A few years ago I was introduced to the wonderful world of cruises! Something which I had previously thought was exclusively for old people, I can announce that cruises are fun for young people too! I don’t know if I am the only person who would have thought that but before meeting my boyfriend (whose family introduced mine to cruising) the only person I knew who had ever been on a cruise was my grandma.
As I said, my boyfriend and his family have been going in cruises for years and highly recommended it for my mum, sister and I. So, with some guidance from them we went on our first cruise in 2016.
When I did go on my first cruise it was a bit overwhelming and while some elements overlap with a regular holiday, others are extremely different. So, I thought I would collate a few tips & notes for any newbies to cruising so you can be as prepared as possible!
- Packing your hand luggage – You could be without access to your room and suitcase for a while so make sure you have everything you need in your hand luggage. If you’re already in a hot country this may include swimwear, suncream etc.
- Other packing – Unlike on flights, you don’t have a luggage limit for cruises and therefor don’t have to suffer the guilt of hugely overpacking or stress about getting charged extra! Pack anything and everything you think you will want or need, no worries! Obviously, if you are flying to another location to board the ship you will still have to adhere to those flight restrictions.
- Scout out your destinations & pre-book excursions – If you want to go on an excursion for any of your stops on the cruise make sure to book them before boarding to be guaranteed a space. These will get more expensive as spaces decrease so to get the best deal, book sooner rather than later.
- Drinks packages – This one might require a bit of calculating but if you are someone who likes to drink a lot (alcoholic or otherwise) it is worth checking out the drinks packages on board. But don’t get caught out as if you aren’t going to use them to the full capacity it is probably just worth paying for your drinks as you go.
- It’s big – You can never fully appreciate how big a cruise ship is until you have seen one in person. It’s kind of mind boggling to understand how something so massive and heavy can travel across the ocean with sometimes thousands of passengers on board! So, fully take it in and get some good pics of the ship in all its glory!
- Download the app, find a map – It’s going to take a while to get a grasp around how big the ship is and then try to find your way around it. So, make sure you go on a bit of an exploration to find out where everything important is and then try your best to remember. Typically you’ll get to grips with everything in the last couple of days just before you finish (but once you have been on one cruise, they all seem to be a fairly similar in layout).
- WIFI – While it can be available, cruise WIFI is horribly expensive so make sure you check your phone policy on travelling abroad or set up a pre-paid system so you don’t get stuck with some insane charges! Also bare in mind that while in international waters you are unlikely to get much signal or data at all.
- Fancy dress – This is smart wear not costumes. Most cruises have formal or even themed nights so find out before you get on board and pack accordingly. Examples may be different colour themes or tropical nights etc.
- Sun loungers – If you’re going to a hot and sunny destination and have a couple of days at sea, you may want to spend some time sunbathing on deck. Like a hotel pool there are a very limited number of sun loungers and therefore you will have to be ahead of the game to get your seats!
- On-board activities – While you can chose to relax, sunbathe, read a book, there are also a huge number of activities going on throughout the day across the ship. Depending on the ship you go on there will be different activities and facilities (such as water slides and surf simulators). However, one of the main things that played a huge part in our cruises was on-board quizzes! There were probably 5 quizzes (minimum) a day that we were trying to get to. All information about the daily activities should be included in the ships itinerary.
- Shopping – On the big cruise ships as well as restaurants and activities there are also shops on board. Varying from clothes and jewellery to toiletries. So, if you do forget anything at home, hopefully you should be able to get all the essentials on board!
- SO MUCH FOOD – Just be prepared that you will be well catered for food-wise on a cruise. This is not the kind of holiday for someone looking to lose weight and you will really be missing out if you don’t full immerse yourself in the amazing catering on board the ship! Not only is the food quality great and with loads of options but food is also available basically all hours of the day and night. While there are some special restaurants that might cost extra on board, the majority of the buffets are included in your holiday package so you can eat to your hearts content!
I hope this has been helpful for anyone going on or looking at cruises! Comment below if you have any other cruising tips or stories!