What to expect on a cruise is a guide for first time cruisers

What to Expect on a Cruise – A guide for new cruisers

Understandably, if you have never cruised before, you have questions and may wonder what to expect on a cruise.

What to expect on a cruise? The short answer is an amazing vacation. Okay, I know that isn’t the details you were looking for so here is an outline for first time cruisers on what to expect on a cruise.

What to expect on your first cruise vacation.  Great information and cruise tips for first time cruisers

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at not extra cost to you.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  For more information see the Disclosure page.

If you have booked a cruise be sure to check out these important things to do before you cruise. That article lists things to do after booking your cruise, how to get ready for your cruise and a pre cruise checklist.

Here is an outline of what you can expect on your first cruise.

Cruise day woot woot!! It is such an exciting feeling to arrive at port and see the big beautiful ship for the first time.

There will be porters there to take you luggage, make sure you have your cruise luggage tags securely on. Tipping is a personal choice but most people tip a couple of dollars per bag.

Tip – Be sure to have smaller bills on you for tipping.

Your luggage will be delivered outside your cabin (aka room, stateroom) later that afternoon or early evening.

Tip – Be sure to carry on a smaller bag with things you will need for the day. Swimsuit, sunscreen, medication, etc.

ESVAN Original Floral Water Resistant Large Tote Bag Shoulder Bag for Gym Beach Travel Daily Bags Upgraded ([Z] White Pineapple)

At check-in in the terminal you will be asked to show your identification, cruise documents, and method of payment for onboard charges. You will also go through security before boarding. Be sure you have researched or consulted your travel agent on what documentation you need for travel.

The process varies slightly from cruise line to cruise line with regards to your on board account and cabin key. Some issue a card at check in, which is your ship boarding card, what you use to make on board purchases as well as your room key card. Some lines issue a paper boarding card and have the actual card waiting in the mail slot outside your cabin door. Other cruise lines have gone to a wristband instead of a card.

6 Ways to Carry Your Cruise Card

After check-in you will often be directed to sit in the waiting area until you are called to board. If you are travelling with small children you may want to bring something to keep them busy. You could however be lucky enough to walk right onto the ship. This also varies by cruise line and port, but boarding time is often around 11 am.

Once they call you to board, you will make your way along the corridors to the ship. Most likely there will be a cruise ship photographer there to take your picture. There is no charge to have the photo taken, the photo will be displayed later in the photo gallery on the ship. You can decide to purchase it or not at anytime throughout the cruise. The photos can be pricey but are a nice souvenir.

6 Ways to Carry Your Cruise Card

What to expect on a cruise -onboard the ship…

As you step onto the cruise ship, a crew member will scan your boarding pass, cruise card or wristband. And with that delightful little ding of the scanner you are on board. Woohoo!

What is a cruise all about.  What to expect on a cruise is full of cruise tips for first time cruisers.
Photo from Pixabay

There is nothing like that feeling when you first step onto a cruise ship. Every time, I have to refrain from doing an embarrassing little happy dance.

Top 15 Tips for First Time Cruisers

Tipping on a Cruise

Again, this varies cruise line to cruise line but often you won’t be able to access your cabin until 1 or 2 pm. For us this isn’t a big deal. We have our little carry on with our swimsuits (or we wear them under our clothes), and sunscreen. More importantly the pools are open, there is lots to eat and plenty of tasty cold drinks.

The cruise lines use a cashless system, except of course in the casino. Even there, most cruise lines allow you to charge a certain amount of slot play to your on board account.

Anytime you order a drink, you will show them/hand them your card or scan your wristband. A gratuity is automatically added to each drink purchase.

What to Wear on a Carnival Cruise

Before travelling, research your cruise line to see if drink packages offered. If a drink package seems worth it to you, order this ahead of time, it is usually cheaper than waiting to buy the package on board.

There will be a few lunch options. Grab some lunch, have a nice cold drink and explore the ship.

Your vacation has started!!

Related cruise post: 19 Cruise Rules and Things to NOT do on a Cruise

The cruise ships have such a fun atmosphere and amazing staff. Each time we have cruised at least one staff member has remembered our name and/or a drink we liked. They really make you feel special.

The cruise ships are like one big resort. You can order a drink by the pool and then take it pretty much anywhere on the ship. One family member can grab lunch from the buffet, while another family member grabs a burger or pizza from a different venue and you can all sit together to eat pool side.

You will receive a daily schedule, each cruise line calls it something different, in your cabin each night for the following day. This will not only tell you what activities are happening, but also the main dining room dress code, the hours of the food and drink venues, the shopping, spa or drink specials and even the weather forecast. Most cruise lines also have this information available on their app.

What to expect on a cruise is full of cruise tips for the first time cruiser.
Photo from Load the Luggage

Before leaving home, check to see if your cruise line has an app, if so be sure to download it at home before you leave. Also, if you have downloaded the app early (some have a cruise countdown on them which is fun), check to see if there are any updates to download. When you board the ship switch your phone into airplane mode.

Have fun!

Try a new food, if you don’t like it you can always order something else. If you feel like dancing, dance! You will never see these people again. If you want some quiet time to read or relax, take a stroll around the ship. You will find quiet areas both inside and outside. Do what makes you happy.

What to expect on a cruise – In port…

What to expect on a cruise has great cruise tips for first time cruises.

In each port the choice is yours. Yu can book an excursion through the cruise line for a hassle free option. They will give you a time and place to meet on the day of your excursion. The cruise line excursions are often more money but do provide a level of comfort especially for first time cruisers or those travelling with young children. The tour companies are vetted by the cruise line and should the bus breakdown on the way back to the ship, the ship’s crew will know where you are.

You can also book your own tour ahead of time or at each destination or just explore on your own. Just do NOT miss the ship. It will be at your expense and inconvenience to get yourself to the next port to meet the ship. You definitely don’t want that.

You can even choose not to get off at a port. On our last cruise we chose to stay on the ship at one of the ports (Cozumel), it turned out to be one of our most memorable days. We had the water slides to ourselves and the ship felt almost empty.

What to expect on a cruise – Dreaded debarkation day…

What to expect on a cruise - important cruise tips for first time cruisers.

Oh so sad, the cruise is almost over. The day before the dreaded debarkation day, your room steward will put numbered or colored luggage tags in your room. These tags indicate the zone where you will pick up your checked luggage after departing the ship. The zones are determined by your post cruise travel plans.

The cruise lines offer a shuttle service to the airport, of course for a fee, if you are looking for a hassle free option.

The night before you will pack up your room. Some cruise lines have the option to carry off your own bags, but we haven’t yet chose that option. If you aren’t self debarking or if that isn’t an option you will set your luggage outside your cabin door the night before by a set time (often 10 or 11 pm). You won’t see your bags again until you are off the ship the next day.

Be sure to keep out a change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste and medications.

The cruise director on our last cruise told a hilarious story of a man who sleeps nude. He packed up the night before thinking he was so smart by even tucking the clothes he was wearing into the suitcase right before going to bed. He woke up in the morning only to realize he had zero clothes to wear! That would be more than a little embarrassing walking off the ship in a towel. Can you imagine the looks and giggles he would have got?

There will be a disembarkation talk put on by the cruise director in one of the lounges a day or two before. The time and location can be found in your daily activity schedule. Check you stateroom t.v., the talk will likely be aired several times after that.

Be sure to have breakfast before getting of the ship. Get that last meal in. There will be announcements all morning instructing when groups can get off.

If you set up your on board account to be paid by credit card then there is nothing further to do. Your credit card will automatically be charged for what you spent. You will receive an itemized bill in your mailbox the evening before. If you are paying cash, you will have to settle your account prior to debarking. Expect line ups at guest services the evening before and morning of debarkation.

As exciting as it is hearing that scanner first ding letting you on the ship, it is an equally sad sound hearing it ding as they scan it for the last time when you exit the ship.

Keep reading:

Check out Top Tips for First Time Cruisers

Tipping on a cruise

Will I be bored on a cruise ship

11 Best tips for embaration day

What to expect on a cruise vacation.  An outline for frst time cruisers full of great cruise tips
Pin for later

Have I missed anything? Is there anything else you are wondering about?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *