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7 Things I Learned on My First Cruise! – Tips for First-Time Cruisers

 

This past November I embarked on a brand-new travel adventure, MY VERY FIRST CRUISE! Our 2018 Must Love Travel Agency Event took us aboard the beautiful Celebrity Infinity. This trip was my very first cruise that I had ever been on and it was such an amazing experience! I learned so much about so many new and exciting places that I had never been to before such as the Florida Keys and the Bahamas!  I got to enjoy fellowship and education time with my wonderful colleagues! I also came away from the trip with an in-depth knowledge of cruising!

 

 

 

Prior to this first cruise I was filled with so much excitement as well as so many questions. I didn’t know what to expect with this new mode of travel and was so curious as to how it all worked. Like with everything in life, we learn through first-hand experience! Through my experience onboard the Celebrity Infinity I came away with having all of my cruising questions answered!  Today I am excited to share with you 7 of the things I learned during my first cruise! I hope that this information and tips help you know what to expect whether you are about to embark on your first cruise or your 100th cruise!

 

  1. Get a Drink Package

Many cruise lines offer a drink package. We all had the option to add one of these drink plans on before our sailing. I opted not to get a drink package, I enjoy indulging in a drink or two but that’s about my limit. For me personally I didn’t feel that I would get my money’s worth out of having a beverage package. I was planning to just pay for any drinks I wanted outright throughout the cruise. When the day came to set sail, I was checking in at the terminal and received such a kind upgrade! The Celebrity crew member at check in saw on my license that I had recently celebrated my 21st birthday and gave me the drink package complimentary. What an amazing start to my first ever cruise! Here was where I had my first learning experience. I feel that I definitely made the most out of having a beverage package. What I was unaware of was the fact that even drinks such as iced tea, coffee, sodas and other fountain drinks are all additional charges. Having a drink package allowed me to get these beverages as well as enjoy some alcoholic beverages. In the end when you crunch the numbers having a drink package definitely will save you money in the long run. It is important to know that every cruise line is different in terms of what beverages are included free and what drinks are an up-charge. Different cruise lines offer different types of drink packages and many cruise lines even have different tiers of beverage plans. The best way to know which plan is best for you is to talk to your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team has already done the research and can offer you the best advice to save you money and maximize your vacation experience.

 

  1. Bring a Lanyard

On a cruise, you will be given your stateroom card, this card does so much more than just open your cabin door. This card is also your form of onboard payment, your ID, and it is loaded up with any credits you may have such as a beverage package. You find yourself using this little card all the time. With that in mind it is a good idea to have a lanyard with a clear pouch to house this card in. This eliminates the need to carry your wallet or bag with you throughout the ship. I saw many people on the ship who had cruise lanyards. I instantly made note that I needed to get one after seeing how useful this item was! The onboard gift shops will sell lanyards; however they are going to up-charge you quite a lot on the ship! I saw lanyards in the gift shop for around $20. That is why my best tip is to plan ahead and purchase your lanyards before you set sail. You can find generic lanyards and even some very cute and stylish lanyards on sites such as Amazon for right around $5. Trust me, this item will be super convenient!

 

  1. Optimize Device Charging

Staterooms on a Cruise Ship can be much smaller compared to a standard hotel room. This is just something to be aware of when planning. With proper planning, you will be able to maximize your space to the fullest! Something I encountered was the fact that our stateroom had just one outlet with 2 plugs. Only 2 devices could be plugged in and charging at one time. Once again this was just how it was on our particular ship. Many newer ships come equipped with more outlets and plugs. However, just because you are limited on outlets doesn’t mean you can’t still charge all your devices and gadgets, bring a charger block or a power strip. Devices such as these will allow you to plug multiple device into just one outlet. Another tip I can give is to bring a European adaptor if you have one. Our Stateroom also had a European outlet with two European plugs. This is common on Cruise Ships because they sail all over the world and have passengers from all around the world! Had I brought along a European adapter I could have gained a whole other outlet to use!

 

  1. Cell Phone Use Onboard

One of the things I was most curious about prior to my first cruise was how cell phones worked at sea! I ended up being able to use my phone during the entire duration of the cruise with these tips. I put my phone in airplane mode to make sure I would not get roaming charges. Be aware of the fact that your phone may still work out at sea but you might get hit with extremely high roaming charges. I recommend talking to your cell phone service carrier prior to your sailing to know your range. Even in airplane mode I was able to still call and text with people back on land because I enabled wifi calls and texts. This is a feature that most smart phones have that you can use wifi to call, text and even facetime! I purchased the ships wifi package in order to do this and found that the onboard wifi was very strong and I always got a great connection. If you are wanting to use your phone in port in a different country I would also recommend talking to your service provider before your sailing telling them where you are traveling so you can find out if you can get service. My cell phone company offers a great program where I can pay for an international plan per day. I was able to utilize this during our day in port in Nassau Bahamas.

 

  1. Motion Sickness

As a first-time cruiser, motion sickness was a fear in the back of my mind. I am happy to report I was absolutely fine during our sailing and never felt any motion sickness symptoms. My best advice to you if you are concerned with motion sickness is to just be prepared. I picked up motion sickness pills prior to sailing to keep with me as a precaution. I also bought a product called “Sea Bands.” These are bands that go around your wrist and apply pressure on certain pressure points that are supposed to naturally reduce the feelings of motion sickness. The first night of our sailing we were just getting out to sea and in this area the water was a bit choppier. I was noticing the motion more so choose to put these band on as a precaution. I felt great the entire night so I definitely think this product works wonderfully!

 

  1. Prepare to put Luggage out the Night Before You Disembark

The evening before you disembark you may be instructed to place your luggage outside of your stateroom to be collected by your host. They take your bags away so that the next day they can handle getting the luggage off the ship for you. Every cruise line has different procedures but this is definitely helpful. The morning you depart you don’t have to worry about maneuvering your luggage all around the ship! It is a great system; however, this is just something that you need to be aware of so you can plan ahead. Know that on your final evening of the cruise you will have to gather from your luggage any items that you need for that evening or for the next morning. I just had my backpack with me and I definitely had to do a lot of consolidating and reorganizing to get my essentials to fit in my small carry-on. I made it work but in the future I would definitely plan to bring along a packable tote bag that can be used for this exact purpose. With a packable tote, you can repack just those essentials for that night and the next day and not have to worry about not having enough bag space.

 

  1. Plan with Your Must Love Travel Planner!

My first Cruise experience definitely gave me the cruising bug! I saw that there is so much to do and see during a cruise vacation! You are onboard a floating luxury hotel that is whisking you away to new and exciting destinations! A cruise is multiple vacations inside a vacation! You can make your cruise relaxing, adventurous or a perfect mixture of both! There are so many options to choose from when it comes to activities to experience on the ship, to excursions you can take in port! With this in mind it is important to go into your cruise vacation with a plan and a knowledge of all of your choices so that you can guarantee you won’t miss out on anything that you really want to do. This prior research will allow you to make the most out of your vacation! The best way to do this is by contacting your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team can use their knowledge and experience to give you recommendations and tips that will enable you to get the most from your vacation! Your job is to relax and enjoy while we do the work part for you!

 

Hear more in our new YouTube Video:

 

I hope these 7 things I learned on my first cruise will answer some of your questions about cruising. I highly recommend planning a cruise vacation. I am already counting down the days until I get to set sail again! If you still have questions about a cruise, know that your Must Love Travel Planner will be your advocate and answer any questions you may have! As always, our team at Must Love Travel is happy to help you plan your next vacation! Happy Cruising!

1-2 -3 Travel with Me!

Have you ever been on vacation and thought, wow I think so and so would love this place! Or you have spent all your vacation time traveling to family and friends and just wish you could for once go somewhere other than the homestead? Not that you don’t like home, just that you might want to see some more of the world. Well, you can. Next time you are together with family or with a group of friends, suggest you take a trip together. Multi- family travel has become more and more popular as it gives everyone a chance to get away, but still enjoy being together.

Here are some tips that will help you and your travel professional pull it all together.

  1. Have an idea of everyone’s budget. The budgets can vary on location, however, there are many locations that will allow families to stay in different room types, or have different package ad ons that will fit their budget. Be willing to give a little. You may prefer the Cadilac when others are good with the Chevy. Your travel professional can work on finding a location that will work for everyone but you may have to compromise a little to get everyone there.
  2. Plan ahead. Working on plans for next year’s vacation is best. Even though your travel professional can put together travel close in to your travel date, when working with multiple families, it is better to plan ahead to explore the best deals, give families on different budgets to pay for the trip and plan the details of the trip.
  3. Designate a point person. This person will be the main person speaking to the travel professional, however, it is always important that the travel professional touch base with each family. This will allow that family to convey some of their particular needs making it a smoother process. Let’s face it – the telephone game is often reality.
  4. Plan time for your family. Even though you travel as a group – planning time apart from the whole group will be important to keep the peace! I often suggest not staying in one accommodation, like a large house where everyone fits! It is not always cheaper, and if there are any little differences it can make for a long vacation. Having several accommodations can help get you the alone time needed.
  5. Have realistic expectations. This may go without saying, but have the frank conversations before you travel. Discuss, things like the number of activities you would like to do together, dining likes and dislikes, bedtime and wake time. Don’t catch yourself at 7PM with a group of 20 people saying where should we eat?

Traveling together can be so much fun! There is always something to do something with – guys don’t have to shop against their will and girls don’t have to watch a sports game on the big jumbo tron if they don’t want! There are so many places to go and see – why not do it together!

#MustLoveTravelMoments

Moments are a very brief period of time or an exact point in time.  There is significance in a moment that can have huge impact on your life. The day you met the love of your life, witnessed the birth of your children, spent time with good friends, you name it!   The moments of your journey are ones you don’t want to forget but collect them and etch them as memories forever.

Must Love Travel Planners seek vacations that will give you opportunity to experience once in a lifetime moments. As a result of many of our clients sending us testimonials and pictures of their special moments,  we have established this awesome hashtag — #MustLoveTravelMoments to capture and collect  of those moments.. We believe as the famous Italian poet, Cesare Pavese once said, “  We do not remember days, but we remember moments”. The first time you stand on the soft sand watching the sunset with your new spouse on your honeymoon or capture the joy of your children as you explore the world, these are moments that need to be shared and remembered.

Here is a moment from one of our family vacations to Dollywood in TN!  We had a great time!

Great ways to capture #MustLoveTravelMoments include anything from quick snaps on your phone, professional pictures from the photographer onboard a ship, travel journals that you write, draw in and sharing them with friends and family on social media. Sharing your moments can be inspiring to others.  We would love to see your moments on our brand new Must Love Travel Group. It is a public group to share and be inspired!

Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405874653192913/

Traveling with Autism | Make Vacation Fun Again

Planning for a vacation is typically an exciting time for a family.  They are looking forward to time spent together at their destination, plenty of activities to experience, the food etc., and few expect any challenges to get in the way.  But for some families, vacation planning is stressful and something to be avoided all together.  Those families may not think vacationing is an option for them because someone in the family is on the Autism Spectrum and trying to plan a trip to accommodate them is overwhelming.

As a Certified Autism Travel Professional I would like those families to know that I’m here to serve them and make vacation planning enjoyable and stress-free.  Every family deserves some time to bond, create memories and share a destination without having to worry about how a family member on the spectrum is going to cope, because the details have already been taken care of.  With one in 68 children in the US today diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it’s important to me to be able to provide a vacation experience that is memorable for those families.

I’ve been specially trained to work with these families by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and together we can make vacationing a possibility.  Each person on the Spectrum has different needs, different triggers etc.  By working with the family to learn what those are I can then work to find destinations, vendors and resources that will enable me to present options.

For instance, did you know that it’s possible to take a “practice run” through security at the airport for those that might be prone to sensory overload and where change is hard?  Alerting TSA ahead of time is also an option.  Certain companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Beaches Family Resorts are even Autism certified, making a trip with them that much easier on a family.

YOU deserve to work with a Travel Professional who understands the challenges you face and I’m here to help you.  I hope you will contact me, so we can work together to create a lifetime of memories.

 

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

 

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

 

 

Returning to a Favorite… St. Clair Brown Winery

St. Clair Brown is an urban winery and brewery in the city of Napa. You’ll find tables and chairs located outside its quaint greenhouse and in the gardens itself. You can sample brews or wine, along with some tasty treats made from locally sourced ingredients and the on-site garden.


We were first introduced to St. Clair Brown a couple years ago during a small group tour to boutique wineries. We fell in love with atmosphere, the dedication to local ingredients, and the fact that the owners themselves were the ones to conduct our tasting. Having some time on a recent trip we decided to visit our favorite once again.
We were nervous to go back, because you know how sometimes, you remember things differently than they actually were. You have those rose colored glasses and then you go back and you can’t remember why you liked that place? I’m happy to report that was ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with St. Clair Brown. It was just as unassuming, friendly and tasty as we remembered. The staff greeted us warmly, inviting us to grab a seat wherever we wanted in the garden. Locals were perched around the area reading books, relaxing with friends, their dogs at their feet…always a good sign in my book!
We already knew we liked the wine, so we decided to try the beer flight this time. To accompany the 3 beers you see in the picture we ordered hummus and crackers. Again, remember that things are locally sourced and the chef puts her own spin on things. For instance, instead of using chickpeas for the hummus, she was using peanuts as a base, with lemon flavored olive oil from a local supplier. The first thing that hit your tongue and made it water was the flavor of the lemon and the finish was excellent.


The beer options did not disappoint. Typically my husband is not a stout fan if we’re in the States because of the heaviness of it. That was the whole point of the stout brewed here though…it was the taste without the full stomach feeling that you just ate a loaf of bread. As we tested our beers we chatted with staff and asked about their upcoming releases. This winery was where we finally found a California Chardonnay that we liked and we were disappointed to learn they were sold out of it.

Their upcoming releases intrigued us so much we decided it was time to join their Wine Club. We had pondered it a couple years ago, but never made the move to do it. Now was the time, and we celebrated with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc…a free one, as a Wine Club Member benefit.
If you’re in the area of Napa, you HAVE to stop by this winery. It’s worth your time, trust me, we wiled away a couple hours here just relaxing and enjoying watching the Wine Train go by.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

Don’t Be THAT Person on the Airplane | Tips for Travel Etiquette

With Holiday Travel about to hit full swing I thought I would share some tips for travel etiquette.  Travel can be stressful for people who don’t travel frequently, especially during the busy holiday season.  For those of us that do travel often, our tempers can run high because we are impatient with others.  I hope this article will make you laugh, sigh, and provide you with a little insight into airplane etiquette.

At one point or another, you’ve probably all sat next to THAT person on the airplane. I recently had the chance to join my husband while he traveled on business and was just so overwhelmed by the amount of rudeness etc. that I just wanted to share some travel etiquette with you.
Perhaps people don’t travel often or perhaps in this day and age, they simply don’t think about their fellow passengers like they should. Let’s step outside ourselves for a moment though and think about how to be considerate when you travel.

1. When you board your aircraft…please, stow your smaller bags like purses and backpacks under the seat in front of you. Many people bring rollerboards onboard these days as carry-on and you really should be leaving the overhead bin for them. If you have an empty seat between you and someone else, don’t assume that you should just go ahead and use that tray table and area for yourself.

2. Don’t take your shoes off and keep your feet in your seat area….this isn’t your hotel room or your personal house, you are sharing with strangers that probably don’t want want your feet by them. Going along with that….don’t put your feet up on the bulkhead..again, be considerate of people around you. It’s just rude.  And PLEASE….put your shoes back on before you go the airplane lavatory….as a flight attendant friend likes to say, “That’s not apple juice on the floor!”

3. Pay attention in security screening areas….listen to what TSA is telling you. Everyone is trying to get where they are going with minimal hassle. If you’re unsure of procedure, ask before you get in line, read the website before you leave for the airport, educate yourself. Nothing is more annoying than being stuck behind the person who has the bottle of water in their bag, the change in their pocket, etc. Because they simply didn’t pay attention and now they are holding up the line.

4. Everyone will get served on the flight…for no reason should you feel it’s necessary to reach into the flight attendant’s cart and help yourself. Nor should you really feel the need to ask for 6 bags of pretzels for yourself. Seriously, I watched this happen on my flight….I was incredulous.

5. Just be polite….we all have bad days, we’re all trying to get someplace….remember to just be nice. It will make the journey go faster.

Flight resources:
Your airline’s website FAQ’s
TSA’s website
State Department’s Travel Page

I’m always happy to chat with you about travel and questions you might have so feel free to contact me at Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com or call direct at (321) 323-9835.

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Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

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