Need some first time cruise tips? You came to the right place. Here are some tips for your first cruise that I learned the hard way! Learn from my mistakes so your first cruise experience can be as amazing as possible.
While shorts and bathing suits are the attire on a cruise ship, sea legs refer to your ability to adjust to life on the water. For your first cruise prepare for the chance of seasickness by doing the following: A) drink water, water, and then drink some more water. Hydration is the key. B) avoid caffeine and alcohol (refer back to letter ‘A’ above). C) bring lemon or ginger hard candy lozenges. They work for me, and I get ‘deathly’ motion sick. D) consult with your doctor and take antihistamines or scopolamines. All symptoms caused by the conflict between the inner ear, eyes, and your brain can be avoided with planning.
What to Wear
Since you’ve picked out a cruise based on your interests, this will be your biggest clue about what to wear. Generally speaking, daywear onboard is cruise casual. Ports of call may have recommendations based on cultures. And, you may need one formal outfit for special dinners. The best advice is to read those tiny details about your ship and the itinerary of your voyage.
First-time cruisers usually have questions about how much cash to bring. First, your keycard works as a payment method almost everywhere on the ship. Second, did you do either or both of the following: A) pre-purchase a drink package? B) prepay gratuities? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’ll need less cash. However, the casino will likely require folding bills; and many ports of call prefer (and even may require) cash for purchases onshore. A general rule is to carry $10 per day/person in a safe place – just in case.
Where Am I
Today’s mega-ships plying the oceans are phenomenally huge. While it may sound odd, it is easy to get lost onboard. After booking, download or print a ship’s map or pick one up on embarkation day. All cruise lines have them. Remember too that the crew is always willing to help – just ask.
Ports of Call Jitters
Just when you’re getting settled into the ship life and feeling like a sailor, the ship pulls into a port of call. Now what? That’s a strange land out there, and you might feel a little anxious about disembarking. Shore excursions sponsored by the cruise line are the perfect comfort level for exploring ports of call. Sign up early, and you’ll have familiar faces and a leader to guide you around as part of a group on the shore adventures.
Where to Eat
You might be surprised to learn that cruise ships have a host of eateries onboard. In addition to a main dining room, there can be specialty cuisine, up-scale dining, diners, and so forth. Be aware that meals in those areas will be an extra charge on your bill. I’ve found that breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the main (paid for in the price of your cruise) dining area(s) offer some of the best food selections onboard.
Make Friends Before You Set Sail
Most cruise lines offer an online dashboard created specifically for each ship and even separate itineraries. Use this to make friends ahead of time, particularly if you’re traveling solo.
Download the cruise line apps for communicating with others in your family or group. You can text, message, chat, and keep in touch for free (or a small fee) depending on the line. Again (see #4 above), the ships are huge. This is the most convenient method of keeping up with everyone. NCL was the first to go digital here; and now Carnival, Disney, Princess, RCL, and some others have similar services.
So Many People
Depending on your ship, you might be sailing with thousands of other fellow passengers. This means crowds and lines of waiting. Where to find privacy? Hang out onboard for a few hours after the ship docks in a port of call. Let the clambering masses go first. Soon you’ll be enjoying some peaceful time in a deck chair in the sunshine – alone!
Bring a Go-bag
Ships are really like floating islands, and you don’t want to run back-and-forth to your stateroom every time you need something. Bring a small tote (nylon backpacks work well) and carry your phone, camera, ID, cash, water bottle, and so forth with you everywhere. Also, stash a couple of zip-close plastic bags to keep wet and dry items away from each other. This is particularly useful on shore excursions.
Angela is a professional freelance travel writer and published indie author – AngelaMinor.com