5 Tips for First-Time Cruisers

There’s more to cruising than just getting on the ship. The following tips will help you make the most of your maiden voyage.

1. Bring less stuff
Sure, cruising is a great way to vacation because you can visit multiple destinations and only have to unpack once. But just because you can bring more clothes, shoes and other items (especially if you’re driving to the port of embarkation) doesn’t mean you need to. No one will care if you wear the same pants three nights in a row, and your feet will thank you for wearing those comfortable sandals every day. Do, however, bring multiple swimsuits so that you can have one to wear while the other is drying. Plus, the less you bring with you, the more room you’ll have in your suitcase for souvenirs.

2. Do bring the following items
A power strip: Cruise ship rooms are notorious for having very few outlets. A power strip will allow you to charge multiple electronics at the same time.
Extra batteries and memory cards, over-the-counter medications, sunscreen: You can purchase these onboard, but they will be expensive.
An over-the-door shoe bag: Many experienced cruisers swear by these bags for storing toiletries or organizing small items.

3. Don’t be afraid to book your own excursion
Ship-sponsored tours can be easy and hassle-free, and you won’t have to worry about missing your boat if you’re late to return to port. But they also can be large, impersonal and pricey. Booking an independent excursion will allow you to customize your tour to your interests.

4. Pay attention to your onboard spending
Because cruises are cashless societies and not everything is covered in the base price, it’s easy to run up a large tab. Alcoholic beverages, sodas and specialty coffees are usually extra, and the costs can add up quickly. According to USA Today, the average cruiser will rack up between $400 and $600 in extra charges per week. This includes tips, which are typically $10 to $12 per passenger per day and are automatically added to your account. Interactive TVs found on newer cruise ships make it easier to keep track of your daily expenditures, or you can ask at the purser’s desk for a daily bill.

5. Don’t try to sneak alcohol onboard
Because alcoholic beverages are expensive, some people try to sneak alcohol onboard. It will be confiscated, and you may even be asked to disembark. Some cruise lines, however, do allow guests to bring personal wine onboard (for example, Royal Caribbean International allows two 750-milliliter bottles per stateroom), so check with your cruise line if you wish to bring your own drinks.


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