Let’s go on a cruise! To some those words would be utterly exciting, to me they created a panic attack of anxiety. Why would someone who has a tremendous fear of water deeper than her belly button, want to go on a cruise! Well, eight months later I took the plunge and boarded my first cruise.As a first-time cruiser, I had a lot of uncertainty. Was it safe, what happens if a storm hits, what happens if there’s an emergency, will I get sea sick, and the list continued. I had no idea what to expect, so I did what I always do when I need answers, I started researching.

Choosing the right cruise vacation

Choosing a cruise vacation proved to be an exceedingly difficult task. Did you know there are over 20 cruise lines and that isn’t not counting river cruises! Before that point, this was a fact that I was blissfully unaware of. So how do you start the process of choosing a cruise?

First, I had to determine if I wanted a traditional mainstream cruise, a luxury cruise, a river cruise or an expedition cruise. Deciding on your destination is a great way to narrow that list down.

Since I live on the east coast, the Caribbean seemed like a logical choice for my first cruise adventure. Mainstream cruise lines like MSC, Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean all have itineraries to the Caribbean. However, after the recommendation of an advent cruiser, I chose Royal Caribbean, specifically the “Navigator of the Seas,” for my first cruise adventure.

Luxury at sea

I have always been fascinated with architecture. Studying those that can see a vision and watch it become a reality has been an inspiration in the development of my own creativity. As I walked along the deck to my stateroom, I was in utter awe of the beautiful vision unfolding with each step. An elegant centerpiece of towering golden sprays stretching upwards between the decks as you walked up and down the equally stunning glass staircases.

Themes throughout the ship provided an opportunity to “step into” another destination and experience the highlights of the culture without leaving the ship.  I especially enjoyed the Egyptian area of the ship and often found time to sneak away for a bit of silence.

Activities for all ages

A common misconception of cruising is that there won’t be enough to keep you busy while onboard. Let me be the first to correct this misconception. From morning till night, there was constant activity throughout the ship. You could strap on a pair of skates and glide along on ice-skating rink or take in a live Broadway show in the theater on the lower deck.  Those with more of an adventurous side, found the rock-climbing wall, basketball court and miniature golf course on the top deck more suitable.

Health conscious cruisers enjoyed the running track that spanned the top deck and the state-of-the-art fitness center. Of course, the pools, bars, casino and spa were always welcoming for gathering.

Those traveling with children appreciated the many children’s activities provided on the cruise and I didn’t see any complaints from the kids either!

Meals for every appetite

One of my favorite activities when traveling is sampling the local cuisine. However, I am somewhat of a picky eater so wondering about the types of food available on the cruise was a concern. To my surprise, with the wide range of cuisine options that was not going to be an issue.

The main dining room offered a more upscale restaurant atmosphere with beautiful table settings and waiter service. Most of the food in the main dining area is complimentary, but premium dishes and beverages such as soda, alcohol and specialty coffee had an additional surcharge. During my cruise I only dined in the main dining room for the formal night (who can pass up an evening of dressing in formalwear for a night out).

I am more of a “I’ll eat when I want” kind of girl, so I preferred the buffet style atmosphere of the Windjammer Café available for meals throughout the day. Unlike the main dining room, there was more variety of food. You can choose from some of your favorites like burgers, soups, salads, and pastas or try some of the ethnic dishes.

A community all it’s own

Of all the things I loved most about cruising, the people topped the list. As an introvert, I was a little unsure how being around so many people would make me feel. It wasn’t long before I learned that cruisers are a different bread of people. Everyone was friendly, outgoing, and eager to strike up a conversation, including the staff. My room steward was awesome, and I was always excited to return to my cabin to see what kind of towel creature he left. Before the cruise ended, I had made new friends from all over the world who were grateful to share the must do activities from their travels.

While I found many benefits of a cruise vacations, the one I liked most was having the ability to see more than one destination in a single trip. This was a great way to get a glimpse of a destination for future “land only” adventures.

So, what did I think about my first cruise? I have to say that it was nothing like I expected. I enjoyed the activities, the food, the people and especially the exquisite sunrises and sunsets. I look forward to becoming a part of the cruising elite and enjoying more cruises. I would recommend anyone considering a cruise to give it a try. It may not ultimately be the right venue for you, but until you experience it for yourself, you will never know.