Twelve Things All First Time Cruisers Get Wrong

March 23, 2015

The team think going on your first cruise should be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done…

Getting married? Pffft!

Birth of your first child? Please.

You’ve just booked your first cruise!

Some people can feel a little daunted though as there seems like there’s so much to remember and so much knowledge that more experienced cruisers just take for granted. You don’t need to worry about making the same mistakes all first time cruisers always seem to make any more though; with our handy guide for first timer’s everyone will think you’re a pro-cruiser and be asking you for advice!


Picking the Right Cabin

This is a hard one to get right for a first cruise. On the one hand you don’t want to be disappointed with your cabin choice but on the other you don’t want to set up any unrealistic expectations for future cruising.

Obviously you’ll want your first cruise to be extra special (who wouldn’t?) but unless you can always afford to book the Presidential Suite don’t book it for your first cruise and find you’re forever comparing your future cabins to it. By the same token don’t book an inside cabin to pop your cruise cherry with just because it’s the cheapest option and you don’t want to waste money if you don’t like it.

Our advice (budget depending) would be for either an outside or balcony cabin but try to relax, no matter what you end up going for we’re sure you’ll have a great time and just remember – your cabin isn’t meant to be a prison; there’s lots of ship to explore!



Don’t Pack Your passport!

Obviously we’re not advising you to leave it at home (that’d be awful advice!) but don’t do as so many first time cruisers do and pack it in your suitcase. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to root through your unmentionables in the check-in terminal looking for it as everyone looks on smiling – Pop it in a handbag or pocket so it’s close to hand.



Don’t Buy Lots of Foreign Currency

Ah we remember it well. Looking at your itinerary, researching the currency needed, trying to guess how much you’d need, over-estimating it ‘just in case’, heading to a Bureau De Change, packing all the separate currencies in nice little wallets aaaaand finally coming home with lots of unspent, useless currency you then need to change back (but which in reality just sits at the back of a drawer somewhere).

Unless you’re visiting the middle of nowhere (which is always possible we suppose) almost all ports will have a cash machine. Just take out what you need when you get there as you’ll have a much better idea what you’ll need on the day.

Top Tip: Remember to tell your bank what you’re doing as multiple withdrawals from a foreign country can look suspicious.

foreign currency


Don’t Let the Ship Convert Your Currency

Obviously we’d never say a cruise ship would rip you off but……. they’ll rip you off!

A cruise, in almost all things, is great value for money but when it comes to converting your cash for you their exchange rates aren’t, shall we say, the best.

In an emergency you can change your money on-board but we’d always advise you to take it out in port and pay your banks exchange rate; trust us – it will be much better than the ships!

Money change


Check In  

When you print out your cruise tickets you’ll find the ship has given you a boarding time, normally anywhere between 12:00 and 16:00. Here’s a big secret they don’t want you to know though – You don’t have to pay attention to this!

If check-in starts at 12:00 but your ticket says 3:00 you can still turn up at 12:00 and board the ship ready for lunch.

The reason the cruise lines do this is to stagger the arrivals and make sure there aren’t huge queues but (assuming everyone doesn’t read this and decide to follow our advice) you can turn up at whatever time you like – Just don’t be late and miss the ship!

Check in

Save Room in Your Case

Just because it fitted when you packed it doesn’t mean it will fit when you go to re-pack it at the end of your cruise – It’s one of life’s little unwritten rules. Combine that with the fact you’ll need room for all the souvenirs you’ve bought and it makes sense to make sure there’s extra room in your bags for when you’re heading home.

Full suitcase


Don’t wait for the lift

When you first board you’ll be directed towards the lifts so you can go and unpack in your cabin. The problem is everyone else will be doing this as well so there’ll be big queues for the lifts. Check the floor you’re on and where you need to get to, if it’s not too far take the stairs. Not only will this save you a lot of time it’ll help keep off those pesky cruise pounds you’re bound to put on from all the yummy food.

Crowded lift


Don’t Book Every Single Shore Excursion Going

It’s scary the first time you get off the ship in a foreign port. You almost want to keep the ship in your eye line in case they decide to go without you (don’t worry we’ve all had that feeling). Due to this nervousness lots of first time cruisers will book an excursion through the cruise line for every single port they visit, just for that sense of security. As you can imagine this soon starts to add up in cost!

If you do your research beforehand though there’s no reason you can’t just stroll off the ship, have a wander around and be back in plenty of time. Just make sure you do a bit of research before hand

Top tip: There’ll be a lot of taxi drivers hanging around the cruise terminal that will be happy to negotiate a daily rate to show you around and have you back in time – just make sure you haggle a little with them first.



Book Your Shore Excursions Early

If you do decide to book a shore excursion make sure you book it early via your cruise personaliser. You can book the cruise lines excursions ahead of time online which means if you wait till you’re on the ship to book it many of the more popular trips will already be booked and you might end up disappointed. If you’re unsure your travel agent should be able to walk you through the process (or even do it for you if you ask nicely!)

Eiffel tower


Room Service is Free

A cruise ship may sometimes feel like a giant floating luxury hotel but remember there are differences and one of the biggest is that room service is free! Some lines may apply a small charge if you order after a certain time (normally 23:00) but if you fancy breakfast in bed or a snack whilst you’re getting ready pick up the phone!

It won’t cost you anything!

room service


Don’t Panic About the Specialty Restaurants

Many modern cruise ships all have specialty restaurants that you’ll need to pay a small cover charge to dine in. Many first time cruisers looking to experience ‘everything’ a ship has to offer almost feel like they have to try them all (which might cost quite a bit).

Remember though, there’ll be plenty of restaurants to try for free and the menu in the main dining room will change every night. Save the speciality restaurants for a special occasion if at all and you’ll be fine.

Specialty restaurant


Don’t Book a Mini-Cruise as a ‘Tester’ Cruise

It might seem sensible to book a cheap, mini cruise before you book a full cruise to see if you’ll enjoy it. Whilst this is a great idea it’s worth bearing in mind that mini cruises offer a very different experience to a normal cruise. Many people book them as ‘party cruises’ so you’ll find them a lot more lively and active than you would a normal cruise – bear that in mind when making your decision!

Party cruise


So that’s our twelve step guide to making sure you don’t look like a rookie cruiser (even if you are) – sssshhhh, we won’t tell if you don’t).

If you’ve any more advice or tips for novice cruisers feel free to add them in the comments below…

If you’re a first time cruiser in need of advice why not call our First Time Cruiser’s Helpline on  – 0330 303 8344