Cruise TipsBest Cruise Tips For First Time Cruisers

Best Cruise Tips For First Time Cruisers [From Our Fans]

We recently asked our over 150,000 Facebook fans if they could give one cruise tip to a first time cruiser, what would they tell them.  We received over 500 responses that included everything from tips on what to pack to what you shouldn’t miss, and what you can skip on your cruise.
Here are the best tips for your first time cruise that were given to us by our readers so you can make the most out of your next cruise.

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Related: Check out our Top 10 Posts on Cruising for the First Time here.

Vickie Anderson gave us one of the most important tips for a first time cruiser when she said, “Do your homework & find the cruise line that fits your lifestyle!”.  I know several people who will never take another cruise because they took a cruise on a cruise line that wasn’t suited for them.  Every cruise line is different  and there is a cruise line for all budgets and lifestyles.

If you are expecting a luxury cruise, booking the cheapest cruise to the Bahamas will most likely set you up for a letdown.  At the same time if you are looking for a cruise with a lot of nightlife, booking a luxury cruise that is geared towards those who are 55 and older will also set you up for disappointment.

Ellen Cummings said to “Don’t fall overboard”.  While it is impossible to just “fall off of a cruise ship”, sitting on the railing like a recent passenger did is a great way to go overboard. Another great way to go overboard on a cruise ship is to climb out on a lifeboat while at sea (Yes, it has happened).

Packing Tips

Donna Tipton: “Pack 1/2 what you think you will need. Relax.”

Leslie Poth: “Bring a suit and formal dress for captains dinner and professional pictures. Check to make sure the ship you are going on does have a captains dinner. Not all of them do.”

Melanie Weller: “After you are done packing, take half of it out.”

Maya Apperley: Comfy shoes, comfy shoes, did you hear me comfy shoes!”

Tina Olson: “Don’t over pack, keep it simple.”

Rolando Alamo: “Don’t over pack! It happened to me on my first cruise, I over packed and didn’t used half of the clothing for the whole week!”

Travel Tips

cruise passport

Paul Kilmer: “Unless you live nearby, travel to your departure city a day ahead of time.”

Ken Nolder: “If flying to your departure port , always , always , always travel to the port at least one day early to avoid any unexpected flight delays which could cause you to miss the ship . Trust me … I’ve been there.”

Jenifer Kemper: “Keep passports, boarding passes, and other essential paperwork out of checked luggage. BONUS: Lanyards with plastic covers are great.”

Jake Cullins: “Arrive at least one day early for your embarkation date, you don’t want to be left behind due to delayed flights or other misfortunes.”

Gina Meyer: “Always buy flight and cruise tickets together as a package! If your flight is delayed the ship will not wait for you , but they will fly you to the next port of call.”

Yvonne Zumalt: “NEVER fly in on the day of cruise departure! Always fly in a day or two before and stay overnight. There are hotels even that cater to cruisers.”


first time cruise tips

Theresa Delp: “Once you start, you won’t stop.”

Catherine Botting: “Prepare to be hooked. Once you’ve had your first cruise you’ll be desperate to book your next one.”

Dana Stickland: “Once you cruise the first time; you will never want to do anything else!”

Mayda Horta: “You will be hooked immediately, I’m an addict!”


gaining weight on cruise

Anthony Severn: “Order as much as you want at the formal dinners! It’s all included, get multiple entrees if you so choose.”

Olivia Neely: “Dress for dinner at least a few times. It is part of the experience.”

Lydia Esquivel: “Lose some weight first because you will gain weight…food 24/7.”

Mardy Gonzales: “Eat dinner in the main dining room, every night.”

Jeff Clinton: “Once on board, head directly to the food.”

Eric Templin: “Don’t eat it all on day one. There’s more! Try new foods, where else can you do it for free? You don’t like it, order something else.”

Tim Powell: “Don’t look at the dinner menu see something you like and think, maybe I will order that tomorrow. It probably will not be there tomorrow.”

Patrick Bogard: “Pack your own sodas.”

Here are some other great first time cruise tips that were given to us:

first time cruise advice

Damon Costantini: “Those refreshments in your stateroom fridge are not free!”

Dan Moore: “Treat ship employees as well as they treat you. My Wife and I do Carnival twice a year and repeatedly see passengers talk down to employees like they are the scum of the earth! Stop!”

Rikki Soteras-Finn: “Explore the whole ship…watch the shows…eat in the dinning room…cabins are for showering and sleeping go sit on the top deck and watch the ocean if you get bored.”

Lisa Mazza:  “Tip your waiters, assistant waiters & cabin steward each a little something extra at the beginning of your cruise & you will be taken care of for the rest of your trip. One cruise my cabin steward knew how much I loved the pillows & all of a sudden he came into our cabin with 4 extra pillows for me. I was in heaven!!!”

Valerie Palmer: “Go with a sense of adventure and get back to the ship early.  They DO NOT wait on you.”

Karen Hirsch: “Get a balcony.”

Ann Roan: “I guess it is all a matter of opinion but I have been on many cruises and we always book an inside cabin and save the money! You spend very little time in there anyway! If you take advantage of all the things to do aboard ship you will find that all your cabin is for is bathing ,changing, and sleeping. That way you have more to spend on more fun things.”

Brenda South: “You don’t need all the clothes you think. If you go to the buffet every night you don’t need to dress up. Swim wear, shorts, tanks or tshirts, something comfortable for shore time. Pictures are taken every day/night. Wait till the last night of the cruise and pick the ones you truly want. They are all usually good but can get very expensive. When you go have pictures made any where else, you get a chance to pick the ones you like best. If you wait till the last night, you get to look at all of them together and pick the ones you like best. Most important, leave the cell phone and computer off. This is the BEST vacation you will ever have.”

Bonnie Fagundo: “#1, bring your patience for boarding and debarking.”

George Einsetler: “There are lots of little tips to give, but the biggest one is relax and enjoy. You’re on vacation!”

Michael Colao: “Turn off all cellular and data roaming on your cell phone.”

Shirley Watkins: “Be prepared to have the best time of your life and you’ll definitely book again.”

Russ Ludens: “Go with an open mind, relax and just enjoy! Don’t try to cram too much into each day. Take at least one day and relax on a beach!”

Mary Moon: “Take a highlighter with you, there is so much to do on board and then plan your activities from the newsletter, don’t want to miss anything.”

Kitty Monke: “Check your account before the last day. Could be shell shock on the charges you have incurred. It is worth every penny though.”

Susan Brown: “Book your shore excursions through the cruise line before you go. If you don’t, all the good ones will be taken.”

UPDATE:  We recently just asked out Facebook group for their best tips on cruising and here is what they said with 67 of the top responses.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
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