Helpful Travel Tips for the First Time Cruiser

First Time Cruisers


Cruising is the perfect vehicle that allows you to visit multiple destinations in one awesome, action-packed vacation. While getting ready for your trip, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the new information and policies. Making certain that you have the correct travel documents, what to pack, booking dinner reservations, online check-in, researching the destinations and the available shore excursions are just a tip of the iceberg. Continue reading for a few helpful tips and tricks to make your family cruise vacation a memorable one.


There is a definite line drawn among cruisers who love it and hate it. The thought of possibly paying an additional $200 at the end of your trip is just down right….wrong? Well, that’s the consensus among the naysayers. The gratuity is added to your onboard ship account automatically each day. Depending on the cruise line and cabin category, the fees can range anywhere from $11 – $18 per person, per day. Children are not excluded. However, most cruise lines exempt children under 2. At the end of your cruise, the gratuity is divided among the stateroom stewards, restaurant staff and  support staff . If you prefer, you can prepay the gratuity online by logging onto your cruise account. Some cruisers prefer to pay cash at the end of the cruise so they simply visit guest services to have the gratuities removed towards the end of the cruise. Your cruise, your money. Do what’s most affordable and convenient for your family. Gratuity is not a requirement.

What to Pack and How to Pack


  • Go to your local office supply store and buy a lanyard for your onboard sign and sail card. Most casinos will also hole punch your card and provide you with a lanyard. Guard your card with your life. You will need it to get off and on the ship at the different ports. Your card is also used to make purchases on the ship.
  • Never pack all of one person’s clothes in the same suitcase. People’s luggage goes missing all the time. In the event that this unfortunate event happens to you or someone you’re traveling with, you will have clothes. So separate your items equally between everyone’s luggage.
  • Air freshener is a must. No explanation needed.
  • If you’re traveling with babies or toddlers, don’t forget your folding umbrella stroller. They are light weight and store away easily.  You’ll need it at the ports and while wandering around the ship. If you have concerns about your stroller size and cabin accommodations, contact the special needs department for your cruise line. They will tell you exactly how wide the doors are.
  • Bring your own wine. Check with your cruise line for quantity and size restrictions.
  • Bring a double outlet adapter. Your cabin will have maybe two outlets. In a world where everyone has at least two digital electronic devices, you will be fighting over charging your devices without it.
  • Bottled water, soda and juice. All cruise lines allow you to bring in your own beverages. Check with your airline to determine quantity restrictions.
  • Purchase an over-the-door shoe holder with pockets. Counter space is limited. You can use it to store lotion, hair accessories, medication and anything else you can imagine.
  • A good attitude! Life happens. Ports can get canceled due to bad weather conditions. The lobster was over cooked…SO WHAT! There are 5 other eating establishments that will gladly serve you. Nothing in life is perfect, and things won’t always go as planned on your cruise (Murphy’s Law). You’re on vacation. Enjoy it, and make the best out of the situation. Your attitude is the one thing you have absolute control over.

Stay tuned for more from my first time cruiser travel tips series.


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