What first time cruisers need to know before their first cruise

Sometimes, planning for your first cruise can be a daunting experience. It’s a very different experience to an ordinary holiday, after all – and you’ll be visiting a range of different destinations along the way, so more research is required.

But it’s definitely worth it. Cruises don’t have to be scary, even if it’s your first time. You’ll have a wonderfully unique experience, and it should be fully embraced. So, to help you make the most of your first cruise, we’re here to help.

Here are five tips to take into consideration when going on a cruise for the first time.

first time cruise tips research

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1. Don’t skimp on research

Firstly, think about what you want. For example, do you want to be on a smaller ship where you can get to know people easily? Or do you prefer the anonymity of a larger ship? Additionally, where will you travel to? The Caribbean maybe, where the beaches and sights may be very close to the port? Or will you go to the Mediterranean, which may require travelling a little farther to see the attractions? It is vital for first time cruisers to think ahead and don’t skimp on research.

Research doesn’t have to be a chore but planning a cruise for the first time is exciting. Just think of it as a wonderful preview of all the adventures you have in store. Cruises provide a rare opportunity for you to see a range of different sights and locations in one holiday, so it’s important that you get things right at the research stage. That way, when the time finally comes to embark on your adventure, you’ll be able to see exactly what you want to see.

2. Excursions – to book or not to book?

What excursions would you like to do? Be aware that the cruise line’s own trips may be a little pricey, but you’ll have the added security of everything being taken care of from the moment you step out of your cabin to the moment you return. You’re also assured the ship won’t leave without you. On the other hand, maybe you can get a cheaper deal independently.

If you are a confident traveller, have done sufficient research and know what you want, why not make a saving? Of course, bear in mind that things sometimes go wrong. Find out costs ahead of time by searching the cruise line’s website, and do the same if opting to book using an independent tour operator by going to TripAdvisor and similar sites. But don’t just assume booking independently will be cheaper, as this isn’t always the case.

3. What should I wear?

What kind of dress code appeals? The days when cruises were the preserve of the tuxedo and ball gown set have been left behind, but you can still dress glamorously if you want to. In many cases, more casual attire is also perfectly acceptable. Check on your cruise line’s website what will be expected of you. These days they cater for all styles and tastes.

are drinks packages worth the money

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4. Drink packages – are they worth it?

Buying drinks can prove costly, but you can cut down your expenses by purchasing a drinks package. On the other hand, it really depends on how much you intend to consume. Use an online drinks package calculator. For example, if a beer costs $6 to $7 and the package costs you $60, clearly you will need to drink ten beers a day to break even. Are you likely to do that? Think ahead before purchasing. 

sea view or inside cabin

Image by Sheila Jellison on Unsplash

5. Sea view?

Do you want a cabin with a view? Having a view of the Seven Seas means more to some passengers than others. You will likely have to pay a little more for it, though, and if you want the luxury of your own private balcony it will cost more again. That said, these days it won’t necessarily cost as much as it used to.

If you’re intending to have lazy days at sea, maybe you won’t mind spending a little more as you’ll get your money’s worth. Think of the type of scenery you might see. If it’s a particularly picturesque trip sailing past Arctic glaciers, it might be worth the extra expenditure. On the other hand, if you plan on being in port every day, spending days sightseeing with just a brief rest in your cabin before heading out for the evening, you might do without.

Helpful Hint

Always use a specialist cruise travel agent when booking your first cruise. They understand the differences between the various cruise lines and are well placed to give the best advice for first time cruisers.