Aquatheater onboard Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship. image

Motion Sickness Remedy

We did have to remind our selves, that we were actually on a moving boat on several occasions.  Fortunately, motion sickness was not an issue for either of us.  Apparently we had some pretty rough water, and yes you could feel it.  It didn’t bother me at all, and we actually enjoyed it while going to sleep.  I did buy Sea Bands that Allison wore the entire trip, since she was worried about getting sick.  I just ordered them from Amazon before we left.  They are an acupressure wrist band that reduce nausea associated with: Travel Sickness, Morning Sickness, Post Operative, Chemotherapy Treatment.

You wear one on each wrist (the package tells you were to place it on your arm) – the package says they provide immediate relief as soon as you put them on – but Allison just wore them all the time, instead of waiting to test that out.  They are $6.50 a pair, and don’t make you sleepy, they are drug free….even safe for pregnant women and children.  I can’t recommend them enough!!  ** I also heard that guest services has seasick pills readily available if you need them 😉

Ocean rainbow onboard Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

 Cashless System & Lanyards

All Royal Caribbean ships use a cashless system.  This means that your boarding card is used to make any purchases onboard the ship.   Your sea pass card is also your room key, you need it to get on and off the ship as well (everytime your card is scanned your picture shows up on their screen so it can not be used by someone else).  So you basically need it on you at all times.  I bought a lanyard for each of us that we wore the entire trip.  I loved this system!!  You can go to the gift shop and have them punch a hole in your card if you don’t have sleeve for your lanyard.  We never carried a purse with us, you never had to fumble with cash or finding your credit card, or keys.  I also bought a Vera Bradley campus ID case to clip to my lanyard when we left the ship.  This gave me a spot to put my drivers license (id needed to get back on ship) as well as some cash and my credit card for making purchases off the ship.  Again, this way I did not have to worry about taking my purse, or worry about losing my ids or money because I had them around my neck the entire time.

This whole system was incredibly convenient and when we got home, back to reality, it was such a bother to carry a wallet full of credit cards, cash, id and a key ring! How nice it would be to have a system like this in ‘the real world’ 😉

Click Retreat 2015 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship image

Stateroom and Tips

Royal Caribbean provided most of the bloggers in the retreat group a stateroom with a seaside balcony to share with a roommate.   The balcony was super spacious, and really added to the space you have in a stateroom, not to mention your own private ocean view!   It was wonderful to be able to sit outside in the morning and watch the sun come up over the ocean, work at the table, or enjoy complimentary room service breakfast out there.  Room service is free and is a great idea to utilize on days that your ship will be docking, so you don’t have to waste time grabbing breakfast in a dinning room before you leave the ship.  We simply ordered breakfast the night before, so we could eat in the room before leaving for the day.

Pack Smart

Raise your hand if you are an over packer?  I am!! and apparently most of us on the Click retreat were too – we had a chartered bus take most of us to the cruise ship the day we boarded, and we had to call in a second bus because all of our luggage would not fit on one bus! ha!!….that’s what happens when 50 women travel together 😉  I’ve never been on a 7+ day trip and of course I wanted to throw in some….ok a lot of “just in case” outfits.  I’m here to tell you – RESIST the urge to overpack and pack light.  I bet I didn’t even wear or even pull out 2/3 of what I brought with me.  I wore maxi dresses pretty much the whole trip (2 evenings I wore a nice dress to the formal dinners) and a few swimsuits.

I put all of our clothes in travel bags and sweater bags (which I will now be using every time I travel).  This was a fantastic way to keep our clothes organized and packing a breeze.  The sweater bags are from The Container Store and I loved that they are clear, so it makes it easy to see what is in them.  I also bought a few sets of packing cubes.  The packing cubes are nice because they come in a variety of sizes and are nylon, so they should hold up over time better than the sweater bags.  Having everything in packing bags made it super quick to unpack, we just pulled out our dresses to hang in the closet and left most of everything else in the bags.

Adhere to that old traveler’s adage, “Pack your suitcase and then remove half the contents before you close it.”

Stay Organized

By far, my favorite tip I learned before cruising was to bring an over the door shoe bag (with clear pockets)!  This was a lifesaver since the bathroom is very small.  We filled the shoe bag with all our bathroom necessities; deodorant, hair products, sun screen, lotions, brushes, hair clips etc.  Basically if it was small, we put it in the shoe bag.

We packed our jewelry in a hanging jewelry travel bag and hung it in the closet to keep our jewelry from getting lost – remember, you’re on a moving ship 😉

Unpack everything from your suitcase and slide them under the bed.  This was such a “duh” moment for me when someone on the ship showed me that our suitcases will fit under the bed!  Having them out of our way was a great space saver!

 

Tips for {first time} cruise ship vacation.  at TidyMom.net

Power Up & Stay connected

Bring a power strip! – the room only has one outlet and you’re going to need more to power up your devices, especially when sharing a room.

Wifi and iphone– The ship has fabulous wifi, and provided all of us with unlimited wifi for the entire trip.  If you need to stay connected during your cruise, this is definitely worth paying extra for (they have different size packages).  Also, if you have the wifi and an iphone you can stay connected without incurring any extra charges on your cell phone bill.  Simply set your iphone on airplane mode and turn off cellular data (settings – cellular- switch cellular data to off) you can now imessage and facetime  anyone with an iphone for FREE (as long as they have wifi or cellular service)!!  This came in super handy on the ship, since many in our group had an iphone, we were able to text (imessage) each other to stay in touch and best of all,  I was also able to text and call (facetime) with family at home for free!  If I cruise again, I’ll definitely be getting wifi.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship photo

Whew…..I know that was a lot of info (and so much that I still didn’t cover about the ship and cruising).   It’s really hard to sum it all up in one post, but hopefully this gave you a good idea.  If you have questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!

I will share another post soon about some of our island hopping adventures in Nassau, St. Thomas and Saint Maarten (which may have involved dolphins!!)

as promised……here’s a fun little video recap of the week I put together.

 

cuising on Roayl Caribbean Oasis of the Seas at TidyMom.net

More Click Caribbean Cruise posts you might enjoy:

Click Retreat Caribbean | Barbara Bakes
Salted Cod Recipe Caribbean Inspired | Wonky Wonderful
Click Retreat Caribbean | Blogging Over Thyme
Click Retreat Caribbean: Part Two | Blogging Over Thyme
A Week in the Caribbean | Kevin and Amanda
Coconut Ranger Cookies {And My Caribbean Vacay Recap!} | The Domestic Rebel
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Has Something for Everyone | 7 on a Shoestring
Royal Caribbean’s Coconut Ranger Cookies | Chocolate Chocolate and More

Disclaimer:  Royal Caribbean and Southwest Airlines were sponsors of the Click Retreat and cruise, and provided a fabulous ticket price for this adventure.  I was not compensated or required to write about my experience, but I did want to share it with my readers.