A cruise vacation is about as good as it gets, but it's easy to feel a little lost. Here's how to make the most of your cruise.
1. Go to the first event for your "group"
On the Disney Cruise Line, everyone 18-20 years old is part of the 1820 society, which holds special events for members throughout the day. Every cruise line has some variation of this age-grouping system for everyone from toddlers to kids, tweens to teens, and young adults to married couples. Making friends aboard the ship will make everything so much more fun, and showing up at the first event is a great way to get a feel for who's around you. I wasn't too sure about going to a coffee-tasting event at 10 pm, but I ended up with unforgettable friends I spent every day hanging out with. Just introduce yourself and stick around. You never know how it'll turn out.
2. Disconnect from technology, but use the cruise app
On most ships, there is no free wifi or cell service. Cruise lines that offer comprehensive internet packages often charge exorbitant prices - don't buy into it. Instead, take the opportunity to relax and stay off social media. You'll probably still click on the Instagram app dozens of times out of habit (and if you're like me, actually try to send Snapchats), but it's worth it to just be in the moment and make the most of your days on board ship. When I disembarked and checked my social media, I cared way less. The cruise app often has a chat feature that allows you to communicate on board ship, create group chats, check out different events, etc. This makes it easy to make plans with friends and check in with family.
3. Indulge in the nightlife
Go out and have fun! From game shows to trivia to comedians to just roaming the ship at 2 am with your friends, what you do after dinner can make or break your trip. Of course, you don't have to stay out every single night, and sometimes it's nice to head to bed early. But there's something so special about late night chats poolside with people you'll never see again. Plus, cruise ships are so beautiful and magical at night, and entertainment is abundant. Why not stay up?
4. Eat a ton of food
You've probably heard this before, but most food on cruises is included in the price. This means IT'S (kinda) FREE. At dinner, order two appetizers and every dessert on the menu. Don't go overboard (pun intended), but seize the opportunity to try new foods and take four or five trips to the buffet just because you can.
Take time to crack open a new book, take a four-hour nap, meditate, treat yourself to a massage at the spa, and stop taking yourself so seriously. Surrounded by open ocean, fresh air and no work or school, you have the freedom to let your guard down a little bit. Starting up conversations with random strangers? Doing arts and crafts like a six-year-old? Ordering five meals-worth of room service? It's just another day on your perfect vacation.
A week on a ship floating in the middle of the ocean can honestly change your whole perspective on life. You realize how easy it is to live on a 12-deck boat with thousands of strangers from around the world. The moment you step on land, nostalgia kicks in and you realize that it wouldn't be so bad to live on a ship forever. Whether you've grown up cruising every year or are terrified of ending up like a passenger of the Titanic, if you get the chance to experience a cruise, take it! The best break from the nonstop hustle of the world is in your future. So take advantage of it!