For our honeymoon, I wasn’t involved at all in the planning. I let my husband do the planning COMPLETELY. I thought it would be difficult to let go because I like knowing what I’m doing, where I’m going and I usually have a lot of opinions but this time, it was quite easy. I was so tired of all the planning required by an Indian wedding that when he told me he wants to go to the Caribbean for our honeymoon, I immediately agreed and made him take full responsibility of it! Little did I know that what he planned would now be known the best vacation I have ever been on!
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Allure of the Seas
1. Keep an eye out for sales
Cruise companies rarely go on sale – but once they do, be ready to save a lot of money! Whether it is for the ticket or on board credit, sometimes they have really good deals that will end up saving you hundreds of dollars. We got our tickets on Black Friday and managed to save $200 on our cruise tickets and $100 additional on board credit. (Also check all the perks of your credit card! Our NYC to Miami and Orlando to NYC flights were free because we used miles to purchase the tickets – that saved us a good $800)
2. Pack a carry on bag for your first day
Besides your luggage, pack a carry on bag that you will bring onto the ship with you, complete with 1 outfit change and your bathing suit if you are planning to hit the pool right away. I say this because once your luggage is checked in, there is a chance that you could only get it later that evening. It happened to me and I was stuck wearing my jeans the whole day. In Miami. During spring. It wasn’t great.
3. BYOW – Bring Your Own Wine
On a Royal Caribbean Cruise, you are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine to your stateroom, free of charge, after that they charge you corkage for any additional bottle. My advice would be to pack it in your carry on bag to prevent breakage as the other bags are surrendered before you get onto the ship, pretty much just like when you check in your baggage before getting on a flight.
4. Unlimited beverage packages are best enjoyed on sail days.
There are days that you dock and days that you sail. It would be pointless to pay for unlimited drinks on days that you will get off the boat to explore the port of embarkation but you can make the most of your drink package if you are on the ship all day just lazing around and enjoying the many activities the ship has to offer. They offer this package at the beginning of the trip for $56 per person but we opted to get this on the 3rd night of the cruise, that way there was 1 port day and 3 sail days for us to enjoy and take advantage of this package. We ended up saving $48 in total. Iced tea and lemonade are free throughout the cruise so if you want to opt out of it but not only have water during your vacation, you have that option or you can order al a carte.
You will be on this glorious vacation for only a few days but don’t let that stop you from unpacking. This cruise line gives you a lot of storage in your state room so completely unpacking will not be a problem. It will make getting dressed a lot easier too especially for the gala nights on board.
6. Plan your meals, shows and activities ahead of time
Once you are all booked for your cruise, you will be given log in details to be able your cruise planner online. Your cruise planner allows you to book your dinner reservations as well as reservations for any activities or shows you plan to attend. There are many things to do on board but there are also many people so be sure to book ahead! We booked everything in advance so not only did we get good seats to Mama Mia Live but we also got to ice skate on board! We also watched a movie, a comedy show and we attended game shows on board as well.
7. Breakfast and Lunch are also served in the Main Dining Room
This is one thing we noticed on the cruise planner – breakfast isn’t listed on there and lunch is said to be in Brasserie 30 but that’s what they call the MDR during the day. However, we always preferred to go pick up our breakfast from the buffet in Windjammer Market Place (the international buffet on board) and bring it back to our stateroom so we could watch TV while eating. I would always lean towards having a Filipino breakfast because nothing beats garlic rice and corned beef!!
8. Research the ports ahead of time
By doing this, you are only doing yourself a favor because you never know what local restaurants / tourist spots you will find. They have well prepared shore excursions prepared for you which you can choose but sometimes exploring a new place on your own can be a really good experience. My favorite part of the cruise was when we took a taxi to downtown in Cozumel, Mexico and we rented bikes to explore the city. We researched beforehand, of course, and managed to find the Top 1 and Top 2 restaurants with great ease.
9. Bring your own power adapter to give you more outlets
In our case, we used the power strip to charge the laptop, which was connected to the TV via HDMI cable so we could watch our own TV Shows on board. We also used it so we could charge our phones and camera simultaneously and not waste any time waiting for any devices to charge. We also brought along portable solar chargers for the days we spent off the boat! There are so many amazing things you will see, surely you will want to take photos of everything!
10. Don’t be afraid to order what you want
A lot of people think they are limited to ordering just 1 appetizer, 1 soup, 1 main course, etc. but the truth is that you can order whatever what you want! The crew on board will not judge you, they even encourage it sometimes. I had an experience with one waiter wherein he suggested that we order all 3 appetizers and just share it because everything was getting really good feedback that night and I’m glad I listened to him otherwise I would have never known the happiness that is Escargots Bourguignonne.
Bonus Tip: Bring your own medicines on board because the prices on board are all severely inflated. I brought along medicine for sea sickness, headaches, cough and fever. I also brought Bactidol and Berocca just in case! It didn’t add to my weight and I ended up getting sea sick on one of the days on board so I’m glad I had access to medicines.
Also, it has to be said that among the many people we met on board, the ones we remember the most are the Filipino wait staff. It’s incredible how much better the service got once they found out we are from the Philippines too. Everyone goes out of their way to make your vacation a great one but the Filipinos take it a notch higher and make you feel so welcomed. If you go on a cruise and you meet a Filipino working there, be sure to tell them you’re from the Philippines too because not only will your service improve, the happiness in their eyes to meet a fellow Filipino is like no other!