Do you remember your first time cruising? The excitement of a holiday and looking forward to a real break away from it all. Yet, in the back of your mind, that trepidation of the unknown. What do we pack? Will we get seasick? Is the cabin big enough and where is it located? Are there extra costs involved? Do we need a Passport? Will we get bored? All this and more goes through the mind of a first time cruiser – sometimes EVEN BEFORE they have booked.
So, just to show you how easy it is to cruise into a PERFECT holiday, here are a few first timer tips to get you cruising…
Tip 1: Do your Research
The best time to get a great deal on a cruise holiday is… anytime. There are thousands upon thousands of choices out there from cruise lines, cabin types, destinations, ships and more. So how do you choose? Firstly, do some research online at Vacation Rewards. Everything you need is right there to make it easy to select the cruise that’s just right for you and your family. Discover too some incredible discounts with the latest and greatest deals, bonus inclusions, onboard credit, cabin upgrades and more all right there. Go on, and choose your cruise.
Our next suggestion for those who are a little nervous about the whole cruise experience is to start small.
Tip 2: Test the Waters with a Taste-tester
Or more accurately a “cruise” tester. A sort duration cruise that lets you explore the ship, and decide if a sailing life is for you. Think about a 2-4 night getaway touching base at one or maybe two destinations, or what about a “cruise to nowhere” (a cruise that sails from port out to sea, turns around and comes back again – easy!). If you are one of the very few who will never be sailors, then you only have a day or two before you are back on land. For all of those who get hooked, let’s go longer next time. Easy!
Tip 3: Creature Comforts
For the next few days you will be calling a cabin home, so it’s important to get it right. Inside cabins are relatively inexpensive and great for the budget conscious or those who just want a room to sleep in. Some first timers are concerned about the size of the room or would prefer a window. That’s where an oceanview cabin comes in handy. Although you cannot open the window, you can see the lovely seaviews. Of course, if you prefer to have an ocean breeze and a little more personal space – a balcony cabin will be the perfect choice for you. For more check out our blog How Big is your Cabin?
Tip 4: Finding Your Way
Once onboard you’ll notice that the corridors all look the same. Take some time to locate your deck and cabin on the deck plans available next to the elevators. (Alternatively, you could always download a copy of the online ship deck plans before you board).
To assist with finding your way around, one side of the ship has all the even numbered cabins, and the other side has all the odd numbered cabins – how handy! Do a walk through on the first day to get yourself oriented and you’ll be good to go. Once you know where your cabin is you can start locating where the pool is, the buffet and dining rooms, the waterparks and the rest of the fabulous options on each of your ship. Have fun finding your way!
Tip 5: Will I get Seasick?
For those who think they just might, you are not alone, it’s a major fear for many cruise passengers (even if they are yet to step onboard!). Chat to a cruise expert about it, and about the location of your cabin. Why? The center of the ship is usually the most stable, with a lower floor best to avoid the motion of the ocean. Just so you know, there is an onboard doctor and an onboard shop stocked with seasickness remedies and ginger tablets should they be needed. Try to keep an open mind… maybe read up on some remedies if you really, really believe you will be seasick.
Let’s be upfront, there will be some movement, especially if you are in rough seas, although in calmer seas you will be surprised at how little wave action you feel. Give it a go, and see Tip 2.
Tip 6: Passports and Visas
Question is, do you HAVE a passport!? If you are cruising in international waters and touching base in foreign lands then you need a passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months (some countries require longer).
Visa and travel information for different countries can be sourced via a country’s embassy.
Passports and required visas are YOUR responsibility. Remember, no passport, no visa, no cruise.
Tip 7: Will I Overspend
It’s all important. While your transport to your destination, accommodation, entertainment, and meals are already paid for in your cruise fare, there are more than enough opportunities that may potentially cause an overspend if you choose them. An extra surcharge for specialty restaurants, soft and alcoholic drinks (although saying that, there is usually a freely available soda fountain in the main buffet should you choose to use), any onboard purchases, spa services, shore excursions and gratuities will be billed for payment at the end of your cruise. Simply budget for them ahead of time, and keep an eye on your spending by asking for a printout at the purser’s desk – some cruiselines even have an online checking area. Let’s look at a few more tips to help you save $$$.
Tip 8: What’s a Beverage Package?
Most beverage packages could include include beers, wines, cocktails, soft drinks and bottled water. There may also e separate packages for Specialty Coffees, Only Soft Drinks and more, depending on the cruiseline you choose. Your Travel Solution Specialist should be able to advise you on what will work for you and your holiday. Take a few moments to check the terms and conditions so you know what is and what is not included. Spa & Massage packages and shore excursions are also available as a pre-purchase package – always a good idea for the more popular options eg spa time or a MUST SEE experience.
Tip 9: Contact with the World
YES! State-of-the-art WiFi is available on most cruiselines, and Internet Packages can also be pre-purchased, or are available while onboard. You may even have it thrown in as a perk with your cruise fare!). WiFI means you have easy access to your families and friends to upload your holiday snaps and make them green with envy. Note to self: Only use your phone in FREE WiFi areas while in port, otherwise leave it in Flight mode – that way you’ll save a bundle on those hefty roaming charges!
Tip 10: Flexible Dress Codes
Comfortable and casual is the way to go for daily activities. Good walking shoes for exploring exotic destinations and a sarong over your swimmers for when you are walking to/from the pool or spa. Add a little more polish for dinnertime, maybe go a little dressier in the main dining room or speciality restaurants. For designated formal nights (there’s usually at least one on most cruises) it is a chance to glam up – this can be as simple as a jacket and tie or little black dress through to full tux and floor length gown – depending on your chosen ship and how far you want to go. Otherwise you can always hit the buffet.
Tip 11: What will I do All Day?
Depending on your ship choice, activities could range from gyms, pools and spas, waterparks and giant slides through to adventure parks, rock climbing, ice skating, surf simulators, flying simulators, ball sports, roller rinks, dodgem cars and carousels. There are champagne, wine, gin and whisky tastings, martini making, cooking classes, movies, broadway-style shows, comedians, the circus and parades, to name a few. Then you have the new and interesting destinations to visit, with a whole host of shore excursions ready and waiting.
Tip 12: Gourmet dining
From BBQ’s under the stars to all-you-can-eat buffets, white gloved fine dining to celebrity chef restaurants. Think Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone, Guy Fieri, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (Nobu), Jacques Pepin, Atul Kochhar, Marco Pierre White and more. Cruising is your chance to live the high life at a fraction of the cost. OMG Yum…
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