Essential Tips for First-Time Cruisers: Smooth Sailing

Causing is always the best way to travel to different countries in one voyage. But first-time cruisers must plan more diligently; I know most first-timers remain clueless because there is much to manage. 

Even though it is not rocket science to plan your first cruise, when you don’t have experience, it becomes daunting to map out the best plan. 

I’m Zoe, and I went on my first cruise a decade ago. Looking back, I realize my mistakes and regret that experience. For me, overpacking was a big headache; being a fashion enthusiast, I overpacked my clothes and forgot to pack a few essentials. 

Packaging essentials hold great significance, but packing the right thing should be your top priority. 

Besides packing, there are a lot of practical tips that I’m going to share one by one in this guide. So grab a coffee, a pen, and a notebook to list important points. 

Note:
The post might contain affiliate links– I suggest items I used to get the best experience. Also, if you purchase from my link, it can help me feed my family. 

19 Best Tips For First-Time Cruisers

1- Don’t Wait To Book The Cruise

Don’t Wait To Book The Cruise

Avoid overthinking about booking; just go to the relevant cruise website and book the cruise. 

But Why?

During the peak seasons, the cruise tickets sell like hotcakes. Considering the cruise cabin availability and fare prices, you must book the cruise as soon as possible. 

The immediate booking also gives peace of mind; once the cruise is booked, you can head over to the next important chores like shore excursions and packing. 

I have seen many first-time cruises that pack the essentials and then book the cruise– it’s not right! 

Another important point to consider; 

Before booking a cruise, wisely choose the cruise line. Many cruise lines are offering unforgettable voyages; famous ones include Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and NCL. 

Now, I can’t favor any specific one. Instead, I suggest you read the reviews, see YouTube videos, etc, to acquire plenty of information. Every person has a unique taste of traveling, so consider your preference. 

2- Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance covers a lot of things that can benefit you later. Traveling is an unexpected experience; anything can happen anytime. That’s why it’s important to secure your voyage via travel insurance. 

Travel insurance can help you in several circumstances like cruise cancellation, medical help, trip interruption, lost baggage, and travel delays, and most importantly, it will give you peace of mind. 

So, if you’re tracking a cruise for the first time, I recommend you get the best travel insurance to secure your journey. 

3- Choose The Right Cabin Type

So, choosing the right cabin type matters a lot. I know personal preference is involved in it, but I can suggest which cruise cabin type is best for you. 

If you’re a solo traveler or have a tight budget, the lower deck rooms are recommended. Such rooms are in the middle, having no balconies. But it’s fine for solo people, and I know you guys spend most of your time outside. 

But if you’re with family or have kids, always prefer to book the stateroom with balconies.

The balcony room will reduce the danger of motion sickness. Secondly, you can also savor the breathtaking sea vistas– and yes, it’s worth it. 

If you want to enjoy your travels like a royal personality, you can also choose a suit option. Inclusive suites offer all amenities, luxury, and privacy. Everyone dreams of booking the suit, but it relies on your budget and family condition. 

4- Don’t Forget To Book Port Excursions

Port Excursions
Credit: @ dettaglidibari

Most first-time cruises, even myself, don’t search for the ports of call. Cruise stays at different ports where you can take part in port excursions to make your journey unforgettable. 

Always map out the best itinerary to get the best experience of your life. I’m proud to say that I never let any opportunity in life pass me by; I savor each one to the fullest. And you have to do the same. 

Always check the time of stay at a certain port; if you know the exact time, it’s easy to plan the excursions. I know 3 – 4 hours are less to explore the traditions of any country, but still you can enjoy the local food, and do some shopping, etc. 

It is good to know that you can even independently book shore excursions if you don’t like cruise line tours. 

Here, you can book pre-shore excursions at the best prices. 

5- Prepare Your Essential 

Prepare Your Essential 
Credit: @ martinthemeat

Packing for a cruise is one of the crucial stages where every individual does his or her best to satisfy him/herself. 

I’m an experienced cruise, but packing cruise essentials seems exciting and confusing. One practical tip is to avoid over-packing because, later on, it can create hurdles for you to manage your luggage. 

For more delightful packing, you can check my this guide. 

Just pack the basics

  • Firstly, you should get an estimate of how much gratuities cost per day. However, the shared amount depends on your stateroom category. Still, having an estimate of cost will let you not get trapped. 
  • Look for the deserving members if you want to pay extra gratuities. For example, the cleaning or kitchen staff. 
  • Generally, you have two options – pay the gratuities in advance or wait for onboard. Among both, we prefer to pay in advance. This way, you can add the gratuity cost to the fare and get a fare estimate of pricing. You will see a few cruise members offering gratuities directly whenever they see fit. However, you should not do as you want to save the cost. Conversely, you should give gratuities to hardworking members only. 
  • Suppose you plan to have any onboard purchase – like spa, salon, beverages, or mini bar items. A gratuity of 18% is sure to add to the cost. 
  • Tipping to each crew member individually is also not recommended.

You don’t need to put your entire wardrobe in luggage. 

My husband and I typically pack 2 or 3 suitcases, and they easily contain everything we need. You should also consider the luggage policy for your cruise lines to avoid hassle, as every cruise has various luggage limits.

6- Prepare All Documents & Credit Cards

Ensuring you have all the necessary documents is even more critical than packing your clothes. Like on a few ports, you can enjoy shore excursions without a passport or visa. 

Start by double-checking your passport or other identification requirements for the specific cruise, and make sure they are valid throughout your trip. 

Additionally, have copies of your cruise reservation, boarding passes, and any necessary visas readily available. 

Organize your travel insurance documents and ensure you have a physical and digital copy. You can also opt for a dedicated hand to carry all your documents. 

Check this leather bar to carry documents. 

Also, top up your credit cards with enough cash to use at ports. Don’t forget to keep some cash because few cruise lines only accept cash. Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid unexpected card holds abroad.

7- Consider Luggage Delivery Services

Luggage
@ jewel.c

Many cruise lines offer luggage delivery service; pick up your luggage at the airport and safely deliver it to your stateroom. This will save your efforts and also the headache of carrying bulky luggage. 

You can avail of this service by contacting your cruise line; they offer delivery service for embarkation and debarkation days. 

Before handing over your luggage, put luggage tags on them. 

Tip:
Don’t hand over the bag containing essential documents to delivery services. I recommend you purchase a separate hand carry for all your documents. 

8- Arrive Earlier At Port On Embarkation Day

 Arrive Earlier At Port

Nobody wants to find themselves stuck in long queues on embarkation day. To avoid such a scenario, arriving at the port early is wise. 

Getting there ahead of the rush ensures you won’t have to contend with the frustration of waiting in long lines. Instead, you can smoothly navigate the check-in process, security, and boarding.

After a successful check-in process, you can manage your stateroom and enjoy some drinks or food onboard. 

Tip:
I suggest you fly at least a day before your cruise. Because flights can be canceled or delayed. 

9- Know What’s Included In Dining

Know What's Included In Dining
Credit:@ cruisingwithjoshy

Almost all cruise lines offer complimentary dining options; before going to the dining room, know about the menu to save time. 

Don’t forget to search for other specialty restaurants onboard to save your money. For some cruises, you have to pre-book the specialty dining; and without reservation, you can’t enter into the dining room. 

First-timer cruisers often feel shy in the dining room; always remember nobody will judge or blame you for overeating. You can even take advantage of prime food on elegant or formal nights

11- Join The Welcome Show At First Night

Join The Welcome Show At First Night
Credit: @rokuplayer

Even though I feel tired on the first night, I always join the welcome show on the first night, but the first entertainment show will wash away all my weariness. 

You’ll get a sneak peek of the ship’s entertainment offerings and a chance to meet the cruise director and their team. It’s an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the exciting activities and shows that await you throughout your journey.

12- Beware Of Ongoing Parties & Cruise Routine 

Each cruise line offers a different level of entertainment and parties. Once you enter the stateroom, a guide will be there on the table, helping you to know when there is a formal night and special even on a cruise.

Moreover, you can also ask about social events from the cruise crew; they will guide you better. Don’t be a feather in the wind hoping for everything to come itself.

Communicate with your fellow passengers and crew; they will also tell you about some of the best cruise activities. 

Take a good look at the cruise routine, and pay attention to when the pool gets too crowded. Avoid those peak times if you prefer a more peaceful dip. 

Keep an eye on the dining room schedule and the hustle and bustle of diners. These little observations will help you craft a stress-free cruise experience where you can savor every moment without hassle.

14- Don’t Forget To Try 24 Hour Room Service

Yes! Room service is at the top of my favorites bucket. 

Who doesn’t want to enjoy a special meal in a peaceful and more private environment? I usually use room service and savor the food with a breathtaking sea view from my balcony. 

Remember that few cruises have room service included in the fare, but you have to pay additional charges for some cruises. I know people don’t care about prices when craving a late-night snack. 

Whether you want a leisurely breakfast in bed or simply prefer dining in the comfort of your stateroom, room service is there to cater to your culinary desires around the clock. 

First-timer cruisers usually forget about this service, but you must consider this service if you’re a food connoisseur.

15- Don’t Forget To Bring Your Camera Or Drone

Traveling buddies always love to capture the adorned vista of the sea to make their journey the best memorabilia. 

For the best photography, you should opt for a professional lens. Along with feasting your eyes with scenic ocean vistas, you should also capture them. 

You can also bring a drone onboard, but remember that most cruise lines only allow drone shots at ports, so while sailing, you have to keep this thing in mind. 

When you’re on the port of call, take out your drone from your bag and start filming your moments.

16- Avoid These Mistakes 

First-timers often don’t carefully read the policies and regulations of cruise lines and make any big blenders that can put them in danger. 

So here are some of my practical advice that you should follow to avoid any policy violations. 

  • Firstly, you should get an estimate of how much gratuities cost per day. However, the shared amount depends on your stateroom category. Still, having an estimate of cost will let you not get trapped. 
  • Look for the deserving members if you want to pay extra gratuities. For example, the cleaning or kitchen staff. 
  • Generally, you have two options – pay the gratuities in advance or wait for onboard. Among both, we prefer to pay in advance. This way, you can add the gratuity cost to the fare and get a fare estimate of pricing. You will see a few cruise members offering gratuities directly whenever they see fit. However, you should not do as you want to save the cost. Conversely, you should give gratuities to hardworking members only. 
  • Suppose you plan to have any onboard purchase – like spa, salon, beverages, or mini bar items. A gratuity of 18% is sure to add to the cost. 
  • Tipping to each crew member individually is also not recommended.

17- Take Advantage Of Gym 

Take Advantage Of Gym 

The gym is included in cruise fare, but few cruise lines charge for it. Nonetheless, there is always a fitness center on every cruise where you can increase the blood flow and reduce stress.

I always hit the gym on every cruise voyage, so you should, too. 

Even though cruise gyms are not like your professional hometown gym’, it’s enough to pump your muscles and stay active. 

18- Never Miss The All Aboard Time

Never Miss The All Aboard Time

First-timers often make the mistake of not following the all-aboard time. Remember that cruises won’t wait for you and depart at their specific time. 

Missing the All Aboard Time can result in unexpected expenses, stress, and even finding your way to the next port.

So before starting any private port excursions, you have to check the all-aboard time and set the alarm on your phone. 

Ensure your watch or device matches the ship’s time zone, which can vary across different ports. Heeding this rule will safeguard your cruise experience from unnecessary setbacks and ensure you never miss the boat.

19- Currency In The Ports 

The cruise voyage covers several countries, and you need a different currency for each country. However, if you’re traveling on a Caribbean cruise or around North America, you don’t need to exchange currency; the dollar is acceptable all around the American states. 

But if your destinations are European countries or Asia, you must carry additional cash to avoid hassles. Even though you will find a currency exchange shop on every port, their rates are too high. 

That’s why keeping your currency exchange while sailing to other regions is better. 

Final Thoughts

Being a first-timer, you must remember the things mentioned above. Choose the right cruise that matches your interest.

Also, I recommend you pick the short cruise for your first sea journey; mostly, a 7 – 11 day cruise remains best for a first-time cruise. Once you know the things, you can go for a 21 or 29-day cruise. 

I hope you liked all these tips; you can ask me anything in the comment box or privately on social media. I’m here to always help you. 

Thanks!

Similar Posts