It is no secret that we love cruises. Between us we have cruised every continent in the world (bar Antartica and that is on our list) and considered ourselves experiences cruisers. The idea of going on your first cruise might seem daunting but we are here to make the world of cruises for first timers easier to navigated. So we have rounded up our first time cruise tips with everything you need to know from booking your first cruise to booking your shore excursions! First Time Cruise Tips
First Cruise Booking Tips
There are so many things to consider when booking your first cruise. Here are our top tips for deciding what cabin, what itinerary and what line to book
How to choose cruise cabin?
This to me boils down to how much are you going to use your cruise cabin. When we were just a couple and on a port full itinerary we would choose to to cruise in a inside cabin. However now we have a baby And especially with a toddler we find that we spend more Time in our room and want more space.
It also is worth looking if you have any scenic cruises like we had in Alaska, New Zealand and Japan. If you are going to be cruising around a beauty spot you may want to have the luxury of doing it on your own balcony.
For more information on how to choose a cruise cabin check out our in-depth guide!
What you need to know about itineraries research cruise ports
One of the things that surprises people on cruises is that the ports are not always in the cities that they say they are. For instance, to visit Florence you dock in Livorno l which can be two hours away. It is worth researching where the ports are so you know if you will have to arrange a private tour, shore excursion or whether you can simply walk of the ship and into attractions.
For more information on research cruise ports check out this guide
Which cruise line for first time cruisers?
We have now cruised many lines including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America and Princess and really there is no right answers to which cruise line is best for first time cruises. Each cruise line has it’s own style and benefits so it really depends what you are looking for. For instance Holland America and Princess are more well known for being more upmarket cruise ships and having some more adventurous itineraries while Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival have a more relaxed vibe and are perhaps considered more family friendly. It is worth deciding what you want to get out of a cruise before selecting your cruise line
Dining options in cruise ships
If food is one of your big cruise ship drivers then you want to investigate which has the best reputation. Some people I know love sharing tables so they prefer a more traditional cruise setting. Personally I hate group tables and like to have the luxury of joining people for dinner if we get on. For that reason we like Norwegian’s anytime dining and other more casual lines.
Cruise Embarkation Tips
Embarkation day is perhaps something that first time cruisers worry about. Bt really there is no reason to worry! You will arrive at the port and your bags will be taken away. You will then need to fill in a health questionnaire and complete registration with the ship which includes getting your cruise card which will be your room key, cash and id for your whole trip!
What happens with stuff on cruise embarkation?
Your luggage will be taken away port side and will be delivered to your room later in the day. Depending on the port, business of ship and cruise line depends on what time on the first day that you receive your luggage. It is therefore important to get your hand luggage right
What you need to take on board on embarkation day?
Because your luggage may not get back until late you need to make sure you pack essentials such as any medications and supplies you will need on your first time. On top of that consider if you are going to use the swimming pool and if you want to get changed for dinner. Another tip is consider what the weather is going to be for your cruise ship drill. Remember a coat or sunscreen as you may do this on deck
Where to eat when you get onboard?
A number one tip is to use the main dining room rather than the buffet on lido deck on embarkation day. The buffet gets very busy while you can start you cruise in a relaxed environment in the main dining room which is waiter service!
Cruise Ship Excursions
Cruise ship excursions should you go private or with the ship?
The truth is that doing cruise ship excursions can be expensive especially compared to private excursions or doing them on your own. But there are benefits to both. If you are a nervous traveller you ma want the security of going through the ship or with a company that guarantees that they will get you back to the ship on top.
We usually only book cruise ship excursions through the ship if we are in a difficult location, or somewhere that requires it for visa constraints.
First time on on a cruise – everything you need to know Onboard Cruise Ship
Alcohol Packages on cruise ships
This is a big one for some people as alcohol can be expensive onboard. We always try to book with a free package if we can but if not we never opt for the package. Decide on how much you drink and compare to drinks menus that can be found online to work out if you need one.
Remember that a lot of lines will now allow you to take one bottle of wine aboard per person.
Also when buying a drink on board the gratuity is included so don’t double tip unless the service is exceptional.
Cruise Ship Gratuities Guide
Gratuities are perhaps the biggse question mark people have about cruises but they needn’t worry. Basically all you need to know is that at the end of your cruise you will be charged a service charge per day per person which is calculated based on your room type. If you worry about budget then there are usually options to prepay your gratuities.
What’s your first time cruise advice? We’d love you to drop us a comment with your first time cruise tips