How To Cruise 101

I am interested in going on a cruise. How do I get started? 


Here are a few things you can do to get started on a cruise or you can call a travel professional to assist you.

  1. Do a quick research  

Before booking a cruise, research different cruise lines, itineraries, and destinations to find the best fit for your preferences. Plan your activities and excursions in advance to make the most of your time onboard. So, where do you want to cruise? If you do not have an idea where to go, at least pick one destination and start from there. Once you have decided where to go, it is time to look for the cruise ship that can take you there.

#1 HOT TIP: Carnival brand cruises are designed to be extremely active experiences. However, that said, you do not need to attempt to attend every cool event, show, meeting, exhibit, competition, activity, concert, or dining and drinking option every day onboard. It actually cannot be accomplished and that is why you must sail again regularly. Other cruise lines will have their own personality and this is where a travel agent can help you narrow down the type of cruise that fits you and save you time too.

Here’s an idea of the different cruise lines. 

  • Carnival Cruises is fun and best for budget cruises .
  • Celebrity Cruises sounds like a party.
  • Princess Cruises promotes love.
  • Norwegian Cruise is freestyle and best for solo travelers.
  • Disney Cruise is best for customer satisfaction
  • MSC is best luxury experience
  • Royal Caribbean is best for families
  • American Cruise Lines
  • American Queen Voyages
  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Azamara Cruises
  • Amawaterways
  • Viking

These are just a few options of the cruise you can experience but there’s more! There’s ocean cruises, luxury cruises, river cruises, expedition cruises and so much more.

  1. Pack SMART  

Pack essentials such as medications, documents, swimwear, and comfortable clothing. Keep in mind the dress code for different areas of the cruise ship, including formal nights. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes for shore excursions.

Most importantly, always bring a mini pharmacy with you, including a thermometer. A client’s 5-year-old came down with the flu on day 2 of 5 on a Disney cruise and it helped knowing the family had her regular fever-reducing medications and also didn’t have to run down to medical every time they needed to check her temp. While the gift shops on cruises typically have basic medications, they aren’t always open and may not have just what you need.

Pack your suitcase with what you think you need, then leave 50% of it at the house. I intend to overpack (at least the first time) but it gets better over time. And you know you’re not going to wear everything you take but having options is great for the mood at that moment. Someone suggested to just run around naked if you run out of clothes. HAHAHA!! This is funny to say but would anyone dare to do just that. Hopefully this helps sober up everyone really fast! Lol! It will get better with packing on the 2nd cruise, 3rd and so on.

  1. Arrive at the port a day early 

You might wonder why you arrive a day early. To avoid rushing and potential delays, arrive at the cruise port a few hours before the designated boarding time or to avoid stress, but arriving a day or two before cruise sail date is still the best advice I give to my clients.. This will give you ample time to get a glimpse of the city where you embark, a relaxed check-in, and familiarize yourself with the ship. A great idea is to arrive a few days early if this is the first time so that you enjoy the city, discover the culture and try a new dish. Since you are already cruising, you might as well explore the destination before the cruise. This gives you a chance to explore the city and be able to board the ship in a relaxing way. You have enough time for sure to arrive at the port early. Some cruise lines may not allow you to embark right away after check in but it is still a good idea to arrive at the port early for a relaxed and stressless vacation.

  1. Seasickness  

Though most cruise lines now have stabilizers that help very much to lessen the movement of the ship and dizziness, some are still sensitive to the slight movement of the cruise ship. If you’re prone to seasickness, consider taking medication or other remedies to alleviate the symptoms. Ginger candies or wristbands might also help ease the discomfort. Asking your travel agent to book you a mid ship location can also help minimize dizziness if you’re prone to seasickness.

  1. Hydration and hygiene

For some, cruising can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Additionally, use hand sanitizers regularly and follow hygiene practices to avoid illnesses on board. Having my own tumbler with liquid IV daily kept me well hydrated and never hungover! They sell it in Walmart. They are packets that you add to your water or get the big pack from Costco! It is recommended to have once a day with flavors like Gold cherry, watermelon and you’re good to go or the best is to hydrate yourself with a clear refreshing water before the cruise date.

  1. Maximize your meal 

Most cruises offer a variety of dining options, including buffets, specialty restaurants, and room service. Don’t limit yourself to just one dining option; explore the ship’s various culinary offerings throughout your cruise.  So, I tell all newbies that travel with me that Guys Burger is open from 12pm-6pm and to eat dinner early if you want to make the 8/9ish pm comedy shows.

Make sure to have a reserved table for that dining room whether early or late. This saves you time, not having to wait in line. You can still do anytime dining but there is a possibility of having to wait in line. Or if you prefer a buffet, that is another option available for you. If you go to breakfast and/or have anytime dining then it’s best to check in and wait on your table (just like any restaurant at home would do). If you prefer to actually plan for early dining/late dining, it’s a set time each day and you sit at the same table each night and hang out with the same people. You can also mix it with anytime dining and Reserve dining some nights.

Did you know that you can order 2 entrees at dinner time? So if you’re wanting to try something but don’t like it, you can get something else for free. And get extra ice cream with your melting cake!! Or order a side of peanut butter with your Chocolate Melting Cake. You’ll never order it without it again

You can order more than one appetizer, entree, and dessert at dinner. Since dinner is kind of small portions you can order another extra and that allows you to taste more foods. A lot of people don’t realize you can order multiple things at once. Try it on your next cruise.

Don’t want the scrambled eggs on the Lido buffet? The omelet station will scramble, or fry to order fresh eggs. My family have been on several cruises and I feel like the main dining room breakfast is great. But sometimes opt for the buffet for breakfast and do some type of Blue Iguana Cantina burrito in Carnival for lunch and then the main dining room for dinner.

  1. Your participation Is your key to happy options

Cruises provide a plethora of activities and entertainment options. Take advantage of these offerings, such as live shows, yoga or fitness classes, trivia nights, or spa treatments to make the most of your cruise experience. Do the beer pong tournament on day 3! So much fun! No college necessary and just have fun! How about a fun karaoke night?

  1. Budget  is important 

While cruises often offer all-inclusive packages, there are still additional expenses for things like alcoholic beverages, specialty dining, and shore excursions. So, set a budget and keep track of your expenses to avoid overspending. Excursions are great but if you are on a limited budget, pick a few ports that you want to explore and enjoy the city. Nothing to be embarrased. You might enjoy it just like going on excursions when you hop on a bus and hop off the bus, when you see something special along the way, stop and check it out. Make sure to watch time to make it back to the cruise ship before time.

  1. Follow safety protocols 

Familiarize yourself with the ship’s safety procedures, such as emergency exits and muster station locations. Pay attention to safety briefings and follow instructions from the crew in case of any emergencies. It will take you a day or two to get familiarized with the cruise ship as it is huge! The best time is very early in the morning and late at night as cruisers are snoring in their rooms to get ready for the next day’s fun activities.

  1. Respect the environment and local communities –

When exploring different destinations during shore excursions, be respectful of the environment and local customs. Avoid littering, damaging coral reefs, or engaging in any activities that could harm the local ecosystem or community. Remember, these are just general tips, and it’s important to always follow any specific guidelines or instructions given by the cruise line or crew during your journey.

So, in a snapshot here’s a few fun things to think about when you are on a cruise:

  • The lovely drink they offer you when you first arrive is NOT FREE! And if it is in a souvenir glass or tumbler you will be paying for the drink AND the cup!
  • It is okay to do NOTHING. You are on vacation. Take a nap!
  • Strong magnet hooks for hats, lanyards, etc
  • Don’t forget a beach bag! Even to go hang out on deck.. towel, sunscreen, book, etc.
  • Go to the salad bar and get a plate with lettuce, then go to Blue Iguana for steak, rice, beans, and make the best taco salad.
  • Bonine and Ginger Root pills daily for motion sickness.
  • You can bring snacks to keep in the room!
  • Dollar stores have the perfect size bags of cookies, chips, candy etc.
  • Pack a medicine bag… bring a little of everything especially motion sickness pills. Cold meds cough drops.. lots are getting sick on the ship towards the end..
  • Bring a lanyard!
  • Find your cruise’s Facebook group and join it! I loved the room gift exchange!
  • In the main dining room, order the Rare Find when you can! It’s fun to try new things!
  • Bring a small flashlight. You never know if the ship will power or not
  • Bring YOUR best smile to welcome the adventures you will DO during the trip!
  • But first and foremost, find a travel agent to assist you.

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