What to expect on your first cruise

Cruises are a very popular choice for holidaymakers; not only for their convenience of everything being available on your doorstep, but also the access to multiple destinations that require no effort to get to. Imagine waking up to a different view everyday from your cabin? It’s a dream becoming a reality.

But it might be your first time aboard a cruise ship. What should you expect to see, do and be a part of?  Cruises can be a lot of fun, but if you don’t know what you’re in for beforehand, it can be a daunting experience.

Here’s a list of a few things you should expect from your first cruise:

Port activities

If you’re booking your holiday through a travel agent (which is recommended), they should be able to tell you what activities to expect onboard and off the ship. They’ve probably been asked hundreds of times, so they should be your first port of call.

Also, try researching each location you’re stopping at. There might be some famous tourist spots you want to visit, but also some local places that you’ve never heard of! You also have a very limited time on land, so make sure you calculate how long it will take you to get to destinations from the ship, and how long it will take to get back.

Extra onboard charges

While you’re onboard, you can expect for some things to be included in the price. For example, most cruises will include food and drink in their price. However, there will be areas that cost extra. Want to get a massage while onboard? That’ll cost extra. Fancy taking a really long excursion with travel, food and a guide included? You may have to pay extra for that. You’ll have to do your research beforehand and speak to your travel agent to make sure you know what is included.

Another area you’ll have to budget for is tipping. This may seem like something you don’t need to do, but it is actually a very important part of your trip. Pay as much as you feel they have earnt, depending on if they have done a good job or not. This would normally be to the staff who clean your room, or the people who serve dinner (if your cruise ship has a restaurant). Working on a cruise ship isn’t the most high-paying of careers, so your tips can mean a lot to staff.

Dress code

When you’re on holiday, it’s time to let your hair down! It’s a great time to get the shorts out and the vest tops on. But it’s important to know that some parts of the cruise will have a dress code. Talk to your travel agent to find out if your cruise offers black tie evenings or any themed nights. That way you can pack accordingly, without panicking once you’re onboard. 

Always aim to get involved in dressing-up nights. You won’t stand out like a sore thumb to start with, but it also makes for great memories. 

Eating onboard

Cruise ships usually have a selection of restaurants for passengers to dine in. One may be a buffet restaurant, another may be fine dining and another with a famous chef that will cost extra. Research once again is key, and you should do some research beforehand to see what selection of food is available.

The last thing you need when on a cruise for seven days is finding out that you don’t like any of the food. You’re trapped at sea with only this selection of food, so it’s good to know what they have. Also, make sure you inform the relevant people if you have any dietary requirements or allergies.

The room

To put it frankly, unless you are paying for a suite, your room is going to be small. A standard family room consists of two bunk beds, a small living area of a desk and a TV and a small bathroom. One thing you’ll have plenty of is wardrobe space. The rooms are basically designed to be slept in and for getting ready in. 

Our advice would be to pack sparingly for things that aren’t your clothes. You aren’t going to be able to move around a lot, and storage space won’t be great for personal belongings, so make sure anything you do pack can be stored in a small space. 

Finding your way around

As it’s your first cruise, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of seeing the ship when you get to the port, and you may want to go straight to your room. But once you’re on board, you have no idea how to get anywhere. A great solution would be to find out what your ship looks like from the inside before you even step onboard. Some cruise ship websites offer a deck-by-deck view of the ship so that you can prepare yourself, so it’s worth checking those out before you head-off.

We’re not saying that as soon as you step onboard you need to dump your bags and look around the ship. It’s best to explore at a time when it’s not too busy. You should take everything at your own pace. After all, you are on holiday!

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