Speechless...I suppose that's the best way to describe my experience onboard the Freedom of the Sea Royal Caribbean cruise ship. It will be hard to beat this first-time cruise experience. A ship full of nurses, NO KIDS, shows and entertainment catered to nurses...the food and drinks...the word 'incredible' is an understatement!
Nurses rock! I never knew how hard nurses could party! We know how to relax – it's part of our survival method, but man, we were clocked out and enjoying every minute of it. Dancing until the wee hours of the morning, enjoying the all-you-can-drink package, indulging in the endless food options, exploring the ports, screaming at the top of our lungs during the shows...I could go on and on.
The Shows & Entertainment. Oh my word, the shows – Nurses Got Talent, Nurse Feud, Ultimate Skills Checkoff, Campfire, Drag Queen Show, Nurse Blake Live...I can't choose a favorite because they were all so unique. The vibe in the room said it all. I still have a hoarse voice from all the screaming. They were unforgettable!
The Food & Drinks. Every day there was a different drink special. My favorite was the Code Blue – a yummy rum and blue curacao concoction. I chose the all-you-can-drink package and am certainly glad I did so. Not only were the cocktails phenomenal, but it was wonderful to have multiple deluxe coffee drinks per day. How else was I supposed to stay up late when my bedtime is usually 10 pm?!? I'm a day shift nurse, and my days usually start VERY early. I needed plenty of late-night pick-me-ups.
The food was really good! We frequented the buffet for breakfast and lunch and then had dinner in the main dining room for a 3-course meal. We chose to sit with other guests during dinner and met some really fun and interesting people. The late-night hunger pangs were relieved with some top-notch pizza from Sorrento's!
The Balcony Room. I always assumed that cruise ship rooms were small and claustrophobic, but I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious they were. Our balcony was a great way to relax, sip a cocktail or coffee, feel the ocean breeze, and hear the lulling sound of the waves. We even saw dolphins as we were leaving Miami!
The People. I knew I wouldn't have a problem connecting with the guests – most of them were nurses! We have similar interests and most of us have the same warped sense of humor. The crew was so very kind and accommodating. We never once were confronted with a cranky employee.
The meetups with fellow nurses were a great way to connect with other nurses in your field. I met several awesome NICU nurses from around the country and connected on social media with them.
Meeting Nurse Blake in person was just as I expected it would be. He's kind, genuine, fun, sweet, and immediately makes you feel at home. He always stops and takes the time to greet his fans. Working with him on the Nurse Blake Magazine and after experiencing the NurseCon at Sea cruise, I know for sure now that Blake truly cares about his followers, fellow nurses, and staff.
The Excursions. A Perfect Day at Coco Cay was just that – PERFECT! We relaxed on the beach, swam in the clear, turquoise lagoon-like water, and enjoyed a delicious lunch and some rum-filled cocktails. When we arrived in Nassau, we opted to skip an excursion and just do some shopping. It was fun, but next time I will go on an excursion. It's a big, busy city. I would rather take a boat ride, go snorkeling, or do something more exciting than shopping.
The Education. There were plenty of opportunities to get CNEs, and you could choose from a wide variety of topics that were very interesting and useful. No matter what area of nursing you are in, there are classes available to suit your interests.
The work. It didn't really feel like work. My job for the Nurse Blake Magazine was to take in the experience, connect with other cruisers, and conduct interviews. It was an honor interviewing other nurses, guests, and the Drag Queens. I can't wait to write the recap for the next magazine issue. It will bring back so many wonderful memories!
Returning to reality. I don't really know how to explain it. It's been hard being back in the "real world." I never thought I would be surrounded by so many nurses looking for fun and relaxation, on an impressive cruise ship with everything catered to nurses. We all connected in a way that is not usually possible. Honestly, no other cruise will compare to this one.
Recommended? Oh yes! I highly recommend the NurseCon at Sea nursing cruise conference to all of my fellow nurses and healthcare professionals. It's fun for non-nurses too. I'm pretty sure my sister (not a nurse) had the time of her life! I know I did! The next sailing will be in 2024, April 9-14, from Miami to the Bahamas and Mexico. I can't wait and hope to see you all there!