In Travel Tips on Tuesday 11th Sep, 2018

First-time cruiser? Here are 15 things you need to know

Written by

About to set sail on your very first cruise? There are loads of tips and hacks that most people generally don’t pick up on until they’ve hit the open waters a few times.But rest assured – we’ve put together a selection of these handy hints, so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy your maiden voyage to the max.

1. Book a balcony cabin

Yes, it’s more expensive than an inside or oceanview cabin, but what you get in return (views, fresh air, privacy) makes that extra cost worthwhile. Especially if you’re going on your first cruise – memories are made of this!

2. Avoid the crowds

Whether you’re booking a spot with a balcony or not, be sure to get a cabin as far away as possible from gathering areas such as stairs, lifts and laundry etc, which can get noisy (and irritating).

3. Pack a power board

Most of us travel with a bunch of electronic devices these days, but rarely are there enough outlets to charge them all at once. Be sure to pack a power board – preferably one with some slots for USB connections as well. Just make sure it doesn’t have a surge protection feature (some cruise lines don’t allow them). And don’t forget an international adapter if you know you’ll need one.

4. Take a reusable water bottle

This is another packing essential. It will help you stay hydrated, save you money and (if you’re going somewhere with dodgy water), keep you from getting a dodgy tummy. Fill it up with water from the ship and keep on filling!

5. Don’t miss the boat

Adding an extra day to the start of your holiday will let you eliminate any potential stress caused by bad traffic, delayed flights or unfortunate weather – anything that might make you late to board your ship. Far better to start your dream holiday a day early and check in to a nearby hotel – and then board the ship the next day a picture of calm and serenity.

5. Bag it

On most big ships your luggage will be checked when you board – but you might not get your hands on it again until much later. Pack a separate little bag or backpack to keep with you at all times, and fill it with all your first-day-of-the-cruise essentials (eg an extra set of clothes, prescriptions, reading glasses, book, hat, sunscreen etc). It will also prove invaluable once you’ve set sail, as it will help you avoid having to return to your room several times a day.

6. Maiden munchies

On the very first night of a cruise most people will eat dinner in the main dining room or buffet. But do your research beforehand and check out any specialty restaurants. Booking one for this first night could have a couple of different benefits – it should be easier to get a reservation at a popular restaurant, and in some cases you might even get a discount.

7. Wake up – and get out – early

Beat the queues at the breakfast buffet by setting your alarm and heading out early. It’s also a way to secure that sun lounger in a coveted poolside spot. Best of all, an early morning start means you can watch the sun rise.

8. Scour the newsletter 

Don’t mistake these daily missives, posted under your door, as junk mail. They’re actually a mine of information, including itineraries and details of any special offers, such as discounted drinks or spa treatments.

9. Spa pass

Find out if your cruise ship offers a spa pass, which often let you use the spa facilities (eg steam rooms, thalassotherapy pools, relaxation rooms etc) for a fraction of the cost. Quantities are often limited, so make the reservation before boarding.

10. Treat yourself to a treatment

Speaking of spas, don’t wait until the first day of your cruise to schedule a treatment, as this is the day everybody else will be attempting to book and lines will be long. Do your research, make your reservations early and avoid any stress.

11. Stay on board

If one of the ports you’ll be calling at is a place you’ve visited before, consider staying on board for that day. You’ll avoid the crowds and the costs – and back on board not only will many of the facilities still be open, but you’ll have them (almost) to yourself.

12. On shore shopping

When you do go ashore, avoid shopping in inner-port outlets, which are there purely to attract cruise tourists and priced accordingly. Head a bit further afield for better bargains and a different range of items. 

13. Find your happy place

From adults-only pools, whirlpools and sun-decks to libraries and observation lounges (which are deserted at certain times), there are plenty of places on most large cruise ships where you can escape from the noise, the crowds, the music and the kids, and enjoy some peace and tranquillity. Some ships even have things like private cabanas that you can hire by the hour, so don’t wait until the end of your journey to ask.

14. Wash your hands

Even more than normal, we mean. And get into the habit of using the ship’s hand sanitisers every time you pass one. It will help you avoid picking up – or passing on – any unfortunate bugs that might be lurking. 

15. Stay offline 

Trust us on this one. Yes, internet packages are getting cheaper, but they’re still way more expensive than just about anywhere else – not to mention slower. Besides, who wants to spend their holiday online, anyway? You can do that at home. Your best bet is to wait until you dock and find a free Wi-Fi hot-spot in port.

Leave your comment

Retrieving conversation…