Preparing for Your First Cruise
No longer the sole reserve of the rich, cruise holidays are now an affordable and popular option with holidaymakers everywhere. Nonetheless, once you have booked your first cruise, your mind will inevitably turn to things like seasickness, luggage to pack and how to keep your children entertained etc. Follow the advice below and your first cruise will be an enjoyable experience.
If you can, it is best to limit your traveling time before you set off for your first cruise. Ideally, you should book a cruise which leaves from your native country and (if possible) near to where you live. You will have enough things to think about when you are embarking on your maiden cruise, without the hassle of having to catch a flight.
However, sometimes, the only way to get the type of cruise holiday you want is to meet a ship at an overseas port. Obviously, if you live in a country that the major cruise lines do not port in, then this is unavoidable. If this applies to you and you are a first time cruiser, then a package deal with return flights included is your best bet. These package deals are a lot less stressful for novice cruise planners, because your travel agent will arrange for airport transfers, while taking into account any unforeseen problems, such as flight delays.
Obviously, the last thing you want, on your first cruise, is to miss your boat. Yet, it is surprising how many people do this (or come close to doing it) just because they did not allow them enough traveling time to the port. On the same note, you should check and double-check that you have all the relevant paperwork for announcement (including your passport) before you leave your house. Believe it or not, many first time cruisers became so distracted by all the other aspects of their novelty holiday, that they fail to remember these essential items.
Many novice cruisers will convince them that their luggage has been lost, just because it might not turn up for a while after they have arrived in their stateroom. Typically, this is because first time cruisers are far more used staying in hotels, where the guests do not check in all together. Obviously, on a cruise, this is strictly what happens, so there are countless items of luggage that get transported simultaneously. So, if your luggage fails to show up for several hours after your arrival, you can spare yourself some awkward moments by bearing this in mind.
One way of surviving until your main luggage arrives, is to put your essential small items into your hand luggage. This is particularly useful if you are traveling with children, or if you have medication you need to take. Before you leave home, always pack enough things in your hand luggage to get you through the first day. This way, if you are left without your luggage for an unusually long time, you will avoid any unnecessary stress.
With regards to what you should wear on board, every cruise restaurant has its own dress code. So, before you leave, you should check to see whether the dress code on your boat is smart casual, black tie or informal and pack appropriately. Usually, Cunard and P & O cruises have a more conservative dress policy, whereas RCI and celebrity cruises allow you to wear almost anything you want. As a general rule, the smaller boats will impose more stringent dress codes. Some people dislike the idea of having to dress for dinner. Obviously, if this applies to you, then this will govern your choice of cruise line from the outside.
Do not forget that, even if you are cruising in exotic waters, the temperature can still become very cold in the evening. You do not want to have to stay in your stateroom all night, because it is too chilly to venture outside. Always take some warmer clothes with you, otherwise you might be forced to forgo some cozy star-gazing from the ship deck.
Inevitably, being aboard a cruise ship will take a few days of getting used to, irrespective of which cruise line you choose to book with. Even though, it is just the same as a normal holiday, except that you are floating on water. Take heed of the above advice, and you will definitely blend in with the season cruisers who are aboard your ship.