2016 was my first year on board and even though I prepared well for the cruise and did a lot of background research, one thing managed to surprise me:
There are several sources, including Royal Caribbean site and this thread, which state that you can bring two bottles of wine with you on board. I'm not sure if this changed for 2016 or if there was some mix up, but this wasn't the case with us this year. At the luggage scan I was pulled away and asked to open my luggage. After pulling out my two bottles of sparkling wine I told the officer that I tought they were allowed, but she stated that no such policy existed and they confiscated my bottles before letting me to continue.
However, I was not declined to board or given any penalties, and in fact the bottles were delivered to our cabin on the last cruise day and we had no problems to dispose them. There were also many pairs of wine bottles among the confescated items, so I figure we weren't the only ones who had the impression that bringing two bottles of wine was ok.
Other things that I learned and will do differently next year:
- Arriving at least a couple of days earlier. This year we arrived Miami one day before boarding and were left with practiclly no time to explore the great big US of A. Also, there was no time to get over the jet lag, so we were already having minor sleep deprivation before we boarded. Probaply the biggest con was that I hadn't spoken english in a long time, so I was a bit rusty and because we spent such a small amount of time on shore before the cruise, I never got to loose my tongue properly. Combine this with being either a) tired, b) hungover, c) drunk or, as in most of the time, all these combined and you get one quite shy Finn on board.
- Don't bother getting to the venues early. You can get to pretty much any spot you want to, even if you arrive late. There is no point waiting half an hour for the show to start.
- Pool stage > other venues. This year I made our schedules based on catching all the bands that we wanted to, not paying attention to the venues. Even though there is nothing wrong with theattre or ice skate rink (Pyramid Lounge plainly sucks), Pool Stage shows are just way better, just like open air stages are far better than tent stages at summer festivals. Next year I will plan on catching more of my favourite bands on the pool deck, even if it would mean that I miss some bands completely.
- You get some really stiff Gin 'n tonics at the bar at Windjammer entrance. These work as a great way to treat your hangover after breakfast.