As a first time cruiser, we did some research about cruising. And it helped us prepare for an awesome cruise. Hope to help you too and get cruising.
Get to know your cruise. Explore the website of your cruise line. Read about the amenities, the map, the shops, restaurants and more.
Prepare your paperwork prior to cruise day. Prepare your passport, photo ID or driver’s license ahead of time. Check out if it is not expiring near your cruise date. Do your Check-in online and print out your paperwork at least the day before your departure (boarding passes and cruise information). We like to have a folder or envelope with all relevant information and documents for our trip.
What to bring? Find out what you’re allowed to bring. On you cruise line website, they have a list of items that you can or can’t bring aboard. For drinks, guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles. Why worry, you got free potable water, lemonade, milk, chocolate milk, coffee and tea at the Lido area.
Semi-formal or formal night. On most cruises, there will be at least one night where you can attend a formal dinner. Men can wear a suit or tux – but they can also get away with slacks and a button-down shirt and tie. Women can wear a nice dress or “Sunday Best” or go ALL OUT in a gown fit for prom, it’s up to you! Dinner in the formal dining room is business casual with the exception of formal night. Pretty much anything goes except for shorts, sandals and tank tops.
Pack comfortable shoes and clothes. While on board, you will do a lot walking around the ship be sure to bring a comfortable pair of tennis shoes and flip flops, also bring a pair of jeans and a jacket in case you want to hang around the deck at night (weather may be cold).
Don’t forget your sunscreen. If the weather is gorgeous you will probably enjoy the sun on the deck, be sure you have your sunscreen on and you may also bring a hat as well.
Prevent motion sickness. Motion sickness is expected when you’re on a big ship in the ocean, but you can help prevent it. Bring along a motion sickness medicines (Bonine or Dramamine) be sure to buy the non-drowsy formula or you;ll end up sleeping through your vacation. Wear a motion wristband, it is an elastic press against your pressure points and may help keep sea sickness at bay.
Attend the Muster Drill. Prior to departure, you will need to attend the mandatory Muster Drill where you will be given safety instructions on what to do if the ship becomes distressed. Information includes the location of the lifeboats, location of the life preservers, how to proceed if there is an emergency and more. I know I felt a lot more reassured of the safety of the ship and the crew after attending the Muster Drill.
Get travel insurance (optional). It’s an emergency, you’ll never know when things unexpectedly go wrong. Depending on the policy you buy, there can be for luggage is lost, someone falls while going down the stairs or just lose your balance and hurt yourself, got into accident (both health and non-health related), or get even a parasite on board or on your tour destination, or need to cancel or cut short your trip because of a very important event. Read some instances like they got a replacement glasses that were lost while traveling to the UK for $300, a dental crown fixed that had come off a tooth in Sydney for $270, and some got refunded for a flight that they couldn’t make it due to mother’s health condition. It’s your protection while traveling. Try to get a quote here.
Embarkation port parking. Make sure you have a budgeted amount for you embarkation port parking. It’s about $15-$20 a day.
Get to the ship early. This applies to when you first arrive at your cruise or when you disembark at the destination city the cruise is headed to. You do not want to be late or left behind, they will leave with or without you.
Spoil yourself. At an additional cost, you can take advantage of spa services on board. These services may include but are not limited to manicures and pedicures, massages, hair salon, facials and more. Do arrange your spa and salon appointments, as the most popular treatment times book up quickly. Not sure what you want? Take a spa tour. You might win a free treatment in the first-day raffle.
Tips/ Gratuities. At the end of the trip, be prepared to pay a gratuity to your wait staff and stewards. You’ll also pay tips on any alcoholic drinks you order throughout the cruise. So I suggest to pre-pay your gratuities upon booking your cruise.
Explore your destination through shore tours. At an extra cost, you can sign up for a wide variety of shore tours at your destination city. Do you booking online or ask the ship’s tour desk any questions you might have. Some tours have limited space and sell out fast, so book early.
Be prepared to eat a lot. Eat as much as you want. A variety of dining options for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, snacks, dinner and late night in the Main Dining Room or Lido Restaurant if you want to do buffet-style meals. Such as but not limited to: Guy’s Burger Joint, Blue Iguana, 24-hour Pizzeria and 24-hour soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. Free beverages served in the Main Dining Room and 24/7 in the Lido Restaurant: non-bottled water, lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, hot chocolate and brewed coffee and tea. Milk and chocolate milk serve during breakfast and sometimes any time of the day too.
Check your cabin if everything is working. Test the TV, the toilet and the lights and check for bed bugs. There is only one electrical outlet near the bed and another one in the bathroom on the ceiling for shavers. Might as well bring a multi-socket adaptor.
Unpack your suitcases, and get that luggage out of the way early. Decorate your cabin and door if you like to personalize your home for the vacation.
Meet your cabin steward and make any requests you have. Some travelers like to tip their cabin stewards on day one to ensure good service throughout the cruise (but this isn’t necessary).
Take a dip in the pool or hot tub. Bring kids to the waterslides. The pool is open 24hrs a day, Enjoy!
Check in at the kids club and sign up your little ones for the onboard camp activities. There’s often an introductory session for kids and parents to meet the counselors and get acquainted with the facilities. Better to sign up on day one, even if you’re not sure your kids will want to go; there’s no requirement to attend. It’s FREE.
Take lots of photos. Snap a picture of your cabin in, towel animals, capture interesting spots onboard, the food and everything onboard. Feel free to post them online to show your family and friends.
Make your last phone calls, texts and tweets while your phone can access your mobile network provider and so you won’t be charge for roaming fees.
All Carnival Cruise ships offer three internet packages: The “social” plan is $5 per day for unlimited access to social media networks, but not email or web browsing. The $16 per day “value” plan adds access to email and the internet but restricts bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming movies and music or VoIP services (Skype and FaceTime). For heavy internet users, a $25 a day “premium” plan gives access to a faster internet speed and Skype access. All of the plans exclude Snapchat use and video streaming. Passengers can pay the daily rate or purchase a voyage long package for a discounted price.
Watch the shows onboard, join the games. There are lots of show to watch, comedy shows and stage shows that you will really enjoy and of course it is FREE.
Check your balance frequently. It can be very easy to spend money on the cruise and you definitely do NOT want to be hit with a large balance at the end of the trip. Many ships have Kiosks where all you have to do is swipe your Cruise ID and you can see a list of the charges you’ve made on the trip.
Watch the sun set over the ocean, go to the welcome show, hit the bingo and casino, sing karaoke and shake your booty at the disco.
Hope you enjoy your first cruise as much as we did!