New Cruiser Guide



Love Under Will Boat’s Guide For New Cruisers

Part 1: What To Bring and What Not To Bring

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Welcome to the Love Under Will Boat’s Guide For New Cruisers! This seven part series will go over the ins and outs of cruising, based on your Cruise Organizers’ experiences. Collectively, we’ve been on 28 cruises, many of them in groups, many of those we’ve co-arranged. We’ve got some experience, though we’ll probably forget to mention a thing or two, because we’ve been on 28 cruises, and have been drunk pretty much the entire time.

Cruising is a way fun vacation! It’s like hanging out in a resort that’s in a different place every day! In fact, that’s exactly what it is. So much for metaphors. At any rate, we’re glad you’ll be joining us for our Thelemic cruise!

Now, the Cruise isn’t for a little while still, so you still have some time to get your wardrobe together, pick out some stuff to bring, and all that. This part of the Guide should help you pick and choose what and what not to bring. Let’s break things down.

Clothes

Yes, bring clothes.

A light jacket or hoodie would be a good idea for those cool evenings before and after the cruise, as well as a “just in case”. Pack some trousers of some kind. Shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops are the norm on cruise ships, but dress as ye will, of course. Throughout the day, it’s pretty casual, up until dinner. Now, with dinner, you can eat in the main dining area if you’d like, or you can eat up at the Windjammer, which is a buffet kind of place and is a very casual atmosphere. There are also a number of other dining options, which we’ll go over in Part 4. The main dining room has a “no shorts & t shirts” rule, and people generally dress up a bit for dinner. Now, on the other cruise we ran, people would do it up a bit when it came to dinner, with Victorian outfits, vinyl nun costumes, and bald men in seductive evening gowns. We were quite the attraction at dinner! A dress shirt and jeans is fine, summer dresses, what have you…with the exception of formal night. Also, shoes are required for all dining areas.

Formal night is, for us, a lot of fun, but we’re weird and like getting dressed up. Most of the cruises have tuxedos available to rent, or of course you can bring your own, or suit, or Scottish kilt, or vinyl nun costume. The sky’s the limit, but keep in mind that all your fun bits have to be covered. They might be the funnest fun bits in the history of fun, but the ship’s staff can refuse you service if you’re dressed too inappropriately.

Other clothing to consider is based upon the things you’re likely to do. Bring a swimsuit! Even if you’re not much for swimming, the hot tubs at night are a great place to relax. Also, if you’re booking your excursions beforehand (we’ll talk more about that in Part 3), think about appropriate clothing for any of those things (bike shorts, walking shoes, hiking boots, etc.).

A word on any ritual regalia: we’re not planning any formal rituals for the trip. If, however, you’d like to do some, that’s awesome! Please be mindful of the public spaces, however, and I’d clear it with cruise staff first. They’re pretty accommodating for some things. Speaking of…

Ritual Stuff

Garb is fine, as stated above. Anything pointy I’d leave at home. They do run the luggage through x-ray machines and there is a no weapons policy on the ship. Incense and candles are also not allowed.

Drugs

Drugs that you have a prescription for are okay (except for marijuana.) Any other drugs, leave at home. We’ve seen people get caught with drugs on a ship, and here’s what happens:

a) They were thrown into the brig (yup, they have a brig).

b) At the next port, they were handed over to the local authorities. These local authorities have a not-so-pleasant reputation with their prison system.

So yeah, pain in the ass, not worth it in our opinion.

Booze

If you bring it from home, they’ll take it and not give it back. However, you can bring two 750ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom aboard. If you buy it at one of the places we’re visiting, they’ll kindly hold onto it for you until the last night of the cruise. The same goes for any alcohol purchased at the on-board duty free (we’ll get in to that in part 4).

Other Stuff

Here’s some recommended stuff:

Sunglasses

Sunscreen

A hat of some sort to keep your noggin from burning in the sun

Umbrella

Books or e-reader

Chargers for your electronic devices

There is internet available on the boat (for a fee) for those that can’t do without. It’s not the greatest (it’s satellite), but it works.

Camera

Condoms (haven’t you ever watched “The Love Boat”? I mean, seriously, Charo can appear at any moment on these boats for a little “coochie coochie”.)

Passport

Toiletries (including shampoo and conditioner, as they don’t usually have that on the ship)

Medications

Work-out clothes (they have excellent workout facilities on board)

Important Tip: Put the following into a carry-on, as they’ll check luggage and it could be some time before your suitcases appear at your room:

Travel documents

A swimsuit

Any medications you would need

 

Part 2: Getting There

We hope that you enjoyed Part 1 of our New Cruiser Guide. If you have any questions on anything that we’ve covered (or haven’t covered), please email us!

In this exciting chapter, we’re going to be talking about getting to the boat. Sounds dumb, we know, but we do have some tips and tricks to make getting there a little easier and less stressful. You may already know these tricks, but here they are anyway.

Flying

We’re going to be departing from the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday, November 5th, 2016 at 5:30pm.Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL for all you airport fans out there) is an international airport located 2 miles from Port Everglades. As of this writing, cabs charge $18-$20 to the Port from Downtown Fort Lauderdale.

We whole-heartedly suggest arriving in Fort Lauderdale at least 1 day before we depart. There a couple of reasons for this:

1. Your flight could be delayed! Weather is a stupid factor, with us leaving in late Autumn here in the USA. Also, planes like to be late. It appears to make them happy. The boat won’t wait for you.

2. Check out the sites in Fort Lauderdale! We’re planning a bon voyage get together, and what better way to meet your fellow cruisers then an evening out with them? Here’s a website showing some Fort Lauderdale-y things to do in Fort Lauderdale: http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/fort-lauderdale.html

We would also suggest either booking your return flight for later in the afternoon or the next day, just in case there are any delays in getting into port.

Generally, we like to book flights about 90 days in advance. That’s usually the window for the best airfare.

Driving:

Driving directly to the port is also a possibility, if you live close to Fort Lauderdale. Here is the website for Port Everglades parking, offering different lots, addresses, and fees: http://www.porteverglades.net

Accommodations

While we don’t have an “official” Love Under Will Boat hotel, some people like to get rooms at the same place. If you’re interested in that, post over on the Love Under Will Facebook. Here is a website that offers a list of hotel specials which offer transportation to the Port: http://www.sunny.org/cruise-and-play/hotels-with-shuttles/

UPDATE: “For those of you who are going on Love Under Will Boat in November, we are going down a day early and staying at a hotel (11/4), and will be at a hotel the night after we dock (11/12). If you are interested in staying at the same hotel (we can share rides to the port!), we will be at the Residence Inn Ft. Lauderdale Plantation. If you sign up for Marriott Rewards (which is free to sign up for), and reserve on Marriott.com you can get a room there for $128.00 a night, which is pretty reasonable. If you are willing to do an advance purchase, you could get the room for $109 a night. This is an all-suite hotel with a queen bed and a fold-out couch in each room, so pairing up and sharing hotel costs is also a possibility! Let me know if anyone wants more info!”

Of course, staying with friends, family, or Brethren is also an option as well.

 

Part 3: Getting On

Welcome to Part 3 of the New Cruiser Guide! Before we dive into getting on the boat, let’s talk a little bit about something that I noticed on another cruise I just got back from in terms of getting on.

Go and join the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society. Especially if you plan on cruising again. This thing gives you a lot of perks after your first cruise, and friends on our cruises in the past have enjoyed benefits like discounts on stuff, free cocktail hours, special events, etc. You can join it at the Royal Caribbean website.

Now, picture with me, if you would, the day of departure: excitement abounds! Here’s some stuff to help make things go a little smoother.

1. We will be departing at 5:30pm. Get there beforehand! Usually, they’ll start allowing people on the ship as early as 11am. The lines are pretty short for check-in at that hour, and we usually get there at around this time. If you’re a Crown & Anchor returning cruiser, or if you’ve booked a suite, you get a special check-in area that’s even quicker at getting you onboard.

2. You’ll most likely be checking some luggage at the dock. There’s no charge for checking luggage, however, it most likely won’t be at your room until we’re well underway, so, as mentioned in part 1, bring a carryon for your travel documents, any medication you may need, a swimsuit, etc.

3. As soon as your cruise is all paid off, you’ll get an email from Royal Caribbean letting you know that you can check in for your cruise. Get that all taken care of in advance, and it’s even quicker to get aboard.

4. Even though you’ll be allowed onboard, chances are your room won’t be ready until at least 1pm. This is a great time to explore and acquaint yourself with the ship. We have a pretty good grasp on the layout of Royal Caribbean ships, and will be happy to give you a tour, if need be. Just let us know beforehand and we’ll set up a time.

5. The Windjammer Café will be open for brunch when you get on. Grab a cocktail and some food, relax, and if you want, gravitate toward the group and get to know your fellow cruisers!

6. When you first get onboard, there will be opportunities to sign up for any packages, excursions, reservations to specialty restaurants, spa treatments, etc. You can do this online well before you cruise. We tend to go that route so we’re not dropping a huge chunk of change all at once.

7. Before leaving port, there will be a Muster drill. These things are not optional and are required by US Maritime law. They’re pretty simple and they’ll let you know what to do.

8. We’ll most likely be meeting at the Viking Crown Lounge at the top of the ship to do our formal Meet & Greet. This is a beautiful bar that gives a commanding view of the entire ship. We tend to gravitate to that bar as the staff is generally fantastic and the drinks are great. It’s a great vantage point to watch the ship leave port as well. More information on the Meet & Greet will be made available on the Love Under Will Facebook Group.

 

Part 4: Cruise Life!

Welcome aboard! By now you know where the important things (booze and food) are, and you’re all settled in! This chapter will be more of a vomitorium of information and ideas, as well as embellishments from previous chapters.

When you check in for the cruise, you will be getting what’s called a SetSail pass. This card will act as your door key. This card will act as your method of payment onboard. This card will act as proof that you bought a booze or soda package. This card will tell you what time you eat dinner. This card is pretty darn important. Keep it safe.

I forgot to mention this…if you plan on hitting the ocean, get a waterproof ID case. Your SetSail card, passport, cash, etc should all fit in that bad boy. You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon, or pay a premium at the gift shop onboard.

One thing we’ve done on other group cruises is make a status board: make up a sheet with various checkboxes for your location (“boozing at the bar”, “Star Ruby and shuffleboard on the Lido deck”, “napping”, “making whoopee”, etc.). Put a place toward the bottom for your friends and brethren to leave a message. Get it laminated and tape a dry erase marker on a string to it. Grab some fridge magnets and pop it on your stateroom door when you get in to your room. Who needs email?

Okay, if you can’t live without the internet, it is available…for a price. Also, it’s all satellite-based, so it’s dependent on the weather and not the fastest thing in the world. Some folks on the last cruise hacked their way through the wi-fi and set up a boat-wide IRC channel that didn’t require payment, so if you’re geeky like that…

Boozing it on a budget: Usually on the first night, the onboard duty free shop does a free liquor tasting. Go get your drink on!

We’ve set up Second Seating for our dining, which is usually at 8:30pm. Cruises Only and Royal Caribbean are really good at seating groups together in the same area. The tables generally seat 10 in the dining room. The Maitre d’ and wait staff will help you with any dietary restrictions or allergies you may have, and are quite helpful with all that. Come hungry.

Boozing it on a budget: Usually on the second night there is a Captain’s Reception. Free champagne and wine!

Each day on the cruise, your Porter (yes, you’ll have a Porter) will leave a copy of the Cruise Compass, which is the daily activity guide. This will give you an idea of what’s going on aboard the ship (as well as somewhat not-so-handy listings of shops in the port…mostly jewelry stores). From live shows to dancing, karaoke to art auctions, these ships are floating entertainment vessels. Of course, there’s always the option of just hanging out with your friends, relaxing by the pool with a book, or what have you.

We’ve always been a fan to hit the hot tubs in the evening, after dinner. The best place for this is the Solarium on deck 11. It’s covered and is for adults only. There’s two cantilevered hot tubs and a nice pool.

Deck 11 is also where you’ll find the fitness center, which offers an assorted array of fitness equipment. The day spa is also there for your pampering needs.

For the gamblers out there, the ship does have a casino aboard on deck 4 which is open while the ship is in international waters.

There’s a freaking ice skating rink on deck 2. Yes, ice skating on a cruise ship. This is so much better than the bowling alley on the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Deck 3 houses the Karaoke bar!

There is a basketball court, golf simulator, FlowRider, and miniature golf course on Deck 13.

For those traveling with children, Royal Caribbean offers “Adventure Ocean” for kids 3 and over. See http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/experiencetypes/category.do?pagename=onboard_cat_kids_teens_and_families for information.

Part 5: Getting Off

This part is a bad pun. See Part 6.

Part 6: Literally Getting Off

Welcome to Part 6 of the New Cruiser Guide! This section will cover ways to make getting off the boat as easy as possible!

Section A: Ports

We’ll be hitting four ports, not counting our home port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida: George Town, Costa Maya, Belize City, and Cozumel. None of these ports are on US soil, so please plan accordingly in regards to your travel documentation.

Here are acceptable documents for this cruise. Please note that this does not apply to all cruises, only to cruises whose originating and returning port are in the US:

A valid passport

WHTI or Trusted Travel documents

A US Government issued ID (such as a drivers license) AND a government issued birth certificate or Naturalization certificate (NOTE: You need BOTH a drivers license and certificate!)

Minors under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original government-issued, original or certified copy of his or her birth certificate; a Consular Report of Birth Abroad Issued by DOA; or Certificate of Naturalization issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

You will also need the SetSail Pass that Royal Caribbean gives you at check-in. We’ll be providing lanyards with space to slip your SetSail Pass into for handy carrying. You’ll need the SetSail Pass to get off and get back on the ship.

If you haven’t already, take a look at Royal Caribbean’s excursions for each of the ports. You can book those now or once onboard. There are other, third party excursions you can book at each port as well, but keep in mind that you’ll need to be back onboard at a certain time, and the ship won’t wait for you!

Section B: Leaving For The Last Time

So, the last night of the cruise has arrived. Sadness! It’s a good time to get together one last time for drinks and fellowship! Here’s some things you’ll need to do beforehand:

1. Pack your stuff. Leave out any toiletries, medications you need, clothes for the next day, etc., and a carry-on. Any booze you bought will be delivered to your cabin this evening and can be packed as well. Once all your suitcases are packed, put them out in the hallway with the luggage tags your porter will provide you with. Keep your carry-on in the room, though.

2. Fill out the US Customs Declaration Form. Note that Duty-Free purchases have limits before they tax you: purchases over $800, 1,000 cigarettes, 1 liter of alcohol per person over the age of 21 to name a few. Please also note that things like Cuban cigars are not permitted to enter US territory, and will be confiscated if you’re caught with them.

3. If you’ve paid cash for your expenses while onboard, settle up at the Guest Services desk.

The next morning, you’ll be asked to gather at one of the ship’s lounges by a certain time. This is assigned by group number, which you’ll find on your luggage tag. They’ll call the group number to leave at a certain time. This is important to leave at the the time announced and not beforehand, as they’re calling you as your luggage is ready. Believe me, the luggage places aren’t very fun to hang out with. Once you’re off the boat and have your luggage, proceed through customs with your travel documents AND your Declaration Form on hand. From there, it’s off to whatever transportation will get you home (or to your hotel, if you’re staying over).

For those that are staying over, we may plan one last evening of social fun. We’ll let everyone know onboard!

Part 7: Conclusions

There’s a lot covered in this guide, and a lot that I may have forgotten to cover. I hope you got something out of this, and, of course, feel free to contact me onboard or through the site with comments and suggestions.

The second Love Under Will Boat is set to sail soon! I look forward to meeting everyone onboard!

Love is the law, love under will.