15 Essential Tips for the First Time Cruiser
ESSENTIAL FIRST TIME CRUISE TIPS
When booking your first cruise, there is so much to consider, and it is sometimes hard to know where to start.
Regular Cruisers will tell you it’s easy.
But even in its simplicity, cruising still can be daunting for a first-timer. So who better to share information about cruising than someone who has just completed their first voyage? So we have put together a list of the most popular Essential Tips for First-time cruisers based on all the feedback we receive and have learned by ourselves over our years of cruising. Hopefully, these first time cruise tips and other cruise ship tips and secrets will help you to a better cruise
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1 – Book through a Cruise Travel Agent
With TV, social media, and online offers, cheap cruise offers make it easy to be seduced into booking. If this is your first voyage, we always recommend using a specialist cruise travel agent as they can help ensure you choose the right cruise line and a ship that suits you. Travel agents who focus on selling cruises will likely have the best understanding of what is available. The best cruise travel agents will create a profile of your likes, dislikes, tastes, and age range to enable them to curate the best cruise for you.
2 – Try a Mini Cruise or Taster Cruise
A mini cruise is normally assumed to be anything under 7 nights, but the typical duration is usually 2-4 nights with just 1 or 2 ports of call on the itinerary.
Cruises to nowhere have become popular just recently and make fantastic mini cruises! Once on board, you can enjoy all of the same accommodation, entertainment, dining, fitness and spa options that you would expect on a longer cruise.
3 – Always pre-book activities before leaving home
If you can book ahead, you can budget more accurately instead of making uninformed spur-of-the-moment purchases onboard. Always check the cost of shore excursions, as these can be very expensive, as can speciality restaurants. Note that shore excursions can be costly, but there are ways to save money on shore excursions by using independent companies. A great read is a book called “Cruising With Confidence: How to Be a First Time Cruiser Without Looking Like One
4 – Don’t be afraid to complain
5 – Arrive at least a day early at your departure port
Some of the ultra-luxury cruise lines now include a pre-cruise hotel in their fares as they find this a great way to ensure everyone gets to the ship on time.
6 – Don’t Over Pack
Almost all cruising these days is casual, and you only need a few outfits to rotate through a voyage. Always check with your cruise line as they all have published dress codes. Some cruise line do still have formal nights when you are invited to dress up but this is becoming increasingly rare. If things get dirty, no problem. Many ships have launderettes on cabin decks where you can run a load or two of laundry every few days. If not, you can send laundry out to be cleaned on board. It’ll usually come back in a day or two.
The extra cost of doing a few loads of laundry on a ship is a small price to pay for the freedom of not having to lug a giant suitcase around as you travel to and from your ship. Plus, you’ll want to save room in your suitcase for all the little treasures you’re going to find along the way.
Related: Eagle Creek Packing System Review
You Might Also Like: Download our FREE Cruise Packing List
7 – Make sure you pack a carry-on bag
If you have additional space, include items like sunscreen and bathing suits so you can immediately jump in the jacuzzi or soak up the sun without waiting for your main luggage. It also makes sense to pack some toiletries like antiperspirant spray, a toothbrush and toothpaste, plus some paper soap in case you are delayed and need to hunker down in an airport lounge.
Related: The Best Carry-on Bags for Cruisers
8 – Turn Data Roaming Off on your Phone
This is because your mobile phone will be using data to update apps, download emails, and many other things you don’t even know are happening. So always turn data roaming off to avoid coming home to an outrageous cellphone bill because you failed to understand how it worked on a cruise ship. You can also put your phone in airplane mode, manually turn Wi-Fi on, and connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi.
9 – Don’t assume your cruise is all-inclusive
The best way to deal with these extra charges and avoid the need to keep signing for everything as you go is to choose a cruise line that offers all-inclusive fares. These currently include Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Seabourn.
10 – Pace yourself through your cruise
The reality is that you won’t, so choose the things you really must do and take a rain check on less critical items. If you are not careful and overdo things, you could need a vacation at the end of your cruise.
11 – Understand automatic gratuities
Not so long ago, gratuities were a very personal thing on cruise ships. You would be given a set of envelopes and decide how much cash to give to various staff members. Traditionally, on the last night, you would personally distribute these to staff who had served you well during your cruise.
These days, most cruise lines operate automatic gratuity systems whereby a charge is levied each day based on the suite grade. These are then pooled and shared among all the cruise ship staff, including housekeeping, restaurant staff, and behind-the-scenes crew members. You can typically request that these charges be removed and tip separately to reward those you feel deserve it.
You will often find that bartenders do not share the automatic gratuities, as tips get added every time you are served a drink. Beware: expect an automatic 15 to 18 per cent gratuity when you partake in your favourite tipple.
Related: Understanding Cruise ship Gratuities
12 – Keep an Eye on the time
We all chuckle when we see online videos of passengers running down the pier and watching their ship depart. Don’t let it happen to you.
13 – Don’t take food off the ship
So if you plan to organise a picnic lunch or simply snacks along the way using food from the ship, be careful. To be safe, stick to prepackaged and sealed snacks, such as nut bars or similar. Some foreign ports have sniffer dogs that check every passenger’s backpacks and handbags.
14 – Be prepared for bad weather
While this is quite normal, with modern design techniques and automated stabilisers, most of the uncomfortable movement of the ship is a thing of the past. Before long, you will get used to it.
The good news is that you don’t need to suffer from the movement of the ship, as there are many ways to prevent motion sickness.
Related: How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise
15 – Relax and enjoy
As someone once said, always remember that a bad day on a cruise ship is better than a good day at work; relax and enjoy every moment of your cruise experience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
How long should my first cruise be?
A week or less is probably the sweet spot for most first-time cruisers, which will likely offer two or three ports. Three-day sampler itineraries won’t allow you to explore more than one destination, but you get a good feel for the ship.
What is the first thing you do when you go on a cruise?
Put away your valuable, freshen up, eat and relax.
What should you not pack on a cruise?
What Not to Pack: Things You Want to Bring on a Cruise But Shouldn’t
- Don’t Pack: Household Appliances Like Irons and Travel Kettles
- Don’t Pack: Sharp or Dangerous Objects. …
- Don’t Pack: Toys That Will Get You in Trouble.
- Power strips with surge protectors
First time cruise tips carnival
- Make sure you get a copy of the Fun Times schedule
- Sign up for the kid’s program BEFORE the cruise
- Show up for the Deck Party
- Make sure to do the water slide on the first day of the cruise
- Be on the open deck for sail away on the first day of the cruise!
Essential First Time Cruise Tips- Final Thoughts
We all have to start somewhere, and the fact is that most people who go on a cruise love it so much that become regular cruisers. We hope you will become one of them! Happy cruising to everyone…
P.S. We hope enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Feel free to share on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter using the share buttons. Thanks so much!
Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API