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Top tips for cruise virgins

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Going on your first cruise? Have a ton of questions? I was in the same boat just a few months back, and I didn't quite find all the answers I needed before I went so had to go with the flow. In this blog I have tried to capture all the things you might need to know for your first cruise. And maybe a bit more...

I had booked my first cruise to the Norwegian Fjords earlier this year, it was one that I have wanted to do for some time (among others), as I really do think the fjords are best enjoyed this way. You can catch my blog about this trip.

After booking however I found out there are very specific themes and things that happen across the days which I wasn't aware of and this of course affects what you can and how to prepare. So here are a list of things you need to know, they may vary from each cruise location and cruise liner but the basics I should think would be similar.

  • When booking a cabin consider how good your sea legs are, if the motion affects you then a cabin towards the middle will be better suited.

  • Your standard travel insurance will not usually cover cruises, you will need to add this on.

  • You do not need any money or cards on the ship, a 'pass' is issued on which the expenses are added to the cabin. A card will be required prior to embarkation that the costs will be charged to. You will want these and local currency for when you are at the ports however.

  • 'On board spend', some cabins will come with this and it is essentially credit on your room - free money woo! So any spend on the ship including drinks you buy in the bars or at dinner, or even duty free shopping is eligible. You just pay that much less on your total bill prior to disembarking.

  • A cruise is 'full board' - all your meals are provided for, you will also have a choice of restaurants to eat in. There will be a main venue which will have waiter service, this is likely to have timed seating slots (opening hours). If you have a set table here, you will likely have a set waiter too.

  • Other than coffee/tea/juice at breakfast, you will need to pay for drinks.

  • There may also be restaurants on the ship you can pay to eat in. These will be a set price per head and will be of a famous chef. Prices are considerably cheaper than their actual restaurants so worth booking to taste the food.

  • Afternoon tea if served should be tried, lovely selection on offer and it does vary across the days. Beverages here are included of course and do not need to be paid for.

  • You may be offered tiered drinks packages from just hot beverages to all alcoholic drinks. You should work out whether all that you share a cabin with are going to actually drink that much to make money's worth. You may well find its actually cheaper to just buy as you go along.

  • Some restaurants will have themed food to help you plan where you might want to eat.

  • There are themed and black tie dinners, people do dress accordingly so go prepared.

  • In addition to the clothing required on-board, pack appropriately for the ports you will also dock at.

  • The cruise liner will offer excursions on the ports they will dock at. Its advisable to book excursions with the ship directly if you are unsure of what to do/see, their trips will bring you back in time before the ship departs. As newbies out and about you don't want to risk the ship leaving without you. Because it will!

  • If you take photos with the professionals on the ship, don't purchase anything until the last sea days of your return journey, the best offers luring you to buy are at the end.

  • Look out for information on what entertainment is taking place across the ship - movies, theatre etc. these change daily.

  • Duty free is limited but is cheaper than the high street and actually better than the airport!

  • There is no limit on luggage, take what you can carry and fit in your cabin! But be reasonable.

  • Hygiene is of most importance on the ship, you will be asked to use gel before entering restaurant areas and its good practice to use this as you move around the ship. If you are concerned on the brand for any skin sensitivities bring your own.

I am sure there are probably other questions that may be unique to a cruise or location, or I might have just missed something, if so drop a comment and I will happily try and answer it.

Don't forget you can read about my first cruise experience and checkout the photo album!

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