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Lessons Learned on My First Cruise

Alaska Inside Passage Cruise Aboard the Norwegian Pearl

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Sitting Area of Balcony Cabin on Norwegian Pearl

Sitting Area of Balcony Cabin on Norwegian Pearl

©Angela M. Brown (May 2007)
I've enjoyed my first cruise and look forward to trying it again someday. Before I left, I had several reservations about what cruising would be like. Here's what I found out:

Will I feel trapped?
Frankly, I was so busy doing things, or getting ready to do the next thing, that I never had the opportunity to even think about whether I felt trapped on the ship or not. Certainly, being able to get off the ship on four of the days gave me plenty of time to stretch my legs and feel some freedom.

Will my cabin be too small and confining?
It was definitely small. I had a balcony stateroom and found it a bit restrictive. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a smaller, inside stateroom, particularly if the party included more than one high-maintenance woman (or man!) The counter, mirror, and table space was minimal. In my case, as a "low maintenance" person, I found the cabin to be small in an efficient way, rather than a claustrophobic way.

Will I be bored?
Definitely not. At any given time there were several different activities that I could have participated in. A number of classes were offered each day; most were free, some were thinly-disguised sales pitches, and a few required a small fee. For example, one day's schedule included a skin care clinic, a juggling class, a movie, German class, a lecture on whales, group cycling, margarita tasting, yoga, a trivia contest, arts and crafts class, a ping pong tournament, a slot tournament, bingo, a talent show, and a pub crawl. This is in addition to meals, a port of call, shopping in the boutiques, entertainment shows, and live music in the various lounges. I found that there were many things I would have like to have participated in, but I simply didn't have enough time.

Will I be the only person under 50? Under 60?
It's true that you see a lot of gray-haired folk on an Alaska Inside Passage cruise, but there were also plenty of families with children, honeymooners, and middle-aged couples. As a forty-something, I felt perfectly comfortable.

Will I get motion sickness?
Yes, on the days when we were in open water, I was miserable. In retrospect, I should have taken the maximum amount of motion sickness medicine right from the beginning. I did find that crackers, ginger ale, and eating a green apple helped. Leaving my cabin to walk around was definitely a bad idea while I was feeling sickly.

Other Norwegian Pearl Cruise Tips

Eating at the Buffet
The Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors buffets were always very loud and crowded, particularly at breakfast and lunch. It seemed to me that the best way to make the buffet work for you is to have part of your group grab a table, and then take turns getting your food and drinks. If you want a more relaxed and quiet meal, take your breakfast and lunch at the Summer Palace dining room, which is only open for limited hours in the morning and around noon.

Daily Newsletters
Each evening when you return to your cabin you’ll find a bunch of paper waiting for you. The main item is the daily newsletter, which details all the activities scheduled the next day. The newsletter also provides weather and docking information, the hours for each restaurant and shop, and bar promotions. When appropriate, you’ll also receive maps and shopping brochures for the next day’s port of call, boutique discounts and schedules, special invitations, and disembarkation instructions.

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