Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our First Cruise

I've been wanting to go on a cruise for years. Tom and I actually had been planning on going on one after he graduated from college. He said it would be my graduation present for supporting him through school. About 1 1/2 years ago, my parents decided to take all of us (my siblings & spouses) on a cruise as a celebration for my brother's return from his mission (when I got home from mine, we went to Hawaii....but we had no spouses at that time). Needless to say, we were all very excited. None of us had been on a cruise before, so this was a new experience for everyone. My parents decided to take us on a cruise to Mexico & we all counted the days until it happened. Unfortunately, we had no way of predicting Swine Flu.

Royal Caribbean had to change our ports from Mexico to Oregon, Washington, & Victoria B.C. because of Swine Flu. Unlike some other cruise lines however they gave us several different options even though we didn't have insurance on the cruise tickets. Regardless of the fact that the trip would be a lot colder than we planned & I am from one of the ports we still decided to go on the scheduled cruise. Because of the change of ports the price of the tickets went down, so my dad got a big refund from the tickets and we got and additional $350 per room for on board purchases & $350 per room as credit to use on a cruise within the next year. We couldn't change to another cruise or cancel our flights due to uncooperative airlines. Alaska Air (my airline) was pretty cooperative, but Delta (everyone elses airline) was not helpful at all. The problem was they were only willing to refund them or transfer if they were flying directly to Mexico. Even though we were going to Mexico, we were landing in L.A. This will make me double think using Delta in the future.

Regardless of the colder weather, we had an absolute blast. This was due mostly to the customer service that Royal Caribbean offers. My husband enjoyed the cruise because he's an engineering geek and loves anything ship or plane related. He spent a lot of his free time on board walking around the ship taking pictures! I enjoyed the cruise because I found out I love being pampered & I also loved the entertainment on board. I'm also very passionate about customer service and they went above and beyond in every area to make sure everyone had a great time!

We loved our stateroom attendant, and dining room waiters. The dining room assigns everyone a seat at the beginning of the week and you sit at that table for every dinner all week long. Because we were traveling with such a big group (9 people), our table only included people in our group. In most situations though this enable you to meet other people on the cruise as well as develop relationships to your dining staff. Our table was on the third floor (the "Sound of Music" floor) of the dining room and on the outside so we had a beautiful view every night through a window. Our first night we were even able to witness a group of dolphins leaping through the waves. Very cool! The food in the dining room was very good too! Some of the guys in our group even tried multiple dishes every night. It was all included in the price of your ticket. Our stateroom attendant would leave us animals every night made out of towels. Think balloon animals but made with towels instead of balloons. It was something I looked forward to every night. She was always there with a greeting and a smile every time I saw her. Plus she pointed me in the right direction a couple of times when I got turned around on that huge ship.

I will definitely go on a cruise with them again and I would recommend them to anybody interested in going on a cruise that wants to do more than gamble and drink. There were a lot of activities and other things to do every day. My husband and I even liked our days on the ship cruising better than our ports of call. Of course that could change if we went places we had never been before. The next time I go, I will do a few things differently though. I will book at least one on-shore excursion through the cruise line, I will schedule my dinner for the late schedule so that it wouldn't conflict with shoreline activities (however if you have kids this might not be the best choice), and I will only eat 2 meals a day (being full all the time not so much fun).

In short, I loved the experience and can't wait to go again!!!!