My Cruise Vacation And Cruising Tips!

Hi everyone,

I recently returned from a 2 week cruise on the Norwegian Bliss so I thought I would share my experience with you and offer some tips if your planning to go on a cruise for the first time. In this post I’ll be using common cruise terms so if your not familiar with these terms I’ve left some definitions at the end of this post. Apologizes for the length of this post but there is so much to talk about. My cruise was to the Western Caribbean. Below is the itinerary from my Cruise.

Norwegian Bliss Itinerary Cruise 2020

Embarkation Day: The cruise left out of New York so the night before the cruise I stayed at a hotel in New York near Times Square and was close to the cruise port.

I highly recommend flying out the day before your cruise if your cruise isn’t leaving out of your home state / country. This is to avoid missing the ship because if you experience travel delays and don’t get to the cruise port in time the ship will not wait for you. The day of the cruise we arrived at the cruise port around 10:30 in the morning Our boarding time was at 11:30. Be prepared to wait in lines and have all required travel documents on hand with you. When you arrive at the cruise port they normally take your tagged luggage bags before you even go inside the cruise terminal so be sure you have all the required documents you need to get on the ship with you and not in your luggage such as :

Boarding Passes

Passports / Birth Certificates

Government issued photo ID

We went through security which is similar to airport TSA but not as strict. After that we waited in another line to check in and at the check in desk you show them all your documents and depending on the cruise line you go on they may take a picture of you. After that your issued your Cruise Card. On Norwegian Cruise Line it’s called your FreeStyle card. This card is used basically as an ID and credit card while on the ship as money is not exchanged at any of the restaurants, bars or stores other then if your giving a tip. Most major cruise lines use cards. Below is a photo of my card.

At the check in desk you’ll also receive a map of the ship. After checking in we were able to head to the gangway and get right on the ship as by then it was just passed our boarding time. On our cruise they required all guest to be on board the ship 2 hours prior to the scheduled sailing time for security reasons.

On Embarkation Day the buffet will be packed and unless you were one of the first people on the ship it is usually difficult to find seating in the buffet on Embarkation Day. After getting our food we were able to find seating on the deck below so keep in mind you don’t have to eat your food in the buffet.

After getting something to eat we explored the ship and had a few drinks.

Our rooms were ready at 1:30 in the afternoon so we went and checked out the room. We had a balcony cabin and since this was our second cruise with Norwegian we were a bronze member of their cruise line and found a complementary bottle of Champagne waiting for us in our room.

We met our Cabin Steward who would be cleaning our cabin during the cruise. He knew us by our names when we first met him and was very nice. The only thing we requested from him on Embarkation Day was to remove the Mini Bar because we didn’t want to use it accidentally and get charged for it. The room steward quickly took care of it.

Around 2:30 it was time to go to the mandatory safety drill that all cruise ships must conduct by law before the start of a cruise. During this time everything is closed. The bars, restaurants and buffets. Our assembly station was G2 which was in one of the restaurants we ate in later on the cruise. From start to finish the safety drill only lasted about 8 minutes. They scan your card to confirm you attended the drill.

After the drill It was party time!!! We went and had a few drinks and watched the sail away. We passed the Statue of Liberty and it was a really cool sight to see in person.

On Norwegian they have what’s called the free at sea program that they use on most of their cruise ships. With Free At Sea we were able to get up to 5 free things on the ship though we only selected 3 of the 5. Here is what we got:

 - The Premium Beverage Plan
 - 4 Specialty Dining Meals
 - 250 minutes of Free WiFi 

When we got to Port Canaveral in Florida it was still a little cool outside we could see the dock from our balcony and all day long there was truck after truck nearly the entire time we were there restocking the ship which was pretty interesting to see.

The next morning we arrived at Norwegian’s Private Island Great Stirrup Cay and were in the hot weather. The great thing about there private Island is since the cruise line owns it, if you got the beverage package it works on the Island. They have plenty of chairs to relax and a buffet on the island as well. You will have to bring your own towels from the ship. Overall it was a very nice Island and had a relaxing day.

We spent the next day at Sea. I spent it mostly getting some sun on the pool deck then later going to the bar to have a few drinks. They have a lot of activities to do while your on the ship even if your at port and don’t want to get off there’s still plenty to do. I went to the Atrium where they held mostly General Knowledge quizzes, trivia and sometimes game shows.

One day they did the game show Deal or No Deal in the Atrium. It was fun to watch and someone won nearly $500 the most you could win on the ships version of the game show.

We spent the next day in Ocho Rios Jamaica. I stayed on the ship that day but Jamaica did look like a nice place. I spent a lot of the day relaxing in the Jacuzzi’s. It was nice having it to myself since most people got off the ship that day.

We then went to George Town, Grand Cayman and after that we set the clocks back 1 hour when we went to Honduras and Belize all those places were beautiful and I enjoyed getting the extra hour of sleep! Our final two destinations were Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico. I decided to stay on the ship both of those days and went down the tube waterslide one of those days when there were no lines. Very fast slide especially going around the corners. We spent the final 3 days at Sea we had about a day and a half of hot weather left before heading back north to New York. Below are some general tips about the Bars / drinking, Elevators, Tipping, My experiences at the specialty dining restaurants and Disembarkation Day.

Bars / Drinking: The Bars on Norwegian Bliss were great. By the third day of the cruise one of the bartenders remembered my name and we would have fun conversations about sports when the bar wasn’t to busy. My favorite drinks were mostly beers (Budlight, Angry Orchard) but I also enjoyed a few frozen drinks like Mudslides and BBC’s.

Here is an Important drinking tip. Don’t drink too much!!! You don’t want to spend a day of your cruise not feeling well because of a hangover. Be sure to eat and drink water in between alcoholic drinks. Enjoy a few drinks and have a great time but don’t over do it.

Elevators: On my cruise I always saw people in a rush to get on the next elevator and sometimes wouldn’t give people a chance to get off the elevator before they got on. This tip just isn’t for a cruise ship but just in general let people get off the elevator before you get on. Just wait a second or two when the door opens then get on. If your going let’s say from Deck 6 to Deck 15 try to go to the back of the elevator if possible because most likely the elevator will be making a few stops before it gets to your deck. You won’t be in the way of people trying to get on or off.

Now If your only going up or down a deck or two just take the stairs. You’ll probably get there quicker and your freeing up space on the elevator for people who really need it.

When possible I recommend taking the Aft elevators rather then the forward ones. You may have to do a little extra walking when you get off depending on where your going but those elevators are generally less crowded and there is less of a waiting time.

Tipping: I think tipping is important on a cruise. Keep in mind though that there are gratuities that you are charged for each day of your cruise. On my cruise the gernal gratuity was $15.00 a day as well as a separate gratuities for things like the Dining & Beverage packages. These gratuities are suppose to go to the crew but you don’t know what they actually do with the money behind the scenes.

Towards the end of my cruise I tipped all the bartenders who went above and beyond for me. For example when there was a line at the bar but one of the the bartenders quickly got me a drink so I wouldn’t have to wait very long even though there was a line.

I always left a little tip for the waiters at the specialty restaurants and I also tipped the Cabin Steward at the end of the cruise and left him a little thank you note.

Specialty Dining Restaurants: We ate four dinners at the specialty dining restaurants. We went to Ocean Blue (seafood) Cagney’s Steakhouse, The Q (another type of steakhouse restaurant) and Teppanyaki’s (Japanese restaurant.)

At Ocean Blue I ordered the Scallops and Halibut. This was my first time trying Halibut and it was excellent. There was a little bit of a wait time for the food but it was definitely worth it.

At Cagney’s Steakhouse I had some Bacon as an appetizer, Cesar Salad as another appetizer and for my main course I had the New York Strip which was excellent and filling! I nearly finished my plate!

At The Q I had some french fries and the Pulled Pork. It was a country themed restaurant and they had a live band on stage and they were good.

At Teppanyaki’s I ordered the Seaweed Salad and the Filet Mignon. What was really cool about this restaurant is they cooked the food right in front of you which was really entertaining.

All the food at all the restaurant and buffet were excellent. There are so many dining options on the Norwegian Bliss and there is something for everyone.

Disembarkation: The disembarkation process was similar to Embarkation day. I recommend packing your clothes the night before the cruise ends and make sure you have all your required travel documents on hand with you when you get off the ship. There will be lines and if your reentering the United States you’ll have to go though Customs. If your flying home the same day the cruise ends don’t book the flight to early. If your getting off the ship at 7:00AM don’t book your flight for 8:00AM. Your not gonna make your flight. We were off the ship by 10:00AM and went through Custom’s around 10:45. Most of that time was waiting in line. I recommend carrying your luggage off the ship so you can get off when your ready. They usually ask everyone to be off by 10:00 to 10:30. Our flight home was at 2:00 that afternoon so we had plenty of time to get to the airport and go through TSA. We went through TSA around 11:30 and spent the time waiting at a bar/restaurant until our plane started boarding at 1:30. When it was our turn to board they made the announcement that there was no more room in the overhead as our boarding group was the last to board. We would have to check our carry on bags in free of charge. They took our bags there at the boarding gate and tagged them. I was a little worried they wouldn’t make it on the plane in time but everything worked out fine and we got them at the airport baggage clam when we landed.

Overall I had an excellent cruise vacation. I highly recommend cruising if you have the chance because it’s such a fun and relaxing time. Don’t cheap out on it and do what you want to do on the cruise and have a great time!!! We didn’t go on any Shore Excursions this cruise but I can say that there are plenty of options for those as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I hope it has helped you if your considering cruising for the first time. If you have been on a cruise before I’d love to hear about your cursing experience as well!!


Cruise terminology:

Embarkation Day - The day the cruise starts and you get on the ship

Disembarkation Day - The day the cruise ends and you get off the ship.

Aft - Back of the ship

Cabin Steward - The crew member responsible for cleaning your room and making sure you have everything you need in your room.

Gangway - Entrance to get on and off the ship


Well many of us know and have been on cruises but glad u had a great time, they are fun/relaxing. But i thought since this is a poker site and casinos are big on cruises that we care more about details of your poker results and experience if you played and your tipping to the dealer and not meals/drinks. I m sure u watched the games too so wadda u think about the chiefs/49ers games and the super bowl show down? Its all about the poker and football games on that cruise i thought lol. Cheers

They did have a Casino with Poker tables but I really didn’t feel like gambling other then one night I played a slot machine for about half an hour but didn’t win any money. I decided to take a break from Poker while on vacation.

During the NFL Divisional Round they did show the games throughout the bars and had it on the huge screen on the pool deck. I watched the Titans / Chiefs game there and thought the Titans had it throughout the first quarter then the Chiefs came back and controlled the game from the 2nd quarter and throughout the rest of the game. I missed the other game that night because we had dinner reservations.

It was a relaxing vacation and cruising is a great way to see the world.


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this is so great info thanks ever so much spend time to present to us all that valuable information
i goin on a “temptations cruise” soon it adults/clothing optional so your advice will help greatly


Take a large stock of sun-tan lotion. And, enjoy.


You can buy empty bottles online that look like shampoo bottles and so on. These are great for smuggling alcohol onto cruise ships. You can also use bottles of mouthwash, empty them, and fill them with a clear liquor, then add a few drops of food coloring.

You can also buy hollow accessories, like umbrellas, hair brushes, and so on. These are made expressly for this purpose.

Be sure to check your local laws before you try this. It’s perfectly legal where I live, but is (obviously) frowned upon by the cruise lines.


claps ty ty great tips!!!


Sounds like you had a great time! Enjoyed the post.

Out of curiosity, do you remember the other two bonuses/amenities available to you for the Free At Sea program?

I understand taking advantage of a much less full ship, but now that the trip is done do you regret staying on the ship at some of those ports? I was surprised to hear you did that as often as you did. Have you been to Mexico before? Based off what you said, it seems like you haven’t been to Jamaica before. If you’ve previously been there then I could understand that influencing your decision.

The food sounded good, but I’m just wondering if, on your cruise, there were any other international options for the specialty restaurants.

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Hi @C6Slice,

Welcome to the forums! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

Yes the two other Free at Sea amenities were Free Shore Excursions and the other one was Kids Sail For Free. (I don’t have any kids.)

This is actually my third cruise I’ve been on. My first cruise was in 2014 as a High School Graduation gift from my parents, the second one was in 2016 with family and now this one. All three cruises I have been to Mexico and did get off the ship on my first cruise in 2014. It is a nice place for tourists but you do have a lot of people trying to sell you souvenirs. In 2016 I did go to Jamaica but like this cruise I did not get off the ship. I should also mention my first cruise was with Royal Caribbean and not Norwegian however these last two cruises were with Norwegian.

To answer your question I don’t really regret it. I talked with some people on the cruise who did get off the ship and a lot of people said the stop in Jamaica was nice but it was a long walk from the dock to actual land and that there’s wasn’t much to do other then shop and drink.

Yes there were international options in some of the restaurants and even in the buffet. They had a French restaurant and a Italian restaurant. I tried booking a reservation to the Italian restaurant on the second to last day of the cruise but unfortunately there were no openings. At the buffet they had a “Taste of India” station and I tried some food from there and it was pretty good.



Ok, great! Thanks!

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Hi everyone,

I put together a quick video featuring photos from my cruise. I hope you enjoy it!!!



This was so fun to watch! I have never thought I wanted to go on this cruise, but you’ve convinced me that I do want to! (I don’t like heat!)

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On my cruise they always had the Air conditioning on in the inside parts of the ship when we were in hot climates and they had plenty of seating in the shade on the pool deck. So getting to hot really wasn’t a big issue on my cruise.


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I am sad, though, when I get to a hot place and have to stay inside because outside is going to cook my innards! lol Happened in Tahiti.

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