What To Expect When You Go On A Cruise For The First Time?

There’s been a steady rise in interest in cruise ships worldwide. With everyone wanting to see what all the chatter’s about, many are first-timers. So, if you’re one of those individuals and want to know what new experiences await you on a cruise, stick around to find out as we break down everything you should expect.

On your first-ever cruise, you should expect limited luggage space, food indulgence at any time of day, fitness groups recruiting members, all sorts of attire, and a fair share of extra charges. You should know effective packing strategies, how to check in, and how to change cell service.

Cruise ships aren’t cheap, and if you aren’t familiar with the do’s and don’ts, you’ll miss out on a significant chunk of the fun. So keep reading as we break down everything you should expect from your first cruise and give tips and tricks to ensure everything goes smoothly!

Expectations For Your First Cruise

We’ve discussed things you should expect when going on your first cruise. They’re all standard but can make or break your vacation, depending on how you deal with them. These expectations should help you keep a realistic view of what’s to come and avoid unpleasant surprises during or after the cruise.

Limited Luggage Space

An enormous mistake tons of new cruise-goers make is overpacking – they think of it more like vacations elsewhere where overpacking doesn’t harm much. However, since you’re in a small, confined space for an extended period, the extra space your luggage takes up can get irritating.

After all, you’re miles away from land, too, so there’s no other place to store it.

Unlike hotels where you get enormous rooms all to yourself, cruise ships do not have huge rooms. Even their suites, while packed with luxury, have limited space inside, meaning you should never pack items you won’t be using or will rarely use.

Another reason overpacking is not encouraged is that the more you pack, the harder it is to keep track of everything. Since petty theft is quite common amongst cruise liners, you’re bound to lose a few things if you can’t store them away safely until you need them.

To prevent this, read up on the travel planner, see your room’s size beforehand, and pack accordingly.

Food Availability Throughout The Day

The accessibility to full meals at any time of the day is one of the biggest appeals of cruising. Since many cruise ships have shifted from traditional buffet-style lunches to more individualized meals, they have made more extensive room service menus.

You can call room service, tell them what you want to order, and they will serve you quickly!

While many cruise liners also have buffets at various times of the day for most passengers, they won’t confine anyone to eat then and there or wait for the next meal. This flexible dining service is typically available in all restaurants on the cruise ship, but it’s always a good idea to confirm. 

Exercise Plans And Sessions

If you’re worried about gaining a few pounds from all that delicious food, you should check out the cruise’s gym. Many cruise liners have started opening workout areas for people used to a workout routine. This helps them stay active during the cruise.

It’s also a great way for passengers to interact with each other and get to learn more about them. At workout sessions, they can follow their routine or join the crowd to get some cardio.

Apart from that, some cruise liners have their fitness programs running, the bill of which is usually covered by your cruise’s booking payment.

Diversity In Clothing And Dressing Styles

This might be one of the most shockingly obvious things out there, but yes, cruise ships have no restrictions on clothing, so people can wear whatever they want when they want it.

Unlike new hotels, which insist on customers dressing nicely for gatherings with other customers, cruise ships give everyone the freedom to choose whatever they’re comfortable in.

You might see people coming to the evening buffet with nothing but a night suit on. This opposite can also be true as people can dress up on their own accord for any activity they wish to participate in.

Seeing suits and tuxedos beside some t-shirts and pants on the poker table is fun.

The same goes for absolutely any activity on the cruise. While very few may have slight clothing restrictions, such as fine-dining restaurants, you shouldn’t worry if you haven’t packed something that doesn’t look up to the mark.

A Plethora Of Additional Charges

The last three might have been extremely pleasant, egging you to book a cruise. However, this drawback may change your mind. When booking a cruise, you receive an itinerary and brochure containing all the activities and services you are entitled to.

Even though you can join in on those activities, you’ll often need to buy the equipment or a slot at the table.

Besides, tons of small extra charges are applied to your final bill. These include room service, mini-fridge charges, drinks, beverages, etc. Many people don’t know about this and only find out about them at the end, leaving a bad memory of the cruise that robbed them of their savings.

If you don’t want to fall victim to this, simply plan before boarding the cruise. If you love drinks and other beverages, make some space in your luggage to pack some. You can also allocate a particular portion of your budget to buy these things without worrying about money.

Types of Additional ChargesHow Much They Cost (Estimate)
Taxes, fees, and port charges$120
Internet Access Fees$20 per day
Room Service Convenience Fees$10 per order
Drinks Charges$4 per soda can
Spa Fees$200 per week
Gratuity Charges$22 per day
Fitness Class Fees$10

Daily Activity Reminder

Many cruise ship passengers miss out on many activities simply because they don’t know something’s happening. This applies to anything from group activities to buffets and musical nights.

But before you start overplanning everything to fit into your cruise itinerary, you should know that a daily activities reminder is sent out almost every day.

The cruise management also knows how difficult it is to keep track of everything in a new environment. To help passengers calm down and not stress out about experiencing the fear of missing out, they will announce the start or closure of activity through their PA system.

This alerts everyone to any ongoing activities so you don’t miss out.

Can You Take A Campervan To Hamilton Island

Destination Island Visits

Contrary to what many people believe, cruise liners have various stops during their tours. These are around specific tourist attractions where people can explore exotic islands or deep dive. Most people think cruise ships only consist of onboard activities, but that’s far from the truth.

You should expect at least one stop if you’re going on a cruise. This tourist attraction could have any number of activities to enthrall the guests. These activities include speed boats, island discovery, bonfires, deep-sea exploration, etc.

If you’re a fan of these activities, you should keep your ears peeled for any such announcement.

Things To Know Before Boarding Your First Cruise

Now you know what to expect from cruise ships; there are also things you should know beforehand. Knowing the activities is excellent for balancing expectations, but sometimes, inadequate knowledge or packing can lead to disappointment. So, note down these tips and tricks below!

Pack Efficiently

We discussed how cruise ship cabins have limited space, and no one wants to spend their vacation resting in an overpacked, crowded room. That is why you should choose to pack efficiently. Bring things you’ll need, like clothes, sunscreen, medication, etc., and leave things like toiletries and sports equipment behind.

That doesn’t mean you overload your luggage with excess clothes, though, as that can be a nuisance. Cruise ships have laundry facilities, and you can wear the same clothes again to avoid overpacking. Also, medication only means the necessities, especially for people with medical conditions.

However, you won’t need common over-the-top medication like Panadol, as the cruise management will likely have that.

Changing Your Cell Service

This is a critical piece of knowledge as it can leave you a hefty bill. This charge isn’t related to the cruise but to your cell phone reception. Once you leave your cell service provider’s reception radius, all your calls register as international. These calls are costly, even if done a few times.

If you forget to do this, it might cost you more! So when boarding the cruise ship, or even before, to be safe, always turn off your cell phone service or switch it to airplane mode. This can save you from a catastrophic bill.

Choose Your Cruise Wisely

Every cruise has its own set of activities. While some focus more on extracurricular activities like sightseeing and exploring, others are better at bringing you an elegant and relaxing experience for your vacation.

To know which one is which, always read their websites about their activities.

When you book a cruise, you’ll have some expectations on how you want the cruise to go, and securing the wrong one can ruin your entire vacation. Some cruises are more suitable for people with kids but might not be very fun for older individuals looking to relax in peace.

So make sure you always check out what the cruise offers before paying for it; otherwise, you may regret thinking about it in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There Pre-Booking In Restaurants On Cruise Ships?

Yes. Many restaurants, especially high-end ones, have pre-booking for their tables. While this isn’t the case for every restaurant, if you want that fine-dining experience, you should check if it’s included in your cruise package.

If not, ask the cruise management how to sign up for a table at that restaurant.

What Happens In Case Of A Medical Emergency?

If there is a medical emergency onboard, there will always be at least one or two trained medical professionals onboard as part of the cruise management. They will treat it to the best of their abilities and available equipment.

If it escalates, emergency boats will take the patient to the nearest port.

How Do I Prevent Motion Sickness?

You can prevent motion sickness using specialized wristbands called Sea Bands. These bands press against your pressure points and help reduce the effects of your motion sickness. You can also take prescribed medication to help with the motion sickness.

Aside from that, try to book cabins on the higher decks with less motion.

Is There A Dress Code On Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships typically have a relaxed and casual atmosphere, and most of them do not enforce strict dress codes for everyday activities. During the day, you can wear comfortable and casual clothing while enjoying the various onboard facilities and activities.

However, some cruise lines may have specific dress codes for certain dining venues or evening events. 

In the evenings, cruise ships often have “smart-casual” or “resort-casual” dress codes, which usually mean collared shirts and slacks for men and casual dresses or pantsuits for women.

On formal nights, some cruise lines may host elegant dinners or themed events where formal attire, such as suits, tuxedos, or formal gowns, is encouraged but not always mandatory.

Final Thought

Embarking on a cruise for the first time promises an array of exciting and diverse experiences. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations.

As a first-time cruiser, you should be prepared for limited luggage space, the convenience of round-the-clock food availability, and the chance to stay active with onboard fitness programs.

Embrace the freedom of dressing casually or elegantly as per your preference. 

Nevertheless, be wary of additional charges that might catch you off guard and plan your budget accordingly. Keep an eye out for daily activity reminders and make the most of the destination island visits.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, pack efficiently, manage your cell service, and select a cruise that aligns with your preferences. Armed with these insights and tips, you can look forward to an unforgettable and hassle-free first cruise experience. Bon voyage!

Daniel Clarke

The website is run by myself Daniel Clarke, I’m lucky enough to have been living in Hervey Bay, for 31 years so I’m classed as a local I have seen many changes over this time. Read more about us here

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