There are so many places to see in the world – how can you possibly visit them all? A cruise is one of the best ways to see a bunch of countries with the family on a budget! We’re big fans, and we have some first time cruise tips and hacks to help you to get the most out of your vacation.
First Time Cruise Tips: How to Prepare for the Cruise
Before you even start your cruise, you should read the documentation the cruise line sends you! It will answer most of your questions. But we have a few recommendations that may not be included in the email.
You’re on vacation, so buy the package and live it up! Celebrate and treat yourself anytime on the cruise without worrying about your budget with every drink order.
A deluxe package will include all alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. And as of 2020, the Royal Caribbean deluxe drink package also gives you a 20 to 40 percent discount on bottles of wine. Plus, a souvenir cup is included (depending on your cruise line).
Trust us – there will be no shortage of bars or occasions to drink on the cruise ship!
Cruise ship living can be tight. As a result, you’ll want to be even more organized than when you usually travel!
Don’t let coats, hats, bags, and accessories take up precious space. Magnetic hooks are a cheap, easy way to de-clutter your room. Instead of covering your couch with purses and jackets, hang them up as soon as you get back!
And keeping an organized closet will also save you time and sanity. Our friend keeps her gym clothes in a separate “packing cube,” but maybe you prefer to separate your lounge clothes or excursion clothes. Develop a system that works for you!
And a pop-up laundry hamper is just good advice for anyone on long trips – especially if you have a particularly potent travel partner…
But one of the best first time cruise tips for families? A bathroom organizer! Of all the space in your tiny state room, the bathroom has the most coveted real estate. And if you have more than two people staying in a room, a door hanging organizer is a must-have.
With the organizer, everyone can keep their soaps, shampoos, brushes, medicines, and lotions in separate, easy-to-find compartments. This way, you keep your shower floor and sink counter clear!
Arriving at the port
When Cruise Day finally arrives, be prepared. It’s not stressful or hard, but there’s a lot of information to take in. (And don’t forget to read the documentation they send you!)
When you check in at the port, you can check your luggage, too. This way, you don’t need to carry it onto the ship yourself – your first step into a luxurious vacation!
Just make sure you write your name clearly on the tag to ensure it’s delivered to your room.
You’ll also receive an ID card of sorts at check in (ours was called the Sea Pass). This card is your life for the duration of the cruise!
You need it to get on and off the ship, buy drinks, enter the dining hall, unlock your room, and make other purchases through the cruise line. Buy a lanyard or keep it in your wallet. Just don’t forget the card!
There will also be a mandatory safety briefing the first day. The staff will review what to do in different types of emergencies and who you can contact if you need help.
So if you have any fears whatsoever about being on a cruise ship, the staff will address them here!
What to expect on the cruise ship
Now that you’re on the ship with your deluxe drink package, you can explore and enjoy! Between all the cities you’ll visit, there’s so much to do on the ship. Whether you want to relax or keep the party going, there’s something for everyone!
While the entire cruise ship is safe for children to explore freely, there will also be a dedicated lounge or “zone” for kids. The staff will occasionally organize programming for different age groups, but usually kids can come by at almost any time to hang out.
Bars, Lounges, and Restaurants
You can drink and dine almost everywhere on the ship. by the pool, in your room, at the sports bar, even in an elevator! Cruise lines often offer a few different food packages that range from all-you-can-eat buffets to fine dining.
Usually you’ll have lunch at the port destination and dinner on the ship, but you’ll have a couple days at sea when you can really explore those varied options! Most restaurants and meals will be included in the packages, but there may be a few options or special dining events that cost extra.
A cruise ship is basically a small floating city. To keep you from getting cabin fever, the cruise line offers a huge variety of things to do. From ziplining above the deck to dancing down below, the possibilities are truly endless.
One night you can go see a magic show, and the next night you can walk along a “boardwalk” complete with a carousel. During the day you can lounge by the pool and watch high divers dive, and that evening you can attend a black tie dinner.
Or maybe some of you want to play a round of mini golf, and the rest of you want to lounge by the pool. You can even enjoy a date night with your spouse while your kids explore the ship!
Ready to Cruise?
Ultimately, the cruise is what you make of it! Don’t be too afraid or too cool to try anything. If you’re going to live once, you may as well go big!
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