7 First Time Cruise Tips For Your Best Vacation at Sea

You’re thinking about taking a cruise, or you’ve just hit book now! Congrats! Now comes to fun part of a cruise, planning out your trip! Just like any first trip, a cruise is no exception, you’ll want to get all the tips and tricks you can before your trip to make sure you don’t miss anything! If you are a first time cruiser, here are my expert tips from a well-seasoned cruiser to make sure you have the best first trip ever!


7 First Time Cruise Tips for Your Best Vacation at Sea


Research your ports

Before you even step onto the boat, you should know all about the ports your cruise ship will be stopping at. Cruise lines don’t usually hand out a very good map, if you get one at all, so you’ll need to make sure you aren't just wasting your time running around the port asking where to find what you’re looking for. Doing a little research ahead of time, will not only help you maximize your time in port, it will also help you come up with the best plan for excursions and sightseeing.

Did you know that a cruise to Alaska is usually the first cruise most people take?

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Ship cabins are small

Unless you’re booking a suite, your ship cabin will be much smaller than you might be used to. Even balcony rooms have very little space to work with and you won’t have a lot of room to get ready in the bathroom either. Think twice before you find yourself bringing a just in case suitcase, especially if you’re already maxing out your room capacity. There's not a lot of storage space, and it won't take long for things in your room to feel cluttered! 

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A Cruise is about more than the port of call

You will spend a lot of time off the ship exploring and finding new adventures and making memories. However, you will spend a lot of your time on the ship. While cruise ships will have itineraries when you book, those aren’t always set in stone. A storm or any number of reasons could change your trip. Instead of just booking by port of call, go with a cruise line that serves a region your interested in, just in case trip plans change.

Make the most of your first day and explore the ship from front to back. There aren't a lot of areas that are off limits, and it's fun to explore and get the lay of the land so to speak before you set sail. If you are on a big ship, you still may not have it all figured out by the final day! 

cruise tips for your first cruise

Consider the drink package

All cruise lines have some sort of drink package, and if you’re not an avid water only person, you’ll want to consider these packages before you sail. If you want to buy a drink here and there while on vacation, it might not make sense, but if you need a soda everyday, you’ll pay for your drink package in no time.

Also be aware, that many of the big cruise lines charge a service fee on the drink tab already so there's no need to double tip unless you feel like the service was exceptional!

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Cruise internet is not great

Cruise lines will try to entice new cruisers into getting the internet packages to stay connected while you are away. The reality is that your surfing will be slow, especially if you’re traveling on an older ship. Some have invested into giving you land-fast internet speed, but many cruise lines just aren’t there yet. This means that you will get great signal in big public spaces but your internet might suck back at the room.

Pro tip: Follow the crew off the ship and head to the areas they head. They will likely be checking in on the free wifi to get in contact with friends and family at home. They will know the best locations in port!


Don’t leave travel plans to chance

Experienced cruisers arrive at the departure port a day ahead of schedule. Make no mistake that your cruise will leave without you and won’t wait for anyone. The only way you can make absolutely sure you won’t miss your trip is to give yourself more wiggle room than you might think. Don’t let a flight delay keep you from your vacation.

Make plans to get on board as soon as you can on embarkation day. This often means flying into port a day early so that you can make this happen. This will give you the maximum amount of time on board on embarkation day. All of the facilities are up and running, so don't forget a bathing suit and bring an empty belly!

Research cruise excursions

You've often got limited time in port and the cruise excursions can be enticing...but they are often expensive! Most of the cruise excursions are contracted out from local companies in the port of call. You've heard it said that if you are on a ship booked excursion, they will hold the boat for you. This is true! But it's also true that if you book an excursion through a ship contracted company, you will likely have people on your excursion that are on the same cruise you are and those people will help hold the boat for you if you run into an issue. 

It takes a little digging into the cruise website, but you can often find the local companies they contract out through to book through. Bonus, you'll save money too!

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No matter where your first cruise will whisk you away to, hopefully these tips will help make you first cruise experience a positive one.

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