You’re ready for your first cruise! There’s a lot to consider as a first-time cruiser and if you’re wondering where to begin or how to navigate the seemingly endless possibilities we’ve got you covered. From booking shore excursions to knowing what to pack, how to embark and even what you’ll do once on board, we’ve compiled our top tips for you and other first-time cruisers, curated from years of experience from veteran travelers.
Pre-book your shore excursions.
Before you sail, review the shore excursions available and pre-book those you want to experience. Shore excursions can fill up quickly and you’ll want to reserve exciting, hand-picked activities like snorkeling, architectural tours and ziplining before it’s too late.
Get there early.
Most port cities are fascinating places, worthy of exploring. To be more rested on your embarkation day, and give you time to enjoy a new place, it’s best to arrive in your departure city a day early—even if your ship leaves in the afternoon. It only takes one delayed flight or major traffic jam to literally miss the boat.
Pack valuables in a carry-on.
You’ll give your main luggage to a porter before boarding the ship. This way, you’re not lugging a heavy suitcase around the ship as you check-in. Your porter will deliver the luggage to your room but often not until later in the day. That means anything you need for your first hours on the ship—identification (passport), medicine, sunscreen, phone charger, etc.—would be best kept in your carry-on.
Pay attention to your health.
Cruise lines were attentive about traveler health before the pandemic, and even more so since 2020. In fact, some of the biggest disinfection innovations and virus prevention are coming from our cruise partners. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently (you’ll find sanitizer dispensers all over the ship). If you’re prone to motion sickness, ask your doctor about medications several days before you sail. And if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the bright sun, be sure to drink lots of water. Speaking of the sun…
Don’t get sunburned.
There’s no quicker way to ruin a spectacular week praising at sea than getting sunburned on Day One. If you’re cruising to the Caribbean—or even if you’re headed north to Alaska—you’re going to spend lots of time outdoors. Apply sunscreen liberally before you leave your cabin and don’t forget to reapply, especially if you are lounging next to the pool or enjoying the observation deck views. It’s also a good idea to bring it on shore excursions, especially if you don’t know how much time you will be spending in the sun.
Trust us: Most people pack too many clothes for a cruise. No one needs 20 outfits to lounge in the sun. Instead of packing a lot of outfits, focus on ones that are flexible and will give you multiple uses. Remember there are laundry services on-board and you won’t be plagued by smelly clothes. Some ships even offer self-service laundromats with coin-operated washers and dryers.
Some things you will want to pack are: a hat, a beach bag, and a small collapsible bag for wet or dirty clothes. (Here’s a great article about what to pack for a cruise.)
Set your cell to airplane mode.
Most cruises take you into destinations where international roaming rates apply. So unless you’ve purchased an international plan, you’ll want to put your phone on airplane mode to save some money. Even if you don’t make a call or open an app, your phone will try to connect to the local network and that can result in a surprising bill when you get home.
Don’t miss the sunsets.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time cruiser or a veteran of the seas, the beauty of a sunset is stunning every time. Don’t miss out on these! Booking a cabin with a balcony is a great way to fully immerse yourself in the views. But any outside deck at the right time will do! Bring a camera and make memories alongside your fellow passengers.
It’s your first time cruising; relax.
Look around you. There’s shimmering water in every direction and everywhere you look proclaims God’s majesty. You’re surrounded by fellow believers and the Creator’s presence is tangible in the smell of fresh ocean air, friendly smiles and amazing people. This is what it feels like when you get away with God and you’ll want to make the most of it.
Yes, there’s a lot to do but you don’t have to try and plan it all. Our Christian cruises include scheduled activities and events so that all you have to do is relax and experience God moment by moment. How can it be better than this?
If you’ve cruised before, what are your favorite tips for a first-time cruiser?