The 12 Days of Cruising: 9 Rookie Cruise Mistakes

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Every day thousands of first-time cruisers embark on what will be a vacation of a lifetime. They’ll talk about it and post a ton of photos all over social media. They will also realize they should’ve known a couple things before-hand. The following observations came from rookie cruisers nd conversations I had on my last cruise.

The following observations came from rookie cruisers nd conversations I had on my last cruise.

9 rookie cruise mistakes:

1. Everything is free. There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking on the Lido Deck during sail away and the server comes up and hands you a drink. Not having a clue you take the drunk and instantly the bar server asks for your sign and sail card. I see it happen every cruise. The cruise lines are in the business to make money – it’s very rare they’ll just hand out free drinks.

2. Stashing Booze. Be careful what you try to bring on the ship. I saw this the other day when I was disembarking the cruise ship in Port Canaveral. A gentleman had a backpack with a bottle to Tequila, mixer and salt – ready to start his party – until it went through the x-ray machine and the port agents confiscated it.

3. Only buffet is free. The main dining room and the buffets are both free. I was talking to a first-time cruiser who told me they loved their experience but wish there was more places to eat, they told me that they’ve been eating at the buffet for every meal. I told them the main dining room meals are also included in their cruise fare. The looked at me like I had seven heads!

4. Not Buying Travel insurance. This can go one of two ways, but if it goes the other way, you’ll be wishing you had travel insurance. I get listener emails all the time telling me how travel insurance saved their vacation dollars.

My last cruise, a lady flew into Orlando day-of the cruise and was delayed three hours – she didn’t make the ship. She had to pick the ship up in Nassau, Bahamas the next day. She told me she had travel insurance or she would’ve been on the next flight home to Dallas.

5. Keeping Cell Phone On. Do yourself a favor, unless you know what you’re doing – keep your cell phone off or in airplane mode while you’re at sea. When you’re texting your friends from the ship, you’re operating on the ship’s network, costing fifty cents per text, $1.30 for a picture text, $2.50 per minute for a voice call and data, well data is $19.97 per megabyte. You’re cheaper buying a ship internet plan or keeping your phone off! Actual costs may vary by provider. A good resource for cellular at sea is

6. Not Researching Shore Excursions. Everyone books their shore excursions straight from the cruise line because they put the fear of God in you that you will get left if you don’t book directly through them. However, third-party excursion companies like Cruising Excursions, have programs that take the worry about of booking your next shore excursion by giving you a money-back guarantee and carry the same promises as the cruise line.

Go beyond the cruise line website for your next cruise ship excursion.

7. Booking the Wrong Cabin. Everyone says it, “I’ll only shower and sleep in my room.” The truth is, you’re in your room a lot more than to sleep and to shower. You can only play so much trivia, eat, drink and sit in the sun all day. Heavily research all the stateroom and categories options before you default to an interior cabin.

8. Not Planning For Extras. Make sure you plan for cruise extras before leaving the house like: buying a local drink in port, tipping the baggage handlers at the pier, taxi fares if coming from the airport, and port parking fees (usually$20 per day).

9. Not Making Reservations. If you want to eat at a speciality venue, see a show, or check out attraction on a ship, make sure you make the reservation well enough in advance – if not before your cruise – the moment you walk onboard.

Bonus Tip

Use a travel agent. The best way to avoid these cruise rookie mistakes is to use a certified travel agent who specializes in cruise vacations. It’s a travel agent’s job to hold your hand through the booking process and to make sure you are well informed.

What rookie mistakes have you done?

Read our previous entries in the 12 Days of Cruisemas series:


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