1st time cruise!

Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 12:04 PM
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1st time cruise!

We are going on our 1st cruise on Carnival's Elation. My mother, best friend and I, and our 15 and 16 yr old boys. 5 day cruise to Nassau and Half Moon Cay Bahamas. Do's and don'ts? What to do at ports? How to reserve a shady spot at the beach?
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 12:52 PM
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First, join cruisecritic. Find the roll call for your cruise and join it. You can ask questions, find out about excursions others are doing, perhaps meet up with others or join an excursion.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 04:41 PM
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If you want to tour in port it's easy to get a private tour operator at the dock and cheaper too. Just get a feel for what they offer and negotiate a price. Be sure to be back to the ship in plenty of time. The ship will not wait for private tours if they are late but don't worry. Tons of folks do private tours, no issues.

I don't think you can reserve shady spots on the beach. HMC may have like a shaded cabana but most likely there will be a cost.

Nassau had this collosal resort called Atlantis but to get inside to see it is about $40.00 pp or more. We declined.

Enjoy your 1st one. Do be aware the Elation is not a newer ship and by today's standards is small. If you like it then the newer ship are likely to knock your socks off!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 05:33 PM
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Thank you !
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 10:21 AM
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How exciting to be going on your first! It's hard to know where to begin on offering tips, but I'll give it a try:

If you can, get to the ship for boarding on the earlier side. Check the boarding times when you do your online check-in. The earlier you get there, the more time you'll have to settle in. And you can grab lunch while you're at it.

You'll check in your suitcases as soon as you get to the pier, and won't see them again for several hours. So, you'll want to make sure you have everything you're going to need in the interim with you in a carryon.

One word of caution: on his first cruise, someone I know spent as much during the trip as he did for the cruise itself. Spa, casino, excursions, drinks, professional photographs, Internet service...all are extra and can add up to a nasty surprise at the end of the trip.

In Nassau, if you stay around the port area, there's shopping, restaurants, a straw market and it's quite atmospheric.

If you do take an independent tour, I would echo what "jacketwatch" said--you'll need to make sure you get back to the ship on time because the ship will leave without you. The benefit of going with a cruise line excursion, though it will cost a bit more, is that the ship will wait if the excursion's running late.

Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous paradise and wonderful place to kick back and relax for the day.

Hope that helped. Have a great trip! - Musing About Cruising
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 01:06 PM
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Great advice too rjg. Be sure to have your most imp. papers with you and by that I mean not in your checked luggage and any meds too and of course money and jewelry.

Most cruise lines charge a daily fee for tips to be spread out to the ships staff and its usually like $12.00 per person per day so be aware of that. You are not obliged to tip beyond that too BTW. Yes you can spend a ton of money on extras and will be something to watch for. There will be photographers from the time you embark until you get off and also will be there during dinner times too and that can really ad up. We usually take our own and get one picture on formal or dress up night though I am not sure if there is one on this cruise. I image there is, probably one. don't worry about bringing dress clothes. Most cruise lines do not enforce guidelines these days and I seriously doubt that if there is on on this 5 day cruise they will be stringent. Just no tank tops or cutoffs to bathing suits.

If your boys like pop I think there is a soda card. It will be cheaper.

This is a low key cruise and the main port of Nassau requires no excursion though again do it from a local vs. the ships excursions which are way over priced.

Do try conch. There is a local place full of restaurants as below:


"What began as a few ramshackle huts has grown into a Bahamian dining destination. Andros and Twin Brothers Seafood & Steakhouse are just two of the restaurants you'll find in this strip of restaurants and bars offering fresh seafood and homemade dishes to locals and visitors alike. The Fish Fry is a great place to try conch – you'll find conch salad, scorched conch, conch fritters, cracked conch and conch chowder, just to name a few of the most popular dishes. Several festivals and public events are held here each year, but the atmosphere is decidedly upbeat and festive every day." Wash it down with local brew called Sands. You'll be in the Bahamas! Expect service to be a tiny bit slow. .
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 01:16 PM
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Cruising with teens advice here. Soda can add up to a significant expense - it is never free, even at meals. Do the math and consider buying a soda plan.

Set some parameters about what amount of freedom they will have. You may feel comfortable allowing them to roam the ship and meet for dinner, or you may require them to let you know their whereabouts. Either is fine - just decide ahead of time and agree upon it with your friend.

WiFi, cell service, etc will also cost. If they are married to their electronics like most kids that age, find out how much it will cost and decide what you will pay for. In port international charges will apply - you can add that to your plan ahead of time. On board/at sea, the costs can become very high.

On the other hand, feeding 2 teenage boys without going bankrupt is easy on a ship.

We have always found taxis or small buses right at the dock willing to take passengers for a small amount of money to beach. Just make sure you know how to get back and cost.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 01:25 PM
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If you are flying into the port, I always recommend you go the day before and stay at a hotel to relax and get a good night's sleep. Your first afternoon and evening on the ship is a lot of fun - if you are not so exhausted from travel that you just crash in your cabin. Don't waste the first day on board sleeping.

Even more important, if you fly in the day of the cruise and your flights are delayed, you can miss the cruise. Even if it is just a tight schedule, it can be nerve racking. I did it once. Never again! In Summer, fly earlier in the day - less chance of thunder storms and delays, plus usually more flights later if there is a delay. Winter, of course, can always have delays.

Board as early as you can to enjoy the first day.
In your cabin, look for the list of activities and times. It may be on your bed, in the door or on the TV. That way, you won't miss something you might enjoy.
Check out teen activities.

Do check out what is available and make a plan for Nassau. It could be your one day to splurge, at least for the boys.

Before departing or shortly after, you will have a muster drill for putting on life jackets.

I have not been on the Elation, have been on another ship that size, but with fewer passengers. We are used to bigger ships, but enjoyed it a lot. Your ship was refurbished a couple of years ago, so should look pretty good. The pool area and buffet may get crowded. I have found things I loved and things I didn't on every cruise, regardless of the size, itinerary, ship, etc. Food may be great, maybe not. Same with entertainment. Some people do not like the coffee, choice of tea or whatever. I don't care that much. Our main thing is to get a bit of sun in winter, not have to cook, have the bed made by someone else, hear some music, be on water, maybe see some new or interesting places (or not). Cruises of any kind are the most relaxing and fun vacations we ever have.

BTW, when are you going?
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 10:12 AM
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A few other tips:
Pack a bathing suit in your carryon. That way you can go into the pool while everyone else is waiting for their suits in their luggage.

Sign your teens up for O2, the teen club. They’ll get a chance to hang out and make some friends their own age onboard.
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Old Jul 25th, 2016, 02:58 AM
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One more thing. Don't panic if your luggage is not delivered to your cabin prior to the ship sailing. It will get there and was not left at the dock.

And best cruise advice I received here years ago. After night #1, leave a cash tip for your cabin steward; in the $10 range per cabin. Best money I have ever spent on a cruise. Write a short note indicating cabin looked nice (if it did). This will be much appreciated. When we do this, our cabin gets cleaned first, we get an extra pillow easily if we want one, etc.
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 10:17 AM
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I second the CruiseCritic rec. I also like this article which has a ton of good info for newbies: http://www.cruzely.com/107-cruise-li...-and-freebies/

I think above all, just don't get overwhelmed. You want to just sit on the beach? It's your cruise. Don't feel like you have to do all the activities if you don't want to.
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