Feeling Tipsy? 22 Tips for First-Time Cruisers

October 26, 2018

It seems that everyone wants to give advice these days, including me. I’ve scoured the Internet for the best tips for first-time cruisers. Enjoy!

  1. As soon as you book your cruise, double check your passport and travel documents. You know how easy it is to put something off until POOF, you’ve almost forgotten about it and now it just might be too late. Remember that all these documents take time for processing. Even though we live in a world where most things are accessible with the press of a button, NOT SO for government issued IDs. Give yourself the sanity of organizing these documents and having them ready-to-go RIGHT AWAY!
  2. Give yourself enough time for travel from the airport to your ship’s port. In fact, most experienced cruisers recommend flying in a day or two ahead. Airlines just aren’t as dependable as cruise lines about sticking to schedule, and you don’t want to find yourself missing your ship because of a delayed flight. You also don’t want to deal with the anxiety of running from plane to car to ship. Don’t be a pier-runner! Start your cruise off the savvy way: soothed by the knowledge that you will arrive on time.
  3. Buy travel insurance. If you live in the Midwest, you know that blizzards are a vacation buzzkill. With travel insurance, if a blizzard prevents your timely departure, you can call your travel agent, get a refund, and reschedule your cruise. It’s an unpredictable world, but you can predict that travel insurance will make it easier.
  4. Buy a wrist watch before departure. You will want to sync your watch to the ship’s time. Your cell phone is going to automatically change time according to time zone. If you are on a shore excursion, you could miss your ship if you aren’t attuned to the ship’s time. Everything on the ship runs by ship time. If you have that on your wrist, you are less likely to miss out on important events such as specialty restaurant reservations or spa appointments.
  5. Put on your sleuthing glasses and investigate the ports you will be visiting. Don’t cruise blindly. Hit up the Internet and type your port cities into Google. A little bit of history and culture never hurt anyone, and this background information can help you choose your excursions. You will get the most out of your vacation if you put a little love into researching your destinations. You will also increase your sense of excitement and anticipation. Encouraging your wanderlust is like adding extra flavor to your favorite dish!
  6. Pre-book and pre-pay for as much as you can. This way you will have fewer fiscal surprises at the end of your trip, and it will help you stick to your budget. This is also where that research component comes in handy. Choose your shore excursions and develop your travel plans as soon as you can. Contrary to the adage that planning can inhibit a sense of spontaneity, a plan can increase your ability to relax, enjoy, and embrace the moment for all its intensity. Planning your trip is a way to let yourself CARPE DIEM!
  7. Book your spa-package immediately. These go fast! I always book my massage for the end of the cruise. Cruising is a lot of work. As my dear friend once said, “luxury is hard.” I like to end my experience of luxury with a little extra pampering.
  8. Organize your packing with the help of some packing-cubes and labels. Now that you’ve done your research and planned your shore excursions, you can pre-pack.
  9. Bring a stash of one-dollar bills. You can use them at your discretion for tipping. You can even use them in ports because most do accept American dollars. Also, having a stash of bills will help you set and stick to a budget when you decide to hit up the ship’s casino.
  10. Regarding your on-board gratuities: Oceania Cruises’ gratuity is automatically added to each passenger’s shipboard account ($16/day/person for most statehouses, and $23/day/person for the Penthouse, Oceania, Vista, and Owner’s Suites). On American Queen, gratuity is $18.50/day/person and is automatically added to each passenger’s onboard account. Victory Cruise Lines’ gratuity is $15.50/day/person and automatically added to each passenger’s personal portfolio. For Scenic Cruise Lines, gratuity is already included in the cost of your cruise fare as this is a truly all-inclusive cruise line and additional tipping is not expected.
  11. The recommended gratuity for tour guides on shore excursions starts at $5/person. The recommended gratuity for bus drivers starts at $2/person.
  12. Put your phone on Airplane Mode as soon as you board the ship. You will still be able to connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi for your Googling needs, but you will want to avoid those pesky and pricey roaming charges.
  13. When on the ship, use the stairs and avoid the elevators. This will help you avoid packing on any extra pounds from lavish indulgence.
  14. Take a picture each morning with your phone of the ship’s daily planner. This way, you’ll always have it on you.
  15. Go to the onboard seminars! It’s a great way to meet new people and provides ample conversation material for mingling.
  16. Try poker! Especially if you’ve never played before. Most players on cruise ships have never played before, and it offers another fun opportunity to meet new folks.
  17. Check out your beach towels the night before you port to avoid the morning rush.
  18. Packing must-haves short-list: sunscreen, swimsuit cover-up, light-weight water-proof jacket, water shoes, flip-flops with good treads, zip-lock bags, dry-bag, lint roller, sanitary wipes, and a travel corkscrew. Leave the hair dryer at home! It is standard equipment.
  19. If you are worried about sea-sickness, eat green apples and wear a sea-band.
  20. Take lots of photos and post to social media! Tag us @GONEXT_TRAVEL for extra fun!
  21. If anything is a concern, talk to your Go Next Program Manager. That’s what they’re there for.
  22. There is so much to do on a cruise and making choices can feel overwhelming sometimes. Be compassionate with yourself. Choose two activities a day and stick with them. Allow yourself time to meander through the cobblestone streets or beachy avenues of your chosen destinations. Listen to the birds chirp or feel the breeze caress your skin. “The world is too much with us,” said William Wordsworth, and somedays I know just what he means. Enjoy the view! If all else fails, take a stroll and take heart with this Wordsworthian suggestion: “Have glimpses that would make [you] less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea.”
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