8 key things I learned about myself while taking my first ever cruise
Last week, I went on my first ever cruise.
This is a brag. I'm bragging about it.
The cruise in question occurred on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, leaving from Miami and docking at CocoCay and Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
The trip took four days in total, and during that time I found myself.
I wasn't looking for myself, but it happened regardless. It was out of my hands, sans my control, occurring independent of my actions.
Before I boarded the ship, I had zero expectations. Not because I didn't think it was going to be class, but because I literally had no idea what to expect.
Having never been on a cruise before, it was all entirely new to me. I didn't expect to have any deep moments of epiphanic self reflection.. but I did. I had eight.
This is them.
1. I should never judge a ship by its cover
Or rather, by its first hour after boarding.
There's a mild sort of chaos that ensues as people are eagerly waiting for their rooms to be ready while simultaneously trying to get their tan on ASAP.
It's overwhelming, it's confusing, it's the second time that day that you've experienced an intense thirst for a piña colada and it's only 11.45am.
For a second it almost feels like too much, and then within a few hours, it settles. You get into your room, you change into your swimsuit, you grab your complimentary drinks package and you head to the bar.
And that's where you remain for a solid four hours until dinner.
2. Sun cream is my saviour
Look lads, I'll level with you. I tan pretty damn well.
I'll spend 45 minutes in the Irish sun and re-enter the gaff with a mild, only slightly patchy glow that's more than acceptable for a gal who's spent the entirety of her life living in Dublin.
However, the sun in the Bahamas is not like the sun back home - because obviously. Two seconds out in that heat without cream and I could literally feel my flesh starting to bubble.
Well, not literally, but the sun was strong enough that even half an hour would have burned me to a crisp, rendering me unable to enjoy the rest of my trip without wincing every five seconds.
Luckily, that did not happen and instead I topped up my cream nice and frequently to ensure that I landed back home bronzed and not burnt.
3. I have a painfully woeful sense of direction
The ship was big. Like, really big.
Like, an entire city on the sea including a blow dry bar, casino, and about a dozen restaurants big.
Navigating the world sans Google Maps is not something that I have ever attempted to do IRL, and nor had I ever expected to be presented with such a scenario during my short time on this earth.
And yet, there I was, struggling to find my way from one end of the hallway to the other without getting totally turned around and somehow ending up on the top deck for the eightieth time when I was really just trying to go to bed.
Were there clear signposts positioned at almost every corner telling me where to go? Of course.
Did members of the crew offer direction-based help whenever it was asked of them? Absolutely.
Was I still vastly unable to find my way back to my room purely because my brain short circuits whenever I'm presented with multiple route options? Yes.
4. Waterslides are not my friend
On the second day of the cruise, we arrived at CocoCay, the private island that has been recently re-imagined by Royal Caribbean as a waterpark, chill zone, and all round day of fun.
There's a swim-up bar, a zip line, and a helium balloon that can fly up to 450 feet in the air (weather permitting).
It is, essentially, legit.
There are also a plethora of waterslides to choose from, including the tallest waterslide in North America - Daredevil's Peak.
Seeing as this was my first time in CocoCay (and only my second time in an actual waterpark), I decided I would absolutely give it a go. It would be fine. It wouldn't be terrifying at all.
It turns out, dear reader, that I was wrong and that Daredevil's Peak did end up being the scariest less-than-one-minute-but-felt-like-two-hours experience of my entire life.
Adrenalin infused? Of course. Incredible for somebody who isn't a Big Baby? Yeah. Decent if you're wearing a bikini and travelling at lightening speeds? Potentially not.
5. I genuinely adore being surrounded by ocean
It's peaceful, it's tranquil, it doesn't feel like you're moving at all despite the queries of many people who simply cannot understand that something so large driving across the ocean doesn't actually make you feel like you're rocking back and forth.
Swimming in the sea is relaxing. There's a sense of freedom there that can't quite compare to other manmade or enclosed bodies of water like lakes, swimming pools, and of course baths.
Spending a few days perched above the sea in a giant cruise ship is a similar enough experience, in that you can peer ahead for miles without ever spotting another boat, piece of land, or even human being.
Plus, the ocean itself is stunning. So blue, so clear, so much nicer than whatever we're subjected to at Sandymount beach in the summer.
6. Unlimited guacamole changes a person
More specifically, me.
There's a place called El Loco Fresh on the ship, and it's basically a Mexican self-service buffet meaning that you can load up on quesadillas, tacos, and as much guac and sour cream as your little heart desires.
And I did. Oh, I did.
7. I am a happier person when surrounded by happy people
And everybody on cruise ships is just So. Bloody. Happy.
Wake up in the morning? Delightful intercom message from the captain. Stroll down to breakfast? Smiles all the way.
Heading to the buffet for lunch and forget to wash your hands? A crew member wielding a guitar with remind you via song.
No, really. He will.
There's something so earth shatteringly pleasant about sharing a floating city with thousands of other people who're as equally into sunbathing, eating, and lying down as you are.
Couldn't have called it.
8. There are only so many Aperol Spritzes I can drink in one day
The writer was invited by Royal Caribbean on a four day sailing in exchange for a fair and honest review.
You can find out more about the Perfect Day at CocoCay package, including pricing and availability, here.