If you’ve never been on a cruise, you may wonder what to expect. Spending a week or more on a huge ship filled with strangers and countless facilities can be quite overwhelming. Finding your way around or figuring out when excursions and activities take place might take a while if you don’t have a guide or experienced cruiser with you.
To help you out, we’ve compiled the following overview of the best cruise hacks and tips to make your very first cruise as enjoyable and memorable as possible.
Pre-Trip and Booking Hacks and Tips
1. Book Way in Advance
To make sure you have a spot on a cruise in the high season and not pay a crazy amount of money, you’re encouraged to book everything several months in advance. Even a year in advance isn’t too early if it saves you money.
2. Keep Checking Prices
It’s great that you’ve booked your cruise early on, but that doesn’t mean you should stop comparing prices. Many cruise lines allow guests to cancel their bookings up to a couple of months before the sailing date. So, that allows you to simply cancel your booking and book a similar room at a cheaper price if you see one.
3. Go in the Off-Season
If your budget is limited but you still want to go on a cruise, one of the best cruise hacks is to book a cruise at off-peak times. Avoid spring break and the peak summer months. The best times for quieter and cheaper cruises are usually early fall and mid-winter (especially for cruises in the Caribbean).
4. Check Baggage Restrictions
This is important because you obviously don’t want to waste space on things you’re not allowed to bring. These items may include beer and wine, and even water and soft drinks. Make sure to check this policy before packing your bags.
5. Make Sure Your Paperwork is in Order
For international cruises, you will need a passport. Make sure it’s valid for the entire duration of your trip. This also applies to other personal documents such as driver’s licenses and ID cards.
6. Bring Formal Clothes
While your clothes should definitely include mostly casual wear and swimsuits, it’s also a good idea to bring at least one set of dress clothes. After a fun day on the ship, it’s great fun to attend a formal dinner party.
Not sure what to pack for a cruise? See our ultimate cruise packing list.
Health and Fitness Hacks and Tips
7. Keep Track of Your Weight
When you monitor your weight during your cruise, you’ll know when you need to start skipping dessert or if you can still indulge in all the tasty food on offer. You’ll find a scale at the ship’s gym. Start doing this on day one.
8. Use the Stairs
This tip applies to life in general. Using the stairs instead of the elevator is always the better choice. Especially on a cruise you do not want to spend time in the gym. You can get some exercise simply by taking the stairs when getting around.
9. Skip the Pre-Meal Bread
You know that basket of bread that appears on your table right after you’ve ordered? Don’t touch it! Skip the bread and butter before your actual meal. It’s much better to enjoy a piece of bread with your meal than before your meal. It’ll make you eat fewer unnecessary calories.
Life During the Cruise Hacks and Tips
10. Unpack Your Bags Completely
The beauty of being on a cruise is that you’re stationary, as in having your own room, but also constantly moving. Take advantage of that by making yourself at home. Unpack your stuff, hang your clothes in the closet. There’s no need to “live out of your bags”.
11. Don’t Miss the Shows
Many shows, performances or other entertainment is included in the price, so there’s absolutely no need to retreat to your room after dinner. Enjoying a show in the evening is a big part of a successful and memorable cruise.
12. Sign Up for Shore Excursions
As fun, relaxing and entertaining as things may be aboard the ship, it’s always great when you can stretch your legs a bit more and get to see some new scenery. Every cruise ship hits a number of ports during the cruise—places chosen for their historic value, and/or fun activities. Get off the ship and explore!
Enjoy your cruise to the fullest by booking your shore excursions through Cruise Travel Outlet. We’re experts at recommending the best excursions for your vacation. By booking with us, you will also receive Cruise Travel Outlet’s exclusive partner discounts.
13. Monitor Your Account Balance
A holiday feeling can cause you to splurge a bit more than you normally would. Especially if you join multiple excursions, spend your evenings in the bars (in case alcohol isn’t included in the price) and do lots of other stuff, your balance can decrease drastically. It’s a good idea to keep track of your spending during the cruise. No one wants to arrive back home afterward realizing that they’re broke.
14. Find a Secret Spot to Relax
As cruises tend to be quite crowded, it can be difficult to find a place to relax. And because you don’t want to spend too much time in your cabin, it’s recommend to explore the ship and find a secret spot where you feel at ease and can go to relax. All the action tends to take place at the center of the ship, so head out and explore the aft and bow areas of the ship.
Sea Sickness Hacks and Tips
15. Book Centrally Located Rooms
Central parts of the ship are much less in motion during a storm than the outer areas. If you know you’re sensitive to seasickness, consider getting a room in the lower mid-ship areas. Keeping the air-conditioning on low helps, too.
16. Go For a Swim
This may be an unconventional way to avoid or cure seasickness, but it does help! The ship’s pool helps in two ways. First, the water feels refreshing and cool and, second, you will move with the water rather than with the motion of the ship. This keeps the parts in your inner ear that are responsible for balance (and seasickness) in check.
17. Eat Natural Seasickness Remedies
There are some foods that are said to help against seasickness. They include green apples, saltine crackers and ginger ale. You might also bring ginger pills with you, which are considered good for seasickness.
Onshore Hacks and Tips
18. Consider a DIY Excursion
Almost all cruises offer onshore tours and excursions. While those might be very convenient, they’re typically pretty expensive as well. Alternatively, you’re absolutely free to head out on your own and explore the local sites at your own pace. You can also book trips through local tour companies, which tend to be much cheaper than cruise-organized excursions.
19. Attend Port Lectures
It’s good to know that one of the main purposes of port lectures is to sell shore excursions. Know that you’re not expected to actually book one when attending a lecture. During these lectures, you’ll get a wealth of information about the specific port of call, from tourist sites to rental car companies and sometimes even discount coupons. The coupons alone might make it worth it to sit through a lecture.
20. Get a Port Map
You can usually get a port map when you attend the lectures. If you don’t, however, you can simply ask guest relations for a port map. These maps are incredibly useful and offer plenty of information, including ATM locations, Wi-Fi hotspots, restaurants and attractions.
With these twenty cruise hacks and tips, you’re all set for your first cruise experience. Remember them, apply them, use them and you’ll be up for a truly memorable journey.