First Time Cruise Advice – You have booked your first cruise. If you’re looking for some tips to make the experience better, follow these tips from other first time cruisers. What they didn’t know and had to learn the hard way; about packing, cocktails, ports and dining. Visit here for The Best Cruise Vacation Tips, or visit us on Pinterest.
Research Ports In Advance: Read as much as you possibly can before your cruise, otherwise you might end up in a port, overwhelmed and without the slightest idea of what to do. With limited time in port, it pays to be knowledgeable ahead of time. Even if you’ve booked an excursion, you might find yourself with several hours to kill.
Don’t Tip Double on Alcohol: You’re already automatically paying gratuities when you buy a drink at the bar, so there is no need to tip them any additional money. Most big ship lines add a 15 percent service charge on to bar bills.
Work Off the All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet: How do you balance the intake of food? Take the stairs instead of the elevators. If exercise is your thing, hit the ship’s gym or sign up for a cycling or Boot Camp class to more quickly burn off those extra-large buffet meals.
Be A Smart Packer: You may be going on a nice, sunny Caribbean cruise. But always pack a lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho.
Avoid The Buffet on Embarkation Day: Bypass the buffet or pool grill, where the masses gather, and head to a dining room for some peace. One note: Not every line opens its dining rooms for lunch on embarkation day.
Design a Ship Tour for Embarkation Day: Create your own ship tour, gathering information on the whereabouts of lounges and alternative restaurants from cruise ship deck plans, message boards and ship reviews. So, when others are wondering aimlessly on their first day aboard, you can tour the ship like a pro!
Don’t Worry With Cash, Everything is Paid Thru Your Room Key: When you go through check-in, you’ll receive the key to your room. This “key” is actually like a credit card that you’ll slide into your cabin door to unlock it. But it actually does a lot more. It’s linked to your shipboard account, and you’ll use your room key just like a credit card to charge items to your account. This is so much more convenient than having to carry around cash. Just be sure to keep a close hold on your card!
Interior Cabins are Great For First Time Cruisers: Wondering if you should get an interior cabin or a balcony room? Don’t sweat it. Balconies are great, but there is an advantage to an interior cabin. As a first-time cruiser, it’s doubtful you’ll be spending much time in your room anyway. Having an interior cabin is a cheaper way to get on your first sailing without breaking the bank.
Balcony Rooms Are Worth It: If you do decide to spring for a balcony room, it’s worth it. This is especially the case if you’re the sort of person who likes to take your time getting ready in the morning while sipping on a cup of coffee. Having the fresh air — and the view — from your balcony is worth the extra cost if you want to pay a little more for your trip.
People That Show Up The Latest Board The Quickest: When it comes to boarding the ship on cruise day, everyone is excited. In fact, you’ll find that many people get to the port before boarding has even begun. The result is a huge rush of people at the start of check-in. It can take an hour or more to get through security and check-in. Instead, wait until about an hour before the boarding window closes. By this time most people are on the ship and check-in takes just a few minutes.
Don’t Waste Your Time in Line With Early Debarkation: Everyone can’t wait to get on the ship, but then they can’t wait to get off the boat when it returns home. Cruise lines offer early debarkation for passengers who can carry all of their luggage. In our experience, the majority of passengers opt for this route. The result is a long wait to get off the ship. Instead, enjoy breakfast on the ship and depart in your cabin’s normal debarkation time. It’s a much better experience than standing in line at the crack of dawn.
Don’t Worry About Changing Money In Port: It’s likely you’ll visit several countries — with several different currencies — with just a few days. The good news is you don’t have to think about converting currencies at each port. The ports you visit thrive on tourism and make things easy for tourists. They will all gladly accept U.S. dollars, and often take credit cards. Just bring some smaller bills for your port days and you’ll be all set.
Like Last Night’s Dinner? Order It Again!: Most people don’t realize it, but the cruise lines will often bend over backwards to make you happy. Case in point: You can order items from the dining room, even if they aren’t listed on the menu for that night. If you just loved the Chicken Parmesan from a few nights ago, ask for it again. Chances are high that they will whip up a serving for you, no questions asked.
Room Service is Free: On a cruise, room service is a free perk. You can order breakfast for the next morning by hanging a completed menu on your cabin door, or order a burger for lunch when you don’t feel like going to the buffet. Best of all, it’s typically free (though you’ll still want to tip the server a few bucks). Some cruise lines are charging for certain items on the menu, but they will be clearly marked. It’s also often to see a charge if you order very late at night.
Yes, You Can Bring Some Alcohol On Board: Cruise lines know that people want to let loose and have a drink (or ten!) on the cruise. That’s why they charge high prices for their booze. Still, most cruise lines allow you to bring aboard some alcohol when you embark at the start of your trip. It’s very restrictive in that it’s typically only a bottle or two of champagne. Still, we recommend taking advantage as it’s much cheaper than buying drinks once on the ship.