It was wonderful to spend some quality time with friends on a group cruise. We were able to get 4 couples together that have been friends for 50 years to experience a wonderful vacation, visit some new destinations and celebrate some wonderful life events. Many people think a group vacation is too much, they love their family and friends but not 24 hrs a day. A cruise allows you to have that freedom of individual time, and group time so you have a balanced vacation. Our cruise was wonderful, we spent a week on the Liberty of the seas in the Caribbean. We visited Belize, Rotan and Cozumel, but started the vacation in Galveston the night before the departure. I always suggest a pre-night hotel at your embarkation port. This allows you a stress-free start to your vacation. We flew into Houston and had a transfer pick us up, another couple flew in at a different time and a couple of the group drove. We all met in Galveston a great little city, it has many restaurant choices, 32 miles of beach and some nice resorts, tropical scenery, Victorian architecture, an amusement park on the boardwalk and world-class sport fishing, a great place to start a cruise vacation and little easier to fly to than the East Coast. Usually your cruise will leave from a destination that has a lot to offer, so adding a night or two here gives you time to experience the city as more than just a shipyard.
We all met at the hotel, had a great dinner to unwind and relax from a day of travel. Our departure day started with a transfer for those of us that flew in to the port and the group that drove went directly to port. If you have the luxury to live close to a port city, driving is great way to save a little money, but don’t forget to add in the parking cost to your budget as to avoid any surprises.
Once we got to the port, Royal had a smooth check in process. The thing to remember here is to make sure you check in online early, the earlier the better. This way your boarding process is smooth. When you wait or check in last minute it can cause some delays with your boarding passes, and cruise IDs. I have been on a couple of cruises and Royal did have a smooth process and got a lot of people through quickly.
Make sure you have your swimming suite and or a change of clothes in your carry-on, as well as any medications you may need. Your large luggage will be deposited into your room which may not be immediately ready. Being prepared will help you start your relaxation as soon as you board. We met our friends poolside and started our trip with a toast. We got to our cabins, all of us picked a superior balcony and had connecting rooms, so our balconies opened to each other and allowed us to have one big place to party. As the sun began to set and we started to sail away, the excitement started, and we were ready to go. Watch for my next blog, on activities on board, dining and excursions.