7 Things Everyone Should Know Before Their First Cruise
November 1, 2022
By Lauren Milewski

You’re going on a cruise—how exciting! I’ll let you in on a few cruise tips and hacks for your maiden voyage.

1. Pack Accordingly

Plan to bring a carry-on bag. In most situations, you will reach your cabin before your luggage does, so this bag can hold your medication and other necessities.

Make sure you check the weather at every port your cruise stops as well—you may need to pack an array of seasonal clothing. Check your cruise itinerary to see how many formal outfits you need to bring. Also, make sure you leave plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs and other purchases you make!

2. Turn On Airplane Mode

The internet on cruises can be expensive and have a slow connection. You could purchase internet on your cruise, but that doesn’t ensure a fast internet connection. One of the best cruise tips and hacks is to position yourself by a router to get a faster speed.

This one’s an essential of the cruise ship tips and secrets—remember to turn on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges or get a travel plan through your phone carrier. International roaming rates are sky-high, so make sure you understand potential charges before you embark on your cruise.

3. Pre-Book Your Activities

Once you’re on board, reservations book quickly, so plan ahead. If you want to participate in an activity at a port of call, pre-book it to guarantee you have a spot. If you book early, you can make sure you get a reservation and budget the funds for the rest of your trip.

Prices for activities can vary greatly, so shop around before you pay for an expensive excursion. And stay ahead of schedule—plan to arrive a day before you depart on your cruise to avoid delays in flights or traffic. Your ship won’t wait for you.

4. Purchase a Drink Package

Don’t assume that your cruise ship is all-inclusive. Many cruise ships provide meals in casual settings, access to the pool area and shows. You can upgrade these experiences for a fee to access more services and specialty dining.

Drink packages are one of the top cruise ship tips and secrets. Drink packages can help you save a ton of money if you’re planning on drinking for the duration of your trip. It’s a vacation, right? You must pay for drink packages ahead of time rather than on-board, but they often come at a discounted price.

5. Purchase Sea Bands

Sea bands can be a boon if you get motion sickness. You should pack these, especially if you have kids embarking on your cruise. They’re small elastics you wear on your wrist to help keep nausea at bay—a real life-saver out of these cruise tips and hacks.

Dramamine can also help with motion sickness, so don’t fret too much if you forget your sea band! You can take it before you get on your cruise ship or when motion sickness strikes. Make sure you get the non-drowsy version of the medication.

6. Learn About Automatic Gratuity Systems

Get familiar with how automatic gratuity works on the ship so you don’t fork over unnecessary cash to your servers. You’ll be surprised how much those tips add up and cut into your budget.

Most cruise ships incorporate automatic gratuity into your bill, whether at the bar or the spa. Housekeepers, behind the scene crew and dining workers may also have distributed tips from the cruise’s automatic gratuity system.

7. Bring Your Passport and ID

In case of an emergency—like when you have to leave the ship to catch a flight—you must have your passport and ID on hand. Your birth certificate may work to get you on the boat, but it will not allow you to get off the ship at a port of call to catch a flight.

Some cruise ships offer a full refund if you want to leave the ship within 24 hours of departure. You can’t get off the ship at sea, but you can get off at the next port of call.

Cruise Ship Tips and Secrets

These cruise tips and hacks will help you prepare and experience the best activities on your first cruise. Now go out and have the best time!