What they didn't know -- and learned about the hard way related to packing, cocktails, ports and dining are all top of mind. But just as valuable are the insights offered by the long-time cruiser, a grizzled ocean vet who knows the decks bow to stern. We've gathered top tips from both parties -- three from first-timers and three from stalwart sea-goers.
And after you've read, don't forget to share your own top tips for first-timers on our message boards.
--by Dan Askin, Cruise Critic Contributor