top of page
  • Writer's pictureMarissa Benson

Cruising Guide: Tips & tricks to make your first cruise the best!

Cruise ship balcony

Embarking on a cruise is an exciting adventure, and with a few tips and tricks, you can enhance your experience and make it the best cruise possible. Whether you're a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer, consider these suggestions.

It all starts with wearing the right stuff! Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, after all you are on vacation!


  • Casual wear for daytime activities - its best to wear layers. Even in tropical locations it can be chilly at night in the ocean.

  • Formal attire for formal nights (check cruise line recommendations) 2-5 Nights will have one formal night. 6+ Nights will have two formal nights.

  • Swimwear + life jackets if needed.

  • Cover-ups for pool areas

  • Comfortable walking shoes

  • Sandals/flip-flops for beach excursions.

For a complete packing list: CLICK HERE

Be Early - For Everything:

  • Arrive at your departure point a day ahead of schedule. Just in case flights are delayed. If you are flying overseas, arrive several days early.

  • Everything starts RIGHT ON TIME on a cruise. If you want to play Dodgeball on deck 10, get there 10 minutes early!

  • Dinner reservations - they can often get you in as soon as you arrive, but if you are late they have probably given your spot to someone else.

Onboard Etiquette:

  • Familiarize yourself with the ship's layout and amenities early on. On your first day boarding its fun to walk around the ship and explore all the amenities your ship has to offer.

  • Be punctual for scheduled activities and adhere to dress codes for formal nights.

  • Manners are important & patience is a virtue.

  • Know where your kids are & what they are up to. Check in on them often.

Dining Decisions:

  • Take advantage of included dining options, including main dining rooms and buffets.

  • Many dining options & restaurants are only open at certain times, check with your ships itinerary.

  • Consider specialty dining for a more intimate and unique culinary experience.

  • Try new things! (I never knew how much I loved chilled soups till I went on a cruise.)

  • The main dining room has a dress code - check your cruise lines website for dress code dining attire.

  • Opt for flexible dining times to accommodate your schedule.

Shore Excursions:

  • Research and book shore excursions in advance to secure your spot.

  • Take advantage of a mix of guided tours and independent exploration at each port.

  • Research each port in advance.

Budgeting Onboard:

  • Set a budget for onboard expenses, including gratuities, drinks, and optional activities.

  • Monitor your spending using the ship's app or designated kiosks.

Staying Healthy:

  • Prioritize hand hygiene to prevent the spread of germs.

  • Stay active by taking advantage of onboard fitness facilities and participating in onboard activities.

  • Bring your vitamins & drink lots of water.

Capture the Moments:

  • Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning views and memorable moments.

  • Take a portable charger for your phone. I use THIS one and highly recommend it.

  • Attend onboard events and shows, and don't forget to document your experiences.

Local Culture:

  • Immerse yourself in the local culture during port stops.

  • Try local cuisine, explore historical sites, and engage with the locals.

Safety First:

  • Always adhere to the ship's departure schedule when on shore excursions.

  • Carry a photocopy of your ID and the ship's contact information.

  • Make copies of any important document and keep them in a separate bag for peace of mind.

  • Stay on Ship Time - unless directed otherwise by the ship. Set your phone or watch to ships time.

  • Read the rule & guidelines for your cruise ship & cruise line on there website.

Sea Sickness Tips:

Prevention Techniques:

  • Bring motion sickness bands or medication.

  • Choose a cabin location that minimizes motion, typically mid-ship and on lower decks.

  • Peppermint essential oil or chewing mint gum can help.

  • Don't focus on the rocking of the ship. Keep your mind off of it & enjoy all the fun activities of the cruise.

Stay Hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which can contribute to seasickness.

  • Bring a water bottle off the ship. This collapsable bottle works amazing.

  • Some cruise lines you are allowed to carry on 12 cans of soda or a case of water. Two bottles of wine or champagne. Check the cruise lines website for more details.

Explore the Ship:

  • Take a map of the ship and explore its layout.

  • Familiarize yourself with key areas like dining venues, entertainment spots, and your cabin location.

Entertainment Extravaganza:

  • Check the daily itinerary for onboard activities and entertainment. Usually found on the cruise lines app or ask for a physical copy.

  • Attend shows, workshops, and themed parties to make the most of your cruise experience. Don't be shy!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Bring laundry bags, the rooms are small and its nice to keep all your dirty clothes in one place. Check them out HERE.

  • Get out of your comfort zone, do something new, try something thats not the normal, it makes your cruise unforgettable. Karaoke? Harry chest contest?

  • Pack smart - plan your outfits accordingly & try not to overpack. If you need they have laundry services on the ship, or buy a fun sun dress or t-shirt in port. Overpacking on a cruise just takes up more space!

  • On some cruise lines you can opt out of gratuities being charged to your card and you can pay by cash to those that helped you. - Check your cruise lines policy.

  • Don't wait till the last minute to board the ship. Give yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship. This ship DOES NOT WAIT FOR YOU.

  • Pack anything you want for your first day in a carry on.

  • Keep your phone in airplane mode - don't get charged to calls & texts that you were not expecting!

  • Don't try & do it all. I have been on the same cruise multiple times and it wasn't enough to see & do it all. Enjoy the moments you have with your family & friends. Let yourself relax, after all its a vacation!

  • For amazing flight deals for your upcoming cruise check out or read my blog "How I fly for Free"

Embarking on your first cruise is a transformative experience filled with new discoveries and exciting adventures. From onboard entertainment to shore explorations, savor every moment, and let the sea be your guide. As a first-time cruiser, you're about to set sail on a journey that will leave you with lifelong memories and a love for the open seas. Bon voyage!

Follow us on instagram or Pinterest for more tips & tricks! Ready to book your next adventure? Click HERE.

Do you have any tips or tricks to add? Comment below!


Beach Waves

Join the Fun: Be the first to know of amazing travel deals and new blog posts!

Thank You!

bottom of page