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What first time cruisers REALLY need to know!

We have cruised many times on various cruise lines now and I hear so many stories about how you HAVE to take this or that. Many times these things are silly and take up too much space in your suitcase. 

Boarding - The itinerary says 4pm, but that is the time the ship actually sails away! 
Boarding times vary with each cruise line, ship, and departure port so it is important to confirm this with your travel agent in advance to plan accordingly. If your ship departs around 4pm, plan to be at the port around 11am to maximize your first day on board. Many cruise lines are going to a staggered check in plan, so you may have an arrival time already set for you. Lunch will be served at the buffet and most of the quick service locations on the lido deck are open, like pizza and burgers. Many cruise lines have a dining room open for lunch the day you board. Cabins are generally open for you by 1:30pm.
Our daughter was waiting for the rest of the family to finish lunch so we could go explore. 
There was no line to get into the buffet when we arrived around 11:30. This was the line by 1pm! So if you want to enjoy lunch on the ship, try to get to the port earlier.

Carry on - Check in is similar to the airport. There are porters outside of the building that will take all of your baggage to go through security that will be delivered to your cabin later. In your carry on bag make sure you pack anything that you will need the rest of the day. Medications, a change of clothes, any electronics, etc. Also, remember that you can carry on wine! Each line has a different policy, so be sure to check before sailing. Don't forget the corkscrew!

Organizers- You don't need to pack your house to go on a cruise.. So many blogger websites say to pack an over the door organizer, but after being on multiple ships and cruise lines this is not ideal. Yes, there is limited counter space, but there are drawers, cabinets, and extra shelves. They try to take advantage of all the counter space available in the cabin. Not to mention, you are there for a week or less usually. Don't over pack! The only thing we always make sure to pack though is medications, including simple things like Tylenol. We usually just leave them in our bathroom bag, but it is better to have medications when needed rather then have to go search for it! I've seen a nightlight suggested many times too, but most times there is not an outlet that works in the bathroom. I suggest a battery operated votive that you can get at the dollar store. That way you can put it where ever you want. Remember that you are on a moving ship and if you leave the bathroom door unlatched, it will open and close on its own. If you have a toddler with you, a foam door stopper might be a need for your family!
The tiered rack is great for things that you need in the bathroom. The shower usually has body wash and a shampoo/conditioner combo to use. There is rarely a shelf/storage in the shower for your own items. 

Cruise Line Apps - Many cruise lines now have their own app where you connect to the ship and are able to view menus, hours, activities and more for free. For a few dollars many cruise lines have a texting program that allows you to talk to other cruisers. This is perfect for families that want to do different things on board but know where there teen is, or reach other members in their party. Download the app before you leave home! It also has times for dining, and activities that are offered on the cruise. Princess even has it set up so you can order your breakfast for the next morning to be delivered to your cabin. 

Debarkation - This is a mystery to many first time cruisers. The last night of the cruise you pack up all of your bags and place them outside of your cabin. They will be collected and taken off the ship for you. Don't forget to lay out a full outfit and anything you need in the morning. The most common things that people pack by accident are shoes, belts, and bras! Once you exit the ship you will find your bags in the number/color that your tag is that was given to you to place on your bags. Our daughter has some medical issues so we take her booster seat with since she enjoys sitting through dinner with us. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help!

Please contact me for your next Cruise!
~ Jennifer 
412-716-5065 / 770-924-7116

Tour of Sunscape Resort in Cozumel, Mexico

Open area reception desk, this is how most resorts in the Caribbean are set up. 

Great area to relax at the entrance to the resort. This place gets busy at night while guests are getting settled in, they find it to be a great spot to relax and have a drink before dinner.

Just beyond the lounge and reception area is the first pool, and just past the pool is the beach! You can see it in the distance. 
The pool slopes down and gets deeper as you head in the direction of the beach. This makes it great for families with younger children. The large roof on the right has a restaurant that offers lunch and dinner.

There were plenty of loungers, and a few of them were under an umbrella to minimize the sun from hitting you. Recreation desk is on the right side of the pool. You can also find a shelf of books to take or leave once you've finished it for other guests to enjoy. We had no issues finding fresh towels during our visit. The pool area was quiet till mid afternoon.

The daily activity schedule and planned shows for the week are posted off the side of the main pool. We saw very few changes in the activities each day, but it wasn't a concern.

During my stay in the fall, the pool was empty till lunch time most days, and even then there were still empty chairs around the pool.

The giant chessboard near the main pool.

The Seaside Grill and Seaside Bar had a variety of afternoon snacks/lunch choices and then a full menu for dinner.

Lunch/Snack options.

Our snack one afternoon. Nachos and French Fries. We took it over to the pool because the kids didn't want to get out for more than few minutes!

The dinner menu, it is the same every night. That being said, they did say they took requests and would do their best accommodate. 

The entrance to the beach, just past the Seaside Bar. From that point, and to the right of the beach is Sunscape, to the left is Secrets, Adults Only.

The short boardwalk area along the beach that leads up to the main bar. The kids got a number of fruity drinks here! Okay, so did the adults!

Informational sign on swimming.

Water activities rental counter on the beach. Kayaks and Snorkel equipment can be rented here! There was no one manning this counter till lunch time. Apparently this is a sleepy resort in the morning!

Loungers along the beach, there were a few "umbrellas," but not many. The beach was quiet through most of our stay. The pool was busier late in the day!
You can see some of the buildings with rooms in them. These are the oceanfront rooms. The upper ones have balconies and the lower have a patio that is not enclosed for privacy or security. None of the buildings have elevators so if stairs are a concern, let us know when we set up your reservations.

Seaside bar. There were plenty of swings to relax in the shade with your drink. Again, this did not open till about 11am or later.

The beach was perfect for snorkeling or kayaking from but because of the reef off the shore line it is not the best for swimming in deeper water. Swimming is okay, but be prepared for lots of coral and rock. I advise taking water shoes if you have them.

The quieter pool, there is no bar nearby! 

Pool view rooms

Trampoline! We didn't see anyone using it while we were at the resort though. It is near the children's camp program. Teen activities are held throughout the day at various locations throughout the resort including the pool and beach.

Play area inside the enclosed kids camp. They are opened from 9:30am till 9:30pm. The few times we passed it at opening time, we saw families waiting to drop off kids. 

Schedule for the Explorers Club ~ Children's Activities.

Highchairs available on the patio of Portofino. The main restaurant that is open for all meals.

Nice area outside of Portofinos that overlooks the beach. Great spot for a romantic stroll, dinner, or even a wedding! I wish there were lounge chairs here! We love being by the ocean, but need shade. 

Some of the food available over breakfast/lunch at Portofinos. This is an open air buffet restaurant.

Yummy Creation Station! 

Drink options. There is a bar available, but you have to go to it to get a drink beyond juice or milk. That includes sodas. Every bar that we visited offered non-alcoholic versions of their fruity drinks.


Children's buffet area with foods typically found in any American Restaurant. My children were happy with the adult options, but my daughter did try somethings from this area.
A plate of random food that my child picked. At least he chose some vegetables...

Honeymoon Oceanview Room with Jacuzzi. While the patio Jacuzzi is all yours to enjoy alone, it is not private and is visible to those passing by! Something to take into consideration.

My favorite spot at the resort with a good book! My daughter felt that the sand was fantastic and loved that the water wasn't rough.

Even after lunch some days we had the pool to ourselves till they started up activities for the afternoon. On the right is a stage that is located near the pool. Live music some evenings!

One of many bars! This one is located near the buffet.

Even the trash cans are decorative! 

Taxi fares on the left and standard guest room prices on the right. Contact the Travel Depot to set up your next trip to Cozumel!

Here are some random pictures of the beach and water. 

The water was only about knee deep this far out.

We loved seeing all the fish in the knee deep water! 

It's always fun watching people making new memories. 

~ Jennifer 
Travel Depot