10 Tips for First Time Cruisers

  1. Understand how the gratuities work. Gratuities are often automatically added onto your account daily with per person fees. Understand what that covers so that you don’t over pay for every drink and service you receive onboard.
  2. Research the port stops. You’ll want to have an idea of what to do while you are there. Ask your travel agent or friends for advice on what activities would be fun to do at the ports you will be visiting.
  3. Pack efficiently. Packing cubes are a must in my suitcase. They help me organize my clothes and it allows me to pack more without taking more space. Wear items that are plain like a black dress and then dress it up with a necklace or scarf. Pack things you can mix and match. Shoes are often the heaviest item in your suitcase. If you are only going to wear a pair of shoes once, don’t pack them. Pack shoes that can worn with several outfits. 
  4. Get travel insurance. You don’t want something to go wrong that you’re not prepared for. Safeguard your travel investment. 
  5. Getting lost onboard is normal. Every time you travel on a new cruise ship, you’ll have to get use to a new layout and features. There’s usually a map of the ship near the elevators. Don’t be afraid to ask an employee for help finding a location.
  6. Cruise App. If the cruise ships offers an app, download it ahead of time on your phone and use it to help you figure out where you’re going. Apps like Ship Mate let you see photos from other travelers and ask them questions. These apps also have a countdown, which is a nice motivator. 
  7. Cell phone roaming charges. If you are planning on using your phone on the trip, be aware that it will probably not work onboard the ship, but it can work while on port. You can call your cell phone carrier ahead of time and ask if they have any international rate packages for the countries you will be visiting. In the last few cruises I’ve taken, I paid $10 a day for a day pass for that port instead of paying $3 a minute with my regular phone and data plan.
  8. Prioritize. Everyone doesn’t travel the same way. Some people are happy spending hours lounging by the pool, others would rather be doing one of the many onboard activities, or simply taking a nap in their cabin. There will always be more to do on a cruise ship than you will have time for. You don’t have to do everything! Just pick the things that are more interesting to you. 
  9. Beverages. Beverages are often not included. You will have to pay for sodas and of course, alcoholic beverages. Many ships now offer beverage packages. Some are not very good deals, while others are. Calculate how much it would cost you to get the drink separately versus in a package and how much you will be using it. If you are only planning on doing one or two drinks for the entire cruise, it might not be worth it to you to get a beverage package. Also, make sure the beverage package is a one time cost and not a per person/per day fee. 
  10. Room charges. Your room key will linked to a credit card on file. All charges will go on this card. It’s really easy to charge things and then totally forget until you get your final bill and get a heart attack. Plan an amount of money that you are willing and able to charge for the entire trip. The TV in your room will often offer you the ability to see your up to date charges, if not, you can walk over to guest services and as them for a copy.
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