What to Expect on Your First Cruise: What to Do Before You Board

Did you know that almost 100 million Americans took a spring or summer vacation last year? If you’re in need of a break, it’s time to start planning yours!

And what better vacation than taking a cruise?

Cruises enable travelers to experience some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, often at a lower cost than they would find otherwise. But to get the most out of your trip, you need to know what to expect on a cruise!

With proper preparation, you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your break from the real world. Read on to learn everything you need to know!

1. Know the Dress Code

The dress code will depend on the ship you’re going to be on – some ships don’t require dressing up at all anymore! But if your ship has a formal dinner that you plan to attend, you’ll need to pack an appropriate outfit for the occasion.

Other than that, you should be able to dress casually for the rest of your trip.

2. Budget for Extra Costs

While many cruises are at least nearly all-inclusive, you’ll need to check with your cruise line to determine what extra costs, if any, you should budget for. Alcoholic drinks, for example, are often an additional fee.

Also, if you want to take part in any off-ship activities, such as shore excursions, you’ll need to add them to your list of expenses.

3. Be Strict with Your Packing List

Remember, the average on-ship cabin is about 200 square feet. And while you’ll be spending very little time in your room, you’ll still need space to get ready in the morning!

Pack as lightly as you can to avoid feeling cramped in your cabin. An outfit for each day, any formalwear you need, and a bathing suit or two should be all you need in regard to clothing.

4. Know What Type of Outlets You’ll Be Provided

Electrical outlets are often overlooked, but it’s important to know the type provided in your cabin so you can charge your electronics. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your cabin only to find that you can’t use the outlets.

While many cruise lines provide American-style outlets, some international ships will have other electrical standards. If you find that your cruise ship has the latter, don’t worry! Simply bring an adapter with you and you’re good to go.

5. Find Out What Amenities are Included

Like hotels, most cruise ships provide a hairdryer, so you won’t need to pack one. They will also likely have toiletries like shampoo and body wash in the cabin, but if you’re particular about the type you use, you should bring your own anyway.

You should be able to access a list of the amenities your cruise line provides that you can use when making your packing list. Read on here to learn some of the incredible things offered by the Norwegian Cruise Line.

6. Don’t Forget Your Important Items

You’ll be able to purchase almost anything you need on the ship, but you might be surprised at the prices of common household items. If you know you’ll need items such as an alarm clock, batteries, bug spray, sunscreen, and feminine hygiene products, it’s better to bring them with you than purchase them on-ship.

It’s also a good idea to bring some cold medicine, motion sickness patches, sunglasses, and a windbreaker.

7. Know Your Bed Configuration

Most cabins come with two twin beds in varying configurations. On newer cruise ships, you should be able to adjust the beds as you like, but on older ships, they’ll likely be nailed to the floor.

If you prefer one large bed, you can request that the beds be pushed together to create a king. Your brochure may be able to tell you what type of bed configuration you can expect, but it’s best to check with your cruise line to be sure.

8. Bring Some Cash

Even if your trip is all-inclusive, it’s always a good idea to have a bit of extra cash on you for emergencies and incidentals. Yes, there will probably be ATMs on the ship, but the surcharges can often be astronomical.

Avoid unnecessary spending by bringing cash with you! Now, you don’t need to bring a huge amount of money. About $15 per person per day should be plenty unless you plan to use the on-ship casino or do some shopping onshore.

9. Get Your Passport

If your cruise will be docking at a foreign port, you’ll need to bring a passport or other approved proof of citizenship with you onboard. Bringing your passport on trips is always a good idea, but especially important if you’re in a foreign destination, including Canada.

Also, if you need to end your trip early for any reason, you’ll need your passport to fly home.

10. Check All of Your Documents

You should receive all of the necessary cruise documents in the mail or through email a few weeks before you set sail. When they arrive, take some time to go over them thoroughly, checking for any mistakes, and ensuring everything you’ll need is included.

If your package included airline tickets, make sure your flights are scheduled for the right dates and to and from the right destinations.

Know What to Expect On a Cruise to Make the Most Out of Your Vacation

Like with any trip, knowing what to expect on a cruise will enhance your experience, as you’ll go into it with all of the stressful parts out of the way and be able to put your full focus on fun!

The best thing you can do to prepare is to write down everything you want to pack and all of the documents you’ll need for your trip. Make this list in your phone or a planner that you carry with you and start it well in advance so you can add things as you think of them.

Looking for more tips and tricks on improving your vacation experience? Be sure to check out our blog!