While many have experienced the joy of cruising, there are still others who have not experienced the amazing adventures of a cruise. If you are looking to set sail for the first time with you and your family, make sure you know these essential first time cruise tips.
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All Aboard: 6 Essential First Time Cruise Tips
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Over 14 million North Americans will choose to cruise in 2019. It may seem like everyone you know has been on a cruise — except you. While everyone is quick to tell you to book a cruise, the whole concept may still seem a little confusing for first-time cruisers. How does the whole cruise thing work?
If you are looking to set sail for the first time with you and your family, make sure you know these essential first time cruise tips.
Not sure if a cruise is right for you? Here’s why your next vacation needs to be a cruise!
1. Pick the Right Cruise
One of the most important first-time cruise tips is finding the right cruise. Not all cruises are created equal, and choosing the wrong one could ruin your whole trip.
Different cruise lines and their various cruises will feature different entertainment options. Some cruises provide childcare while others encourage the whole family at all their events. Do a little research on the various cruise types before you book your trip.
If you plan on taking your children, consider one of the many family cruises available. Or, if this is an adult-only trip, pick a cruise that doesn’t allow children and only features adult activities.
If you’re a music lover, there are cruises that feature live music performances every day.
TravelingInHeels first time cruise tips: Our friends at Get Away Today and their cruise partners offer itineraries as short as 1-2 nights, and others can sail for 12 or more nights.
2. Pre-book as Much as Possible
Once you’ve picked the cruise you want, cruise pros encourage pre-booking all your extras. Most cruise lines offer large discounts if you purchase things early.
This includes pre-booking your drink packages, excursions, and any other onboard extras. If you’re traveling with more than one person, the savings can really add up.
If you don’t see a discount for your massage or excursion listed online yet, wait a few days. Often times these discounts rotate and you can set up email alerts to let you know when there’s a deal available.
3. Pack Accordingly
Packing for a cruise is a little different than packing for a normal vacation. There are many different dress codes to consider, and a newbie may not know about all these outfit changes. Avoid the embarrassment of showing up in the dining hall in your swimsuit by packing accordingly, perhaps one of the most important first-time cruise tips.
You’ll need a variety of outfit changes including excursion wear, poolside clothing, and formal outfits.
For your excursion wear, you need to think about what excursions you plan on doing. If you plan on hiking, make sure to pack appropriate hiking shoes. For snorkeling, you’ll want a swimsuit, cover-up, and a large towel.
Your snorkeling outfit may also double as your poolside outfit. Most cruises involve a lot of pool time, especially during your days at sea. Make sure to bring a bag to put your shoes and cover-up in so you have them handy if you need to use the bathroom or head inside to grab a quick snack.
Now comes your formal wear. All cruises have formal dinners and the number depends on how long your cruise is. For these dinners, you’ll want to take your normal date night look up a notch. For all other dinners, your normal date night look will do — no shorts, flip flops, or tank tops.
4. Create a Schedule
Excursions, formal nights, onboard entertainment, meal times. It can all quickly become too much to remember.
Before you step foot on the boat, download the cruise line’s smartphone application. Most cruises give guests the availability to customize their schedule on the app. Your excursions and meal times will be automatically entered, but you can add in any shows or activities you don’t want to miss.
Even if you don’t book the onboard wifi package, cruises allow you to use their app while onboard. Your phone will become your savior when it comes to being in the right place at the right time.
If you’re not tech-savvy, don’t start to sweat. Every morning you’ll also receive a daily newspaper in your room. This will include a calendar of events that you can use to plan your day and carry around with you.
5. Explore Different Food Options
Odds are if you’ve talked to someone about their cruise experience, they’ve mentioned the food. Dining on a cruise ship is one of the reasons many people keep going back.
There will be several different restaurants included in your booking price. You’ll have the main dining room along with several buffets.
The main dining serves meals at certain times. Here, you’ll sit at a table with your party or other cruisers. You’ll order from a wide menu and can order as many entrees, appetizers, and desserts as you want.
Buffet dining is open for more hours than the main dining. You can enter these buffets as many times as you want throughout the day. Sit down for a large meal with your family or pop in for a snack between activities. The food here will be lower quality than your other dining options, but there’s a wider variety.
For a little extra, you can also eat at a specialty restaurant for dinner. If you can swing the price, we highly recommend this for at least one meal. The food, service, and atmosphere will completely change your idea of fine dining.
And as always, check out their wine list and indulge by ordering a nice glass of wine or bottle to share.
TravelingInHeels Tip: Regent Seven Seas cruises include excellent wine options. Check with the sommelier at each restaurant for suggestions.
6. Do Everything Possible
Finishing our list of tips for a cruise is to do everything possible. A cruise is an amazing opportunity to explore many new things in a short time period. Not only will you be exploring new places when in port, but the cruise line offers a ton of exciting entertainment opportunities.
To make the most out of your cruise experience, be open to new things. Book that excursion to swim with dolphins, volunteer for the poolside belly flop contest, try the weirdest food on the menu.
Encourage other people in your party to escape from their comfort zones too. Not only will you all create amazing memories, but you may find a new hobby or two.
Set Sail with These First Time Cruise Tips
With these first-time cruise tips, you’ll enjoy your cruise and people may mistake you for a cruise expert. If you see other people on your cruise that are obviously newbies, share your newfound knowledge. Who knows, you may even make a few new friends.
The last tidbit of advice we will leave you with is taking advantage of bounceback offers. If you find yourself loving the cruise so much, book your next one while you’re still on the cruise ship. Guest services offer major discounts for people willing to book a cruise again.
Do you still have questions about the cruising lifestyle? We’ve got great articles with more cruise tips here:
- Tips for Choosing Best Cruises over 50
- 21 Best International Family Vacations for Multigenerational Travel (include a cruise)