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Cruise TipsWhat to Expect on Your First Cruise

What to Expect on Your First Cruise

Have you booked your first cruise and are wondering what exactly to expect?  Or are you thinking about booking your first cruise but are hesitant since you want to know more before you take the plunge?

I remember when I booked my first cruise, a February trip to the Bahamas to escape the cold, snowy winter in Ohio.  I have no idea what to expect or what was even included on my cruise.  I just knew I had to get to a white sandy beach and feel the warm energy of the sun.  I immediately started searching the internet for any information I could find and calling friends who had been on cruises to tell me everything I didn’t know.  I decided to write this article to help answer many of the new cruisers questions and help them understand what to expect when taking their first cruise.

The cabins are small, really small.  The average stateroom on a cruise ship is under 200 sq ft, this includes the bathroom.  Some of the older cruise ships have interior rooms are under 150 sq ft.  There is usually only enough room for the bed, a chair, possible small table, a desk, and a little bit of walking room.  Most cruise lines do not have tubs in the bathrooms.  However Disney bathrooms do have a tub.  The showers are so small, you can just about put soap on the walls, turn around and get clean.  I’m sure you get the point on the size of the rooms.  If you want a room the size of a standard hotel room, book a suite.  While the rooms are small, you most likely will not spend much time in them so it really doesn’t come into play.

There is an abundance of food on your cruise.  The buffet can be chaotic and at times seem like cattle heading to the troughs for dinner. The main dining rooms offer a much more relaxed dinner and also better food choices.  You can order as much food as you want.  If you want 3 appetizers, 2 steaks, and 4 lobster tails, they will bring it to you.  The portions are generally small but you can order as much as you want, it’s all included in your cruise fare.  I have also heard of many who haven’t cruised because they didn’t like the fact that they will be stuck eating with strangers each night.  Most cruise lines now are going to anytime dining where you can have a table to yourself and eat whatever time you wish.  It is always best to check with your cruise line to make sure this option is available.

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The pools on the majority of ships are salt water.  They are emptied out each night and refilled the next day.  They have a filtration system so the water is clean for your enjoyment.  There is no need for chlorine to be added to the water.

Few passengers get seasick on these large ships.  If you do get easily seasick, there are pills and a patch that you can use to help.  Most realize after day 2 that they do not need to take them.  Unless the ship is in a storm or in a cold front, most times you can’t even tell you are on a ship at sea, it is very calm.  The fear of seasickness keeps many from every trying their first cruise.  Ships that sail to Bermuda and across the Atlantic will be rougher than cruises to the Caribbean.

  • Packing 20-30 $1 bills come in very handy for tips.
  • They will have shops on board that sell ANYTHING you forget.  These items also come with a friendly convenience price.
  • You will do a lot of walking during the cruise, the ships are large and it’s a great way to burn off that 2nd streak you ordered at dinner.
  • Cruises are not all-inclusive.  When you see the prices charged for alcohol, you will know why it isn’t included in your fare.  Cruise lines make a lot of money in this area, but it keeps the basic fare cost down for everyone.
  • There is something for everyone on a cruise.  There are parties, quiet libraries, trivia contests, activities for children, different types of live music all over the ship, game shows and more.
  • Excursions while in port are not included in your fare. Most ports have shopping an other free things to do and see within walking distance of the ship.
  • The longest line you are likely to wait in during your cruise is at disembarkation and going through customs.  For the sake of everyone in line behind you, please do not take fruit off the ship and have your custom papers filled out.
  • Weather obviously plays a big role in cruises.  If a storm or hurricane is on track to hit your ports, your ship may have additional sea days or go to other ports where the weather is nicer.

Cruises can be the most fun you have had on vacation.  It offers the best bang for the buck out of any trip you can take.  Don’t think that a ship is boring or that it is all a giant party, because it is neither.  The ships are large and you can find many quiet spots to have a romantic dinner or just sit and listen to the waves of the ocean.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises, and flown nearly one million miles. 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, Drudge Report, 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].
Cruise TipsWhat to Expect on Your First Cruise
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