For those of you who are deciding to go on your first cruise and experience in some cases a bucket-list experience, then this article is for you. There are many different types of cruises out there from single cruises, family cruises, party cruises to even river cruises.
We have created these top 10 suggestions to help all of you with your first cruise and make it the most unforgettable experience and something that you will come home to and wanting to do another cruise somewhere else. Now that COVID-19 seems to be behind us and we are trying to get back to whatever this new normal is. Make sure to do your research and have read of this article and I hope it helps those going on their first cruise.
Purchase Cruise Travel Insurance
When you buy travel insurance, make sure that you get comprehensive insurance that covers you for COVID-19, travel delays / cancelations, medical emergencies, sporting activities and any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have. Make sure to read the fine print before buying your insurance, but make sure to buy it because it will give you a peace of mind knowing you are covered just in case something happens while you are away.
Pre-book Activities Before you Leave Home
Before you sail, we recommend that you contact the cruise early for any special requests or reservations. This could be for a spa service, maybe an evening show that will be on-board during your trip, specialty restaurant, shore excursions or you may require special needs equipment, so this is good for the cruise to know in advance. By booking in advance, instead of when you board the cruise, you know you will be able to do these activities and you will get them a bit cheaper as well.
Depending how independent you are and want to save money, I would recommend that you go online and look at maybe booking a local shore excursion or city tour for one or all the destinations you are going to. Cruise ships do put on a big mark-up when you book directly through them and if you are able to do a tour independently in the time you have that day when you are onshore then it might be worth it. Please keep in mind though that the one main advantage of booking directly through the cruise line for any shore excursions is that they will wait for you when your tour comes back before you leave. If you book on independently and you are, late to get back there is no guarantee the cruise will wait, because they are all on tight schedules as well.
3. Learn about the Cruise Ship and Other Passengers
This might be an obvious thing to say, but make you are going on a cruise that you want to go on, as there are single cruises, family cruises, party cruises and river cruises just to name a few. If you are in your 20s or 30s and single and looking to party or meet someone, then a cruise that has an average in their 60s or families may not be the one for you. In addition, some cruise liners cater to certain nationalities, so if you are English speaking and do not want to go on a cruise that mainly has Italians then maybe give Costa and MSC Cruises a miss.
Another obvious recommendation is do your research and look at the itinerary of the cruise you are interested in and see if it goes to all the places, you want to see. In addition, see if the cruise ship is all-inclusive, what packages and entertainment it offers and amenities are included in the price. This is obviously quite important considering you may be shocked if you end of paying hundreds more if many of the things you thought were included, but wasn’t.
4. Don’t Over Pack and Make Sure to Bring Medications with You
Make sure before you leave, that you bring any prescriptions, vitamins or extra medications with you and make sure to keep them in your carry-on luggage just in case something happens to your checked in luggage.
In addition, do not over pack, so this way you have room for those souvenirs you will probably buy while you are away. If you are going on a cruise in a warm destination, make sure to bring your bathing suit and if you are going somewhere a bit colder do not forget an extra sweater or extra gloves and scarf.
5. Plan to Arrive at Your Departure City a Day or More Before the Cruise
It is advisable to arrive at least a day or two before you cruise departs. This is just in case your flight is delayed, heavy traffic or maybe you just want to relax and see the destination city before you leave. Keep in mind that many cruise liners are like airlines, where you need to check in prior to leaving, so have all your documents ready before you leave. This may include vaccination certificates, travel insurance or negative COVID tests. Contact your cruise company before you arrive, because some provide an early embarkation for an additional fee if that puts your mind at ease. By doing, this allows you to arrive early and avoiding all the people arriving at the same time. If you have accessibility requirements then it is highly recommended to contact the cruise company beforehand to notify them.
If you arrive a day or two before and decide not to do an early embarkation, be sure to book a hotel close to where the cruise is leaving. If you are late to embark the cruise ship, they will not wait for you, so keep this in mind.
6. Understand Automatic Gratuities or Tipping on the Cruise Ship
This is definitely a topic depending on where you come from. If you are from North America, then tipping and giving gratuities is an almost guarantee in most cases and is part of the culture. However, if you come from Europe, Asia or most other parts of the world, tipping is not a thing that most people even think. I would recommend doing some research on the cruise ship you will be going on and see if automatic gratuities or tipping is a must and what the percentage is that is expected. It may be worth having some extra $1 bills in your wallet regardless, so that way if you want to give a tip, even if one is not required then you can still give one.
7. Buy an Universal or Local SIM Card
We all know that international roaming rates can cost us hundreds, so depending on how much we are on our phones; this is quite an important topic. The first thing I would recommend is that you contact your cell/mobile provider and ask what the roaming rates are and check to see if your phone is locked or not. By checking to see if your phone is locked then you may be able to put in a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination. If your cruise is only in the United States, in the UK or Ireland or in Europe then it may be worth getting a local SIM card. This will allow you to not worry about getting international roaming charges and you can have some data as well to help when you are not in WIFI areas, or to make local phone calls without it costing you a lot of money.
If your phone is locked and you are, unable to get it locked then I would recommend that you keep in it on airplane mode, so you are not using roaming when you do not want to use it.
The other option is buy a Drimsim, which is the first universal SIM card and free app for travelers. Drimsim is a real SIM card. It’s a plastic card with a chip, just like any other, which you can insert into your phone, tablet, or router.
The difference is that it is not tied to an operator. Once your plane lands or cruise enters a new country, Drimsim is immediately ready to work. Drimsim operates in 197 countries, provides stable communication, a fast Internet connection, and prices similar to those of local operators.
8. Playing the Currency Game
The great thing is that most cruise liners operate a cashless system on-board and if you get something that is not included in your cruise package they will charge it to your room and you can pay at the end of the cruise. However, this would be for those who will be in casino on the cruise ship where you may be using cash. Alternatively, when you are visiting different countries on the cruise and will be using multiple different currencies. If you will be travelling through mainly Europe or the United States, then Euros or US dollars would be advisable. If you are going to be in the Caribbean or travelling through Asia or South America, then I would recommend having some US dollars with you because every country in the world will take this currency.
9. Do Research on Your Cruise Destination Cities
A rewarding and memorable cruise can only be achieved by doing extensive study on your intended destinations. To make the most of your time ashore, research the distinctive characteristics, points of interest, and local culture of each port of call in advance.
Start by learning about the historical significance, famous sites, and must-see attractions in each place. To ensure polite interactions with the locals, research regional norms, traditions, and etiquette. You may experience the genuine flavors of the area by learning about the cuisine and popular meals.
Take into account the environment and weather during the dates of your trip since this will influence the activities you choose and the attire you should wear. To take advantage of the stunning scenery surrounding your ports of call, look for suggested outdoor activities such as hiking routes, snorkelling locations, or scenic drives.
To guarantee a smooth and safe voyage, you should also familiarise yourself with any local legislation, safety measures, or health considerations. Participating in online forums or asking other travellers for advice might yield insightful information and first-hand experiences.
You may optimize your itinerary, enjoy local experiences, and make priceless memories that will last a lifetime by taking the time to explore your cruise destinations.
Have a Great Time
The most important thing when you are going on your first cruise is have a great time. For many this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so do not be nervous or scared and enjoy yourself and soak it all in and have a great time.