I just got back from my first cruise! Kevin, on the other hand, is a seasoned cruiser, so we’ve put together a list of things you should know before you go on your first cruise:
Before You Go
Confirm your cabin location: Before booking your cruise, check your ship’s deck plans online to confirm your cabin isn’t situated below any well-traveled areas. You don’t want to hear scraping deck chairs or drunken partying when you have to get up at 6 a.m. for an excursion the next morning.
Pack your own pharmacy: Sunscreen, bug spray, aloe, aspirin, Dramamine, Pepto, Tums, allergy medicine, and all the other common medicines you use in daily life. If you think there’s a medicine or product you might need, bring it from home because the prices on the ship are way expensive.
Clothing for every occasion: You’ll of course need your casual beach clothes and comfortable walking shoes for most of your excursions, but did you also bring appropriate dining attire? Captain’s Night in the dining room requires “formal attire”, though on our cruise they didn’t seem to be a stickler for that. Just make sure you at least have a nice top and pants and try to make an effort to clean up. You’ll also need a swimsuit cover up for even the casual buffet dining.
Bring your own wine: Most cruises allow you to bring your own wine on board. Royal Caribbean lets you bring two standard sized bottles per cabin. Pack it in your carry on for boarding.
Pack a carry on: It’s more than just a place to carry your wine. The cruise picks up your checked luggage to bring to your cabin, which may take a while, so you’ll want a carry on bag in the meantime. Pack the essentials for the day like necessary medicines, bathing suit, a change of clothes, and the wine of course.
On the Ship
Explore the ship: The ship is like a maze, and it’s easy to get turned around. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the ship in the first couple of days.
Take advantage of the free activities: There’s so much to do on cruise ships, and while you shouldn’t try try to do it all, do make reservations for some of the shows. You’ll have plays, acrobatics, diving shows, and even ice shows to choose from. And then there’s all the activities on board, like rock climbing, ice skating, zip lining, and surfing.
Eat what you want: You are on vacation, so when you’re in the main dining room, you can order as much food as you want. Order multiple appetizers, entrees, and desserts; try everything on the menu!
Know your drink packages: Look carefully at what the drink package covers; most only count for drinks under a certain price. And in the end, you may have to have 10 drinks a day to get your money’s worth out of it. So take a close look at the numbers before you buy one. We opted out of a drink package, and once we were on the ship, the cruise offered a punch-card of 10 drinks for $79, and that was more reasonable for us.
Take the excursions!: Cruises aren’t just so you’ll sit around on the deck of a boat for a week. Get out and see the ports! There are pros and cons to booking excursions through the cruise line: cruise excursions are often more expensive than what you can find on your own, but we decided to book through the cruise so that we wouldn’t have to worry about language barriers and transportation that might not get us back to port on time. If a ship excursion is late getting back, the cruise line is responsible for either waiting on you or getting you back on track. Do your research before hand to see how the prices compare to booking independently. For us, it was worth it to go through the ship.
Got more cruise tips? Share them below!