Treating yourself to a cruise is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. It’s quite different to the holiday experiences you’re familiar with, although you needn’t worry if you’re trying a cruise for the first time. In fact, with our advice for first time cruisers on the top cruising mistakes to avoid, you can learn all the best cruising tips and tricks before your next big adventure.

Taking a trip

Docking at cruise destinations is opportunity to stretch out those sea legs on dry land and see the sights. It’s also easy to lose track of time after a few local tipples, and rushing back to the ship can be extremely stressful. Research the itinerary’s ports of call and make note of local transport, sights and distances. Be sure to update your phone clock and watch to local time and perhaps set an alarm for when you need to set off. Take enough cash for taxi fares and don’t be tempted to order one last cheeky Martini instead of finding your way back!

Don’t be lazy in learning liners

While a great deal of the fun in booking a cruise is choosing your itinerary of destinations, it’s a smart plan to make sure that you also book with a cruise line whose approach matches your own. If you want a massive ship packed with the latest technologies, a cruise line such as Royal Caribbean® is for you. Yet if you’re after a more traditional cruise, you’re likely imagining what the good folk at Cunard have to offer.

Choose your cabin with care

There’s a big difference between a top deck balcony suite onboard a Silversea ship, for example, versus the lower deck cabins tucked in the middle of a cruise ship. Those of you unsure about how the motion of the waves will affect you are advised to choose a central cabin, where you’ll have a more gentle journey from start to finish.

Don’t pack carelessly

Keep essentials such as your passport close at hand in case of inspection. Packing a spare outfit in hand luggage is a good idea for if anything does go wrong or there’s a delay getting to your main suitcase. Also be aware not to over-pack, remembering that towels are offered onboard, as is a laundry service.

Don’t draw a blank on the time

Docking at cruise destinations is an opportunity to stretch out those sea legs on dry land and see the sights. It’s also easy to lose track of time after a few local tipples, and rushing back to the ship can be extremely stressful. Research the itinerary’s ports of call and make note of local transport and distances. Be sure to update your phone clock and watch to local time and perhaps set an alarm for when you need to set off.

Don’t dismiss the crew

The crew and service staff onboard cruise ships aren’t just there to pamper us, although they definitely do that well. They’ve been all over the world and are specially trained to know all the best information about every destination your cruise ship stops at. They also know the ins and outs of life onboard, so don’t be shy in picking their brains.

Don’t forget your health

Sea sickness isn’t fun and can really put a dampener on holidays. If you’re prone to motion sickness then arrive stocked up on tried and tested medication, and set reminders for when to take them. As well as prescribed medications, it’s also worthwhile packing pain killers, digestants and plenty of suncream.

Don’t get too tangled up in tipping

It’s likely that as a cruise passenger, you’ve already paid a daily service charge. Enquire when booking to double check which cruise lines use this handy prepaid method. If a member of staff has gone above and beyond and you want to pay gratuities however, tips between £5 -10 are traditionally given in an envelope that can often be found at reception.

Don’t take tours without checking the specifics

Ensure you take a good look the tour you sign up for before you go. If you’re looking for some active cycling through the Tuscany hills, for example, make sure you don’t accidentally take the slow strolling historic tour of the sights instead.

Don’t pick your companions carelessly

We all want to bring our nearest and dearest with us on our cruise, however as with any big trip, it’s a good idea to find out what kind of experiences they’re after first. If you’re up for shore excursions at every port and they just want to lounge by the pool with cocktails for example, you might find it tricky finding things to do you can both enjoy. That said, cruise lines such as Carnival® delight in mixing up activities for young and old. You might just pick up some new hobbies that you can all get behind.

Don’t dismiss your limits

Eating too much or having a little too much to drink can be a constant temptation onboard cruise ships, especially with such a grand selection of meals and drinks to choose from. The good food and wine isn’t going anywhere, so make sure you pace yourself. A cruise spent feeling unwell in your cabin is not going to be time well spent.

Keep an eye on the purse strings

From shore excursions to those tempting onboard boutiques, you’re going to find plenty of ways to splash some cash treating yourself at sea. While you definitely deserve the best, make sure your budget lasts the whole trip as much as you can.

Don’t forget to read the itinerary

Having a handle on where your cruise ship will be and when is a good way to ensure that you enjoy the best shore excursions and most fulfilling experiences. Read the information to hand closely, and you won’t miss a trick.

Leave some spare suitcase space

If you’re heading out on your cruise with a jam-packed suitcase, you probably won’t have the opportunity to bring many souvenirs home. Mementos from your cruise are a fantastic way to remember your journey, while gifts for loved ones back home always put smiles on faces. It’s smart to ensure you’ve the room to make that happen.

Don’t ignore passport and visa requirements

Getting caught out in this way could spoil an otherwise perfect cruise. Many cruise lines use a special visa that covers each the destinations they visit for all passengers, but it’s best to be safe. Do your research and discuss visa coverage with your cruise line prior to boarding, as well as checking whether the destinations you’ll visit have any special visa requirements.

Most importantly… have fun!

You’re taking a cruise to kick back and relax, so don’t let anything that might go wrong nag in the back of your mind. Enjoy your time onboard your cruise ship of choice, and remember to take each day as it comes. Take the time to appreciate this break fully, because you’ve definitely earned it.

Cruising is easy when you’ve got the basics in mind, so make sure you clue up before you board. Remember, we’re always here to help you through the process as you plan your next big cruising trip.

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