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Compare Travel Insurance Media Room › Confessions of a first time cruiser 

Confessions of a first-time cruiser

18 February, 2020 By Natalie Smith

The 8 things that surprised me on my first cruise

As a millennial travel aficionado, Natalie Smith, Marketing Manager,, had previously sworn off cruises as a fun-zone for young families and over-fifties. But after her first holiday afloat, Smith is well and truly on board the trend. She describes how a country music cruise captured her heart and converted her to a cruise-lover, for good.

Nat Smith with fellow cruisers
Smith, (front row in navy jumpsuit) with new friends and country music stars the Toombs brothers (back row)

“I would never have called myself a ‘cruise person’, let alone a ‘country music cruise’ person. I couldn’t imagine being stuck on a boat for a whole week or two (I’ll always remember my nan saying that cruises were like ‘prison with the option of drowning’). I thought cruises were for pensioners, parents with young kids and certainly no place for a mid-30’s gal looking for a bit of R&R. But after seven nights onboard the Radiance of the Seas I was shocked at how much I enjoyed myself.  

Here are 8 things that took me by surprise:

You forget what day it is

I’ve always felt a bit disorientated while traveling, especially in my years as a flight attendant. But my time onboard seemed to take on a vague yet entirely peaceful quality. It became hard to remember life ‘BC’ (before cruise) and keeping track of the days was a challenge. Luckily Royal Caribbean knows this and changes a sign at the bottom of all elevators each day reminding you what day it is. Brilliant! #eatsleepcruiserepeat

Cruises make good company 

Your fellow passengers very quickly become your family-at-sea. Perhaps it’s the nature of all ‘floating bars’, but after a week I felt like I'd made new friends for life. Age doesn’t seem to register, and most of the time I struggled to keep up with the 80-year-olds cutting shapes on the dance floor.  Those extra espresso martinis didn’t hurt either. (Shout outs to my new favs Gail & Cheryl!)

Nat Smith with Friend

It's boozy 

Speaking of martinis, there are no lockout laws or bans on drinking in public onboard the Radiance of the Seas. It felt naughty walking around the corridors with a Pina Colada in hand, but when in Rome right, (or somewhere in the Pacific)!

You mingle with artists

Mingling with country music stars and late-night jamming sessions were a particular highlight of my time onboard. I especially enjoyed 2 am pizzas while swapping stories with my new favourite artists. Even if a music-themed cruise doesn’t float your boat, I would highly recommend giving it a try. After my experience, I can’t imagine why you’d go on a regular cruise!

There's no cash

Most major cruise ships are cashless, instead of charging all purchases to a key card that you settle at the end of your cruise. This can make it hard to keep track of your spending, (which is probably the point) especially when you’re a few cocktails deep. I suggest keeping to a strict daily budget, and/or taking advantage of the drink’s packages available to you.

You can eat what you want

It’s a cliche, but there’s no shortage of food onboard. However, what really surprised me was the sheer variety of cuisine. I could wake up to a room service cream cheese bagel, followed by local yams at an island stopover, a salad for lunch, a roast dinner later on and a cheeky pizza slice at 2 am. Yes, that is an extreme surplus of calories, but I had an absolute ball in consuming them.

Hygiene standards are A+

All the recent press about gastro outbreaks on cruise liners did have me a tad worried, however, I was amazed at the lengths taken to disinfect the ship. Hand sanitizer stations were seemingly everywhere and crew took particular enjoyment in an odd, sanitizer dispensing ritual named ‘washy-washy.’ It felt strange at first but then becoming a comforting habit I’ve hilariously come to miss.

That 'sea vibe' stays with you 

They say it takes a moment to find your sea-legs but what I didn’t know was how long it would take to lose them. Days after disembarking I still felt the ship’s movements and had moments of vertigo where I couldn’t quite find my balance. Turns out ‘land-sickness’ can persist for two weeks after stepping back. Not the most pleasant sensation but some say the best solution is to book another cruise. Don’t mind if I do!


Contributor Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith

Having travelled to over 40 countries, studied tourism management and worked as a flight attendant for over three years, Natalie knows more than a thing or two about travel! She’s an adventure-lover, whose favourite trips have been trekking Machu Picchu and volunteering in an animal shelter in the Amazon. Qualified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and specialising in travel insurance for the last five years, she in passionate about helping travellers get the most out of their holiday.

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