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10 Reasons To Take A First Time Cruise

Updated on June 23, 2017
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Sherry is retired and loves to share photos and her vacation experiences, especially beach resorts. Read her reviews on HubPages in Travel.

Being a camp out kind of family, anything that mentioned formal dress has been a turnoff. Retired now, and more relaxed, 14 days with a mere 3 formal nights sounded okay and there are some pleasant surprises with that, which are discussed below.

To start with, the embarking process was easy as eating pizza. The cruise website gets you ready for that. If you confirm your passport and answer a few questions at "Advanced Guest Registration", you will find that all you have to do is walk on board. A brief wait at the San Pedro,CA cruise line terminal is all that we went through.

We are going south to see the sights through the Panama Canal.

As we stepped on board we got our first professional picture taken. One of about a dozen. We received a map of the ship and we embarked on a carefree vacation with no worries. There was a tinge of excitement because this was totally new.


Costa Rica Port-of-Call
Costa Rica Port-of-Call

Reason One: Meet People

Many of the passengers are retired and are ready to start a conversation with a smile.

Of all the people I met, talked to and shared upscale dining with, no one had done a cruise just once.

We seemed to be the only first time cruisers. There is an art to cruising on the big ocean liners. You may decide that one cruise is not enough. We have taken the Princess Cruises to Baja California and found out many like to take this trip every year.

99% of the servers and cruise employees have the same attitude: friendly and willing to serve. You are embarking onto a carefree time zone.

The people that will be taking care of you are from more than a dozen countries, I am sure. Each will have a name tag with their first name and country of origin.

Sun deck with pool
Sun deck with pool
Seven Level Promenade
Seven Level Promenade

Two: Relax in the Sun

By the time you cruise past Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the sweaters are forgotten.

Enjoy warm sun on full length luxury padded lounges on four sun desks.

Our seventh level promenade is lined with steamer lounges on both the port and star sides of the ship. The promenade is wide enough for leisure walkers and the occasional runner. During the day until evening it is manned by the drink servers.

Three swimming pools, a wading pool and six spas for cooling off on the ship.

Three: Learn About the History of the Panama Canal

Satisfy your curiosity about the Panama Canal. Get plenty of information.

Two hour long big screen lectures of its history by the ship expert on the Panama Canal.

This personable director will narrate the whole canal crossing from the moments of ocean approach to the leaving, and full speed is once again started. Every point of interest and the history is mentioned on the port and star sides of the ship.

The new Panama canal construction to provide a third wider, longer and deeper lane for the new big ships, has started and is visible from your ship. You will get all the information about this new project plus a two sided map to follow your course through the canal.

On ship photographers take canal side photos of the passengers and points of interest. Beautiful photos will be offered on the ship. Example of crossing photo packages was 10 for $30 or 20 for $40.00. These were beautifully labeled photo-matted professional photos. Excellent for framing or the photo album.

Culebra Cut
Culebra Cut
Princess Theater
Princess Theater

Four: Perfect Gift for Parents

Grown children can offer a cruise vacation for their parent's anniversary, or a grandmother can take her older grandchildren on a first cruise. Nothing says pride than seeing a 6+ foot, high school senior in a tux with his younger brothers on formal night.

No worries with this gift if you go along or not. Everything is done for you. No meal planning, cooking, and shortage of entertainment. Every evening a Patter arrives at your cabin listing all the hourly activities, movies and live shows for the next day.

Free portrait settings on causal and formal nights. Dozens of pictures and prints available for viewing all trip long.

The only thing missing is the family dog.

The Princess Theater photo above shows only half of the seating. This theater is used for lectures, movies, song show productions, and live comedians.

Five: Enjoy Inclusive Entertainment

Some examples of activities is ballroom dance lessons, line dancing, singing, gym activities, wine tasting, shopping, casino games, art auctions, bingo, spa treatments, acupuncture, swimming games, 3 big screen movie venues, one with popcorn, and special interest hours for meeting people.

Special interests, could be singles, AA, table tennis, game room for cards, Scrabble, puzzles, and trivia get together. All but a few of these activities are all inclusive, or part of the original cruise price.


Aruba
Aruba

Six: See the World

See other cultures and countries at the ports-of-call. Each destination has an hour program lecture before the day of landing. You will not miss anything that meets your interest. Information sheet for each port by Princess Cruises.

At each port you can explore on foot with the help of the lecture or purchase a secure excursion via Princess Cruises. We had five ports-of-call on this 14 day trip.

Ship Atrium and First Time Cruiser
Ship Atrium and First Time Cruiser

Seven: Food

All meals are serviced to you with several choices to meet your mood at the moment.

Three formal nights that you can skip because the Horizon Court is open 24 hours a day. Many entrees offered at the dining rooms are also served in the buffet.

Anytime Dining with waiter service at a table for two, or larger table settings for meeting other travelers and sharing conversations.

Traditional cruise dining with assigned seating and times.

The menus in the formal dining rooms are elegant with a four course meal. Three choices of appetizers, 3 choices of soup or salad, four or five choices for main dish and a whole dessert menu handed to you for complimenting regular coffee or sometimes coffee specialties, to end your exquisite dinner. Sugar free desserts are available and before the cruise, mark that as a concern on your pre-cruise request form.

There is special service for wine lovers.

Still not satisfied? Try thin crust NY style pizza from noon till evening or grilled hamburgers, fries or hot dogs. There is the Bayou room for pub fare and an Italian restaurant by special request.

At 3PM the fresh baked cookies come out at the Horizon Court. Soft freeze ice cream available all afternoon and evening on one of the sundecks. Popcorn for the evening movie on the Lido deck. Drink servers available before every live show, movie or theater event.

There is barista style coffee service in the atrium all day. This is an extra charge, though.

Promenade Deck at Sunset
Promenade Deck at Sunset

Eight: Quiet Time is A Step Away

Even with almost 2000 guests on board there is plenty of quiet serene seating areas. Find them on the Promenade, on the sixth floor inside corridors, the library, and the smoker's lounge.

TV in your room or chairs on your balcony. The fifteen level sun deck was very quiet on our trip.

Nine: Your Stateroom

Your cabin is straightened and freshened for you twice a day. Room service for food or drink is offered for an extra charge.

Luggage is delivered at your door by the time you set sail.

For a $19 fee your luggage is sent to the airlines for you at the end of the trip. Also bus service to the airline terminal. No dragging the luggage around. A perfect ending for your cruise trip.

River boat ride in Costa Rica
River boat ride in Costa Rica

Ten - Planning Is Easier for the Next Cruise





You know as you are leaving the ship another cruise will be even easier to plan for next year.

Coral Princess

Coral Princess
Coral Princess

© 2012 Sherry Venegas

A Panama Canal Cruise Vacation is a Spectacular Thank You Gift

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    • paperfacets profile image
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      Sherry Venegas 3 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @di4422: It is surprising how the inside cabins can be very affordable. Spend your day out and about for maximum fun and relaxation.

    • Erebos411 profile image

      Erebos411 5 years ago

      My first cruise was the Panama Canal with Princess a number of years ago. It was a great experience. Everyone on the ship from the passengers to the crew were wonderful. Since them I've done several other cruises with Princess. It's the only way to travel. You have your hotel floating in the harbor when you visit places and you never have worry about luggage for the duration of the trip. Works for me!

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      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @LivRiley LM: We went to a village outside of Panama City and did not have enough time to see the city too. Staying in the city would be nice. We were amazed at how high it is built. From the ship at dusk it looked like a scifi city.

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      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @KimGiancaterino: We are thinking about another cruise. It will probably be a Princess cruise. We enjoyed it.

    • LivRiley LM profile image

      LivRiley LM 5 years ago

      Have been on plenty of cruises and cruise lines (Princess is one of my favourites) but have never cruised through the Panama Canal. However, I have been to Panama and stayed at the Royal DeCamron for 2 weeks. Visited the canal and many other interesting historical sites. Did you spend the day in Panama City?

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      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @Lynne-Modranski: Hi rlmodranski, I will answer this as how I see "all inclusive". That term is what you get without being charged extra for. Extra charges are for sodas, alcohol, bottled water and blended coffees. They tack on $11.50 for each passenger for gratuities. A few activities are not included in the price, such as, bingo, the casino, excursion trips, wine tasting and spa treatments.

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 5 years ago from Ohio

      I need some help. What is an "all inclusive" cruise. We went on Norwegian last year and loved it. It was called "Freestyle," but I'm curious as to what "All Inclusive" is.

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      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have not yet been to the Panama so a cruise looks inviting. I had been on a cruise but never went on another as those buffets turn me off given that diabetis is not far off for us.

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