Have you ever been on a cruise? It feels like everyone has gone on one; your parents, your grandparents, maybe your neighbor took their kids on a Disney Cruise last year…but if you’re anything like me, you haven’t actually been motivated to go on one! I wanted to share my experience with you all because I had SO much fun and I am officially hooked on cruises. Last year, I was chosen to be an “O Mag insider” for Oprah Magazine. I am one of fifty people from around the country who has the opportunity to test new products before they hit the market as well as share some of the latest Oprah Magazine trends! O Magazine chose be and five other ladies to attend the O Magazine “Adventure of a Lifetime” cruise with Holland America.
During my 7-day Caribbean cruise with Holland America and Oprah Magazine, I attended incredible fashion and beauty seminars as well as book club meetings and health/wellness seminars. I was thrilled to be picked to go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and I wanted to share a few tips and tricks on how to survive a 7-day cruise (this is especially helpful for first time cruisers).
First of all, when you book a cruise, make sure to read the fine print…I can’t stress this enough! Book everything you can way ahead of time: excursions, dinner reservations and spa appointments need to be completed way before you step foot on the ship. Each ship and cruise line is different, however, these are all common factors. When I received the ships itinerary, I sat down and researched all the ports we would be stopping at and planned my excursions ahead of time. I also booked a massage, which was much needed by day 5, and dinner at the “fancier” restaurants onboard the ship.
Make sure to plan ahead and always assume there are no stores on the ship…better to be safe than sorry! Bring plenty toothpaste, hair products and medicines to last you the entire voyage. I actually ran out of toothpaste and had to stop at one of our first ports to buy some (ooops). Also, don’t forget to bring medicine!!! Bring whatever you think you may or may not need. I would 100% pack Sea Bands, Dramamine and Bonine. Even if you’ve NEVER had motion sickness, you might feel it while on a cruise. The minute I stepped on the ship (before we began sailing) I already felt the movement of the ship. I immediately bought Sea Bands in the gift ship but was told they sold out that same day! We just so happened to have a bit of a rocky week with relatively rough swells. Some of our water excursions were cancelled and we couldn’t stop at one port because the swells were too big for the ship to dock. Crazy right? Apparently this is very common and there’s nothing you can do about it.
The majority of people I spoke to prior to going on the cruise told me I wouldn’t feel a thing while at sea…I’m here to say Au Contraire!! We had rough seas with huge swells and I wore my Sea Bands all week and took Dramamine nightly. So all in all, be prepared for everything and anything that might come your way. It also takes at least two days before becoming familiar with the ship…explore the ship and see what all it has to offer! The ship I went on had an incredible espresso café that I was extra excited about (given my new coffee habit). There was also a piano bar that had live music at night, which was incredible; nothing better than having a glass of wine while listening to great music! There is truly so much to do that its best to get the lay of the land (ship) early on so you don’t miss out on anything.
Lets talk about Wi-Fi (or lack thereof). UGG it’s sooooo expensive! I’m talking $250 for 1000 minutes or $5.99 a minute to call home. So if you depend on Wi-Fi for work, make sure to look into other options prior to boarding the ship. Another secret/important cruise hack…each passenger is allowed to bring a bottle of alcohol from each port. I had my cab driver stop at a liquor store on my way to the ship so I could pick up a couple bottles of my favorite wine. My two $12 bottles of wine saved me at least $100 so definitely take advantage of this. Also, buy water off the boat at each port or bring reusable water bottles that can be filled up by the staff onboard. I missed the reusable bottle memo…good to know for my next cruise!
Now lets get to the important part…packing! Ok ladies, I was on a cruise for work and I am a fashion blogger so I enjoyed dressing up every night for dinner and the two “gala” evenings gave me life! I over packed because it was a work trip but for the average gal on vacay, I would be super strategic about packing! The cabins are TINY and there is little to no room for storage (if you bring two large suitcases, you will be using one as a coffee table lol). My cruise was a Caribbean warm weather getaway, so sundresses and sandals were my go-to items. When packing, think comfortable yet fashionable. Wear a bulky sweater or jacket on the airplane and it can be doubled as a cover-up or worn on a cooler evening. My cruise had two gala nights so I opted for dressier items on these particular nights. I should mention that the term “gala” is used rather loosely…some people had on shorts, others had on long gowns. I wore this particular “escape” dress on one gala night and received numerous compliments. You can wear this dress at night with a heel or during the day with a flat sandal. I personally love dressing up so why not dress to impress and have fun with it?!? Sun dresses and maxis are must-have items for the day. These two dresses, the “waterfall dress” and “from above” dress were two of my favorite looks! Also, don’t forget to bring a jacket! This military jacket saved me on numerous occasions…even though we were in the Caribbean, it was very chilly at night. This is such a fun and versatile jacket that goes with just about anything you can imagine.
Now, lets get to shoes! You don’t really need to bring a lot of shoes! I would stick to a simple black sandal, a neutral colored sandal and a neutral pump for dressier nights. If you plan on going on some sort of hiking adventure, obviously bring sneakers or any type of shoe the excursion recommends. The best part about going on a vacation is letting loose. For me, this means hair up in a ponytail or bun, little to no makeup and I trade in my foundation for a bold lip color that accentuates my (spray) tan. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this but a few things you should do to prep for a cruise…mani, pedi, wax and spray tan! Looking good is feeling good! Plus, it helps you relax during your vacation…remember the old days were you used to spend the first 3-days in the sun trying to get a tan? (Or in my case, you ended up with wicked sunburn). No more baking in the sun for me. A spray tan goes a long way and allows you to protect yourself from the sun while still having a bronzed glow to show off.
Below are some of my favorite looks that I wore during the cruise. They are easy to pack, versatile and trust me; you will receive numerous compliments when wearing these outfits: (All pictured above).