*This is a collaborative post.
It’s always exciting when you’re planning to do something new. But it’s also natural to be nervous about the unknown, even if it’s something fun like a cruise.
Luckily, our quick tips post covers everything, from planning, packing, and — perhaps most importantly — making the most of your time away. Here’s what you need to know about your first ever cruise.
While you’re planning
1. Consider using a travel agent
Although it’s less common to book a holiday through a travel agent, don’t dismiss the idea. They’ll have good advice about what will suit you best, plus they can normally offer extras you wouldn’t get if you book yourself. They’ll also let you know if you need to apply for any visas.
2. Book a balcony cabin for the best views
Having a balcony can make a huge difference to your experience. The fresh air and the sea views do wonders for your mood in the morning — who wouldn’t want to sit back and watch the ocean go by? — and are also a better option if you’re worried about feeling trapped while you’re on board.
On a budget? Book a room with a porthole (a small window) instead. You’ll still get some light and be able to look out to sea, but it won’t cost as much.
3. Find out if you need cruise travel insurance
You might already have a travel insurance policy in place, but does it fully protect you and your family for this trip? A cruise extension will cover specific scenarios such as missed port departures, itinerary changes, delays and cancellations, plus you’ll be able to get insurance for multiple countries in one package.
According to 1Cover, if your children are travelling with you 100% of the time, they might be covered at no extra cost. It’s well worth checking if this is the case.
Before you go
4. Book any speciality restaurants or shows
There’ll be events on the ship that catch your eye and chances are they’re going to be popular. You don’t want to miss out, so sit down with your cruising companions and discuss any must-dos, then book them before they’re sold out.
Include children in this decision-making process and they’re more likely to behave well, which is an added bonus.
5. Make sure you pack (most of) your toiletries
Although the majority of cruise lines provide basics like shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, extras like sunscreen and skincare products are expensive to buy while you’re on board. Pack your own, and if you forget to bring anything, pick it up while you’re on land.
6. Put your phone on airplane mode
Data charges can be extortionate — putting your phone on airplane mode before you board will stop your trip from being ruined by unexpected bills. Your cruise company may provide wifi.
During the cruise
7. Don’t lose your room key
Your room key isn’t just that — it doubles up as payment while you’re onboard, with items charged to your account. It means you have less things to carry with you, but means it’s even more important to hold onto your card. And don’t forget to take cash when you leave the ship to explore!
8. Don’t worry about the queues
With so many people onboard, queues are to be expected, especially if you get there at opening time. Avoid the hustle and bustle by arriving a little later, when wait times have reduced.
9. Do check the daily newsletter
There’ll be a list of the day’s events, activities and services, and most of them will be free. This is especially useful if you have any sea days (when you don’t stop at a port) and want to stay busy.
Common cruise ship entertainment includes:
- Cinema trips
- Swimming pools and water parks
- Cooking classes
- Games and sports
- Stage shows
- Live music
10. Do chat with the crew
Good customer service is a huge part of cruising. The crew will have a huge amount of knowledge about the ship, its services, and the best way to enhance your stay. It’s also really interesting to get to know them, since they normally come from all over the world.
What advice would you give to first-time cruisers? Let us know in the comments!