While preparing for an upcoming trip, we found ourselves reflecting on the first time we ever went on a cruise. And that got us thinking about what we’ve learned since… and what we wish we’d known then! So we figured, why not pass along a few tips to those who are planning their very first sailing? If you have tips you want to pass along, hit the comment section and share them. Eventually, we’ll have created the ultimate guide for first-time cruisers!
1. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Planning that first trip can be a little big daunting. Because you’re spending a fair amount of money on the vacation, you’ll have an urge to spend a lot of time planning every aspect. And while there are definitely things you want to research – such as the port excursions that are available and what specialty restaurants you might want to make a reservation in – it’s important to make sure you don’t over plan. Leave yourself time to just kick back, relax, and enjoy the view!
2. Take Reviews with a Grain of Salt
After booking their first cruise, a friend of ours began hitting up message boards and Facebook groups to read reviews… and darn near cancelled as a result. “People hate this ship!” they cried. “What have I done?” What they didn’t know is what most of us learn pretty quickly: People are generally quicker to complain about things than praise them. If you go to a great restaurant, you might tell a few friends. But eat in a terrible one, and you’re likely to not only tell everyone you know, but post a Yelp review, a Facebook rant, and a few well-worded tweets! And for the record, when our freaked-out pal came back from their cruise, they’d not only had a great time… but booked a second one on the same ship!
3. Don’t Over Research
Sure, you want to know the basics about the ship you’re going to board. But looking at every picture you can find online will diminish some of the excitement when you experience that awesome atrium or beautiful spa for yourself. Sometimes, it’s best to leave something to the imagination.
4. Cabin Choice Matters
Despite what we just said above, if there’s one thing you should put some effort into researching, it would be your cabin selection. What type of stateroom – and where it’s located – can make a big difference, and the decision is going to be one that depends entirely on what type of cruiser you are. Do you want to save a little money and go for an inside room, figuring you’re going to spend most of your time out and about? Or do you want to have a balcony so that you can get fresh air and have a place to sit in quiet reflection? No matter what type cabin you select, be sure to check out the location. What is nearby? Just as importantly, what is above and below you? More than a few folks have spent sleepless nights after realizing that their cabin is directly below a bowling alley or dance club!
5. Don’t Over Pack
Some people take the same approach as Ginger did on Gilligan’s Island. “Hey,” they think, “you never know when you might need four gowns and two tiaras!” And there’s something to be said for erring on the side of caution. But we’re big fans of packing comfy, versatile outfits that you can get a few uses out of. Nobody wants to spend time (or money) having to do laundry midway through the trip. We’re going to be a tiny bit sexist here and say that generally speaking, men have an easier time packing than women. (“What? I’ve got three pairs of underwear and two t-shirts… we’re only going for a week!”) So here’s our tips on the basics you ladies will need for the typical cruise.
6. Bring Some Cash
Yes, it is entirely possible to spend the entire cruise not having to pay for a single thing, especially if you have a meal plan that covers specialty restaurants and a drink package. But trust us when we say there will come times when you want actual cash. Maybe to tip that bartender who always makes sure you get great service, or to buy a souvenir from a vendor in port who only accepts cash.
7) Don’t Overindulge
It’s very easy for a first-time cruiser to be overwhelmed by… well, everything. The food, the cocktails, the morning-noon-and-night activities. By about three days into a week-long cruise, you can tell the newbies, because they look like they’ve been rode hard and put away wet. They’ve eaten too much, are hungover, and haven’t slept since they got onboard. We’re all for cramming as much fun into a hard-earned vacation as possible, but the last thing you want is to burn out midway through. Cruising is a marathon, not a sprint.
Now it’s your turn: What do you wish you’d known before your first cruise? Post your advice to newbies below, and we might use them in a post somewhere down the line!