Cruises · Travel · travel guide

11 Essential Tips For Your First Cruise

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I’m no expert, but after taking 4 cruises, I have learned a few things about how to best enjoy yourself on the boat and on the excursions, so today I’m sharing my top 11 tips with you.  I hope you find them helpful!

Avoid Hurricane Season

Don’t be a rebel and schedule your cruise during hurricane season like we did.  We had to port back in Miami early because a hurricane was chasing us.  Winter and Spring are the best times to book to avoid storms and cancellations!

Earn Cash Back On Your Booking

Start with booking at a cashback site – depending on the cruise line, you can earn up to 10% cashback on your cruise!  We saved a good chunk of change booking through Rakuten, so why not give it a shot?

Choose The Newest Ship

Book the newest ship on the fleet if you can.  You will notice a marked difference in the amenities and activities that are available.   The Carnival Breeze was far superior to the Carnival Sensation, in terms of activities, restaurants, shows, and amenities.  Don’t get me wrong, any ship you choose will be fun, but in my opinion, it is worth it to pay a little more for the newer ship.

Prepare For The Motion

If you anticipate the rocking of the ship bothering you, be sure to book a room on the lowest floor and middle of the ship.  This helps tremendously.   Also, look into the patches for seasickness.  I never got seasick but noticed many people wearing those patches on each cruise. You’d be surprised how much even a gigantic boat rocks, especially if you run into stormy weather.

Be Adventurous With Dining

Try to eat in the formal dining room for at least one breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Sitting with other guests can be a great way to make new friends on the ship, but you can always request your own table if you’re not feeling like socializing.  Also note you can typically order more than 1 entree, dessert, appetizer, etc free of charge in the formal dining rooms.   The buffets are also great, as is the unlimited late-night pizza bar!  To me, the additional charge restaurants are not worth it with so many other free food options.

Try A Variety of Activities

Check out the ship’s daily calendar – we did activities like scavenger hunts, volleyball, trivia, karaoke, art auctions, game shows, and comedy shows.   There is definitely something for everyone.  The dance parties out on the deck were my favorite!  Rooms are small for a reason – they don’t expect you to stay in them much, so get out and enjoy the ship!

Attend The Captain’s Toast

Attend the toast where you can meet your Captain and Cruise Director and even snag a photo with them.  They’re in high demand but it’s neat to be able to talk to them and get pictures during the designated time which is usually the 2nd night of the cruise when everyone is in their elegant attire.

Be Smart About Your Alcohol

Most cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine onboard per person.  We did this and enjoyed being able to celebrate our anniversary with a little champagne.  We also purchased the Carnival CHEERS beverage package on one of our cruises which includes up to 15 drinks per day.  It didn’t end up being worth the cost for us because we just didn’t have time most days to have many drinks, but we sure got to try a lot of different fruity drinks when we did.

Carry Your Luggage On And Off

If you have the option, bring your own luggage on board and opt to carry it off yourself.  This way you won’t have to wait several hours for your belongings and can change into your swimsuit, other clothes, etc at your leisure.  Also, you won’t have to surrender your luggage the night before returning to port and can just keep everything with you as you debark.

Pack The Essentials With Pakt

  • Sunscreen – seems obvious, but you’ll need a lot the first few days as the sun is much stronger!
  • Power Strip – outlets in the room are limited.
  • Lanyard – buy your own online (instead of paying big bucks onboard) before cruising as it will come in handy for your Sail and Sign card which serves as your room key, payment card, ID to get back on the ship, etc.
  • Water Bottle – Bring one that is insulated and reusable because staying hydrated is important not only on the ship but also in each port.
One last tip: pose for the ship photos.  They might be cheesy, but they’re fun and can be a nice keepsake when they turn out well.

Do you have some cruise advice or a cruise story to share?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments! I’m already dreaming about going on my next one, hopefully, a river cruise this time!  Ready to book?  Get started here!

Before you go, you might enjoy reading Interview with a Cruise Director and The 7 Types of People You Meet On a Cruise

Also, be sure to follow along with my adventures on Instagram and check out my curated travel essentials.

Thanks for reading!  If you found these tips helpful, would you consider sharing it with those you know?

Emily

11 Essential Tips For Your First Cruise

 

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