Travel Magazine

Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise

By Raghavmodi @raghavmodi
I've only been on one cruise and that too almost a year ago, but loved the experience so much that I cannot wait to go on my next one. My 12 day cruise in the Caribbean Sea had 8 Caribbean island stops and 4 sea days, giving me just the right amount of time to experience a different part of the world and a different mode of transportation.
I'm sure a number of travelers who have been on numerous cruises can give you insiders tips, but here are Top 10 Tips according to me that you should keep in mind if you are planning your first cruise vacation;
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
It's Huge! - Don't get intimidated by the size of the ship. Give it time to sink in (Oh! is that the wrong word to use or what?) and give it a couple of days before you are able to find your room in the first go. Trust me, you are not alone, and are sure to find even seasoned cruisers searching for their rooms during the first two days.
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
Food for Thought - Food is an integral part of any cruise. It's all around you and eventually whether you like it or not will end up in you. I'm the type of person who simply lets go of everything and enjoys the food. During my cruise, I gained 5 kilos and it did take a while to get rid of it, but I do not regret it one bit. If you are a tad more health conscious than me, then eat in moderation, stay clear of the restaurants, and make the most of the gym.  
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
To Book or Not to Book? - Shore activities are a welcome change after spending time on the cruise ship. Although you can do some research and book your own excursions in advance, I still think it is advisable to book through the ships travel shop. During my cruise, I booked a snorkeling excursion in Bonaire with Woodwind on my own and it turned out to be the best experience ever, but not all excursions turn out this good and we did hear some horror stories from people. Moreover, the most important benefit of booking through the ship is that even if you are late, the ship will wait for you whereas if you are off on your own, they will depart at the stipulated time leaving you behind.
Say Cheese! - There are bound to be plenty of "official" cruise-line photographers on the ship who are always ready and eager to take those perfect photographs for each and every occasion. I do recommend that you make the most of them and get yourself clicked as often as possible. Do remember however that you are under no pressure to purchase the photographs. If you don't like them or maybe just have had enough, simply let it be, and don't feel bad about not buying the photographs either.
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
Plan and Participate - The cruise ship comes alive on sea days. With everyone onboard there are activities happening all over the ship throughout the day and night. There usually is an onboard newspaper that you will receive each morning with the days events and it is a good idea to spend a little time and organize yourself by choosing the activities you want to attend. One of the best things I found about cruising is that the people onboard are never judgmental. So, don't worry about making a fool of yourself and go ahead and participate in everything that tickles your fancy.  
Mingle - The whole idea of being "stuck" on a boat with close to a thousand passengers is that you make the most of it and learn about different cultures and places. I found that while eating always make it point to sit on one of the bigger tables which usually leads to fellow cruisers joining you (or you can go sit with them if they are already on a big table with free seats). Some of the best conversations I had were with total strangers during lunch and dinner. You don't even have to exchange numbers, or see each other again, but trust me you are bound to learn something new in those few minutes of your conversation.
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
Step Up and Step Out - The worst thing anyone can do is stay onboard when the ship reaches a new destination. You are bound to get tired of going on land on those longer cruises and it's okay if you miss out on a port of call or two, but at least make sure you get out of the ship and if nothing more just enjoy the shops and vibrant life you are bound to find around the docking area.
What a Sight! - Two of the most important times during the cruise that you should not be without a camera are dawn and dusk. If you are not an early riser like me, you are bound to miss out on the sunrise, but then make it a point to be on the deck for some of the most amazing and beautiful sunsets you will witness in your life. Here are some of the ones I captured with my trusted point and shoot.
You still have to pay for it - Cruise ships make it real easy for you by making your room keys into onboard credit cards. Want a drink? Just hand over your room keys. Want to buy tickets for Bingo? Simply swap them keys. Want to purchase something from the onboard shops? Room keys please. It's easy to get carried away, so make sure you keep a check on your expenses at all times, because you will have to eventually pay for it all.
Sea Legs - The last tip for you would be to enjoy each and every experience that you go through on the ship. There is good chance that on the very first night you experience sea legs, which in other words means that you will walk like you would normally after having a few glasses of wine. I have to admit I was a bit anxious at first, but then it just became something fun as I moved along the ship trying to avoid bumping into people who in return were trying to avoid crashing into me.
Top 10 Tips - First Time on a Cruise
Bonus Balcony Tip - Yes, I know it's technically the 11th tip, but Top 10 sounds so much better, so I decided to go ahead with a "bonus" tip instead. By choosing a room with a balcony you not only make your small cabins feel and look bigger, but the balcony comes in real handy when you want to simply get out of your bed and drink your morning tea as the sun rises and warms you up for an exciting day ahead.
Bon Voyage 

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