Introduction for First Time Cruisers
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.
Enjoy our first-time cruiser tips which are designed to help you make the right decision.
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 Specialist Cruise Travel Agent
For the first-time cruiser, it is easy to imagine that booking direct with the cruise line is the right solution to get the best deal and value for money.
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
Number 2 in our first-time cruise tips is the mini cruise, sometimes also known as a taster cruise and can be the perfect introduction to cruising if you haven’t cruised before. This is also a good option if you would like to try a different cruise line or ship for the first time. Mini cruises also make super short breaks to introduce in between your main vacation.
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
Once onboard, you will find everyone is rushing to book everything they should have booked before leaving home. The cruise lines promote everything they want to sell, so onboard reservations sell out quickly. The best solution is to book them in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on a particular activity like a speciality restaurant, shore excursion, or spa service. Peak times like spring, summer breaks, and the holiday season are always the worst. The bigger the ship, the worse the problem can be.
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
There is no need to be concerned about complaining if something is not quite right. But if you get onboard and you’re not happy with something, for example, your cabin’s location, or your table arrangement at dinner (if you are on fixed seating dining), don’t suffer in silence. Most things can be fixed.
For dining room problems, have a quiet word with the maitre d’. It happens all the time, and they’re used to dealing with tricky situations, including people who don’t get on with their dining companions. For anything else, the crew behind the reception desk are there to help. If something is missing in your cabin, ask your cabin steward.
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
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.
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?
What is the first thing you do when you go on a cruise?
What should you not pack on a cruise?
- 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 they become regular cruisers. We hope you will become one of them! Happy cruising to everyone…
We hope you 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 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API