I went on my first (and only) cruise about 4 years ago. It was a three day cruise to the Bahamas. We took off from Miami on Friday afternoon ; docked at Coco Cay for a day; Bahamas for a day and arrived back in Miami at 6 a.m. on Monday morning. After the trip, I swore I was never going on another cruise because I had a miserable time because I was not well informed about cruises and the experience before hand. Now this is not a post to discourage you from cruising , its more tips to make your first cruise much bearable than mine was.
1. Plan for motion and sea sickness. I did not think I had that problem, but four hours into the trip I was nauseated and wanted to get back to land asap. My suggestion to you, pack some motion sickness tablets and patches, just in case. Motion sickness put a major dent in my weekend, I only enjoyed the time off the ship.
2. Plan to switch off. While on board, you are essentially disconnected from the world. You can make calls from your cabin and log onto the internet, but it will cost you. If you are searching for a vacation where you can truly switch off - then a cruise is for you. If you do splurge on wifi, make sure you log off the wifi, confirm it twice if you must.
3. Plan for a longer cruise. Cruises are increasingly popular because you get several stops on the way. The three day cruise does not offer that. We stopped at coco cay which is not really a location, its just a stop along the way for the cruise ships. Then you get a day at your destination which for us was the Bahamas - the Boat docked early in the a.m. but you had to be back on board by 4 p.m. so there was not a lot of time to see the Bahamas.
4. Plan An Itinerary. There is so much on offer on the ship that its easy to get overwhelmed, so look up the offering and plan your itinerary ahead of time. Also plan the itinerary for your stops along the way so that you get the most out of the trip.
5. Consider the cost versus benefit. In hindsight, this was not the smartest vacation, but it was a family trip so I cannot complain. Considering the cost to fly to Miami, plus the cost of hotel the night before the cruise and the cost of the cruise - a three day cruise was not worth it for me - I would have much rather checked into a nice hotel for a staycation or flown directly to the Bahamas.
Four years after my first cruise, I am considering another cruise due to a friend's bachelorette party - these tips will hopefully make my second go at cruises much better.