20 Tips for First-Time Cruisers

Happy romantic couple standing in front of cruise boat

While a cruise can be an enjoyable way to spend a vacation and a great break from the usual holiday routine, many people who have never been on one may shy away from trying something new because it may seem intimidating. Others may spend too much time worrying about what they need to know to relax and have fun. Well, if you’ve been considering a cruise for your next vacation, fear not, because AffordableTours.com is here with some advice to make sure your first cruise goes smoothly and that you have everything you’ll need. Here are 20 tips we’ve compiled from experts and ordinary people alike:

20 Tips for First-Time Cruisers

  1. Take care of your personal documents. Make sure you have a photo ID and , if necessary, a passport. It may be a good idea to scan copies of these documents and keep the copy on you or in your e-mail. You’ll generally need your ID when going from destination to destination, and a scanned copy could help identify yourself and prevent fraud if your original documents are lost or stolen.
  2. Pick a destination with your tastes in mind. For example, if you’re not into beaches, don’t take a Caribbean cruise. If you hate cold weather, don’t head on an Alaskan adventure. Pick a cruise suited to your taste. Similarly:
  3. Research the specifics of your cruise’s stops. Make sure the places you’re going are the kind of places you want to go. Find sights to see and activities to do that fit your preferences. Seems simple and obvious, right? You’d be surprised.
  4. Research your ship. Have a good enough idea of what’s on the ship and where so that you won’t be lost the first day or expect something that’s not there.
  5. Be disciplined in packing. Make a list well in advance and stick to it. Don’t start packing willy-nilly at the last second because you’re worried about needing something. Trust your list.
  6. Bring extra power cords and power strips. You never have enough outlets in your room to charge every device you’ll want charged. This simple step can save you lots of headaches.
  7. Leave room in your luggage for bringing home souvenirs. You don’t want to overshop– no matter how much you loved that cruise, you probably don’t need ten Hawaiian shirts to remind you of it– but you’ll surely want to bring something back as a memento. Leave enough room for that.
  8. Use your carry-on bag to your advantage. You probably won’t be able to access your checked bags immediately, to say nothing of it if they’re lost. Bring anything you’ll want to do as soon as you embark– toiletries in particular are a good idea. Similarly, if you pack some swimwear into your carry-ons, you can use the ship’s pool right away.
  9. Bring waterproof, disposable cameras. You won’t want to bring an expensive camera and potentially lose or ruin it, and you’ll find buying a camera on ship is much pricier than doing it beforehand.
  10. Prepare for seasickness. It doesn’t affect everybody, but if you’ve never been on a cruise, you probably have no idea how you might react to being out in the water. Sea-Band strips are popular for controlling seasickness; bring a few along with you, just in case.
  11. Find ways to exercise during the trip, even mildly. Even something as simple as deliberately walking up a few flights of stairs each day can make the difference in your health and your ability to keep from gaining any vacation weight.
  12. Pack some looser-fitting clothes for the last few days. Whether or not you’re able to get some exercise, chances are you’ll put on a few pounds from the cruise’s food by the time you’re nearing the end of your vacation. Plan ahead.
  13. Take it slow the first day. You don’t need to memorize every last nook of the ship– you’ll tire yourself out and you won’t leave anything new to discover over the rest of the cruise. Remember, you’re there to relax and enjoy yourself.
  14. Before eating at the ship’s specialty restaurants, find out how expensive they are. The price of most cruise ship’s restaurants has gone up recently, and you don’t want to be caught footing an unexpected bill.
  15. On a related note, learn the ship’s schedule for dinner nights. You don’t want to skip a great dinner in favor of paying out of pocket for a specialty restaurant because you didn’t know what the ship was serving that night. (How many people have planned an expensive seafood dinner only to find out it was Lobster Night on the cruise?)
  16. A few tips for when you’re on shore: Make reservations for any special event early. The most popular ones always fill up fast. You don’t want to arrive at a destination only to find you can’t do what you were planning on doing.
  17. Guard your purse and valuables, and don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket. Crowded markets are gold mines for pickpockets, and you don’t want to be plundered.
  18. Ask your ship’s crew where to go when you reach town. They’ll help you find the really interesting, out-of-the-way sights and help you avoid the tourist traps.
  19. Find out your cruise’s tipping policy. You don’t want to double-tip if tips are being added to your bill automatically, but you don’t want to stiff a hard-working crew, either. On a related note:
  20. Be nice to the staff. They work hard and are a valuable source of information to you. Keeping them happy will help keep you happy, and besides, it’s just the right thing to do.

With these tips in mind, you should be sure to have a happy, fun-filled cruise vacation! Start looking for cruises now at Affordabletours.com.


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  1. Many thanks for the tips.As I shall be doing a 12 day cruise around the Grecian isles etc. I will be delighted to report back our experiences, in August when we return.. Regards

    1. Thanks for the comment Gillian! We’d love to hear about your experiences when you return. We hope you have an incredible time on your cruise!

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