When we recently posted our suggestions on Five Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise, we were assuming our well-traveled readers would chime in — and you did, in a big way. From which cabins not to book to which spa treatments to avoid, we’ve culled through your tips and picked out more than a dozen other things that first-time cruisers should avoid. Then again, anyone heading onto the high seas — whether veteran or newbie — would be wise to get clued in on these cruising bugaboos.
Don’t pick the wrong cruise — or cabin. “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,” comments Steven P. That being said, be wary of creating too high a precedent. “Don’t book a suite as your first cruise cabin. You will be forever spoiled and NOT ever want to book anything else!” said Ali. (See our Tips for Choosing a Cabin.)
Don’t pick the wrong person to travel with. Said Holly K: “Don’t take the wrong person along. An anti-social misfit alcoholic is not going to be a fun cruise companion.” She’s not alone with this thought. “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,” said Bob Rauchfleisch, noting that all she wanted to do was lounge in the cabin.
Don’t underestimate the power of the buffet. “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,” said Gail Guilliams.
Don’t take packing lightly. “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,” said Janet Ortega. In a similar vein, Sue suggests, “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.” (Check out our Top 10 Cruise Packing Tips.)
Don’t forget to say “I’ve had enough.” “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!” suggests Robb.
Don’t neglect the staff. “We have taken many cruises over the years and we always bring candy with us to give to the staff. It is amazing this little act of kindness brings a smile to their faces,” said Woodenduck.
Don’t spend your money on things you don’t need. “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…” commented Sandy B.
Don’t forget to save room for souvenirs. Splurging is one thing, but you’ll most certainly want to bring home a few mementos, so make sure you have room in your luggage. “Pack a collapsible extra bag for all the stuff you will bring home even though you swore you weren’t getting anything!” suggests Eilean.
Don’t use the elevators if you can avoid them. Waiting for the elevator could easily take you five minutes each way. “You waste a lot of time waiting, and there are many who really need to use it,” warns Jan Brandvold. Plus, taking the stairs could help you keep off the extra pounds Gail Guilliams mentioned in her tip. (For more ways to stay slim at sea, check out Cruise Critic’s 10 tips.)
Don’t forget to slather it on. Sunscreen, that is. “Sunburn isn’t fun at home, why would you want it on vacation?” posted Elisabeth.
Don’t get your teeth whitened. “Do not go for the teeth whitening, 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,” said Tonya.
Don’t forget to pack your chill pills. “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,” insists Scott Lara. Remember that even when things go wrong, you can still have fun if you take it all in stride.
Don’t forget the obvious. This one’s a no-brainer. “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,” suggests B’moreCruiser. (Find out about Cruise Critic’s famous Roll Calls.)
What should we talk about next in Sea-Mail? Tell us what’s on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read other Sea-Mail columns on camera hogs, credit card horror stories, kids in hot tubs, the death of cruise traditions and bad balcony behavior.
Get your own Lido Deck subscription.