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Hello all. My wife and I are taking our first cruise. Late bloomers so to speak. Both in early 60's. We are going with a few other family members. Sailing on Dec. 30th for 11 days in the Southern Caribbean aboard Serenade of the Seas. We have a large balcony room. I have read on blogs that your first cruise should be a short one to make sure it is something we like. That didn't happen. Anyone go on the New Years cruise? What can we expect? We are very active and like to have a good time in everything we do. Thank you for any advise you care to share. 

 

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My first cruise was a 7 day Disney cruise on a $6,000 cast member discount.  The only reason I could see to start with a short cruise is to have something more exciting to look forward to. Doing a 7+ day on an Oasis Class may make a simpler cruise a disappointment?? ...maybe???

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Welcome!

Our first cruise was themed and 3 days, it was so much and so overwhelming I barely remember it. Our second cruise was 5 days and just when we got into it, it was over. I think 7 is a sweet spot for a first cruise, but with friends on board the 11 days will fly by, don't even sweat it. 

There will probably be a New Years celebration!

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1 hour ago, Richk said:

Hello all. My wife and I are taking our first cruise. Late bloomers so to speak. Both in early 60's. We are going with a few other family members. Sailing on Dec. 30th for 11 days in the Southern Caribbean aboard Serenade of the Seas. We have a large balcony room. I have read on blogs that your first cruise should be a short one to make sure it is something we like. That didn't happen. Anyone go on the New Years cruise? What can we expect? We are very active and like to have a good time in everything we do. Thank you for any advise you care to share. 

 

Balcony rooms are great - you'll have plenty of space.  On New Year's Eve, all of the venues will have champagne and music - you don't need to be in just one spot.  Enjoy your cruise, and take advantage of the sea days to relax from port days.  I would recommend reviewing deck plans before you travel to familiarize yourself with the ship.

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-ships/serenade-of-the-seas/deck-plans/1888/02

When you are on the ship, you will find the spaces you prefer.  Have a great trip!

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1 hour ago, Richk said:

What can we expect

Welcome to the message board Rick! Feel free to ask away with any questions you may have. There is a wealth of knowledge here from well seasoned cruisers. Here are some of my recommendation:

1. Check out this website for the Serenade's deck plans. Study them or print them off. That way you will know your way around the ship once you board and won't have to spend time wandering around aimlessly.

2. If possible, get to the port the day before, bad things can happen trying to get to the port the day the ship leaves. The next morning get to the port by 10:00 am. That way you can be some of the first to board. Your cabins won't be ready until probably 1:00 pm. and your luggage will show up later. Carry all your important documents, medication, sun screen, bathing suits in a small back pack or two because thee pools will be open. Lunch will be served in the Windjammer starting at 11:30 and it will be a zoo! Just be prepared,

3. Check out thee Main Dining Room and find out where your table is. That way you'll know where to go when it's time for dinner.

4. The Serenade has what is called "The Centrum" and it gets crowded. There is a lot of entertainment that happens here. Check it out and get there early (20-30 minutes) to get good seats. We have been on the Serenade twice. 

5. We enjoy room service bringing us complimentary coffe, fruit and roles/danish first thing in the morning and enjoying them on our balcony. Great on cruise days and enjoyable on ports days. Then we get ready for the day and find a "proper" breakfast. 

6. Get these luggage tag holders. Many of us here use there and they work out great. The luggage tags you will print (much later, like 45 days out from sailing) will be paper and they recommend taping/stapling them to the handle on your suit case. These are heavy duty plastic sleeves with a stainless steel cable for attaching to your luggage handle...and they're inexpensive. Put these on the morning you go to the terminal. https://www.amazon.com/Cruise-Luggage-Tag-Caribbean-Celebrity/dp/B00UR2M5FE/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Cruise+Luggage+Tag+Holder+Zip+Seal+%26+Steel+-+Royal+Caribbean+%26+Celebrity+Cruise&qid=1565387091&s=gateway&sr=8-3

7. As mentioned above, purchase the deluxe/unlimited drink package on the cruise planner. Routinely check the price and if it has dropped, cancel the more expensive and buy the less expensive. It's legal and most off us here do that. Same thing for the specialty dining, if your group is interested.

8. Again, ask us questions about the ship, itinerary, etc. Most important is HAVE FUN!!!!!

:27_sunglasses:

 

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1 hour ago, Richk said:

What can we expect?

 

Hi Richk.

We did an 11-night Serenade cruise in November/December 2017 for our wedding anniversary and it was great. Our itinerary was not exactly the same as yours but we did visit 3 of the ones you'll be going to. I did a post-cruise review of it but it was over on another forum, so I'll send you a private message with the link so you can read it if you like.

I'm sure your going to have a fabulous time! :14_relaxed:

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2 hours ago, Richk said:

Hello all. My wife and I are taking our first cruise. Late bloomers so to speak. Both in early 60's. We are going with a few other family members. Sailing on Dec. 30th for 11 days in the Southern Caribbean aboard Serenade of the Seas. We have a large balcony room. I have read on blogs that your first cruise should be a short one to make sure it is something we like. That didn't happen. Anyone go on the New Years cruise? What can we expect? We are very active and like to have a good time in everything we do. Thank you for any advise you care to share. 

 

I'm so jealous.  11 nights and a holiday, wow.  Enjoy it won't be too much.

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My first cruise was 12 nights. You will have a great time. If you are going with family and your balcony rooms are next to each other, you can ask the stateroom attendant make the rooms and/or the balcony for part or the whole time. Definitely research the ports and possible excursions. As with traveling with family, set some time to have a few date nights with just you and your wife, maybe hit up a specialty restaurant.  Check out an old cruise compass on this site for your ship/itinerary to get a sense of that happens day to day.

I second people's suggestion to fly/drive in at least a day prior to embarkation. 

With an 11night cruise you will get to know your stateroom attendant and main dining room waiters well, tip them well.

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4 hours ago, Richk said:

Hello all. My wife and I are taking our first cruise. Late bloomers so to speak. Both in early 60's. We are going with a few other family members. Sailing on Dec. 30th for 11 days in the Southern Caribbean aboard Serenade of the Seas. We have a large balcony room. I have read on blogs that your first cruise should be a short one to make sure it is something we like. That didn't happen. Anyone go on the New Years cruise? What can we expect? We are very active and like to have a good time in everything we do. Thank you for any advise you care to share. 

 

I’d advise  others that it’s the opposite. If you start with a short one you take home an impression that everything is rushed and chaotic. Seven days or more you get a real impression of the relaxed life. 

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@Richk  Hi and welcome to the RCB forums!

I agree with @sk8erguy1978 that 7 days is the sweet spot if you are still working.  But if retired, I would say 14 days is right.  My favorite itinerary is Southern Caribbean, I doubt that you will be disappointed.

 I also very much agree with @rjac items 6 & 7.  Get the luggage tag holders and do the cruise planner book/re-book to get your lowest price on items you're interested in.

Enjoy...

 

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2 hours ago, Pen said:

My sister's and my first cruise was May 2018 on a 5 day Anthem cruise to Bermuda.  I have to say I wished it was longer so I could have done more 😀

I really wish Royal would make that a 7 night sailing with two overnights in Bermuda.

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Yes to everything @rjac said, especially the luggage tag holders! 

Something I do with luggage tags also is attach them to my carry on, just in case I leave my bags unattended (not that I would) we can hopefully reunite. I also keep a lose one on me for record.

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49 minutes ago, sk8erguy1978 said:

I really wish Royal would make that a 7 night sailing with two overnights in Bermuda.

I did that exact cruise on Empress of the Seas (it was still Nordic Empress at the time!) back in 2000, and it included an overnight in Hamilton!  It was a really unique cruise having all of that time on the island with no rush to get back. We absolutely loved it!

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1 minute ago, USCG Teacher said:

I did that exact cruise on Empress of the Seas (it was still Nordic Empress at the time!) back in 2000, and it included an overnight in Hamilton!  It was a really unique cruise having all of that time on the island with no rush to get back. We absolutely loved it!

NICE! I really need to book Celebrity for the 7 night to Bermuda, it stays in Kings Wharf the entire time, but that's okay.

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4 minutes ago, sk8erguy1978 said:

NICE! I really need to book Celebrity for the 7 night to Bermuda, it stays in Kings Wharf the entire time, but that's okay.

Absolutely.  The Hamilton night was good for the convenience of going into town and exploring the bar scene until the wee hours, but other than that it wasn't a huge deal.  What WAS impressive was watching them navigate into the port.  You could lean over the sides and it sure LOOKED like you were mere feet from the reefs on both sides coming in.  I was still in the Coast Guard at the time, and the thought of being on that bridge gave me palpitations! 😂

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WOW! What a quick response. Thank you all. I just ordered the bag tags.😁 

We will be flying in a day ahead of the cruise. I had planned on getting the deluxe drink package so thanks for the tip about buying it and watching for a sale. All great advise. Thank you. We hope to become regular cruisers! 

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  Make sure you have the correct IDs or they won't let you on the ship.  Don't be late coming back to the ship when your at the port stops.  The ship will not wait for you unless you are on a Royal Caribbean excursion.   Every night a Cruise Compass will be left in your room that shows the next days activities and if its a port day what time you need to be back at the ship to board.  Sometimes the ship time and the port stop time are different so check that before you leave.  Most of all relax and try not to do everything.  You will have a wonderful time.

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On 8/9/2019 at 5:53 PM, rjac said:

Welcome to the message board Rick! Feel free to ask away with any questions you may have. There is a wealth of knowledge here from well seasoned cruisers. Here are some of my recommendation:

1. Check out this website for the Serenade's deck plans. Study them or print them off. That way you will know your way around the ship once you board and won't have to spend time wandering around aimlessly.

2. If possible, get to the port the day before, bad things can happen trying to get to the port the day the ship leaves. The next morning get to the port by 10:00 am. That way you can be some of the first to board. Your cabins won't be ready until probably 1:00 pm. and your luggage will show up later. Carry all your important documents, medication, sun screen, bathing suits in a small back pack or two because thee pools will be open. Lunch will be served in the Windjammer starting at 11:30 and it will be a zoo! Just be prepared,

3. Check out thee Main Dining Room and find out where your table is. That way you'll know where to go when it's time for dinner.

4. The Serenade has what is called "The Centrum" and it gets crowded. There is a lot of entertainment that happens here. Check it out and get there early (20-30 minutes) to get good seats. We have been on the Serenade twice. 

5. We enjoy room service bringing us complimentary coffe, fruit and roles/danish first thing in the morning and enjoying them on our balcony. Great on cruise days and enjoyable on ports days. Then we get ready for the day and find a "proper" breakfast. 

6. Get these luggage tag holders. Many of us here use there and they work out great. The luggage tags you will print (much later, like 45 days out from sailing) will be paper and they recommend taping/stapling them to the handle on your suit case. These are heavy duty plastic sleeves with a stainless steel cable for attaching to your luggage handle...and they're inexpensive. Put these on the morning you go to the terminal. https://www.amazon.com/Cruise-Luggage-Tag-Caribbean-Celebrity/dp/B00UR2M5FE/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Cruise+Luggage+Tag+Holder+Zip+Seal+%26+Steel+-+Royal+Caribbean+%26+Celebrity+Cruise&qid=1565387091&s=gateway&sr=8-3

7. As mentioned above, purchase the deluxe/unlimited drink package on the cruise planner. Routinely check the price and if it has dropped, cancel the more expensive and buy the less expensive. It's legal and most off us here do that. Same thing for the specialty dining, if your group is interested.

8. Again, ask us questions about the ship, itinerary, etc. Most important is HAVE FUN!!!!!

:27_sunglasses:

 

I ordered and already received the tag holders. Thanks for all of the great advise.

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We took our first cruise back in January.  It was a 5-day cruise on another cruiseline and we really enjoyed it.  So much so that we upgraded to Royal Caribbean and are getting ready for our 2nd cruise in just over 20 days!

I think the best advice anyone gave me was not to let the first day discourage you.  While cruises are great, that first day can be quite stressful....you're typically traveling and/or coming from a local hotel, you've got to get to the ship, get your luggage taken care of, get through the boarding process and with so many people it can be a little daunting.  On top of that, once you get on board, your stateroom will most likely not be ready so you'll have to roam around the ship until it is.  At some point you will have to attend the muster drill and a few other things.  For the unprepared it can be very exhausting.  That's not to say it's not fun; there's definitely a great atmosphere as the ship pulls out of port that very first time.  Just make sure you set your expectations for the first few hours.  In my head the "real" cruise doesn't begin until after the muster drill.  

I think a 7-day is a good starter cruise.  As I said above, our first was 5 days and we were so overwhelmed it took us 2-3 days just to learn our way around.  Just about the time we were getting comfortable with everything the cruise ended and we were sad.  The last night we found a whole new area of the ship we didn't even know existed and never got to visit!

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