I recently added a new Cruise Log section on my website to keep all my lovely readers updated and it got me thinking about my first cruise and thought it might be a nice idea to share with you how my passion for cruising began.
I embarked on my first cruise shortly after my 18th Birthday back in 2009 and since then I haven’t looked back! In fact, this cruise was my first holiday outside of the UK, but since the moment I first stepped onboard it’s been impossible to stay away. Growing up my family and I tended to holiday a little closer to home staying in static caravans, holiday cottages and camping and caravanning. We love the South-West of England and Cornwall in particular holds a special place in our hearts. A little different from the luxury of cruising, we had some amazing adventures and I still have many fond memories which I will treasure…even if some of them are a little wet!
This all changed in the summer of 2009 when I boarded my first cruise ship. I had just finished my A Levels and it was a cruise to celebrate my 18th Birthday, the end of my exams and my acceptance at University – all together we had lots to celebrate!
The whole experience, from the first moment of walking into a cruise travel agents, was full of excitement, anticipation and awe. Our chosen ship was Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. By the time we embarked she had just celebrated her first year at sea and was proving a favourite with us Brits, and I can certainly understand why. From the moment we stepped onboard we loved it and something just clicked.
Our itinerary was titled ‘Italian Mediterranean’ and we were given the chance to visit some of Italy’s finest offerings including Rome and Pisa (yes, we even did the whole tourist photo pretending to hold up the tower!). It was very hot, being over 40 degrees C when we were walking around Rome – I had never experienced heat like it! We enjoyed every port of call and it’s an itinerary I would highly recommend. Even today Royal Caribbean and their sister brand, Celebrity, offer both the Italian and Spanish Mediterranean itineraries as they are still as popular as ever!
One thing that many highlight as a negative when talking about cruising is the fact that you only get a limited amount of time in port, normally no more than a 9 to 5 day.
However, for me this is the beauty of cruising and in my opinion is best way to get a taste of the world! Waking up in a different location each day without having to lift a finger…mix in some sea days and my life is complete. Time in port may be limited, but it is enough to get a taste of the location and feel for whether you would want to return. I will be honest and admit that out of all of the ports I have visited, there are only a handful that I would return to for any longer than a day, and that’s what makes cruising so perfect for me – I can find the places I truly love.
Despite some fantastic locations, the ship was the star. With everything from an ice rink to a boxing ring, a royal promenade with shops, restaurants and even a pub (!) to West End style entertainment, a climbing wall, crazy golf, and even a Flowrider surf simulator, we certainly weren’t short of things to do! There really was something for everyone whether seeking action or relaxation. After three whole days onboard we found a deck that we didn’t even realise existed! There is no doubt the Independence is a massive ship…in fact, when we boarded she was the biggest cruise ship in the world…but she certainly had a sparkle and friendliness which helped create some fond memories of our first ever cruise.
Now nearly 10 years down the line, I have been able to experience many different styles of cruising and many different sizes of ship and I’m quite at home on all of them! I understand and respect that some people prefer traditional, smaller ship cruising, whilst others prefer the more adventurous and larger in size, but I am lucky enough to enjoy both ends of the spectrum. I think cruising still has a very outdated persona in the UK, one which suggest cruising is for a specific type of person. This is simply not true. I strongly believe that there is a cruise out there to suit almost anyones taste, it’s just a case of finding the right line and ship for you.
With the Independence of the Seas and Royal Caribbean, I could not have asked for a better introduction to cruising. In fact we all loved it so much that within a week of being home we had been back to our cruise agent and booked a second cruise for the following year! Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I had well and truly been caught by the cruising bug.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you are thinking of embarking on your first cruise but still a bit wary, all I will say is go for it! As always, if you have any questions let me know, in the comments or send me an email – I will always try to help where I can. It can be daunting for first time cruisers, but hopefully this has given you a bit of inspiration. And to all you seasoned cruisers? I would love to hear your stories and how you caught the cruising bug so please do share.
Keep smiling and happy sailing! 🙂
P.S. Independence of the Seas is set to get even better in 2018 when she returns to the UK after having a multi-million pound refit! Follow British Cruising to be kept updated on the latest cruise news and of course I will be reporting from onboard at the earliest opportunity I get!