Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Parker Diakite
13 Things To Know Before Your First Cruise
After people who cruise frequently get over the shock of you telling them how you’re considering your first cruise experience, they’ll go on to tell you how they wouldn’t want to vacate any other way.
For frequent cruisers, it’s the convenience of being on a resort at sea and having everything you need just a few decks or steps away.
Seems easy, right? Yes, for the most part.
But there are some things you should know, including bringing carry-on luggage on the first and booking excursions ahead of time.
If you finally have booked your first cruise, here are a few things you should know that will make your experience run more smoothly.
1. Get To You Port City A Day Early
You may think this goes without saying but the are some risk-takers out there who will actually fly in or travel the day of because ships tend to depart in the afternoon.
Even before Covid, this was a bad idea. All it takes is a delay in flights or traffic congestion to creating an anxiety-filled morning.
You don’t need that stress – especially you first-timers.
Getting to your port city allows you to rest from jet lag or buy any last-minute item you may have forgotten at the store.
2. Cabin Type
Most cruise ships offer three types of stateroom, including inside cabins, oceanview rooms, and suites.
Inside cabins are typically your budget-friendly option in the middle of the ship. They usually don’t come with a view of the ocean.
Oceanview rooms are just that and typically come with a balcony off your room. It’s great to take in the views while in your room and also for listening to the water at night.
Suites are more expensive, of course, but come with special perks, such as more seating, robes, better views, and bigger spaces.
3. Take A Look At The Amenities and Dining Before The Cruise
Now that you’re booked for your first cruise, you want to familiarize yourself with the amenities and restaurants before you set sail.
This is important for a few reasons.
As cruise lines continue to take extra safety precautions from COVID-19, many companies have changed capacity in certain restaurants and activities on board.
You don’t want to be in a position where you can’t enjoy an offering on the ship because you needed to make a reservation ahead of time for a spa or fine dining restaurant onboard. Speaking of fine dining, some restaurants on your ship may have a dress code. Looking ahead will help you plan and pack better.
4. Avoid Booking Your Room Below Restaurants, Casinos, Clubs, Or Near Elevators
Choosing a venue can be tough and overwhelming but if it’s one piece of advice we can give you, don’t book near any nightclubs, restaurants, casinos, or near the pool deck, and anchor on the ship. It can get loud. This also includes booking near elevators.
5. Book Excursions and Activities In Advance
Cruising veterans will tell you to wait and book your excursions because some vendors will let you negotiate the price of excursions while waiting in the port.
This is great advice and all but if it’s your first time, try booking ahead of time for security and knowing that your itinerary includes everything you’re interested in doing.
This includes spas, restaurant experiences, wine, and spirit tastings onboard.
6. Bring A Carry On The First Day
Can’t stress this enough as it will take a while for the crew to bring your luggage to the room. Pack your carry-on bag with the essentials and expect to go without your bags until about 8 pm.
A good idea is having that sunscreen packed, a bathing suit, an extra outfit, motion sickness sandals, and important documents.
Remember we just discussed a dress code, if you’re having lunch the first day on the ship but there’s a dress code, pack that as well.
7. Explore Your Ship Once OnBoard
Exploring the ship ahead of time will save you later when you’re at sea because you’re not trying to figure out where your restaurants, casinos, swimming pools, or bars are located.
Most cruise lines will have deck plans online so, you can use that as a reference.
8. Can I Bring Alcohol?
Maybe. Most lines allow adults to bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne or 12 cans of beer or nonalcoholic drinks in a carry-on per cabin. This will allow you to save a little money.
If you run out, you can re-up at your port city.
Every line has different restrictions on drinks and alcohol so be sure to check beforehand.
9. Download The App and Keep Your Phone In Airplane Mode
The international charges get real. I accidentally racked up $90 on my phone because I forgot for a few hours that it was not on airplane mode.
I’ll take the $90 over the horror stories of people racking up charges by the thousands.
There are a few ways to get around this. First, you can buy the Wi-Fi package but this can be expensive.
Downloading your cruise line’s app is another workaround because you can communicate with others in your party via the app and you can also make reservations and keep up with your itinerary without using cellular data or Wi-Fi.
10. Skip The Elevator If You Can
They’re always pretty packed and can slow you down on the ship. Taking the stairs allows you to actually save time in most cases and will help to get your steps in from indulging dessert at dinner.
11. You Can Wait To Disembark Foe Excursion and Port Days
Eat breakfast and enjoy some coffee or tea because sometimes it takes a while to get off the ship since hundreds of people are trying to get off at the same time.
If you don’t have much planned for the day, it’s also a great time to take advantage of having fewer people on the ship.
12. Check Your Receipt So You’re Not Tipping Twice
Most cruise lines will add the gratuity to your bill if you’re eating or drinking somewhere that’s not included in your package. Just be sure to check your receipt so you’re not booking twice.
13. Sea Legs Is Real. Be Prepared Post Cruise
Sealegs are essentially a phenomenon of motion when you’re back on dry land after spending some time at sea.
It hit me hard. Took me two days to reacclimate with adequate rest, water, and motion sickness meds as my body readjusted to dry land.