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Did you miss me? I am officially back from my vacation. Was it amazing? Some parts. Did I come back relaxed and refreshed? Sort of. Would I go again? Probably not.

While my melo-drama was saved mostly for Facebook and family, there was quite a bit of unplanned snafus on vacation that were due to my ignorance and the unprofessionalism of the company I booked my vacation with.

This is a food blog, normally, but today I wanted to share my cruise experiences in case you are thinking of taking your first cruise. I am going to share things I wish someone would have shared with me before I spent a single cent.

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Now, despite the bad press lately for this cruise line in particular, I went ahead and booked a Carnival cruise. I know, I know- but I figured, the prices were unbeatable and I knew a lot of people who absolutely LOVED their time with Carnival Cruise Lines. First mistake. Why? BR and I were spending our first vacation together (about to celebrate our first year together too) and wanted something romantic and quiet. QUIET. Cruises are NOT quiet which we later learned.

I booked an interior cabin because most of the people I knew said I would barely spend any time in my room so it didn’t matter. My gut told me to get a balcony room. I didn’t listen to my gut. The agent from Carnival took advantage of my ignorance from the start. There is so much unfamiliar lingo associated with ships and cruises that it’s easy to mistakenly agree to something that you don’t want. I told my agent the following:

1. It’s a romantic occasion with my boyfriend

2. I am concerned about my motion sickness

3. I would like to dine with my boyfriend alone

If you are looking to book, be sure to know the differences between EASY saver and EARLY saver. They sound very similar. EARLY saver is the way to go as, if you buy early, let’s say for $359 per person and a week later the price drops to $179 (which CAN happen) you can get the difference in Carnival Credit or a Room Upgrade. But me? I didn’t know there was a difference and allowed my agent to book me as an EASY saver. I paid $359 per person and was not issued any credit when I watched the price plummet to less than $200 per person. Heartbreaking. But I sucked it up. Noted for next time and waited patiently to sail away.

When we arrived on the ship, I had priority booking (Fast to Fun Excursion package) and was able to check in as early as 11am. When I opened the door to my cabin located in the front of the ship (please see number 2), I was completely crushed to see a twin bed by the door and on the opposite side of the room, another twin bed (Please see Number 1). I distinctly remember telling the agent on the phone that BR and I were looking to have a romantic vacation… nothing says romance like separate beds, amiright?  She assured me that if I had two twins, I could push them together. Which would have been fine, except the dimensions of the room made pushing two twins together impossible.

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(^The ever-romantic twin bed #1)

Dealing with customer service (in tears) about the room led to a huge disappointment. Apparently, I signed a contract accepting my room as it was: an upper/lower. What does that mean?  Well, beats the hell out of me! When guest services denied me any room upgrades they kept referring to upper lower like I knew what it meant. If you plan on cruising, I will tell you that upper/lower is ideal if you are traveling with your brother, or your best friend; but it is NOT ideal for a couple. Upper/lower is a nice way of saying bunk beds or separate beds. In this instance, Carnival’s contract should definitely be in lay terms.

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Despite the separate bed situation, BR was amazing and upbeat. He can always see the good in something and that’s everything I need in a partner. We made the best of it. Later that evening, while in our cabin at the very front of the boat, I was awoken from a cat nap feeling extremely sea sick. The room was literally rocking back and forth. It was close to dinner time anyway so we left the room as I turned every shade of green. The front of the boat is NO place for someone who is sensitive to the motions of the sea (please see Number 2).

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(^this is me the morning after Hurricane Andrea. Very Very Sea Sick)

We made it to dinner and could see out of the window of the dining room that there was a storm at sea. Not just any storm. But Hurricane Andrea. The boat rocked back and forth, even on the 6th floor, you could feel it. The Maitre’d seated us in a booth which I thought was amazing until he told me to scoot down so another couple could sit with us (please see number 3). Apparently my request to dine alone was also ignored. Big surprise.  But, again, BR likes to be an optimist. So we scooted down for our dinner guests to arrive.

Enter Ken and Barbie. Well, that’s what I nicknamed them. Ken and Barbie were from Daytona. If I hadn’t already nicknamed them, Snooki and Ron from Jersey Shore would be more appropriate names to fully describe their character. They were complete with the fake bake and surfer vibes; also, they LOVED to party. Now, I love ALL people and I’m completely comfortable making new friends but these two were complete opposites from BR and I. I apologized to Ken and Barbie for my appearance and quietness because I was feeling sea sick. Ken, with this muscle shirt two sizes too small, was more bearable than Barbie who stared at me with her false eye lashes, caked on foundation and aqua netted hair and proceeded to say trigger words like “vomit”, “barf”, and “puke”. All at the dinner table. I ordered dinner, despite the colorful words draining the color from my spinning head and inhaled deeply. In. Out. In. Out. The first thing that came was the escargot. Oh my was it delicious. I managed one bite. ONE, before Barbie went off about vomit again. Even after pleading with them to change the topic, she continued. Our appetizer sat in front of me and BR made the call to get us out of there before I lost it all. To be honest, I was so sick, I wouldn’t have made it to the main course. We walked out of the dining room and never returned. We ordered room service or ate on the lido deck on the other days- I really hope they enjoyed their romantic time alone.

If you are looking to cruise, the odds of getting your own table are SLIM. Your best bet is to travel with another couple and arrange to sit with them. You are giving yourself the best possible chance at having a good time… OR Wild Card it and potentially meet your future cruise BFFs as my parents always have the pleasure of doing.

So, to sum it up, when booking your cruise note the following:

-Be an EARLY saver

-If you fancy yourself a party animal, by all means, book an interior cabin. If you like a midday siesta or enjoy skipping a party night, splurge on the nicer cabin- it makes all the difference.

-Know the room you need. Upper/Lower is great for friends and family. Anything else would be great for couples

-Keep an open mind when you are dining. If you aren’t up for making new friends, bring some with you! And if you are looking for make new friends, this is the best time!

– If you are prone to Motion Sickness, pack Dramamine (non-drowsy!) and avoid the front and back cabins on the ship. The middle of the ship is your safest and healthiest bet.

Stay tuned for Part 2.  Life on Board.

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