5 Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise

October 11, 2011 | By | 140 Comments

Okay, so my first cruise — a weeklong Bermuda sailing on Norwegian Dawn — wasn’t perfect (credit the rain, a couple lackluster shows and several canceled activities), but it was pretty great. It took me a couple days to figure out how to make the most of my time onboard. As the days progressed, and I learned the lay of the ship, my experience improved exponentially. I may have thought I knew a lot about cruising, but until you actually experience a cruise … well, you experienced cruisers know what I mean. So what did I learn? Begin the slideshow to see Five Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise.
Read about Shayne’s first-timer experience, including reports on Norwegian Dawn’s recent refurb, her first impressions of her debut cruise, an overview of the dining options and her take on a scary stormy night at sea.
Find out what more than 800 Cruise Critic members think of Norwegian Dawn.
Sign up for your own Lido Deck subscription.
    Please share this post!


    140 Responses to “5 Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise”

    1. Gail Guilliams
      October 12th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

      Don’t forget to save your looser fitting clothes to wear at the end of the cruise. . .you will gain weight as the week goes on :)

    2. Julie
      October 12th, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      Funny…I actually had a really great time by avoiding some of the activities that this slideshow recommends. I think it’s just a matter of personal preference. The poolside activities aren’t for everyone or they would have provided more chairs! :)

    3. Polly
      October 12th, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

      Don’t be so excited to get to the ship that you leave your “dress” clothes for your family of 5 in the minivan stow-n-go compartment!

    4. Katherine
      October 13th, 2011 @ 6:05 am

      Unlike Gail’s comment, I have never gained weight on a cruise.If anything, I lose weight. I am so much more active than when I am home. I eat better and exercise more. On the Allure I took a pedometer and averaged walking 6 miles a day! And how many times a week, at home, can you dance all night? If you are gaining weight on a cruise, you are spending too much time in your cabin!

    5. Scott Lara
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:10 am

      Great tips…especially being nice to the crew!

    6. Wanda
      October 13th, 2011 @ 8:20 am

      I agree with Katherine – I always lose weight when I cruise. I think I might take her advice this time and take a pedometer with me. I eat better while I’m there, and walk much more. And I love meeting the people on the ship.

    7. Joe
      October 13th, 2011 @ 8:46 am

      Try not to “do it all.” Use your cruise compass and pick and choose what you want to do. And don’t fret if you miss something, you can always find an alternative.

      Also don’t sweat the small stuff!

      most of all DO HAVE fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    8. Elisabeth
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:01 am

      My first cruise WAS perfect. Now it is like an addiction – constantly chasing the perfect cruise! *laugh* That being said, none of those things would be my top five. Mine are: 1. Bring comfortable shoes. Heeled sandals are nice, but not for walking around all day.
      2. Sunscreen. Sunburn isn’t fun at home, why would you want it on vacation?
      3. Food. Don’t do the specialty dining. The main dining room is fun and has plenty of delicious options that you already paid for. A steak house at sea is not terribly different than a steakhouse on land. Try out any free specialty areas offered … Carnival lines often have Sushi, burrito, fresh stir fry and deli onboard … these are all awesome lunch and latenight snack options. Avoid overeating – nothing is as much fun when you are stuffed and have heartburn.
      4. Water. Drink more water than you do at home. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it at the buffet (use a glass and pour into your bottle to keep it hygienic). The added activity and (on some cruises) outdoor heat will lead to dehydration more quickly. Also consider that a lot of the food you will be eating has high sodium levels … which is one reason a lot of cruisers complain about swollen ankles, etc. by day 3.
      5. Take a NAP. If you had a long flight or drive … don’t worry about missing out on Day 1 activities … be rested and enjoy what you can – missing activities will not make or break your cruise. Check the schedule and highlight things you really want to do … and play it by ear for the rest. Personally, one of my favorite parts of the cruise in lying on the balcony reading a book with a snack that I brought down from the buffet while my toddler takes a nap. I never get a simple pleasure like that at home.

    9. Rich
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:05 am

      A few other things for first time cruisers: it will be mostly impossible to all the activities on board-you will need to prioritize what you want to do. For example, my last cruise, there was a champaign fountain/captain’s toast scheduled during my dinner service in the main dining room. That night there was something on the menu I really wanted, yet, I also really wanted to see the fountain too. Well, to make a long story short, the food won out & the ship TV did show the toast-every day for the rest of the cruise.

      2-Pace yourself. There is a lot of walking required cruising both on & off the ship. Make sure you give yourself ample time to get where you want to go-even if that means leaving one activity a little early if the next activity is a higher priority to see or do.

    10. Lifetimelinda
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:05 am

      The biggest mistake I made on my first couple of cruises was scheduling to many excursions – I didnt have time to enjoy the locals or walk around at the open markets. Take time to just stroll around and enjoy, since that’s what vacations are for.

    11. Yvonne W
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:13 am

      These suggestions are GREAT for me. We are thinking of taking our first cruise next Sept to Alaska and want to make the most of our trip without wearing ourselves out. :)

    12. Robb
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:22 am

      If you are a drinker, pace yourself…and have a water between drinks.

      It’s way easy to be out of it by noon, and then you end up sleeping it off most of the day. This is okay one day, but not the whole week!

      Keep a glow on, but whenever you feel a bit too tipsy, have soda water for a while and eat something…then you can start again!

    13. Charles Elliott
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:30 am

      Another way to have a little fun is to brush up on any language you may think you know. I visited the Phillippines in the 60s and still look forward to meeting Phillippinos who love correcting my words. It’s a great way to make new friends. I also spent 7 years in Germany and love the language so you will find many reasons to brush up on the language you think you have forgotten.

    14. woodenduck
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:51 am

      We have taken many cruises over the years and we always bring candy with us to give to the staff.( even the guys who wash the windows or the lady who wipes down the brass railings)It is amazing this little act of kindness brings a smile to their faces. At halloween we would dress up in costumes and give out over 8 lbs of candy then give away our pumpkin costumes to the staff for their halloween party. It is amazing that we make a return trip on a ship or even go on a different rccl ship and meet a staff member who remember us and come over to speak to us. A thank you goes along way hope our fellow passangers remember this. :-)

    15. Curt
      October 13th, 2011 @ 10:08 am

      Bring along a small daypack to use when you are off the boat. It’s great for water bottles, maps, swimsuits, small souvenirs and much easier than carrying a tote bag.

    16. Karen Dawson
      October 13th, 2011 @ 10:29 am

      Yvonne, don’t wait to go to Alaska in September; it’s getting pretty cool by then. If you want to see wildlife, best to go in July and August when the salmon are running; all the bears, eagles, etc. come out at that time. It’s a lot more fun to go to Alaska when it is warm!

    17. Mark
      October 13th, 2011 @ 10:53 am

      We have done about 20 cruises- the best suggestions I would offer are:
      Don’t overdo the eating. You are not going to starve. Enjoy what you want but take it easy.
      Look at the ship newsletter every morning and see what is happening that day- especially on sea days. Find the activities you want and plan your day.
      Do some homework before you start your cruise. Google the ports and find out what excursions really are best and what you want to do in each port. If you are on a limited budget, there are great fun things to do on your own cheaper than the ship offers- there are often discounts for booking early or independently.
      Do get some exercise while on board- hit the gym, walk the decks, swim.
      Get involved- see the shows, meet people, play some games, learn something new.

    18. Steven P
      October 13th, 2011 @ 11:31 am

      I agree with Julie, I like to avoid the silly poolside activities. I also think this article assumes that your first cruise is going to be on one of the cruise lines with a lot of group party activities. There are plenty of cruise lines that offer quieter, less over scheduled leisure time and there are also cruises that are very port intensive. So for first time cruisers, it is important that you match your personal preferences to a cruise line that best fits your personality OR that best fits what you are looking for this specific vacation.

    19. Capecodbeachfront
      October 13th, 2011 @ 11:51 am

      Enjoy a PRIVATE cruise ship. We discovered this quite by accident. After a day touring The Atlantis and Nassau we were tired and came back on board ship 2-3 hours earlier than planned. It was wonderful! Found an absolutely great crepe bar we did not know existed… and it was included in the meal package. Weather was fine and the ship (Majesty of the Seas) was so much less crowded! Since we were doing the intinerary ‘backwards’ of most trips we did the CocoCay Private Island the next day. Again, we came back hours early to our private cruise ship. Since we had no ‘day at sea’ on our cruise… we kind of created our own a couple of hours a day. Another bonus… nearly everything we did back on board was already included in the price!

    20. jake
      October 13th, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

      When I worked, relaxation was important, the No. 1 priority. Since retirement, I find that enrichment experiences have come to the fore. What you do or not do on a first cruise has a lot to do with where you are in your life.

    21. Sandy B
      October 13th, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

      Who says first cruises aren’t perfect?! Ours was AWESOME. So much so that the 1st day wasn’t even over and I told my husband, \We have GOT to do this again!\ And we’ve been every year since! LOLOL……and the only folks who don’t gain SOME weight on a cruise are the \under 30\ crowd! I’m getting better at it, though. Gained 8 lbs my 1st cruise and only 4 lbs my last cruise. So yes, saving your looser-fitting clothing until last is a good idea.
      Do get your picture taken at every opportunity
      Don’t buy any of the photos until the last day of the cruise. (Day 5 photos may be A LOT better than Day 2 photos, etc.)

      Do take more than one swimsuit so you have a spare. Trying to put on a wet bathing suit is murder.

      Don’t bother with a Soda card unless you are a non-stop pop drinker. We did ONCE – and couldn’t drink enough sodas to justify the $40 cost. They bring it to you ONE glass at a time – you don’t get the can.

      Do take a thermal drinking cup. You can fill it with iced or hot drinks at the buffet and take it with you all over the ship or back to your room. Its nicer than the little tiny cups they give you.

      Do take a nightlight. The rooms can get so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your own face at night.

      Do take an extension cord with a multi-plug end if you have a laptop or camera equipment that
      needs recharging. Outlets are limited to one per room.

      Don’t be a lounge chair hog at poolside. If you aren’t at the pool, then don’t leave your stuff on a chair for hours to ‘reserve it’ for when you decide to finally show up. That prevents other people from using it and enjoying themselves, too. That’s just plain rude. Sorry, but its RUDE.

      DON’T stick your nose around the divider on your balcony to peer into someone else’s balcony. Again, very RUDE. I promise that
      the other person’s balcony looks just like yours! Respect the other person’s privacy. I have come to the conclusion that people who KEEP peering around the divider are the same kind of folks who go through other people’s medicine cabinets when they use the host’s bathroom. Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would HAVE them do unto you.
      If you simply cannot resist the urge to ‘do it’ on your balcony? Two things: use a blanket and for pete’s sake, keep it QUIET! Otherwise, take it INSIDE!

      Don’t believe the hype about the fantastic jewelry prices in ports OR about the Tanzanite \shortage\. It’s poppycock! You get better quality AND price right here in the States. And? They’ve been saying that the Tanzanite supply is gonna run out for over 10 yrs now. If it was true, it woulda happened already. The cruise lines own the jewelry stores they advise you to go to. And you probably don’t want to know what your cruise \shopping advisor\ gets paid to come to the jewelry store they are ‘promoting’ with their personal appearance during that port stop. If you aren’t up to snuff on what is a good diamond vs a poor one? That isn’t the time to experiment in hopes of getting the deal of a lifetime. If you have done your homework and KNOW the quality of what you are getting? That’s another ballgame. Just be careful.

      Do buy sivler jewelry pieces in Mexico. You CANNOT get it for anywhere near that price here in the States. Silver is still a good buy there.

      Do limit your purchases of caribbean style clothing. It is easy to get caught up in the ambience but I promise that once you get back home? You won’t wear it like you thought you would. Ask me how I know………

      If you like to drink alchohol, consider buying an entire bottle for your room, once on ship. Yes, that bottle will be more expensive than what you would pay for it at home, but it will be a lot cheaper in the long run than buying your drink by the glass ($5-$7 EACH) because each glass will have an 18% gratuity added to it as well. The bottle has no gratuity.

      DO stop at a local grocery store just prior to boarding the ship if you want your own bottled water or soda pop. You can pack it right in your luggage just prior to boarding the ship – that is allowed. The bottled water will prevent you from retaining fluid – there is some chemical they use in the ships water supply that will make you gain water weight. Just press your finger into your shin for about 10 seconds on about the 3rd day. If it leaves a visible dent? That’s about 4 lbs of water weight right there.

      If you have heartburn or get a headache, back ache – go to the ships medical office. They have sample packs there of Antacids and Tylenol for free.

    22. Sheila
      October 13th, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

      ALL of the above……

      Curt – YES! I did go from the cumbersome tote to a lightweight (Jansport)backpack – absolutely changed my shore days!

      And the “silly shows”, we actually look foreward to newlywed etc. games/shows now!

    23. Michelle
      October 13th, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

      I agree with Katherine! I’ve only ever lost weight on a cruise :)

    24. fann1sh
      October 13th, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

      I have a comment to do with format, not content…why are all slide shows configured wide screen, with NO slider? Believe it or not, some of us still have square screens. I been ignoring slide shows for a while, tried this one – same old story.

    25. Sandy Bell
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

      I agree with all the 5 things, especially try the \cheesy\ cruise things. We missed the Battle of the Sexes and the \Quest\ on our first cruise but went on the second and it was HILARIOUS! We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe (I even gave my bra to a college student so he could score on the Quest game!)

    26. Peggy
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

      We absolutely loved our first cruise! Some tips I would give, connect with those you eat with, hot tub with, sit next to at the shows(before the show starts). We signed up for couples massage class and kept seeing the other two couples on the ship during the week. We ended up touring Rome and Monaco with one of the other couples – great fun!
      Our dinner time was 9pm, but we would come back from our excursions famished. We would stop in the Windjammer and have a little snack – they had amazing sushi, a great olive bar, some fruit or cheese and crackers and we were off to swim or hot tub before we dressed for dinner.

    27. Janet Ortega
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

      @Sheila, some really great tips. We have been on 5 cruises and your tips are new to us thanks! One if my tips is, don’t pack your passport in your luggage or you will not be let onboard until they find your luggage among thousands of luggage. We went to Boston to get a fall color cruise into Canada and got to the hotel late so not wanting to carry my passport, I stuck it in my luggage. But then the next morning, they (we were with a group) told us to leave all luggage in the room and they would come and out it on the bus to the ship terminal. You get the picture, I forgot it was in there and surrendered it to the dock workers loading the luggage and went to ck in. Oops, I didn’t have my passport, so I had to get my sister, husband and brother-in-law onto the ship to look fir it. Finally after 3 hours they found it Phew! Never again!

    28. Janet Ortega
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

      Oops, I meant @ Sandy B.

    29. Nashville
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

      Don’t skip bingo night either. I won $400 and had the time of my life at this supposedly corny activity.

    30. Angela
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      Sandy B thanks for the great advice I have been on one cruise and your advice is solid couldn’t have said it better.

    31. Doug Campbell
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

      Rule No. 1 – For the Caribbean cruisers, don’t let yourself get burned the first day out by napping on the deck! Ruins the rest of the week!
      Rule No. 2 – Take 1/2 the clothes and twice the money!
      Rule No. 3 – Do a cruise that includes Dominica (not to be confused Dominican Republic). Best island in the chain!!

    32. PAGirl
      October 13th, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

      Always take suction or magnetic hooks on a cruise to hang hats, wet bathing suits, etc.. They never provide enough in your cabin.

    33. Dede Heron
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

      Took our first cruise last year, and couldn’t agree more with the suggestions! The biggest one for us—MAKE NICE WITH THE CREW MEMBERS!!! They were absolutely terrific, we told them so, and they showed us service above and beyond expectations. We look forward to seeing them again this year; same ship, only a week later than last year…another tip to remember, go with the flow…don’t try to do everything, you’ll come back home more exhausted than when you left. Enjoy the journey, not just the arrival at your destination; that’s what cruising is all about, right??? ;D

    34. srlafleur
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

      Don’t feel you have to eat every course served in the MDR. Or that you have to eat them in the “correct” order. I have several times ordered the chilled fruit soup for dessert- just the right amount of sweetness to top off the meal Or, if you like, you can just order appetizers, or soup and salad…or, heck, just multiple desserts. Also, with the anytime dining that’s available on most lines now, if you eat an early dinner, you can come back later for dessert…

    35. Emily
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

      We were on the Blount Small Ship Adventures this year. The ship held about 60 people but there were just 32 people on our cruise. It was like we were on our own private yachet. We went to places big ships cannot get to. We always know everyone of our crew by name. They do appreciate being recognized.

    36. Ali
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

      DON’T book a suite as your first cruise cabin. You will be forever spoiled and NOT ever want to book anything else!

      DON’T book a pass at the spa without looking at your itinerary very carefully first. If you have a lot of ports of call with a lot of excursions (think Alaska with 3 or 4 ports of call and heavy on excursions) you may be too tired to put on a bathing suit and use the spa and it will be wasted money.

      DON’T leave your manners and courteous behavior on the dock and become a rude, pushy obnoxious traveler. We’re all on vacation too. If you elbow your fellow elevator user in the breast, apologize. If you see that the elevator is crammed with people, do not force your way in to go up one floor.

      I speak from experience for all of the above.

    37. Emily
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

      One other comment, Blount Small Ship Adventures will let you take your own booze on board. They do not charge for drinks. You use their mixes and make your own drinks.

    38. Valerie Rongey
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

      Don’t be a pig in your room, and leave a $5.00 cash tip every morning for your room stewards. I know they’ll get a tip at the end but trust me that they’ll cater to you, keep your room neater, hang up your clothes sometimes, and make cooler towel animals if you’ve tipped them. We’ve always had great room care due to this simple tip.

    39. Cindy
      October 13th, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

      Don’t go to ANY of the jewelry shops the ships recommend you to go to; as they get kick backs from them; and their prices are horrible! We asked the locals in St. Thomas where they shopped, and got told by several, “they shopped at AJANTA JEWELERS in Charlotte Amalie at Drakes Passage” and we found them and they are very very negotiable and their prices are wonderful! We have been going to them for several years and made 2 Tanzanite purchases that appraised back in the US for over $5000 more than we paid for them there 1 week later! Their prices are just that good there! Am going on Allure in November to the Western Caribbean for the 1st time… any suggestions? cwp801@aol.com (have been to the Eastern Caribbean many times but never to the Western Caribbean)

    40. Sue
      October 13th, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

      I have found that always having a backpack to go on excursions with is the best thing…Everything, including a light rain coat is always at hand.
      NEVER pack passport. Since I live overseas and always need it, know that rule perfectly…
      Love going to the bingo…I won some money that actually paid for all my bingo games…Was so much fun..The asst Activitiy Director (think that was her title) was so full of life and fun on our Alaskan cruise, I just loved listening to her laugh…
      We have never eaten in the specialty restaurants..find the company at our table has been so good, we wouldn’t want to miss the fun. Maybe lucky with whom we have sat, but looked forward to dinner each night in the dining room. Plus staff so nice and food very good.
      Yes, we booked every excursion on-line. No lining up and got on early excursions and then had the rest of the day to do our ‘own thing’ in the local area. That was so easy to do in Alaska and NZ…We did do research and just prayed for good weather, which we had.
      As far as going to Alaska in Spet., I would highly recommend it. We saw the salmon going upstream..the seals trying to eat them at Creek Street..(and not having too many problems doing that, either) The scenery was marvelous, no bugs around, and fewer people..We had 1/2 day of rain in Juneau and were blessed with 100% viewing of Mt Mckinley for 3 days..So cannot say too much about traveling in the area in Sept…
      Something to look into, is paying the gratuity per person on your cruise. You are allowed to decline and tip whomever you want..It is a large chunk taken out of your spending money and you have already paid for the cruise and sure the company makes enough to pay their staff. I prefer to pay to whom I want, not be whacked with such a large amount daily…
      My husband and I are planning a taking a cruise (well hoping it happens) next July and it will be 38 days onboard. I am praying for calm seas, but always have my Kwell to keep my stomach at bay. Take as much as possible with you..better to take it home than get sick.
      I would be aghast if anyone looked around the barrrier to my balcony!! Guess lucky it hasn’t happened. Did do long trip with friends in adjoining cabins so no worries there, but Alaska, just us, & all ok… so hope never have that problem…
      Cruising is terrific. Do your own thing…We have moved on in doing and trying more activities. WE has a hiatis of 30 years from traveling by ship, so all had changed. Plus we are a lot older…But that sure does’t stop you from having more fun…Hoping to do this 38 day cruise and enjoying just being at sea for awhile…

    41. KenSanDiego
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      I always tip my room steward $20 cash the first time I meet him/her. I don’t like to be invaded by cleaning staff several times a day so I let them know once a day is fine, when I first leave the cabin in the morning.

    42. Margaret Heekin
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      We took our first cruise is 2003 quite by accident. We were surfing the web when other plans fell apart and found a Holland America trip. It was 10 days on the Maasdam (which I understand has sadly been retired). It cost 650.00 per person and left out of Norfolk Virginia.Living in New Jersey, this was a quick and easy trip…The good ship Maasdam was a small but very elegant lady. Her Indonesian crew outstanding. We felt like we had died and gone to heaven…This year we have two more trips booked. One with friends for 2 weeks to the Carribean and later on my dream journey to Africa… We have been on seven cruises in eight years…One caveat: don’t overschedule…It can get stressful. Take Dramamine or Bonnine if you get seasick and don’t forget that the ship has a doc if you need one… Services are suprisingly inexpensive and prescribed meds included in bill. ( atleast they were on the two occaisions we needed them). Think seriously about buying travel insurance AND if you are going to a remote location especially or have health issues, consider Medjet..Other than that, go easy on the alcohol, accidents happen on ships too and be kind to the staff…They worked like slaves to give us a good vacation… Smile and HAVE FUN….

    43. Margaret Heekin
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

      Thanks for the daily tip suggestion for cabin steward… I liked the candy idea too. Nice for the African children we will meet in our ports of call. This is a great thread. Thank You everyone. Happy sailing..

    44. Leah
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

      I’ve just come back from Alaska and the south pacific on HAL. It was my 4 th cruise and I loved it.
      In Alaska you should do tours as the towns are just filled with jewelry stores. You still have enough time after your tour to walk around town as well.
      I found that if you like to drink, it’s best to wit till happy hour, that’s the only time I did it. You buy one drink and get the second for $1.
      You definitely do gain weight, I gained 4 kgs in 34 days on my cruise, who can resist the kind of food you wouldn’t normally eat at home, or be able to afford, after all you are on holiday, so enjoy it while you can ;)

    45. Jan Brandvold
      October 13th, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

      DON’T take the elevators! You waste a lot of time waiting, and there are many who really need to use it. My husband and I have managed to take the stairs on every cruise (5 so far)even on formal night. You burn a lot of calories on a 16 story ship, and it is fun.

      DON’T bother taking high heeled shoes. Even the big ships are subject to rough seas, and you could get hurt.

      DON’T go to the port shopping lectures, and don’t buy the coupon books, which are a total rip-off.

      DON’T go without researching every port first! Most ports, you won’t need an organized tour. It is much more fun to find your own way. But if you do your research, you will know if there are things that would be difficult to do on your own with the time restraints. For example, last year, we took a tour to the Cinque Terre in Italy, so we could get there, see more than we could possibly do on our own, and most importantly, get back to the ship in time, guaranteed. We also took a tour of Ephesus, because the only way to see the Terrace Homes is on a special tour.

      DON’T say oat unless you are talking about the lifeboats. It’s a ship! :-)

    46. Pauser
      October 13th, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

      I disagree strongly with Sue (#40) about removing automatic gratuities. The cruise lines might make enough to pay good wages to their employees, but they don’t pay them living wages. Cruise staff rely on tips. There are also many behind-the-scenes workers whom you never meet but who share in the tip pool (e.g., the people who clean the public restrooms or replace the hallway carpeting outside your door while you sleep). You could go out to dinner at the best restaurant in town on New Year’s Eve, stay at your table all night and not leave a tip for your server since you spent “all that money” — but would you? Tips are about $10 per person per day, a small amount to pay for the high level of service you receive. In my mind, this is definitely something NOT to do.

    47. Scott Lara
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

      Don’t complain! You are on an incredible ship, eating incredible food, having your bed made several times a day and people from around the world are AWAY from their FAMILIES to serve us, the cruise passenger guests.

      I hear so many people complain, and it is just plain sad.

      We Americans are so spoiled.

      Thank the crew. Thank the room stewards. Thank the folks up on the Lido deck. When you hear someone complain, gently remind them that they are so fortunate to be on the ship while millions of people are without jobs, have lost their homes and savings.

      Looking forward to my cruise on 11/19 on the Eurodam.

      Follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961 and be sure to listen to Cruise Radio.net for cruise reviews, tips and interviews.

      Scott Lara
      Jacksonville, Florida

    48. Rosemary
      October 13th, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

      My husband and I are addicted to crusing – last year we did three back to back to back- this year we have booked four/
      sure you can get a long cruise but there is not the variety – we are going 7 days, 7 days, 8days, and then 10 days. Same port. the only draw back is the packing! however it is the ultimate pampering for a wife!!

    49. sharon
      October 13th, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

      DON”T overpack! Wow did I make that mistake first time. There are self service laundromats so just bring a few key peices that work together and one dressy outfit for the formal dinner. Oh, and of course swimwear. Make it nice and easy so you can enjoy your getaway!

    50. Cheryl
      October 14th, 2011 @ 12:38 am

      It also helps to bring a highlighter pen to mark the activities you’re interested in doing the next day.

    51. B'moreCruiser
      October 14th, 2011 @ 6:11 am

      Here are my two suggestions to add to the this great list.
      1) Get a book or brochure for your Ports of Call beforehand. I went to AAA and got travel books for the Canada/New Englands ports we would visit. This helped us decide what we really wanted to do in each port. We also found out that the Trolly Tour in Boston was the same price through the ship’s excursion as in town and also provided free transportation back to the ship if you want get off the tour in town. Saved us paying a taxi fare.
      2) Join the Roll Call for your cruise! You will get to make friends with fellow passengers in advance. You get to meet these friends at a “Meet and Mingle” event on the first sea day. We were also able to share an excellent 6-person private tour arranged by another roll call member that we would have never found on our own. This tour was the highlight of the cruise!

    52. Kerry
      October 14th, 2011 @ 10:28 am

      Take some Pepto Bismol or Immodium with you. If you get any kind of \stomach issue\, you can’t buy these at the cruise ship store. They make you go to the infirmary, and if they determine you have \Norwalk\ (without any kind of test), you are confined to your cabin for 48 hours. You are not allowed to leave the ship at any designated ports, so any excursions you have booked, you cannot go on.

    53. Lynn
      October 14th, 2011 @ 10:36 am

      I always loose weight to gain weight:) Research the places you are going to. Plan accordingly. And most of all, be LAZY!!!!!!!

    54. Meredith
      October 14th, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

      I don’t agree with the first tip about exploring the ship on the first day. I think that’s the best way to familiarize yourself with your home for the next few days. We like to arrive early to the port and be one of the first families on the ship. Our first stop is always to the lunch buffet and then off to explore the ship while we’re waiting for our room to be ready. How else are you suppose to get all of the pictures for your cruise recap on Cruise Critic? :)

    55. Mary Griffin
      October 14th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

      I lose 5-10 lbs before going on a cruise so I have those lbs to gain. If I didn’t gain a few lbs on a cruise I would feel like I didn’t do it up big enough. And I am super active–I just love to eat and try different, new foods.

      I only–ok “especially”) like cruises that are longer than 7 days. 7 days is just too short. Just when you get in the groove and make/meet friends it’s time to leave.

      Packing light sounds smart but I just don’t want to spend time on my vacation doing laundry. Perhaps some day. I still overpack and I’ve been on 15 cruises.

      My best advice is remember YOU DON’T HAVE TO ALWAYS STAND IN LINE. People are like sheep. For example, instead of standing in the long buffet line the first day, look around, there are other food venues most people aren’t even aware of–pizza, Chinese food, etc. And the buffet line will die down eventually.
      Also, at the front desk. Try going down after 10 pm and there is no line no waiting to handle bills, questions, etc.

      Bon voyage.

    56. Harriett Ferziger
      October 14th, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

      Do not overpack! For a 7 night cruise I usually take 2 prs. every-day trousers (and maybe shorts or capris)and 4 tops as my basic daytime wardrobe, plus two long skirts and 4 killer tops for formal nights. Swimsuit if you like. That, plus all the necessary accessories generally fit into a carryon plus a large handbag or backpack. Makes life simpler at both ends. Nobody notices if you wear the same thing more than once. Dynamite scarves provide visual focus and son’t take up much room. Only take jewelry that you can afford to lose; be COMPULSIVE about locking up valuables — if only to reind you of where you’ve left them.larc

    57. SANDIP
      October 14th, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

      Excellent dos and donts. A tip I learned from Cruise Critic. I buy 3 International $10 phone cards and give the cabin stewart, waiter and his assistant. I find them to be very helpful to me. Of course I still tip at the end of the cruise.

    58. Christine
      October 14th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

      DO NOT, I REAPEAT, DO NOT drink too much at the beginning of your cruise (or during the entire cruise, if possible). All prior cruisers know that during debarkation, and most of your days at sea, there are tons of waiters walking around with trays full of tasty, fruity drinks (when you think about, what’s actually in them, Rum? Tequila? Vodka? All of them?)!! It’s fun to indulge in 1 or 2, but I’ve learned from experience that day 2 of your cruise will surely be ruined by drinking too much on day 1! (Thanks Honey for that lovely memory – I’ll always wonder what Key West was like that day – I’ll never know, because we didn’t leave the boat)! :)

    59. Bob Rauchfleisch
      October 14th, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

      Unfortunately my first pleasure cruise was with a stick-in-the-mud ex-girlfriend (we were dating at the time) who had been on several cruises previously. I had been on several previously as well, but those ships were all haze grey!

      She didn’t want to do anything but lounge in the cabin while I wanted to explore the ship and do things. So I found myself spending a lot of time alone checking things out. Finally when we got to Cabo we went on a glass bottom boat cruise that dislodged the stick that was up her butt and we actually had fun TOGETHER for a couple hours! :) I’m looking forward to going on a cruise hopefully next year with my sister and 17 year old niece. That’ll be their first and I’m going to make it a do-over of my first as well!

    60. Lorie K
      October 15th, 2011 @ 3:26 am

      On Your first cruise I would select just a few really nice picture’s that the cruise line takes as they are spendy!!! Ask other passengers to take your pictures…most people will. Also beware that at the end of your cruise you may get a bill that will blow your mind if your not keeping track of you sign n sail card. I did see people with these really cute chair clips to hold your towel in place. You might be able to still get those at your local Wal Mart. For those who have not been informed about dinning you may want to try this…pack one pair of black dress slacks and then check into how many formal dinning nights you’ll have so you can pack that many dress shirts and casual shirts for the other nights. Do remember this if you don’t know about sea legs….you may need to see your doctor first or you may want to go see the ships acupuncturist. It’s an extra cost of about $150 but well worth it. Pack some sweat’s if you want to hit the gym or not but how much you eat is your own business and just remember to have fun. I pack a highlighter so I can mark all the fun things I want to do.They seem to be cutting back on the toiletries so you will want to pack a regular tube of toothpaste and blowdryers are in your room so you won’t need yours.
      Thanks Sandy B I didn’t know about the Tanzanite but yes do buy silver in mexico. Bon Voyage 1st time cruisers!

    61. Geno
      October 15th, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

      Don’t forget to put some timers on some of your lamps at home to turn them on and off while you are gone, turn your water heater from \On\ to \Pilot\ to prevent it from continually re-heating the same batch of water several times a day for a week, unplug your coffee pot for the same reason, stop your mail and your newspaper, empty your kitchen wastebasket (We came home to a ton of flies in the house one time!) and tell a good neighbor to keep an eye on the place while you are gone.

    62. Linda
      October 17th, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

      Disagree with Sue on the tip situation. The crew do not get paid well at all and the tip is part of their salary. If you take it off the bill many won’t get their share.
      They are wonderful people, family orientated and willing to talk about their home. Ask them how much they make in a month, you will be shocked.

      Agree on the tanzanite, never going to get rare. Best jewelry I have purchased is silver in Mexico.

      On packing tips we always pack a roll/half roll or some rolled around a flashlight of duct tape, you have no idea how many times we had used it, fixes suitcases, sticks up a hem, hangs things, if you put on your heel when wearing shoes that rub you will not get a blister, if you have a blister duct tape over a bandaid will make walking comfortable. It is great stuff.

      In the dining room, remember you can get two lobster dinners if you want,or three, or eat in any order as was mentioned.

      We do some Ship tours and some independent, depending on the port, researching is the best thing you can do before you go, no surprises makes for a good vacation,

      I have been to Alaska in May, wonderful weather and lots of action on the glaciers, I have been in September and enjoyed the salmon runs, the bears and eagles, weather also great. My brother in law went in July to rain, storms and missed ports, so it is the luck of the draw there. Any month has a special thing to offer,

      Happy cruising.

    63. Kathleen Byers
      October 17th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

      Hey first time cruisers, if you are going with a companion, another couple, or a whole group, agree to disagree. Hubby likes his morning coffee on deck watching the sun rise and I like to sleep in! We meet up around 9, have breakfast and go from there. Cruise #4 coming up with brother and sis-in-law. We do things together most of the time, like dinners and port explorations, but we keep ship board activities unstructured. I may take a dunk in the hot tub while my sis-in-law shops and brother and hubby try their luck in the casino. Very relaxing! Regarding tipping, I tip as much as I can because the staff is hard working and amiable. I do the automatic tipping plus give extra at the beginning of the cruise to the cabin steward, and extra at the end to the waiters. I always say thank you and if I see an employee without a smile, I give them mine! What you pack should depend upon where you are going, for how long, and your type of transportation to & from the cruise port. I try to pack clothing that will mix and match so that I can create more looks with fewer pieces. #1 tip: Don’t worry so much! And, may this be the first of many cruises for you.

    64. tonya
      October 20th, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

      do not go for the teeth whiting, no matter how cheap it is. We made the mistake of doing it on our first day and our gums were so sore for a couple days, we couldn’t enjoy the food.

    65. Susan
      October 23rd, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

      Don’t forget to put on sunscreen. Second day of the cruise my husband was on the sundeck and I told him he looked a little red. He said he was fine and stayed out longer. That night he was so burnt he was in bed for the last five days of the cruise. I took him off in a wheelchair, and he still has scars from it. All the Dr’s. could tell me to do was put aloe vera cream and he had to drink gatorade. This was our fourth cruise at the time but the sun is very different on a ship. We have gone again, but he listens to me now!!!

    66. Frank Perez
      October 24th, 2011 @ 12:44 am

      Mind your manners. It amazing how many people turn into animals once they are onboard. It’s as like they are wild beasts turned wild onboard a ship.

    67. JCPANIAN
      October 25th, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

      25th, OCT 2011 @ 1657.
      nurses and drs.)HOLLAND (volendam) SET UP THE

    68. Holly K
      October 26th, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

      Don’t take the wrong person along. An anti-social misfit alcoholic is not going to be a fun cruise companion. Choose a pal who isn’t afraid to get out and mingle and can keep the alcohol consumption to a point where you don’t find yourself up all night waking them periodically to make sure they aren’t dead.

    69. Eilean
      October 31st, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

      Hi All!
      I would like to add:
      1) Get a zip side notebook and add a couple of pencil bags into it… I put all the recipts for sign and sail in one and all the stuff that needs to be reported on the customs form in the other… makes the last day super easy. I also keep all the daily news pages in there and other stuff I want to keep flat (and my travel papers)

      2) Take a tube of super glue. I broke my glasses, a nail and had part of my shoe come apart… all fixed with my glue.

      3) When cruising with kids… get them a small map so they can see all the countries the people they meet are from. My kids wanted to know where the waiters were from and explaining without a map… not easy. This cruise they are going on a “scavanger hunt” to see who can find the most different countries in the staff.

      4)Be nice! I have seen a bunch of sourpusses make life difficult for the staff… why? You would hate it if your job became a daily walk in hell… why make it that way for others?

      5) Pack a collapsable extra bag for all the stuff you will bring home even though you swore you wern’t getting anything! (I had quite a collection from the free stuff they give you in Nassau)

      HAVE FUN! Your on vacation… SMILE!
      Eilean (and the Terry Clan of Cruisers)

    70. Vicki
      November 1st, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

      First cruise with an experienced friend. The call to muster stations was made. She told me that we didn’t have to go – that it was boring. Uhhhhhhhhh – you KNOW what happened – don’t you? They came looking for us, and we had to get our life jackets and get our butts where they needed to be. I NOW understand completely, even if they have modified that.

    71. Joey
      November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:26 am

      Not all cruise lines are the same. Some don’t have “happy hour” and some don’t have self-service laundromats. As to tipping, we tip the recommended amount plus additional cash. The crew on your ship is giving up months of their life and time away from their families, all to serve your needs. Also, fill out the comment sheet at the end of your cruise and compliment people (by name)that have helped you the most.

    72. Sherrie
      November 2nd, 2011 @ 11:49 am

      Exploring the ship while waiting on your room upon embarking is great. Go to the lunch and then check out the ship. It will allow you to slightly get your bearings for later. As for tips, at the end of the cruise you will agree that everyone earned their money. Not sure about leaving cash in room before hand as this is setting up a precedence and indicating that you want to be served above others. Sticking with the simplicity of the tip included in your bill. That is why it is there to keep things simple! I would never automatically remove it. If I for some reason had the unusual experience of a neglectful staff I might make a note and asked that person not be tipped or for it to be reduced. I have been on several cruises and while the service has varied some. It has always been excellent!
      This is not a time to be stingy. These people go w/out seeing their families, have a smile plastered on their face, deal with insistent people and attempt to learn your nuances in a few short while. Like I said they earn their money. Put yourself in their place.

    73. mike kent
      November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

      My wife and I have been considering going on a cruise soon so we have been reading blogs and message boards such as this one. After reading many of the comments made by regular cruisers, we wonder why people cruise. Huge crowds. Long lines. Expensive everything. And the comments about other passengers (especially those who make fun of the older, the overweight and the “tourists”) have certainly made us think twice about cruising. We are not sure we want to be on a boat with 3,000 snobs and holier than thou types for longer than a day!! Who would, except those who think they are better than others? Thanks for helping us make what could be a very expensive mistake.

    74. heather caragiulo
      November 3rd, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

      As a frequent cruiser, i do disagree with not spending time in your room..we have always had a balcony.. and love it for quiet coffee n fruit before breakfast, and putting my feet up reading a book watching the waves flo past. There are times i dont need or want lots of people around, staff asking if i need drinks etc. Thats one of the things i love most about cruising is its all there, and if i want to partake its there..if not…still no dishes, cooking, cleaning and its all taken care of.

    75. penny
      January 3rd, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

      If you are not bringing the kids along and you want a good nights sleep, do not book a short cruise during spring break!! We loved our first cruise, however, we were on Carnival’s Inspiration during spring break, it was a bit over crowded and we had kids doing Cheers down the hall at 3 A.M. Our T.A. gently tried to warn us but we didnt get it. (We love kids, we have 5 of our own college age and adult children but we love a good nights sleep after a full day of cruising activities!)

    76. hallie
      March 5th, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

      For 7 days cruise to Bahamas, how many pair of clothes should I take? casuals, formals and swim suites??? What about toiletries? medicines? cash?

    77. Al
      March 17th, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

      I have the same question as Hallie. Plus, what does formal night really mean – suit & tie, tux. For non-formal nights, what is appropriate? We’re leaving next Saturday on the Celebrity Summit out of San Juan, PR. Thanks!

    78. Rouge15
      May 7th, 2012 @ 9:23 am

      Hi, my hubby and I will be going for our first cruise on the Azamara in August. Can someone pl advise us what is the dress code on this ship? We actually prefer to be free and easy, with no tuxedos or ties…

    79. Kelsey
      June 20th, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

      Hi cruisers! I am a first time cruiser, sailing this summer, July 21st on the Carnival Valor! I just want to ask, have any of you been on this ship? And do you have any tips or suggestions? Things to do? Any help would be appreciated! :) Thanks, and can’t wait to cruise, 31 days!

    80. megan
      July 8th, 2012 @ 8:25 am

      We are going to Alaska in July. Any way to book shore excursion in a cheaper way? any website or company you can suggest?

    81. Karen
      July 16th, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

      we are looking at find/excrutions/Island name or port. com we found different excrutions and different prices read Itenary for more info on excrutions like how much walking ect or go to library has a lot of info also ask info desk great help

    82. Karen
      July 16th, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

      #78 I have been reading a lot and I saw where some people did not want to dress up so the ate at the buffet which is no tie no jacket just causal slacks shirt, no jeans lol

    83. Micki
      August 10th, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

      AZAMARA is AZA-MAZING!!!!!I have cruised 26 times & sailed with Azamara $ times!
      It is by far my favorite cruise line. The staff remembers you and they are all like family. Beat food at sea too. Classy. Casual. friendly.Relaxing! Best port – with midnight departures & many overnights in port.

    84. Micki
      August 10th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

      should say 4 times

    85. house cleaning services Scottsdale
      October 13th, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

      It iѕ thе best time to make some plans fοr thе future and іt’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!

    86. Vinette
      December 11th, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

      @ Mike Kent # 73! All cruisers are not the same. Take a cruise & be yourself! Best vacation ever! You most likely will never see these people again……. That’s the only vacation I take. So much fun & relaxation. Going on my 20th in a few days. All up to YOU! :)

    87. Amanda C
      December 28th, 2012 @ 12:46 am

      I’m taking my first cruise June on the Princess Sapphire for a 12 day Cruise Tour to Alaska. I’ve gotten a lot of great tips from here and looking forward to a great trip.

    88. David
      January 2nd, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

      A married 50+ year old cruiser here. About to embark on 8th cruise in as many years. Retired Navy officer, no kids at home. We have yet to repeat an itinerary and plan o always try a new one until we run out of alternatives. I hope my experiences are constructive for first-time cruisers:

      My wife COULD NOT get me board a cruise ship. I thought I had “been there, done that.”. I WAS COMPLETELY WRONG! It is one of the most pampering experiences one can have. Great value or the money. ( You take 5 star dining and hotel wherever you go.). Service is unsurpassed. (I really disagree with removing the daily service charge. The entire crew works very hard including many behind the sevens. And the non-U.S. flag means they are making pennies a day with years away from home. Yet they remain smiling and friendly, despite the oft times rude behavior of guests who want ice cream when the soft serve machine has malfunctioned. It is amazing the lack of manners on sees aboard ship!)

      Choose you cruise line for your tastes. We use Holland America after my wife did extensive research. Children are almost non-existent, most passengers are over 50, no real “frat boy” antics, and mostly Dutch officers. Why is this important? Track cruise ship accidents and you will find most have Itlaian or Greek officers. Not saying nything prejudicial, just a different regimen of seamanship training and responsibility. As the Costa Concordia showed, the officers left the ship before the passengers. Ha will do the lifeboat drill before each sailing and I have seen their damage control drills, just as we o it in the Navy. All things to know.

      Use the packing guides as you will bring too much. We enjoy using the specialty dining venues on formal night and they are worth the extra $40. Speaking of formal night, there is much resistance to tuxes in these threads. MEN notice this resistance is almost always from the men. The ladies love to dress up and rarely have the opportunity to do it in our modern world after high school prom. Break down and rent that tux and do the formal dinner. She will love it and you will have a good time. You will actually feel more out of place being the only one walking the lido buffet in shorts that night.

      Shore excursions are “samplers” of things a port has o offer. Use them that way and you will not be disappointed. You will see the “touristy” sights of that locale. Note what you like to come back in the future. If you eschew the tourist sights, you will miss the Coluseum, the Effiel Tower, and the Acropolis. A cruise is not when you spend time delving into the local delights. Most time you are in port for less than 8 hours. The overview or highlight tours ar most always a good bet.

      Sample is a good term for everything on a cruise ship. You cannot do it all, and each Imelda we try something new. As someone else noted, we thought the game show nights cheesy until we went and had a great time. The naturalists in wildlife areas were great and even the normally “directive” shore excursion directors have sent us to some great local cuisine instead of Diamonds International.

      I highly recommend cruising. Avoiding issues like not packing medication is good advice. But the other complaints must be considered in light of the person writing the review. It is an experience hat should be indulged in at least once, and if one oes the research to match he cruise o their tastes, your first cruise may become as addictive to you as it is for many of us. Good sailing!

    89. Mindy
      January 7th, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

      We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year by taking a cruise to Alaska in May. I love reading the advice and comments as this will be our first cruise. Even the criticisms are good to know as this helps me figure out why activities, dress code, extra expenses are worth doing.

    90. Helen
      January 19th, 2013 @ 2:46 am

      Thanks guys for all the above advice. We honeymooned on a cruise 40 years ago and are finally getting to go again. I’m sure we’ll notice a few differences since last time :) I really appreciate all your comments and help for my homework.

    91. Mary Ann
      February 16th, 2013 @ 10:37 am

      #89 – Mindy – we are also cursing to Alaska in May and celebrating our 42nd anniversary…found out thru the message board someone else is on our cruise celebrating their 25th…I think I see a trend here!
      Thanks everyone for the good advise…have spent the morning reading it ALL…making notes and passing the info on to hubby reading the paper!

    92. princessgirl56
      February 16th, 2013 @ 11:41 am

      I belong to weight watchers and was worried about weight gain. I ate and ate on my cruise! I made sure I ate an apple before I hit the buffet. I always took the stairs as much as possible. I always ate a bowl of fruit or salad before the other goodies. My W.W leader said 7-10lbs weight gain on cruises are the average. I gained 1 pound!! WHEW!!!

    93. jackie
      February 22nd, 2013 @ 3:53 am

      I have never taken a cruise and would like to take my son who is 25 and my daughter that’s 21.I know the food is free,lol What I don’t is what you have to pay for as far as drinks and entertainment on the ship?

    94. Lee Gilmer
      March 5th, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

      Jackie #93. Different lines have different policies. Crystal and some other of the luxury lines have gone to all inclusive pricing that includes tips and most drinks including coffee, soda, wine and liquor. Others charge for everything except tea and coffee. If you don’t drink a lot, you might be better off going on a line that doesn’t include drinks. Check out the lines policy before you book. Also check out the cost/availability of laundry service if you’ll need to do some. One thing we like about Crystal – we’re taking B2B cruises in May/June – is they have a guest laundry on each floor and supply soap and an iron & board. On some lines you have to use their expensive cleaning/laundry services. If your cruise doesn’t include tips, you may want to bring some cash for that as well as for tour guides.

      On our first cruise, we only took the cruise excursions. We took too many and I was exhausted by the end of the cruise. This time, we’re taking a couple of the cruise ones on our short days in port – figure they have to wait to leave until we are on board. Then I’ve signed up for some independent tours in Iceland and some of the stops in Norway. Much cheaper. You don’t mention where you are thinking of going. Check out the local tourist info sites
      and trip advisor to find local tour companies.

    95. Fatuma Lawrence
      March 20th, 2013 @ 7:54 am

      This is our third cruise ! Can I bring in drinks from out side like water or alcohol ? Please advice

    96. Parker
      June 13th, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

      I went on my first cruise over spring break 2013 :) I went on a 5 day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy, IT WAS AMAZING :) I am going on my 2nd cruise this July and I cannot wait!!! I just have one con about this cruise, which was that I forgot my sunscreen :( I was so sunburt on my shoulders I couldnt even move them!!! The staff were so sweet! I made friends with practically everyone I met! I am only 12, but I can say it was the funnest thing I ever got to do in my life! I definetly recomend going on the cruise to the Bahamas ( Carnival Fantasy) It was outstanding!

    97. secondlouise
      June 24th, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

      6th cruise manly on HAL. Taking kids and grandkids on Carnival Dream during Christmas. So many questions after reading advice.
      1. can you really bring bottled water on ship and how much? read cooler had to be no bigger than 12 x 12.
      2. Do Western Caribbean ports really have drinking age 18?
      3. Does the Dream make a big deal of Christmas? Can we put lights up on balcony?
      6. Would $10 international phone cards plus pre tipping really be appropriate in place of extra money?(it is Christmas!)
      7. we know about Cruise and Park lot on Merritt Island for cars, but can’t find place to stay off of I95 for pre cruise night. 14 of us going. makes having to get 4 or 5 rooms
      (2 families with 3 kids and 2 families of 2.)Kids not comfortable in Grandma/grandpa or aunt and uncle’s room. Its hard to make sure hotels will supply rollaways in rooms. Any suggestions?
      Sorry so long and thanks

    98. Jerrold
      December 29th, 2013 @ 3:10 am

      First off, ENJOY! Remember why you came on the trip in the first place! When John our room attendant first greeted us he asked “how are you doing?” I said emphatically, “I’m on VACATION!”. He replied “great”! We are going to keep it that way all week! LOL!!! I knew we were in for a great trip…

      We did follow the slide show’s tips, among others on the boards here and was thankful that we did.

      One of the best things I think I did for us ahead of time was to research and find out what we thought we would want to do, with the knowledge that time was of the essence as well. The whole idea was to relax and enjoy so that is what we did.

      We only took one excursion (the catamaran cruise) maybe we overpaid but was well worth every penny. I think by taking a cruise “Authorized” excursion is the best as the tour operator knows your schedule and also knows that if they treat you well, you will pass that information along to the cruise lines.

      We saw no need to invest in the specialty restaurants as the MDR had exceeded our expectations in the food quality and service. I had a pork chop on our first night out that was as good as any as I have ever had. The fact that you could get an extra appetizer or something pretty much exactly they way you wanted it was great.

      I will admit the serving sizes were smaller then I am used to, but even that was perfect as if I either wanted another entree’, salad, what have you, I didn’t feel so guilty at all. OK, I didn’t care because the food was great and I was on vacation!

      If you have kids, USE THE KIDS PROGRAM! Trust me, both you and your kids will be happier… for many reasons! At least on RCCL they were absolutely fantastic with my daughter. She loved all the evening programs and that allowed a lot of time for just my wife and I…. Again, remember why you are on your cruise!

      Yes, take in the shows if you can. Wow, we had an illusionist who took second place in America’s Got Talent and we had a blast. Saw Turbo in 3D and it had just come out two weeks earlier! Way cool as I saved us $25 right there!

      I am not a big drinker and as much as I like soda, I don’t drink a ton. Yes, we did have a few drinks, but the cost difference is really not all that much on an individual basis. We were even given one free unlimited soda deal and even with that did not see the need to spend an additional $40 a day. Heck, so a Coke costs you $4 or so and you have a few on board. Saves you some bucks.

      Talk to as many people as you can. You may not be BFFs but wow, you can meet people from around the world and find out they are just like you! My kid became friends with other kids from Florida to England. VERY COOL.

      As far as what to bring, LESS IS MORE!!! LOL!!! I like to be totally prepared and realized we probably could have gotten away with maybe 20% less clothing and therefore probably one less suitcase.

      One of the best investments I think we made for the trip were “rash guards”. Those are nylon type shirts favored by surfers that have UV protection and dry very quickly. They look great and can be used as t-shirts. I lived in the two I had and just washed them every couple of days as I would swim in them in the pool or the ocean and never took them off during the day. All three of us had them and wore them when we would go to the pool or a water type excursion. Lands End has them for around $23 and I know that Ron Jon in Cape Canaveral had a good deal on them as well. Target carries them I think as well.

      Yes, one power strip and an extension cord is another great tip. There was only two outlets and we needed the entire power strip. HHMM…iPad, two phones, a Nook….you may not have internet, but you still want them all charged up.

      Do sign up for the meet and greet! Yes, kinda corny but it was worth it. OK, so my daughter and I won internet time and we took home great trinkets we used as gifts, so of course I am going to recommend it! LOL! Seriously, though, just another way to meet people and enjoy the ride.

      Travel insurance was basically a steal and just more comforting to know that if GOD forbid something did happen, we were covered. My mom is older and I would have never forgiven myself if there was not a way to get home in the middle of the trip if something were to happen. By the way, a kid did break his ankle on Coco Cay (RCCL’s private island). We did not know what was going to happen so it was great to see him wheeling himself around in a wheel chair the next day with a cast on. OK, so he can’t go in the pool but the family did not have to go home and it seemed like everyone else could enjoy their trip. Bravo to the medical staff!

      Lastly, yes, the crew not only do not make much money, but are away from family for at least six months at a time from what I found. They have near permanent smiles but are willing to do what it takes to make YOUR hard earned vacation a success. Treat them well and they will treat you well. I was always thanking John our attendant as well as Erika our main server in the MDR. They really made the trip. Just remember, they probably are working as hard for you as you did to earn this trip.

      In fact, one piece of luggage was damaged on its way up to our cabin. I let John know and just asked him if he could get some pliers for me since I knew I could fix it. Later in the week I caught up with him and reminded him about our conversation. He said no problem as he and the maintenance guy already fixed it! I never showed him the problem. He just did it for us. WOW!

    99. Cruiser
      February 1st, 2014 @ 1:47 am

      Are the seas rough for a July Mediterranean cruise?

    100. Cruisemanic
      February 12th, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

      I like the number 5. the best. As an ex-crew member of Royal Caribbean I could not agree more, but this holds true for the experienced cruisers as well.

    101. LoriAnn
      February 14th, 2014 @ 11:24 pm

      By the end of this year I will celebrate having been on 14 cruises in 7 years ! I am hooked ! It is sooooo relaxing !!

      Here are my suggestions I would offer of of my 10 DONT’s:

      1.Don’t overdo the eating, but try alittle of everything. You do not know what you do not like unless you are adventurous. I tried escargot (@ dinner). Never thought I would do that although its not something I will continue. But was not bad. :-) And you will walk it all off – the ships are big !
      2.Don’t over-pack – You will only wear about 80% or less of what you packed. On the days we are at sea, you will probably wear sundress/shorts or coverup/bathing suit. Remember your checked luggage must not go over 50lbs.
      3. Don’t forget to thank the cruise staff and get to know them & TIP alittle more than the required. My hubby and I always tip alittle more and also tip those that may not even be our staff (ie: generous staff at the buffet/servers).
      4. Don’t forget to enjoy time WITHOUT the electronics. Turn off the cell, forget about the internet, and the tv. Enjoy quality time with friends/family, just like you did on the olden days.
      5. Don’t forget to organize before you go ! Make a list early of your necessities, what to wear and what to leave out! That way you will not forget anything. My hubby one time forgot his deodorant and paid $7.00 at the cruise store. Eek. I have created my own cruise cheatsheet/checklist that I use!
      6. Don’t forget to remember to stop your mail and give someone your flight and cruise info in case of emergency. Again get organized early. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL YOUR FLIGHT, ID, AND CRUISE INFO IN YOUR CARRY ON.
      7. Don’t forget to utilize other cruisers’ tips. Before my first cruise I googled cruise tips and got some good advice also from this site. Example – take an extention cord. I thought this was odd until I read that most cruise lines only have one area for a dual outlet. So if you want to shave or use your curling iron it will stretch to the bathroom or out of the way of someone else getting ready too. I also take a nightlight, 3 prong outlet, drawstring trashbag (for our dirty clothes), tsa locks for luggage (even locking items on the cruise), and a shoe organizer for the back of the bathroom door to hold all the necessities, curling irons, etc..
      8.Don’t forget medicine – prescription and “in case of” medicine. Make sure you have renewed your prescriptions early and pack them (+ a few days extra) in your carryon luggage. But do not forget to pack a few samples of “just in case” medicine. I always pack a small tube of cortisone cream (for cuts/rashes), ibuprofen, sea sickness/dramamine, anti-acid, and imodium.
      9. Don’t forget to take advantage of the low price guarantee when you book with the cruise website. You have to look and catch that the price has gone down and then call. But it is worth it !
      10. Don’t forget the quality time. Take pictures. Enjoy your time ! Remember the first day on the cruise everyone still is in fast pace mode (ie: pushes to get on the elevator, etc..) By the 2nd or 3rd day you are in no rush and life slows down. You do not have to spend every moment of the day with your family/friends. You can have your alone time. But it always equals quality time for all of you to enjoy. Again, put down the cell phone !

      I hope this has helped !!

    102. Candysland
      February 18th, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

      I just want to thank everyone who posted. Your tips and insight are going to make my first cruise (and honeymoon) perfect.

    103. Barbara
      March 19th, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

      We r taking our first cruise with friends in May to Bermuda on the Royal Caribbean. Enjoying reading comments. We will be docked 2-1/2 days in Bermuda. Would like to hear about what to do and see in Bermuda. Thanks.

    104. EDO
      April 3rd, 2014 @ 5:18 am

      Do not forget to use the hand sanitizing gel every time you are going to enter the dining or coffee facilities and it does not do any harm to do the same thing as you are going out of the dining or coffee facilities

    105. EDO
      April 3rd, 2014 @ 5:21 am

      Do not overlook the potential for peaceful reflection time in solitude spend a little time in the library

    106. EDO
      April 3rd, 2014 @ 5:23 am

      Start getting ready to go to shore early, the longer you wait the bigger the number of people around you trying to do the same thing

    107. EDO
      April 3rd, 2014 @ 5:27 am

      Say hello to others, smile, but, please be aware that most people like to be by themselves without being escorted from that moment on

    108. KELLI
      May 24th, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

      Im going on my first cruise to the Bahamas in Oct on the Carnival Fascination. I am super excited and really have no idea what to expect. I am a single woman, leaving my son at home, and simply getting away for some “me” time. Luckily, I am traveling with people I know. Any tips for someone that is staying by themselves?

    109. desiree
      June 5th, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

      getting great tips from you guys….is it better to book excursions everyday or just one or two during a 7 day cruise to carribean?

    110. dave
      June 10th, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

      Great ideas. I especially liked the comment to treat it like a sampler. Sample the sights, sample the food, sample the culture. Go back for extended stay to the places you found the most exciting. Looking forward to a Hawaii cruise and right now feeling overwhelmed at all the things to do. I’ll keep reminding myself, slow down, you’re not going to see everything, sample it..

    111. Julia
      June 28th, 2014 @ 6:11 am

      I’m going on my first cruse. I’m really happy but I get shy so what should I do? If I go to the kids club I will be shy. I’m only 11 what should I do.?

    112. Nancy Trant
      October 4th, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

      All great tips here…I have some to add:

      Ladies – bring a pair of men’s cargo shorts. They are great for trekking around ports without a bag. You can stash lots of things in those large pockets!

      For Carnival cruisers: Those chrome ball hooks on the inside of the bathroom doors are almost useless because your clothes slip off – carry 2 pieces of that rubber shelf liner stuff and two rubber bands. Put the shelf liner over the hooks and hold them on with the rubber bands. No slipping clothes!

      Bring clothespins for hanging up your wet bathing suits – stacked – on the shower line in your bathroom. you can pin things together vertically = more you can hang at once.

      Bring a few extra hangers – there are never enough and you can hang up hand-washed items in the bathroom or from the edges of the lights on Carnival ships.

      Bring a nightlight – you won’t need to turn on the lights in the middle of the night to find your way to the bathroom.

      Sport strap for your sunglasses or hat – no one likes losing those over the side on a windy day.

      First aid kit – you never know when you may need a simple bandaid, some NewSkin (for small scrapes and cuts, hangnail, etc) or tape for a broken toe from walking into something in flip flops.

      Spray & Wash Stain Stick – I cut a hunk off the one I keep at home and stick it into a small plastic travel jar (ziplock baggie works too) for those moments when you dribble chocolate ice cream or melted butter on yourself. Works great and keeps the stain from setting until you get home to do laundry.

      Don’t want to lose your Sail & Sign Card? just ask someone from the casino to punch a hole in it and give you a lanyard. I carry mine on a lanyard for when I have no pockets in my sundress.

      Ladies – leave the fancy skinny high heels at home! You are on a ship…that is moving. Wear sensible shoes with some kind of grip on the bottoms so you don’t slip on those shiny marble floors. There are plenty of pretty low-heeled shoes out there.

      Have trouble sleeping? Are you used to the while noise of a ceiling fan at home? Download some nice relaxing background music onto your smartphone and bring a small speaker. The sound will drown out strange noises from other cabins, hallways, cleaning crew and your snoring husband.

      Bring a sport water bottle with you on shore excursions. You will be glad you did – save a few bucks and always have it handy. I use a Turvis 24 oz insulated bottle and a Neosling carrier (amazon.com) that you can wear across your body and go hands-free.

      Take the behind the scenes tour onboard – it’s very interesting and you can ask questions about ship life. Bring close-toe shoes – they won’t let you do the tour without them.

      Ladies – take a light sweater or shawl. the MDR and many other public spaces get chilly when you are wearing that cocktail dress or have been out in the sun all day.

      If bringing wine on board….don’t forget the opener and cap.

    113. Pamela
      November 4th, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

      This will be our first Transatlantic cruise. We are going at the end of May. Wondering what type of weather to expect and what type of clothing to take. Thanks for any ideas!

    114. diane
      November 16th, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

      my husband and I are thinking about taking a cruise out of nyc..the norwegein cruise line..this is all new stuff to us..the one thing i’m worried about is seasickness. I really didn’t see it addressed here. what is the best thing to do to combat it. the patch or the bracelet draminine?? we are really excited for this . we are old people raising two grandchildren lol so this is a special trip ..

    115. ShepW
      November 20th, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

      Here’s a Don’t: Please don’t bother getting in line for meeting the Master of the Vessel and his/her officers unless you like getting a mug shot and your hand in a very firm handshake. After my first few cruises on various lines and ships, I decided that getting dressed up for those cocktail parties in overcrowded lounges wasn’t worth the effort. Seeing everybody in their Sunday Best at dinner is always a pleasure, however.

    116. Sonny
      December 22nd, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

      First Time cruiser or many cruises – use a travel agent. Prices are the same as booking direct even if you are a vip member. Important when you book with an agent taxes come back to your area. Most travel agents will give you much information about your first cruise. Tip go to Alaska in late May or Early June is the best time to see more animals and prices are better. High price season is July and August.

      December 26th, 2014 @ 10:57 pm


    118. Kate backer
      January 15th, 2015 @ 6:46 am

      All comments and no one replies. This site is terrible for replying to other people. At least there are good tips.

    119. Cruise Critic
      January 15th, 2015 @ 8:19 am

      Hi Kate, Do you have a question we could help you with?

    120. Bev Jenkins
      February 1st, 2015 @ 10:14 am

      Hello! Just booked first cruise around the Med with Princess line. This is an amazing site, thank you to everybody who has contributed.
      *Can you take towels from the ship to a beach?
      *Are beverage packages worth it?
      * Do you tip as you go along, at the beginning or at the end?
      Many thanks

    121. Cruise Critic
      February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:10 am

      Hi Bev, Glad you are enjoying the site. You are typically able to bring towels from the pool areas on shore to the beach, but be sure to return them once back onboard. Beverage packages vary in price and inclusions based on the cruise line, and the value would depend how much you personally are looking to drink. Tips are included in some cruise fares, and can be paid above or below the percentage determined by the cruise line, by visiting the front desk onboard — the tips come off of your onboard account. You are welcome to leave additional cash tips to crewmembers you feel went above and beyond. Visit our First Time Cruisers page to learn more about these and other topics: http://www.cruisecritic.com/ftc/tier2.cfm?ID=3

    122. dianne
      February 5th, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

      we will be travelling Carnival Spirit in April 2015. 5 adults and 5 kids. What did others do to keep track of children 12-16 who obviously want to explore etc…but we are concerned to know where they are and want to be able to communicate…do cell phones work? Are Walkie talkies the answer…hope I get a response from someone who coped with this issue

    123. Brittany Albert
      February 22nd, 2015 @ 7:06 pm

      First time cruisers here… We just booked our first cruise to the Med in Sept for 12 nights on royal Caribbean. Any advise would be very helpful as trying to plan excursions, drink packages and even packing seem to be a nightmare. It’s 12 nights and seems impossible to pack all these things people are saying as well as clothing for the long period. Also with excursions, how do you know if it’d be better to do a ship offered tour opposed to traveling on your own? So many questions! But we are very excited and have plenty of time to plan.

    124. Dianne
      February 25th, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

      Hi… Feb 5th I asked what others do about keeping contact with 12-16yr olds on board..so we can keep track and meet up . Can someone who has had to deal with this issue please give me a tip.. Do WALKIE TALKIES work on board ship
      CRUISE CRITIC can you please respond. Thankyou

    125. Anneliese
      February 28th, 2015 @ 7:10 am

      I would like to know if Walkie Talkies work on board Voyager of the Seas to keep in touch with members of my family
      Thank you

    126. Alan
      March 3rd, 2015 @ 5:59 am

      Hi Dianne,

      There is another thread on this site which talks about walkie talkies.


      That may answer your question.

      It is a good question as we are about to go on our first cruise in 2 weeks time and we have 3 teenage kids with us. I was wondering if that was a viable option for communication too.

    127. Alan
      March 3rd, 2015 @ 6:04 am

      Thank you everyone for the great tips!

      I am an accountant and about half of my clients have either been on or about to go on a cruise. I thought, I’m missing out on something here, so our family is going on their first ever cruise to the South Pacific Islands for 12 nights.

      I can’t wait!!!

    128. Kay
      March 9th, 2015 @ 12:45 am

      Brittany Albert … For the purpose of assuring you will return to the ship in a timely manner, book excursions offered be the ship instead of outside companies. The ship won’t leave when one of their excursions has not returned.

    129. nina Fontaine
      March 10th, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

      This will be our first cruise. My husband, Ray, is 84 and walks a little slower than he once did. What do I do about the long walks and lines? I need to know this so we don’t have to stay in our room all the time. Hope to enjoy so much that we take many more cruises.

    130. Megan C-H.
      March 11th, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

      Wow LOTS of Great tips im taking my first cruise with my sister and mom for my sisters bachelorette party to the Bahamas, also the first vacation away for my 2 young children so these tips are a big help. also want to thank the few ppl who mentioned to take a nap and don’t worry about missing things, I will most like sleep the whole first day to catch up on 4 years of missed sleep lol anyways thank you everyone for the great advice

    131. Mary Elizabeth Murphy
      March 12th, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

      #113 Pamela,
      We have taken 2 trans atlantic cruises, one on the QM2 from NYC to Southhampton in June. The weather on the crossing was very cool in the 50’s and I would lean to spring/fall clothing. The North Atlantic is cold. Pack with the idea of layering. BTW , the queens are more formal than other ships.
      The second ship was the Celebrity Sillhoette, NYC to Lisbon and the western Mediterranean. That was in May , but cool and rainy . It warmed up when we reached the Mediterranean into the 60s and low 70s. Again, pack sweaters and light jacket. Its a great way to cross the pond , very relaxing as there are no excursions and the ships entertainment, classes and some good reads keep you from getting bored.

    132. Mary Elizabeth Murphy
      March 12th, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

      #129 Nina
      you can ask for priority boarding where you will avoid the lines. Disembarkation is the same , ask for short line from customs/immigration. If you have a collapsible cane, take it. It really helps hen and if the ship lurches. If you have not booked yet , look at the diagram of the ship. Restaurants and theatres are usually aft. If you have already booked, just take it slow. No one will rush you and I find most people are helpful when they see older passengers. Don’t try to navigate the lines at the service desks on the first or second day. They are long. Call ahead and find out how long the wait is. Most of all, relax and enjoy. The ships cater to all types of passengers, many with disabilities from mild to moderate.

    133. Marcy Rubio
      March 22nd, 2015 @ 1:40 am

      Wow!! Everyone’s advice here has been great!! I am looking forward to my first cruise from L.A. to Ensenada in 10 days. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!!

    134. Marjorie O
      March 24th, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

      I am going on my first cruise, the California Coastal, on April 12. We are older women using walkers. I’m concerned about getting around and slowing up others onboard and off. any comments or suggestions for us? We are on Star Princess.

    135. Don Marcus
      March 25th, 2015 @ 6:16 pm


    136. Denise
      March 26th, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

      Just booked a cruise for the first time on Carnival Fantasy. How is the food? What are the best excursions? We do not want to go on vacation and dress up. My husband wears a tie everyday. What is the alternative? How much cash to take for 5 night cruise?

    137. Sabrina
      April 5th, 2015 @ 10:11 pm

      First time cruise in January, how is the weather to the Bahamas in early January? do you really need to get a Hepatitis shot?

    138. Gertie Blount
      April 10th, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

      We will be cruising on June 13 from Boston to Quebec on Holland America, Veendam.
      We made private bookings for an excursion in Halifax and have room for two more. The price is better than the cruise ship offers and is a private tour to Peggy’s Cove, Titanic Cemetary and some of Historical Halifax. Contact me if you are interested in joining us. Gertie

    139. Rubee
      June 8th, 2015 @ 3:09 am

      Booked a two week Alaskan cruise on holland America ship Maasdam.. I’m a VERY light sleeper, could anyone PLEASE recommend a balcony cabin on the verandah deck ? One with no partying underneath till all hrs of night? Thanks so much!

    140. heidi s
      June 16th, 2015 @ 10:27 pm

      I have been on one cruise Holland America. It was great for the first one and went to Burmuda. Above Sandy B. gave great advice. I also liked the person who played Bingo and won 400 people do not think it can be fun. Going a a much bigger ship in October. The Freedom of the Seas western 7 day cruise. Excited but a little nervous because ship is much bigger, a lot more people and it docks everyday somewhere. I can not see myself getting up everymorning to go off of the ship because I love the night life at 49 and love to get my drink on. Being with a very se active 55 year old is a lot of fun after 8 years. We just might get married and make this our honeymoon. Hopefully on this cruise we will find a private lagoon that we can have our private time together, if you know what I mean. I can not wait to go either. There is nothing like the beautiful clear blue water and the moonlight at night while you are on your ship.

    Leave a Reply

  • Please follow & like us


  • About the Lido Deck

    The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

  • Facebook

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories