Cruise / Travel Tips

What You Need to Know Before Your First Cruise

Are you considering going on a cruise? Here are some useful tips that you need to know before you depart on your first cruise. After going on countless cruises myself I’ve learned some handy tips I wish I knew before I departed on my first week-long adventure.

 Pack everything you need for the first day in your carry-on

On your first day aboard the cruise, your luggage might only arrive after dinner. It is a good idea to pack everything you need for the first day in your carry-on such as a bathing suit, a change of clothes for dinner, your camera, sunglasses, sunscreen, and anything else you might need.

Pre-book your activities and specialty dining reservations

Some cruise lines allow you to pre-book the specialty restaurants and other entertainment. If you have your heart set on doing particular events, it is best to prebook to guarantee your spot. Pre-booking is also a useful way to plan advance your schedule to ensure your dinner and nighttime shows don’t conflict.

Don’t book your shore excursions in advance

The shore excursions on a ship are a secure way to travel when you arrive at a port. The tours are always high quality, and as they are offered by the cruise line, even if there is an unexpected delay on the tour, the cruise ship will wait for your group to return. But, if you wait until the day before you arrive at the port, some cruise line offer discounts on tours that aren’t filled.

Otherwise, you can always book your own tour as there is often plenty of private tour guides waiting at the port. These tours are usually much cheaper, but the quality varies dramatically.

Research the ports in advance

Even if you booked a tour of the port, you might return with several hours until the ship departs. It is best to know what is nearby so you can determine how to spend any extra time you might have.

READ MORE: Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Guide

Research the specific cruise ship you will travel on

It is best if you can do this prior to booking, as every ship from a cruise line will vary. Do you want a more massive ship? Did you have your heart set on some of the features that are only available on certain ships? It is best to precheck. Another advantage of researching your boat is when you board you will already know all the restaurants and spots you are interested in trying. There is nothing worse than returning from your cruise to discover there was something on the ship you didn’t know was there.

Consider the location of your room before you book

Lower and mid-ship cabins suffer less from ship movement. While rooms directly below the Lido deck will suffer from more noise. An ideal area is having your suite on the same floor as the main dining room or near where the evening shows will be. This way before dinner and/or after the shows you can skip the crowds at the elevator and walk to your room.

READ MORE: Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Guide


Take the stairs

The elevators on a cruise ship are often crowded, and it is much faster to take the stairs.

Gratuities are extra

Gratuities are charged per day at a flat rate and will be charged to your room and can either paid before the cruise, or to your onboard account. As such, there is no need to tip the waiter or bartender on the ship.