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New or Beginning Cruisers

5 things a New or Beginning Cruiser need to know!

A guide for New or Beginning Cruisers!

Do you want to go on a Cruise?  Maybe you want to go on your second or third Cruise.  Well, welcome to the time of your life. Here are things you need to know if you are a New or Beginning Cruiser.  Cruising is an amazing way to vacation, travel the seas and visit other parts of the world.

Selecting a Cruise

If you are a New or Beginning Cruiser don’t worry about which Cruise Line you are traveling on.  They are all nice. You should try them all out, then you can make a decision. Just because someone else likes a Cruise Line does not mean that you will and because they don’t like a Cruise Line does not mean you won’t like it either.  There is also no such thing as a bad Port of Call. Intelligent People can find interesting and fun things to do most anyplace. Don’t worry about anyone else but yourself and those Cruising with you. It is important that you all have fun.  The cruise is for you and your guest(s), not people on Social Media or Friends and Family who are not paying for your trip. If you are happy with the Cruise, then that is all that matters.

Selecting a Cabin

The “Rule of Thumb” is to get as high as you can on the ship and in the middle of the ship.  Since that is the “rule” those cabins usually go first and cost a little more. Select a cabin to make you and your guest(s) comfortable.  Don’t worry about impressing people. Truthfully you will spend very little time in your room. All of the action and fun are on the decks of the ship.  Balconies are nice but on a short trip, 4 days or less, you have to balance how much you will get out of it versus the extra cost. My first 5 Cruises we stayed in the Interior Cabin and spent the money we saved at the spa.

Cruise Cabin
Cruise Cabin

On board the Ship

If you are a New or Beginning Cruiser you can generally board a ship around 11:30 AM.  If you board early it is like adding another day to your Cruise. Pack everything you will need the first day in a carryon bag.  You may not get your luggage until after dinner. Although the earlier you board usually the faster you will receive your checked bags. When you first get on the Ship make sure that you explore the ship.  Each ship has different features. Some have bowling, others have ice bars, while others have specialty restaurants, miniature golf, rock climbing, outdoor theaters, a library, game room, 24-hour pizza, movie theater, comedy club and much more.  One of the worst feelings is to discover something that you like to do was on the ship when you are leaving to go home.

Lido Deck on Carnival Cruise Line

It is best to read the daily newsletter that is put out by the Cruise Ship.  That will tell you all the days events plus what time things are opened. The ships have shopping.  Gift shops, a liquor store, and some ships offer more. The same is true for restaurants. The ships have multiple restaurants, bars, and lounges.  In the evenings’ lounges, you may find different entertainment themes that change nightly.

Selecting Excursions

If you are going someplace new, we recommend that you do a City Tour.  It is the best way to see the area and learn about the port of call. If you are a New or Beginning Cruiser you may have heard that it is cheaper to buy the Cruise once you get to the port from the locals.  That often is the case. It can also be overwhelming if you are not used to negotiating or if you don’t like high-pressure sales tactics.

Dune Boggy Excursion on the Dominican Republic!
Dune Boggy Excursion on the Dominican Republic!

Our best advice is if you buy an excursion from other than your Cruise Line, make sure that the excursion ends 2-3 hours before it is time for your ship to leave. Make sure if something goes wrong you can still make it back on time.  We have seen buses breakdown, get flat tires, and even run into bad traffic. If you are late the Cruise Ship can leave you and it is your responsibility to catch up to the ship or return home on your own. A Cruise Ship will generally wait for you if you are on a ship sponsored excursion. If for any reason you miss the ship because of a Cruise Line excursion the Cruise Line will get you to the next port at their expense.


For most New or Beginning Cruisers Dinner is one of the best parts of the vacation.  All of your meals are included on a Cruise. Along with basic drinks such as orange and apple juice during breakfast, tea and fruit punch or lemonade during lunch and dinner.  Coffee and Tea are available 24 hours a day. Here is an insider secret to dinner. You can order multiple entrees and appetizers. For example, if you like escargot then you can order 2 or 3 of them.  They do not charge extra. The same is true for Lobster night. It is also true about deserts, so there is no reason to choose between cake and pie. You can have both!

Lobster Dinner
Lobster Dinner

Elegant or Formal Night

The elegant night is a chance for you to get dressed up for a Formal or Semi-Formal Event.  Photographers will be all around the ship to capture the moment with all different types of backdrops.  You are not required to dress up. You can wear regular casual clothes for dinner. However, We recommend that you try it.  It is a lot of fun especially if you are new to Cruising.

3 Generations on Formal Night!

5 Important things all New and Beginning Cruisers need to know!

  1. No money exchanges hands on a Cruise Ship.  You use a Sail & Sign Card. You must establish an account with the Cruise ship and that is done with Credit Card, Debit Card or Cash.  
  2. Most ships have an Adults Only area.  This is part of the ship where children are not allowed.  It is usually a quiet area.
  3. Most Ships have 24-hour Self Serve Ice Cream.  You can usually get Vanilla or Chocolate. Some ships have Strawberry.
  4. Cruise Ships offer a discount on future cruises if you purchase while on the Cruise Ship.  Check and find out were the Future Guest Desk is on your ship.
  5. Drink Packages are an economical way to go on a Cruise.  They control the price you are spending on drinks and can save you money.  Most Ships offer soda, wine, beer, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink packages.  Pick the one that is right for you!
Adults Only Area!

Do you want to go on a Cruise?  Don’t wait any longer. Plan the Cruise, it will be the time of your life.  Now you have what you need to know to begin Cruising. Cruising is an amazing way to vacation, travel the seas and visit exciting parts of the world.  Especially, for New and Beginning Cruisers!

For more Cruise Information read:

7 Things to do when you first board a Cruise Ship

What To Wear on Formal Night on a Cruise

Cruise Passengers being arrested on Outstanding Warrant(s)

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 34 different Countries mainly concentrated in Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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