If you’re new to cruising, this is the best place to learn lots of tips to make your upcoming vacation easier so you can spend more time doing the fun stuff!
You just booked your first cruise! Congrats! There’s a lot of things that go into a cruise, so we’ve compiled some tips here that should help you out if you’ve never been on a cruise before. We have a growing list of cruise tip videos you can watch below, and also don’t forget, you can also contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help!
When you are selecting a flight, we highly suggest arriving in your cruise port’s city the day before (or more if you prefer). Not only will there be fun things to do, and a new city for you to explore, but it’s also best to play it safe in case your flight is delayed. If you are not able to do this, you should at the very least plan to fly in early in the morning of departure. Again, the earlier the better because you never know if there will be a delay.
When flying home, we also suggest giving yourself an extra day, or planning your flight later in the evening if possible. There could be delays with your ship clearing customs, and you also need to make sure you can get to the airport a few hours early.
If you can book your flights through the cruise line, they often will offer free transfers to the ship and back to the airport at the end and take care of your luggage for you. If something goes wrong with the cruise that would make you miss your flight, the cruise line will book a new flight for you at no extra cost. So there are some benefits to booking your flights through the cruise line, however they sometimes can be a little more expensive.
Also, even if you are leaving from a domestic port, always bring your passport! Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Your cruise line will send you luggage tags in the mail, make sure they are on your bag before you leave home. The cruise line will deliver all checked bags directly to your room. You can also keep a carryon bag, but you will have to bring it with you all around the ship until your room is ready, which may not be until after dinner. We suggest packing a change of cloths in your carryon bag, just to be safe. If you want to head to the pool as soon as you get on the ship, make sure you have a bathing suit in your carry on bag too. If you don’t want to drag your carryon bag around with you while you wait for your room to be ready, we suggest checking it in with the rest of your luggage if you can.
Ships have dress codes that you should be aware of. Each cruise line is different. In general, you can get away with jeans or shorts and a t-shirt during the day in public areas. For dinner, you should expect to wear nice jeans or khakis, and a shirt with a collar.. basically business casual. Ships also have formal nights, or “evening chic”, where a suit or dress is suggested… however not strictly enforced in this day and age. Just make sure you “look nice” and you’ll be fine. Also, please don’t wear flip-flops to the restaurants, especially for dinner. They may turn you away and make you go back to your room to change. Plus, people really don’t want to look at your toes!
We suggest getting to the cruise terminal as early as possible, especially if you do not have a priority boarding perk. It can be very crowded, but the cruise line keeps things organized. The earlier you can get there, the earlier you can get on board and start exploring!
Once on board, you may not have access to your cabin right away. If you have carryon luggage, you will have to bring it around the ship with you until your room is ready. While they are getting your room ready, it will a great time to explore the ship and find out where everything is. Most people seem to head straight for the buffet, which is always VERY crowded on embarkation day, and there is less room because everyone is dragging carryon bags around with them. We suggest looking for another place to eat, maybe grab a burger on the top deck? You will have a much better experience in the buffet later when the crowds die down.
Just like when a flight attendant gives you the safety speech in the beginning of a flight, a cruise line has Muster & Safety drills that EVERY guest must attend. This will happen once every passenger is on board right as you are leaving the port. It may seem boring to you, but you must go or the cruise line has every right to kick you off the cruise.
One of the funnest parts of cruising is getting to see lots of different places, and the cruise line offers many shore excursions. The biggest benefit of booking them through the cruise line is they will be responsible for getting you to your excursion and picking you up. If your excursion is running late for any reason, the ship will wait for you.
You can save quite a bit of money if you book your own excursions with 3rd party companies.. however, you are on your own. If you are late getting back, the ship will NOT wait for you. Keep that in mind and be sure to do excursions that will give you plenty of time to get back to the ship.