First Time Cruiser? What You Need to Know: Cruise Tips and Tricks

1. Fly into the port a day early. This will help you avoid the stress of possible flight delays and loss of luggage if you fly in the day the cruise disembarks. If you are late, the boat will likely leave without you. However, if you still don’t want to get to the port city a day early, you can make your life easier by shipping your luggage directly to the port. You won’t have to worry if your bags will make it or not.

2. When booking, it is best to book over the phone so you can ask for a specific floor. The higher the floor the better because you are closer to the action and contrary to popular belief, if you get motion sick, the lower floors are actually more uncomfortable.

3. Look into your cruise line’s themed parties. Some have a theme party that is celebrated on their whole fleet. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines have a White Hot party where everyone wears white and there is a dance party. You want to be prepared to participate if you desire to. Along with this, research if your cruise line has “formal” nights in their dining rooms so you are prepared to dress appropriately.

4. Don’t ignore your emails from the cruise line. Print out everything you receive from them because you will need it all.

5. Don’t pack alcohol in your bag. As cruise lines have been doing this for years, they know exactly where people hide their alcohol (no matter how creative you think your hiding spot is). The cruise line puts your luggage through a security scanner just like airports do and they will find anything that isn’t supposed to be there so make sure to look on their website to see what isn’t allowed.

6. Lock your suitcase because after your luggage goes through security, they will drop it off at your room later in the day after you have disembarked from port. It will be sitting outside your room and you don’t want to worry about other cruisers going through your stuff.

7. Since you are without your bag for a few hours, make sure you pack a beach bag or backpack to carry on board with you that holds a bathing suit, book, suntan lotion and whatever else you may want while waiting for your luggage to arrive.

8. When “checking in” most cruise lines will ask for a credit card to put on your key card so you can charge anything with it and not worry about carrying a wallet around all vacation. Don’t use a debit card, if you overdraw you will get charged a bundle from the cruise line as well as your bank. Make sure to use a credit card.

9. Keep your key card with you at all times, even when you are getting off the boat. You can’t get back on the boat without it as it is used as an I.D. card and your picture is usually tied to it.

10. When docked in port, your bag will go through security checks every time you get back onto the boat so don’t buy anything you think won’t get through the scanners.

11. Depending on the boat, your room might not have an alarm clock. Keep your phone on airplane mode if you want to avoid roaming charges but want to use it as an alarm. You can also ask for wake-up calls.

12. Lastly, don’t be alarmed, but within hours of getting on the boat, you will hear about an emergency evacuation plan to prepare you just in case something happens. Tip: Know how to get to your meeting point from various parts of the boat. It is very unlikely anything will happen, but you can never be too careful.

13. Again, depending on the cruise line, you may not get cell reception while on the boat so if you are traveling with a family or a group, buy walkie talkies. It is great for finding each other and communicating while on board.

Do you have any other cruise tips and tricks to share?

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