The Experienced Jazz Cruiser’s Post-Cruise Tips for Jazz Cruising

also known as…the reflections of a tired person. LOL, but true.

I utilized a lot of my tips from before, and also have to amend a couple. This trip has been good, and had its ups and downs, in more than a few ways. So, I will now tell you how it did or didn’t work.

1. The Two Suitcases.

I’ll be honest; I goofed here. I did save money on not paying the weight limit fees, but when it came to the basic reason of why I did the two-bag thing to start with, I goofed. Because instead of repacking and having the smaller wheelie as my carry-on aboard the boat, I did a stupid and checked both of them for delivery on board. I then proceeded to do another (albeit very beneficial) stupid and get a spa treatment scheduled for right after the muster station drill, which screwed me for attending the early show, which meant I went for the late show…which then meant I missed dinner.

This is where I discovered that everything food-related on the ship but for the cafe and the pizza joint shuts down at 9:30pm. Crap.

So let this be a lesson to you, lovely folks, unrelated to the bags: make sure you’re fed!

And the plan I had for wheeling off my second ‘case after the cruise? Yep, I goofed again. Guess who had both suitcases carted off.

Next year – well, I’ll likely still do the double-suitcase deal if I’m in danger of going over the weight limit again. I am extremely grateful to the lady working the bag drop at FLL, who let me slide on the pound coming back, but I’d like to actually be within the limit.

Needless to say, of course, that Delta rocks my socks, far as airlines go. This isn’t the first time they had let me slide, and they had come through for me majorly when it came to getting my friend on an earlier flight home. <3

2. Pace Yourself

On this one, I did reasonably well. While my friend, who’s a noob to the entire thing, crashed out on Day 4, I was A-OK. Until Day 6 or so, because even though I love and adore Lalah Hathaway’s music, I just couldn’t peel myself off the bed until 10pm, and even that took a late-night coffee to accomplish.

Oh yeah, there was a lot of coffee…a LOT of coffee. Know how I said coffee is your best friend? Oh hell yeah.

3. Comfortable Shoes

You know those “comfort wear” shoes? Avoid those. They’re comfortable for the first three hours only. Learned the hard way. Walked back to cabin barefoot. Spent the rest of the trip in flip-flops and glad for my super-super-long Old Navy maxi dress, which covers my feet completely even with my height. Not at all ashamed. Speaking of that dress, I want to see if I can grab a couple more of them on clearance; $8 for something that looks like a million bucks with the right wrap? Hey, I may not care for my looks, but I do know how to make magic happen.

4. Med bay = pharmacy = saving grace

Because my Eastern-European skin generally goes between Ghost and Extra Crispy as far as shades of tan go…I was firmly in the Extra Crispy department by about Day 3. Went to wipe the sweat off my face, and removed a skin layer – and usually, I don’t burn like that! My shoulder could’ve stopped traffic. This is with sunscreen. So I nipped down to the med bay and got lidocaine-infused aloe gel. Worth the $10 I spent on it, and again, a reminder: if in doubt, or in trouble, go to the med bay.

5. Have enough cash-on-hand!

This is a tip I learned the hard way. I generally withdraw $300 on top of my existing budget for all the souvenir shopping/local food, but I also pay down my onboard spending with what’s left. This was actually an underestimation. I came in way within my pre-determined budget for onboard spending, and very happy with the fact that I got that together, and this included all the folks whom I bought drinks for!, but I would’ve ended up strapped for cash when we docked at our last port. So this experience amends my usual withdrawal amount to about $500. Yes, I’m serious. Whatever I don’t spend goes against my onboard, so that this way, the grand-total that hits the credit card after the end of each trip is drastically less.

6. Mind Your Cabin!!!

Oh, did I learn that the hard way.

This was my first experience with a porthole-window cabin. It did not go as planned.

The good news: I had the sunlight in the morning, so I didn’t have my body clock thrown off the way it normally gets thrown off in an interior cabin. In an interior, you don’t have a window, so your body cannot tell the difference between day and night when you’re in there. On one hand, it’s great if you want to crash midday, because you will go right to sleep. On another hand, you are exhausted at the end of the trip because your circadian rhythms got all confused as to what time was what.

But the bad news… starboard side cabin. Starboard side is generally not the docking side of the ship, but in Ft. Lauderdale, when we docked back, I had the port lights through the window. Bad. I woke up at 5:30am when I was planning on 8:30. HELL no. I don’t take kindly to sleep deprivation. Worse, I chose a cabin that, as I discovered, vibrated when the ship would pull away from the pier. And I mean vibrated. Not pleasant. The fact that it was below the theater didn’t really bother me; to my surprise, I barely heard anything. But that vibration was not fun, and considering that I booked, unawares, the cabin immediately below for next year…. yeah, no.

I switched back to an inside cabin for next year, and got the same one I had in 2013, which is all the way at the nose of the ship. Extra room, oh hell yeah.

All in all, the trip was lovely. Worth the sunburn. :)

K.G.

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