Welcome to the best time of your life!!
Our first Jam Cruise was #8, and like you, we wanted to go since its inception, but something always came up. We finally pulled the trigger for JC8 and before we had even boarded the ship, I knew from the energy and electricity I felt in the waiting area at the port, that we would never miss another one. Keep in mind that I made this decision before we even stepped on the boat. This year will be our fourth and we become official Repeat Offenders and get our robes!
Everything that has been said already is very valid and very true. Here are some nuggets of wisdom that I have gleaned over the last few years:
1. When in doubt, smile and say "Hi!, I'm a virgin!" There's only one year that you can use it, and fellow cruisers will welcome you with open arms. Like Hillary said, "It was everyone's first time on the boat once. And we all made friends." The caliber and quality of the people you'll meet is kind of amazing as well. It's truly a bunch of professionals (meant in all senses of the word) who know how to have fun!
2. Catch as many sunrises as your body allows. There is truly nothing like watching the turn from night to day whilst in the middle of the ocean or while pulling into a foreign port.
3. Magic happens everywhere on that boat, especially in the Jam Room. Make sure you make your way there and when/if you leave from there, take the outside route, through the smoking section. You just might stumble upon "the spot."
4. Costumes are fun, I highly encourage you to participate! Every year, I have inevitably over packed, but at the same time, I always manage to have something that I don't use that can be shared with a fellow cruiser. I was a girl scout, and I'm pretty sure our motto was to "always be prepared!"
5. If you drink and you like creamy frozen beverages, try a BBC sooner than later. I don't know why I waited until my third Jam Cruise to try one, but it was the best morning pick me up I could have asked for! (And if the bartender doesn't have a banana, you can usually find one in the cafeteria.)
6. Be prepared to have a different outlook on land fests after the boat, as you'll be a bit spoiled. There is truly nothing like having all of the fun of a land festival, multiplied by 100, then subtract out the high wook contingency and add the fact that you're on a luxury cruise liner, in the middle of the ocean, with your favorite bands and some of the coolest people you'll ever meet and that equates to some serious fun! Oh, and the running water, flushing toilets, and every other amenity there are just the icing on the cake!
7. Decorate your door! Not only does it help you know that you're in the right place, it provides entertainment and/or something cool to look at for those passing by. By the way, furry wall panels are fantastic!
8. If you're in town the night before the boat leaves, go to the Bahia Cabana for a Jam Cruise reunion. You will be sure to meet lots of us there!
9. If at all possible, arrange your flights so that you arrive in FLL at least one day before and depart one day after the boat gets back in.
Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions!
In the meanwhile, have a great day!!