5 Answers For First Time Cruisers
By Bruce Pickett
Congratulations! You have decided to take a luxury cruise for the first time, and you are bound to have a great time. Most first time cruisers have many concerns about what to expect, so we have put together this list of five things that novice cruisers need to know.
1. What does the price of the ticket include?
This depends on the package you purchase. In general, the base cost includes your accommodations, entertainment, activities, meals, and use of facilities on board the ship. If you choose to do so, you can add on airfare to your package, which covers the cost of air travel to and from the embarkation point and often also includes baggage handling and transportation between the airport and the ship.
Most cruise packages do not include the cost of soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, guided shore excursions, or optional shipboard services like a massage, spa treatment, photographs, access to the internet, etc. Many cruise lines also add an automatic 15% gratuity to the cost of drinks, and you will also need to tip your steward and waiter at the end of the cruise. Verify with your cruise line in advance for a complete list of what is included in your ticket price and what will cost extra.
2. How do I know which cabins are the best?
This depends somewhat on personal taste, but the first consideration should be the location of your cabin. Midship cabins are generally the most popular because they are the least likely to be noisy or subject excessive motion sensations. When you book your cabin, make sure to see if it is close to anything that will make potentially bothersome noise, such as a loud disco or a kitchen area. Most experienced cruisers will also opt for an outside cabin that has a window, a relatively inexpensive upgrade that will do much to enhance your time in the cabin.
3. What do I need to bring with me?
The items you need to bring with you will vary somewhat depending on the cruise line, the ports you will visit, and your own personal preferences. In general, you should plan to bring along the following:
- Documentation – Tickets, identification and proof of citizenship.
- Clothing – Bring clothing appropriate for weather conditions at your destinations, as well as shipboard clothing for relaxation and evening meals.
- Other items – Ask your cruise line for a complete checklist of suggested items to bring, and do some research on the internet as well.
4. What happens when I arrive at the ship?
In general, when you arrive to board the ship, you will go through an embarkation process that proceeds something like this:
- Luggage given to porters for delivery to your cabin
- Documents checked and verified
- Shipboard ID cards and cabin keys received
- Security screening
Once on board the ship you will either be given a map with directions to your cabin, or on some ships, there will be a steward or other attendant who will take you directly to the cabin.
5. How do I find out about ship activities and shore excursions?
Most cruise lines will give you an introductory newsletter when you board the ship, which typically includes a complete list of scheduled activities and available shore excursions. Additionally, you will probably receive some a daily update sheet with reminders and scheduling information.
Some ships offer an orientation meeting, usually about 30 to 45 minutes in length, where the cruise director or designated crewmembers will provide information and tips about how to make the most of your time on the ship. If such an orientation is available, it is a good idea to attend as a way to learn about all of the options at your fingertips and decide what activities to choose that will enhance your luxury cruise experience.
Bruce Pickett ACC is an award winning travel & cruise consultant, self taught, experienced, & motivated to help people find cruising value. He has authored articles on cruising to make it easy for people to create cruise holidays, quickly & without stress. Learn essential facts about cruise value and get free weekly tips & be included in a free draw by visiting Five Star Cruising.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.