Are you considering taking your first cruise? That’s very exciting news!
We are happy in guiding you by sharing our insider secrets with you.
Beginning your cruise holiday
If this is your first cruise, we strongly advise you to use a travel agency. These travel experts will assist you in choosing the appropriate ship, selecting the ideal stateroom, and negotiating the greatest price. Travel agents frequently provide the finest discounts and privileges, which may be paired with other cruise company discounts to make your whole vacation less expensive.
Check your cruise line’s commonly asked questions before you start packing your luggage. There’s a list of things you can’t bring onboard, including irons, coffee machines, outside food and beverages, and other contraband. Most cruise lines allow you to bring two bottles of wine on board, although you may be charged a corkage fee. Your banned things may be seized, or you may be asked to leave the ship in the worst-case situation.
Booking ahead of time
We recommend that you schedule tours and shore excursions in advance. You may book shore excursions through the cruise line’s website, local tour operators in your ports of call, or third-party vendors. We usually recommend that first-time cruisers book directly with the cruise companies in most ports of call for convenience and efficiency. There are, however, options if you locate a tour or activity that the cruise line does not provide. However, keep in mind that if you book an excursion with an independent supplier, you are responsible for returning to the ship on time.
The devil is in the details
Whether you make it back or not, the cruise line will leave the port at the scheduled time. We would hate for you to miss your maiden cruise because you didn’t prepare ahead. Allow extra time to get to and from the ship in case of traffic, inclement weather, or other travel difficulties. To guarantee that you do not miss your cruise, we usually recommend flying down the day prior. We’ve had many airline delays that would have resulted in a missed embarkation day if we hadn’t travelled the day before our trip.
Arrive early on the day of your cruise so you have plenty of time to check in and get ready for your first trip. Arriving early does not end on the first day, especially if you’re on a newer or larger ship.
Popular performances and activities sell out quickly, so seasoned cruisers will typically begin queuing up 30 to 45 minutes before a scheduled activity. Even if you have a reservation for the event or activity, we recommend coming at least 20 to 30 minutes early. You won’t have to rush to locate seats if you arrive early.
Get the physical activities done early
We also suggest that you try to cross some of those must-do activities off your list early on in your trip. Rock climbing, water slides, go-karts, laser tag, escape rooms, and other popular attractions are examples of such activities. We’ve usually found that the first few days of a cruise are more quieter and have less people on board. Extra passengers appear to emerge from concealment as the week-passes. You’ll escape the crowds and have a better experience for the rest of your vacation if you get those must-do items done the first few days.
You may wish to consider purchasing a package depending on the sort of reservation you’ve made. If you book ahead of time, you may generally save money on these packages. Packages for alcoholic beverages, specialised meals, photography, and internet access are all popular. All of those goods are generally extra money unless you’re travelling on a premium cruise ship. Some lines even offer combo deals, such as unlimited internet and a drink package. You should also arrange signature entertainment before your trip, in addition to your shore excursions.
Certain entertainment and speciality activities on several of the newer cruise ships need reservations. A reputable travel agent can now advise you on what has to be booked prior to your cruise and even make the reservations for you when they become available. These e-ticket events are typically available 90 days prior to departure on the cruise line’s website. To save time and headaches on the ship, we always pre-book our performances and speciality dining.
There are a plethora of internet packing recommendations that offer advice on what to bring for a cruise.
In general, you should have a few distinct daytime and evening costumes that you can mix and match. It all relies on your personal style and preferences when it comes to packing clothes. For the first day of your journey, we recommend packing a well-stocked carry-on. You should also bring a swimming suit and a change of clothing in case your luggage doesn’t arrive until later in the day. You should also pack some important goods that we usually bring on a cruise, which we link to in the notes section.
If you’re travelling with children, register them at the ship’s kids club on the first day of your voyage, even if you don’t think they’ll use it. It’s usually a good idea to come in on the first day to meet the staff and check out the many amenities. Children aged 3 and above are usually admitted free to most programmes.
Keep an eye on the daily activity schedule and any time-related notifications. You may pass numerous time zones throughout your vacation, depending on your route. In some ports of call, the ship may or may not switch clocks. Ship time is a term used to describe how long it takes for a ship to go from point A to point B. Remember to set your watch or smartphone to ship time because the time on the ship may differ from the local time at each port of call. That time is used to calculate all other times on board. You don’t want to miss a ship due of a time zone miscalculation.
Before your first trip, you don’t need to go to the Naval Academy, but you should acquire some fundamental ship terminology. Forward refers to venues at the ship’s front, whereas Aft refers to venues in the back. The right side of the ship is called the starboard side when looking forward, while the left side is called the port side when facing forward. The ship’s speed is measured in knots, with one knot equaling around 1.1 miles per hour.
Other phrases you’ll hear along the way are bound to come up, so don’t be hesitant to inquire or look them up online.
Cruise Fare Inclusions
Your cruise price covers a lot but not everything on most mainstream and luxury cruise lines. The following should be included in the majority of cruise price covers:
- Meals at included venues
- Select non-alcoholic beverages
- Most entertainment
- Live shows
- Access to many of the facilities
Additional fees, such as alcoholic beverages, photographs, internet access, and, of course, shore excursions, apply, as previously indicated. Many ships also provide specialised eating establishments and extra-cost activities like as wine tastings, various lectures and seminars, spa treatments, and onboard shopping. Keep in mind that cash is not accepted aboard the ship. Because your room key card is used for all purchases, double-check the bill on your in-room television or at guest services to verify correctness.
Planning off-ship ventures
You may wish to avoid stepping off the ship at all ports of call, depending on your schedule. For your first cruise, this is one of our most useful suggestions. You’ll have access to a mostly empty pool deck and other venues if most passengers are departing the ship. Although fewer onboard venues will be available, you may still relax, tour their ship, and take use of some of the other facilities with little to no wait.
We don’t recommend skipping the port if you have a tour that you really want to do, but if you just want to relax on the beach or by the pool, why not stay aboard the ship at a certain port of call?
Don’t worry, most cruise lines have lately softened their formal night policies. Regardless, at least one of your cruise’s nights will most likely be designated as a dress-up occasion. A captain’s toast or a cocktail reception are frequently included in these events. You don’t need a gown or a tuxedo for these occasions, but we usually suggest bringing something a little more fancy. We like the experience and look forward to it on our trip. It adds a personal touch to your cruise experience.
During these occasions, a number of photo studios will be set up to give the impression that it is a big occasion. In the main dining area, you can dress more business casually for the rest of the trip.
Recommended cruise liners
- P & O Cruises
- Cunard Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- NCL Cruises
- Royal Caribbean Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Fred. Olsen Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- MSC Cruises
- Cruise & Maritime Voyages
- Ocean Village Cruises
- Holland America
- Azamara Club Cruises
- Carnival Cruises
- Island Cruises
- Spirit of Adventure
- Swan Hellenic
- Voyages of Discovery Cruises
- Disney Cruises
- Star Clipper Cruises
- Star Cruises
- Sea Cloud
- Windstar Cruises
- Discover Egypt Cruises
- Hebridean Island Cruises