A few months ago, with my 21st birthday dawning upon me, my dad told me he wanted to do something special. Conversations ranged from New Orleans to Europe, but we settled on a 7-day cruise to Bermuda. I had never been on a cruise, but my dad and step-mom are cruise connoisseurs, so this was their area of expertise.
With the date set, and a friend to tag along (who better to take than your college roommate?) all there was left to do was wait. I did my research, talked to friends and everyone agreed - a cruise is the ultimate 21st birthday gift and vacation altogether. Slowly, the day arrived and we set off to New York City for the trip of a lifetime.
The second you step foot onto the cruise ship, your vacation starts. Pro tip - get there early. Aside from the fact that it takes a fair amount of time to go through customs and get everything settled, your first day shouldn’t be a waste! The boat leaves at 5 pm but we were there at 10 am, eating, drinking and laying by the pool. Why waste a perfectly good vacation day?
As a true 21st birthday gift, my dad had bought me and my roommate the Ultimate Beverage Package - aka, one flat rate and all your drinks on the boat for 7 days are covered. It felt like 7 days of free drinks - in short, was amazing. We sat out by the pool, got our first drinks, and let the trip really begin.
Naturally, we wanted to explore to get a feel for our home for the next 7 days so we rode the elevator and climbed the stairs into every nook and cranny of the boat. Over 15 bars and 10 restaurants later, our adrenaline was pumping and we couldn’t wait to do everything. Bake a cake a Carlos’ Bake Shop? Duh. Norwegian’s Famous White Party? Hell yes. Our opportunities were endless. It felt like a floating college party.
There are so many options for food, and it essentially comes in 3 tiers. 1 - the buffet. Open early until about midnight, no restrictions and no reservations. 2 - complimentary dining. These are restaurants with a different menu every night. There’s no additional cost to eat there but you do have to wait to be seated. Rarely was the wait more than 25 minutes, but if you wanted a seat by a window it did take longer. 3 - specialty dining. These restaurants cost an extra $20 - $30 per-person, but you don’t pay by what you order. We didn’t do this, but it’s a nice option for a little finer-dining. Oh, and never forget - 24 hour room service for a flat $8 fee. Yes we got it every night and yes it is worth it, trust me.
There were also tons of on-board activities especially for the days you’re at sea. I can’t say we did many any of them, as our calling was to lay out by the pool until we were ready for a nap, but it was great for families with young kids that wanted to relax and get a way for a little. And even the pool was a party every day with different DJs and poolside competitions like “Mr. Sexy Legs” and an ice sculpting challenge. I can’t exactly complain about staring at hot guys competing for the “Sexy Legs” title while sipping an ice cold Corona, but maybe that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
The nightlife had to have been the icing on an already super-sweet cake, though. There was a theme party every night (80’s, white party) which I do believe my sorority experience prepared me well for. And after the party there was always an after-party for the real fun at the on-board nightclub Bliss. That’s where the beverage package really comes in handy. After 10:30, the ship becomes a floating frat party and it’s amazing.
Bermuda is also a beautiful place and I recommend it to anyone that can go, but we were so hungover and over-partied that we only made it to the beach once. Besides, we had to pay for things on the island and we were not about that life with the UBP on board.
All in all, a cruise is a trip of a lifetime that I would do again in a heartbeat.
In fact, my roommate and I are currently planning a Spring Break cruise - stay tuned for that one!