15 first time cruise tips for the first time cruiser.
I had the good fortune to go on my first cruise in September. It was wonderful and exactly what I needed to refresh and unwind. I went with my best friend and it was heavenly. Between us we have 7 children, so we really could have never left our cabin and had a good time, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Ruby Princess.
Something you should know about me, I’m not a researcher. I do little to no recon before I go on a trip (or move). I should have done a little before this trip, but it did not diminish the experience in any way. Here are my 15 tips for getting ready for your first cruise.
Pack light – Resist the urge to over-pack. I did not take my own advice and I wore about half of what I packed. The cabins are on the small side and there isn’t a ton of storage. I would recommend having a few layers. It gets chilly at night.
Motion sickness – It never dawned on me that I might get sea sick. I was queasy for a day and I bought some sea bands and Bonine for the day, and Dramamine for bedtime from the ship’s store. Next time I will bring some ginger drops. A few tricks to help you feel better quickly. Go outside and get some fresh air. Look out to the horizon line and you will feel better in no time. Also, green apples. I had never heard that before but a few crew members told me about it, and I figured they knew what they were talking about.
Cords – I feel like my life is controlled by cords. I travel with a multi-port USB charger and it came in especially handy on the cruise.
Bring a good book – One of the best parts of the trip was the down time that we had. I don’t get a lot of uninterrupted time alone, and nothing makes me more relaxed than reading a good book. I read 3 books over the course of 5 days.
Read the newsletter every morning – Every morning there was a copy of the Princess Patter outside our door. It was filled with lots of useful information. Where were going and how long it would take, daily activities aboard the ship, information about excursions, basically everything you need to know is in there.
Go on excursions, but plan some time to just explore – As much as I loved going on the excursions, it was also just as nice to walk around and explore the port city. Plan some time to walk around, eat local, and see what there is to offer.
Splurge on a cabin with a balcony – I think this is my #1 tip. Having the balcony was the best. Every morning I ordered room service and sat out on my balcony and just enjoyed the view. I read outside most afternoons. In the evening, we slept with our door open and the breeze and smell of the ocean was so relaxing. It also makes the cabin seem so much bigger and lets in lots of light.
Boarding and debarkation – This was my biggest concern about the cruise. I was worried about three thousand people getting on at one time and it being a zoo. it was honestly a well-oiled machine and we walked right on and didn’t wait in line at all. (Side note – I would highly recommend bringing your passport if you are leaving the US for any of your time on the ship.)
Utilize the facilities – The ship has so many amazing and fun things to do and see. We were on 3-day cruise and I didn’t see the entire ship or get to do all of the activities that I wanted to. I knew that I wanted to go to the spa, so that was my #1 priority when I boarded. We watched Cat and Suzanne do a cooking demo, did a wine tasting, spent some time in the casino, hung out by the pool, and of course danced until our feet hurt.
Bring a lanyard – One of the best things about being on a cruise is that it is a cashless system. You are given a card when you board that is your room key and the currency you use when on board, and how you get on and off the ship. You need to have it on your person at all times. After almost losing it twice in the first few hours on the ship, we bought lanyards in the ship store. All of the non-rookie cruisers had their own.
Make a game plan for things that you really want to do – Like I said before, there is a ton to do on a cruise. Before you get on do a little research. Book your excursions, make reservations for the restaurants that you really want to go to. If you change your mind, no biggie, but having a game plan of sorts will help you fill your days and not leave feeling like you missed out.
Take advantage of room service – One of the biggest treats for me is having room service breakfast. When I am traveling I usually get room service at least once. On the cruise, it is included and I had it every morning. It is the best way to start the day. I would sit out on my balcony, enjoy a croissant and cup of coffee while I read the Princess Patter and my book. It is the best way I can think of to start the day.
Make friends with the crew – Some of the most interesting people (not to mention polite and engaging) I met were crew members. They come from all over the world and I am fascinated by their life. I learned so much about their home countries and they also gave me some great tips about how to enjoy our time on board. I also pictured them having dance parties like they do in Titanic. They assured me that they have a lot of fun, but Rose is not down there showing off.
Take it easy with the food – What they say about the food on a cruise is true. There is food everywhere. And it is delicious. It is tempting to go crazy. Do yourself a favor, and take it easy. It is available all the time, so a few bites here and there is much better than eating until you don’t feel well. I loved the sit down lunch in the dining rooms. I had the best chicken soup I’ve ever had in my life (which was life-giving when I was feeling queasy.)
We also were fortunate to be invited to the chef’s table and it was a meal that I will never, ever forget. The last night we went to the Italian restaurant and it was an incredible meal. I planned my day around our meals, and thankfully I never felt like I overindulged or went too crazy.
Unplug – There is satellite wi-fi onboard, so you can get internet but it is expensive and slow-ish. It was a great excuse for me to really unplug. It was nice to not answer email or hear dings every few minutes. When I got home, I felt refreshed and the break made me realize that I don’t need to be as available as I was. Nothing really happened, and I didn’t miss anything during my time out.
So there you go, my 15 tips for taking your first cruise. Have an amazing time!
Have any tips to add? Feel free to add them in the comments.
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Disclosure: I was delighted to be a guest of Princess Cruise Lines on a 4-day West Coast Culinary Cruise Adventure. All opinions expressed are my own.