You Know You’re A Cruise Ship Newbie When….

November 19, 2013 | By | 25 Comments

Photo courtesy of peshkova
With experience comes wisdom – and that holds true on cruise ships too. We’ve fallen guilty to newbie moves, such as assuming that welcome cocktail is free (it’s not!) or misunderstanding the ship’s departure time and doing the river equivalent of a pier run  (that one was my dad’s fault, I swear).
On a recent Cruise Critic Facebook thread, our veteran fans shared their favorite rookie mistakes. One newbie move that remains cool, no matter how many times you’ve sailed, however: A genuine sense of excitement upon embarkation. Because how can you not smile wide when vacay is about to begin?
“Blowing the whistle on your life jacket during muster. Yuck!!” –Martha Miller-Thode
“Coming out to the pool deck at 12 pm expecting to get a chair!” – Melissa Schnepp
Photo courtesy of Tatiana Makotva
“Asking what time is the midnight chocolate buffet” – Robert Ryan
“5 pieces of luggage for a 3 day cruise” – Sheila Day
“Wearing stiletto heels on a rough sea night” – Andy Smithers
“Getting all the photos taken and then buying them all” – Jacqueline Storey Serguel Kabanov
Our staff had a few suggestions too:
“You don’t know your aft from your starboard.”
“You can’t figure out what the heck a mustard station is.”
— News Editor Dori Saltzman
“You don’t bring a sweater, rain jacket or long pants on a Caribbean cruise then shiver in the ship’s air-conditioning.”
“You wear the logo or destination T-shirt you bought on Monday on your Friday excursion.”
“You think a tender is a form of chicken.”
— Features Editor Erica Silverstein
Even our Managing Editor Colleen McDaniel – who has quite a few nautical miles under her belt – has a few from the beginning of her sailing career:
“Putting your suitcases in the closets instead of under the bed.”
“Being mortified you have to share a table at dinner with others.”
“Trying to get to everything on your daily cruise schedule.”
“Being stunned at midweek by how much you’ve spent!”
Have your own observations to add? Tell us in the comments!
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    25 Responses to “You Know You’re A Cruise Ship Newbie When….”

    1. Brian
      November 19th, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

      Many thanks to Cruise Critic, which kept us from making newbie mistakes on our first cruise. The only partial mistake we made was trying to do too many activities. We should have had a “do nothing” day, just for relaxation.

    2. bigorange&crimsoncruiser
      November 19th, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

      Taking pictures of everything, ie food, drinks, hubby wearing flotation device in Muster. Getting a spray tan because I thought everyone would have a great tan in March, buying all the cruise ship pictures even though I looked orange in all of them!

    3. tracy ellis
      November 20th, 2013 @ 9:34 am

      When you constantly refer to the ship as a “boat”.

    4. Brad
      November 20th, 2013 @ 9:35 am

      On our first cruise, as we boarded there was the typical party atmosphere on the main pool deck. The wait staff came up and asked if we wanted one of the flowery fancy drinks. Thinking that everything was paid for already, wife and I just grabbed one each and started drinking before realizing we would need to give them our sail cards and the drinks were charged to our room. $18 mistake, but a newbie mistake nonetheless. :-)

    5. Carol Mannchen
      November 20th, 2013 @ 9:37 am

      Life does not end if you lose your cruise card. They will replace it for you. However, it’s best not to lose it while you are off the ship, as it will cause difficulty getting back on.

    6. John Pycior
      November 20th, 2013 @ 9:38 am

      My first cruise in ’08 aboard Carnival’s Sensation: exploring the entire ship, from stem to stern, and climbing the staircase from the Rio deck all the way up to my muster station! Then, rushing to get my passport for I thought I would need it, when we got to the port in the Bahamas, only to run into my cabin steward who thankfully told me that I didn’t need it, and then rushing to disembark, didn’t put on sunscreen, rushing to cash a traveler’s check, rushing to do a tour of the island before my shore excursion, sweating and then putting on sunscreen before snorkling, being way too excited about snorkling and taking pictures, and not concentrating on actually relaxing in the water and enjoying the view. Then, back to the ship, rushing to get dressed for dinner in one of the dining halls..should have taken a shower, and gone to bed!

    7. Jim
      November 20th, 2013 @ 10:19 am

      Make sure to check your sail card each time you get it back. My card was mixed up with another’s by a waitress. The other person did charge a round of drinks ( at the same bar we were visiting), but must have realized what had happened and the charge was cancelled. I tried to get off the ship with his card and they called security. Just check that it is your card when you get it back.

    8. constance Barkley
      November 20th, 2013 @ 10:40 am

      On our then 7 year old grandsons first cruise on Vision in Alaska he asked during muster if he had to wear his life jacket during the whole cruise. He was used to wearing one full time on his dads little boat. Big smile when we told him no.622

    9. Billie Swift
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:32 am

      You might be a newbie if you think there is nothing to do on sea days. We try to plan our day early so we can try to get everything done that we want to do. So much to do and much fun!

    10. Kathy Tyson
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:36 am

      If you bring a teen don’t forget to give them a curfew. If you don’t you may spend a very late night hour searching the ship for him/her.

    11. Lynn McCurdy
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:46 am

      We always read the announcement paper left in our state room. But once noticed a second one left the next morning. Same headline and all (we thought).
      So for dinner showed up in our formal attire.
      What we didn’t know, was there had been a change or misprint in the night before. So it was a casual night. But we Looked Good! Although, my Mrs wasn’t too happy about wearing the same fancy dress twice.

    12. Marty
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:47 am

      I was beyond grumpy for my first cruise; so convinced it would be a lousy time I almost succeeded in having that happen. It’s expensive-a gift from my folks. Big deal bingo for old folks-won $300 and a bottle of champagne. Food buffet [how bad must that be?] I can have seconds? thirds?-it’s a BUFFET. Stupid contests-my cabin mate took 2nd in the male night gown contest. Won’t meet anyone-traveled with a singles group; great people. In spite of my worst intentions I had a better than fantastic time-now a major cruise addict for over 18 cruises on 5 different lines.

    13. Bev
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:56 am

      Trying to cram everything on your plate at the buffet because it’s there! My sister use to do this and she never ate it all, plus has gotten sick, possibly from too many different foods on the plate!

    14. Hugh Catlett
      November 20th, 2013 @ 11:56 am

      On our first cruise we learned that you can always ask for seconds (or thirds, etc.) at any meal, at any time. Go ahead, pig out, you can regret it after your cruise is over!!!

    15. elana
      November 20th, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

      Getting lost on the ship!! Not knowing where your cabin is situated and worrying that you may not meet up with friends as you don’t have a clue where anything is.

      On my 1st cruise – I got so lost. Then one of the stewards gave me a great tip. Look at the carpet and see which way the pattern goes (on this cruise it was dolphins) and you can never get lost. Well that worked and now on my 4 cruise I am not worried!!

    16. Leigh
      November 20th, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

      Picking a two week cruise with as few sea days as possible. We wanted to see as much as we could, and not be “stuck on the ship”. After such a hectic few days in a row, we realized how great a sea day here and there can be. A chance to relax and refuel!

    17. Alison
      November 20th, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

      I am a newbie! My first cruise is in 3 days! So thanks to everyone! I’m sure I will come up with a new and unique newbie mistake to add in a few weeks.

    18. Sailin' Sandy
      November 20th, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

      It took 22 cruises, but I finally managed to lose my cruise card…at the port in Canada. Nothing like being escorted back on ship with a Canadian Mountie. But they were great.

    19. BamBam
      November 20th, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

      First nite at the dining room, seeing so many things you want to eat, but force yourself to choosing only one due to restaurant habits. Food is free, order three servings of that shrimp cocktail… :)

    20. Shelley Wooldridge
      November 20th, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

      If you bring kids or teens, it’s a good idea to bring along walkie talkies. Most ships receive their signals and they work fine. Otherwise you will be searching for them forever! Also, don’t forget the charger for them. It plugs in nicely in the room to recharge for the next day.

    21. Nancy
      November 20th, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

      Showing up with way to many devices (cell phones, tablets, curling iron, etc.) to plug in and no surge protector! Most Cabins have limited outlets. We always bring two. One for me and one for the hubby. This way we are not fighting over the available outlets!

    22. Jerry Bucha
      November 21st, 2013 @ 7:53 am

      Giving a tips for drink because you didn’t know they automatically take 15%. Not me someone I was with.

    23. Heather
      November 22nd, 2013 @ 9:45 am

      Buying the embarkation photo because you think it will be only one. You soon realise that there will be many photos taken of you – and when you look a lot less untidy!

      Who wants a photo that reflects all the stress of travelling to the port!!

    24. Hysterywanderer
      November 24th, 2013 @ 9:51 am

      You know you’re a cruise newbie when you stuffed yourself at the sail-away buffet on the pool deck, only to find that the very best dinner on the cruise is that first night. If there is lobster, it’s not at the BBQ.

    25. Jim Reed
      January 13th, 2014 @ 6:07 am

      where do I sign up for the sea day water ski lessons?

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