I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it.
Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior stateroom. Big mistake it was small, and to be honest it felt a little like a prison cell. Based on this we requested an upgrade and after 24 hours and two requests we were given an outer cabin with a balcony which gave a completely different meaning to cruising. So I guess our first lesson was do not try and do this type of travel on the cheap. I must say that as expected it did come at a cost but well worth it.
We were travelling from the UK for three weeks and I did not want to lumber myself with suits for formal dining. I contacted Holland America to get a definition re formal dining dress. They informed me that the Lido restaurant (buffet style) required formal trousers and collared shirts for evening wear as did the Vista Restaurant on five nights the other two nights would be suit collar and tie. Based on this I just packed formal trousers and shirts with collars. When we got on board the dress wear for the Lido was very casual at all times and therefore we elected for the Vista Restaurant waiter service. Even on the full formal evenings people were being allowed in long sleeve shirts and ties. No jacket required. So I just bought a $10 tie on the ship. We were allocated a table along with six other guests and we were very lucky that we all got on very well and enjoyed each others company.
We upgraded to this type of room after making the mistake in initially booking a interior stateroom. This stateroom is about the size of an inner city hotel room with a balcony. It was comfortable and it offered privacy from the rest of the ship if you wanted it. It was also great as you could view the scenery from your own room if you wanted to. The walls are a little thin as our neighbour was a television freak until the early hours of the morning. The interior looked a little tired though and whilst clean and well stocked a little freshen up would not go amiss.From our point of view the upgrade was well worth it and made our our first cruise pleasurable.