Cruising can be a truly joyous form of travel. You get to see a wonderful assortment of fantastic destinations, without the hassle of organizing numerous flights and transport. You unpack once and enjoy a floating hotel experience! Moreover, the cruise ship itself provides all the amenities and fun you could require – it’s like a mini-city on the water!

There is no denying however, that cruising for the first time can be an intimidating experience. There is so much to consider – it can feel overwhelming! Don’t let that put you off.

Below are 8 tips for the first-time cruiser. These recommendations will ensure you are prepared for the sun, sky and sea adventure that awaits you. They will help you feel informed enough to experience your first cruise in a joyful and relaxed way!

Research and Plan Shore Visits in Advance

A cruise will typically involve several days at sea combined with a handful of shore excursions. Understanding these stops is vital so that you can maximize your time. Research the different locations beforehand, and the sites they contain. This ensures you don’t miss any opportunities. They also often sell out quickly, so be sure to know what your options are and book early. You can often book online before the cruise but if not, always take care of this on the first day.

Understand the Cruise Line’s Tipping Guidelines

Tipping can be a first-time cruisers nightmare. Different cultures have different tipping etiquette. The cruise line will also have a de-facto tipping policy that charges a set fee for tips automatically on your bill. Leaving a little extra for your cabin and wait staff is up to you. Ensure you understand fully what is expected. Look at what other travelers advise, but also the gratuity percentage that the cruise line itself advises.

Consider the Usefulness of the Drinks Packages

Some cruise ships are all-inclusive. If this is the case, you don’t have to worry about drinks packages. If not, however, you look at what the ship provides. In most cases, water is free. But some offer a package for water. Usually, you can purchase additional drinks packages however for soft drinks and alcohol. Weigh up the cost, and if you think a drinks package is worth it.

Consider on Board Expenditure and Currency Requirements

Each cruise liner will have a standard international currency. For example, Royal Caribbean ships accept USD. Most ships also charge most expenses directly to your cruise account – like a tab at a bar. Ensure you know what the accepted currency is, and how the expense system works.

Research the Location of Your Cabin and Ship’s Amenities

Cruise ships can be huge. They are composed of many floors, endless corridors, and access routes. Trying to navigate a ship without any prior knowledge can be a nightmare! It can also be fun, as you can explore at your own leisure and find hidden treasures. That being said, understanding the location of your stateroom in relevance to the ship’s amenities will save you time.

Read the Cruise Liner’s Frequently Asked Questions – Twice!

Most cruise companies will have a detailed FAQ section on their website. This can contain important information about their ships such as safety precautions, boarding times, and general rules. Reading this FAQ section can make your first cruise easier and less daunting. You will find that so many of your questions are in this document so I advise you to take the time to review it carefully.

Enjoy the Ship at Your Own Pace – It’s Not a Race

Some first-time cruisers make the mistake of exploring the whole ship in a single day. Firstly, this can be tiring. Secondly, this could lead to stretches of boredom later in the journey. Take your time. Explore different parts of the ship each day – this will give you something to look forward too, and ensure you have fun throughout the whole trip.

Take a Carry-on Bag for Travel Essentials

The boarding process can be tiresome and arduous. Moreover, you may not have access to your luggage immediately as you board the ship. It is therefore advisable to take a carry-on bag packed with essentials. Take items such as water, tablets, sunscreen and adapters. This will ensure you are prepared even without your suitcase.

As you can see, there are numerous things you can do to prepare for your first-time cruise. Once you get used to the ship and the underlying mechanics of a cruise vacation, you will feel fully prepared. What will ensue, is an amazing adventure that will create life-long memories!

If you are a first-time cruiser, what are your questions? What are you most hesitant about?  What information would you like the cruise line to provide before you board your ship? What are you looking forward to most in your cruise experience?

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