What to Expect on Your First Cruise

what to expect on your first cruise

So you booked a cruise and you are absolutely excited, however, you don’t know what to expect on your first cruise? This article is for you.

I had the same questions just before my first cruise experience. I absolutely recommend that everyone should have a cruise experience at least once in their lifetime. It is one of the best ways to truly relax, away from your regular routine.

What to Expect on Your first cruise:

1. Booking Your Cruise:

You can take advantage of online deals, contact a cruise travel agent or deal directly with the cruise line. There are various websites that offer deals and coupons on cruises.

When booking your cruise, you should bear in mind that there are essentially 4 types of cabins on any cruise vessel. They are;

  • Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside
  • Outside: a room with a window or porthole with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview
  • Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck
  • Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks
Cruise Experience
Outside: An Outside Room (Ocean View Room) on the Norwegian Sky.

2. Check-in:

To avoid any delay, it is recommended that you check-in online and obtain your cruise boarding pass before your sailing day. Check-in opens up to 2 months before your cruise date. When you check-in online, you’ll have the option of selecting your preferred arrival time at the cruise terminal. You should arrive at this time to avoid any delays.

Please be advised that on embarkation day, you must be on board the ship no later than one (1) hour prior to the departure time noted on their cruise documents or you will not be permitted to sail. You may tag and dropped off your luggage, which would be delivered to your stateroom.

3. Payment for other onboard services:

Most cruises operate on a cashless system. You’ll be required to register your credit/debit card for payment of any additional services or anything not included in your package. Some of them will include alcoholic drinks, specialty dining, shopping on board, spa treatments, access to the internet, shore excursions and babysitting services.

These services will be charged to your card. For cruises that still operate cash services, ensure you settle your bills before you disembark at the end of your cruise.

4. Onboard Activities:

Most of the activities on your cruise ship would be free. You would be given a daily itinerary which would detail the time and place for each activity. Find activities you would be interested in and take part in. If you can’t find anything to do on a cruise, you’re not looking hard enough.

5. Meals:

Most cruises operate a freestyle cruising experience with no fixed dining times or preassigned seating, you could enjoy a wide selection of complimentary dining options when you want and spend your day following your mood and not a schedule.

On cruises, you’ll find so much to eat and drink – buffet style. Other than the specialty dining, all meals served in the open restaurants would be complimentary; which means that it was included in your prepaid cruise package. Some cruises offer open bar services and serve a wide range of cocktail drinks. Feel free to knock yourself out- you already paid for it. Just ensure you drink responsibly and wake up early to hit the gym.

6. What you can take on board your cruise:

Other than your personal belongings, you should check with your cruise line to view their policies regarding what you are allowed to take on board the cruise. Some cruises may allow you to take one or two bottles of wine or champagne with you. Click here to see the various cruise line allowances.

7. Shore excursions:

Your cruise ship itinerary would provide a guide on what to expect on your first cruise particularly in respect of embarkation, ports of call, sail days and disembarkation.

However, please note that onboard shore excursion packages are usually pricey. Unless you are travelling solo, you may want to skip buying onboard packages especially if you are on a tight budget. You can always explore on your own – following your own itinerary. You can also book your shore excursions externally, but ensure that you are aware of the specific time you must return on board.

8. Check-Out:

You would be advised via the public address system of when you must check out of the stateroom. Ensure that you settle all your bills before you disembark from the ship, otherwise, they won’t let you off.

cruise experience

These are my actionable tips on what to expect on your first cruise. Have you been on a cruise? Share any additional tips you have in the comment section.

Oto Tom

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