FIRST TIME CRUISE TIPS – ARE CRUISES FOR YOU?
Looking at going on a cruise?
I really enjoyed my first cruise experience with Holland America Line, so I thought I’d share some valuable tips that I learnt along the way. Travelling by ship is a great way to see the world, but it can be a little difficult to grasp if you’re a newbie to this method of travel.
But don’t fret! I have some great cruise tips for the first time cruisers in order to make your trip a little easier!
Pick your Room after looking at the Map
I’m going to start off with my favourite!
I went on a cruise from Vancouver, northbound to Seward, Alaska. After looking at our route, I realised that the majority of the journey was only going to allow one side of the ship to have views of the shore. Because of that, I decided to book my room on the Starboard (right) side, with a verandah that would be looking out at the coastline.
This will obviously change depending on your designated cruise path, but regardless, I highly recommend looking at the map before picking your room. It makes a huge difference on what you’ll be seeing for the duration of your trip!
CRUISE TIPS FOR ALASKA: Choose Starboard for Northbound and Port for Southbound. We saw almost all of the whale sightings from our private verandah, and could see the beautiful mountain ranges too!
Make sure you get a Verandah!
Sure, the inner rooms may be cheaper, but who wants to miss out on all the incredible views?
I personally couldn’t imagine being in a room without any fresh air; having the ability to sit on your private verandah and admire the scenery is something I’ll always cherish.
Forget your Cash
When I boarded my very first cruise ship, my immediate thought was “Oh no, I need cash to give tips!” – I ran around looking for an ATM and without any luck, one of the crew members looked at me if I was crazy and said, “You don’t need cash on the ship”…
As strange as that may sound, it’s actually a very handy way to manage your expenses! As I said, I travelled via HAL, and each passenger with this particular cruise line is given an account – At the time of booking, you give the cruise line your credit card details, and everything you purchase during your trip is linked to this account. All tours, dining experiences, shopping and daily tip amounts are added to the bill at the time of purchase.
You can easily access your account via a mobile device, allowing you to manage your balance throughout the journey. You receive a final bill on the last day onboard, and the total is automatically deducted from your designated bank account once everything is finalised.
Not to mention that theft can sometimes be a problem on cruises, this system saves you worrying about a huge amount of floating cash you may have in your room.
So please, leave your stash at home!
Don’t be too Early
Before my first cruise, my main concern was having to wait a hefty amount of time to board and disembark the ship every day. But believe it or not, it’s really not that difficult! (Trust me, I was very surprised about this too) – Most have thousands and thousands of passengers, though when I say that it only takes a few short minutes to get on and off the ship, I literally mean it!
The initial process of checking in is a totally different story, but it still took no longer than an hour. Of course, you don’t want to get to your ship as it’s sailing away from you, but there’s really no need to getting to the port hours and hours in advance. It’s really not necessary!
These ships are much more organised than you might imagine – thank god!!
Bring Hand Sanitizer and Stay Hygenic
Due to the confined spaces on cruise ships, getting an illness is very very likely. Cruises are known for spreading viruses like wildfire, so be very very prepared before you embark.
Luckily on my cruise, there was no spread of illnesses of any sort. Although, announcements were still frequently made over the speakers to warn passengers of the importance of hygiene whilst on board – It really is crucial.
Bring Sea Sickness Medication
It gets rocky. Very, very rocky!
No matter if you’re travelling on a short trip through passages and inlets, or across the open ocean for extended periods of time, you must be prepared for seasickness.
I am terrible with motion sickness, and even when the swell was very calm, my stomach still felt a little uneasy. Even for those that have the strongest gut in the world, you really never know how you’ll feel on a huge moving ship.
It’s such a strange feeling when you can’t feel movement, but you can see it. I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse than being stuck with that feeling and nothing to relax your stomach. BE PREPARED!
Forget the Dress Code
The cruise I went on in 2016, was in the midst of a 6 week long trip through Canada. When I originally looked into booking, I read the dress code and was immediately very concerned by the few evenings that were formal and black-tie attire.
I myself am really no fancy-pants; I much prefer staying casual. So the thought of carrying a formal gown for 6 weeks for only one night on a cruise ship, was very undesirable. To avoid the hassle, I decided to completely ignore the rules and simply avoided the formal locations on the designated nights.
Thankfully, the casual dining experience is as it says – “casual during” – during all evenings on board, so there’s really no need to get dressed up if it isn’t something that interests you.
As long as you bring something to cover your body, you’ll be good to go!
Pre-Plan your Activities
The bonus with the activities that are planned via your cruise line, is the safety in knowing that you will always get back to your ship in time. Booking through outside sources may be cheaper, but there’s little to no security in knowing if you will get back onboard before your boat departs.
This way, the activities are organised for you with the schedules that get you back just in time… And they’re amazing! The only problem is that they often sell out quite quickly.
If you have the option to book your activities in advance, I do recommend it. It’s not entirely necessary, but at least you’ll know that you’ll get to do the things you really desire.
Book in Advance
The same goes for the cruise in general.
I booked my cruise almost 7 months in advance and I was very close to missing out on the room I really wanted. Of course, it totally depends on the popularity and size of the ship, but what’s the point in risking it?
Don’t worry, you’re never too young!
I went on a cruise through Alaska at the young age of 21. I was surrounded by people that were at least 20 years old than me, but hey (!) I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.
Cruises are often depicted as something that’s only desirable to an older market, but that’s so far from true. If you love the idea of travelling across the ocean and seeing unbelievable sights, your age is completely irrelevant!
Are cruises for you?
If you love to see the world from another perspective if you enjoy having everything easily accessible to you, if you thrive on travelling in luxury… Cruising is certainly for you!
The only thing that could possibly be a problem, is the confined spaces, the rocking motions and the limited onboard attractions. Regardless, there’s no harm in giving it a try, right?
I’m not a luxurious traveller by any means, but I had such a beautiful experience on my cruise. Do I want to do it all the time? No… It’s not the most sustainable option of travel, but there’s no doubt that I would love to do it again!
Why not give it a go for yourself?
Have you got any other cruise tips to add to the list?
[ READ NEXT: Alaska Cruise Day 1 – 4 ]
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