The thought of cruising can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many details, tips, places, etc. that it is easy to miss some. These details could have been helpful if you knew about them before your cruise. Below are 20 tips every first time cruiser should know. Some are personal preference and others are needed in order to board the ship.
1. Research to see what cruise line is the best fit for your family and budget. We typically cruise with Carnival as they tend to fit our budget better.
2. After you decide a cruise line, research individual cruise ships to find the perfect match for your family. We love looking up what various ships have to offer.
3. Download the cruise lines app before you set sail. It will have a ton of information about various events, where everything is located, map of the ship, etc.
4. Make sure to pack the essentials (see our cruise packing list here).
5. Research the alcohol package to see if it is worth the money. Make sure you purchase it before you cruise as there tends to be a discount
6. Register your kids for the cruise lines kids club and visit the area on the first day. There are usually open play times too even if you do not register them, but you can not just drop them off and will need to stay with them.
7. Book your excursions through the cruise line. More experienced cruisers may have more familiarity with the ports and feel comfortable booking directly with vendors at the port. *If your excursion (booked through the cruise line) is late, your cruise line will wait for you. If you chose NOT to book through the cruise line and you are late, the ship will not wait for you.
8. Start taking seasickness medicine BEFORE the day you set sail.
- Seasickness wrist bands
- Bonine (this is what we use on cruises)
- Motion sickness patch
- Ginger drops
9. Take $200 in $5 bills and $1 bills for tips and for souvenirs at various local vendors who are outside of the port. Most shops at the port take credit cards.
10. Check-in online and print your documents.
11. Keep your phone and tablets in airplane mode to avoid roaming charges. Research where free WiFi spots are at the ports you are traveling to if you don’t plan on purchasing an internet package.
12. Purchase an internet package BEFORE you board. Most cruise lines offer a discount when you pre-purchase.
13. Get travel insurance, because you never know what may happen. Accidents, health concerns, and emergencies happen.
14. Download movies and TVs shows to your device for your kids before you board.
15. Heavy duty umbrella stroller for young kids is great for ports. We did not use it much at all on the ship, but used it at most ports.
16. Everyone sailing will need a non-expired government I.D. of some sort. Passports are always recommended but not required to cruise. We personally use our passports, including my kids.
- If no passport, kids 15 and under only need a birth certificate (be sure to read what’s accepted and what’s not on the cruise lines website)
- If no passport, guests 16 and older need a birth certificate and government photo I.D. (be sure to read what’s accepted and what’s not on the cruise lines website)
17. Order bottled water and have it delivered to your stateroom. We do this every cruise and love having it ready and waiting in our stateroom.
18. If you plan on flying, arrive the day before you set sail and fly back the day after you return (or in the evening if next day isn’t possible) when returning. Flights can easily get delayed and cruise ships can also get delayed returning. To us, it’s just not worth the risk.
19. Arrive to the ship hungry, because once you board there will be so much food to try! No. Really. So. Much. Food.
20. Talk to the cruise staff! They are full of information about ports, free WiFi spots, the ship, and more!
What tips do you have for first time cruisers? Let us know!