Whether you’ve just booked your very first cruise or are simply considering the variety of plus-points holidaying on board a ship might offer, it’s common for those who have yet to set sail on their first cruising experience to feel a bit lost at sea, unsure what to expect. Never fear, we’re here to help with our handy guide to cruising for first-timers – you’ll feel like a pro in no time at all.
Choosing your first cruise
The type of ship, route and region you choose for your first cruise is wholly dependent on your personal preference. However, it can mean the different between you falling madly in love with the world of cruising or itching to run off the gangway at your final port of call.
There is an almost overwhelming amount of choice out there for first-time cruisers, so be sure to ask yourself a few questions to direct your browsing. First of all, think about the atmosphere. Are you looking for something family friendly? Do you want a singles break where you get plenty of opportunities to mingle with like-minded people? Or are you hoping for a luxury, adults-only cruise for two? This will help you narrow down your choice.
Next, consider the region. Will you be happier on an ocean cruise, through potentially choppy seas (dependent on route) with long periods of time where nothing but the wide open sea surrounds you? Or do you like the idea of a river cruise where land is most often in sight and you amble your way through the heart of cities and towns that line the river bank? Think about the itinerary that you’re interested in as well – which port towns capture your imagination the most and what sort of activities or tours would you like to participate in?
You also need to put some thought into the sort of cabin you wish to make your home for the duration of the trip. Will you want a basic place to stay with no windows; a cabin with a porthole or a suite with a balcony? If you’re likely to pass through rough waters and are nervous of how you might feel, consider a cabin on low deck, mid-ship where you’ll feel movement the least.
Finally, be sure to read up on any visa requirements or vaccinations you might need in certain countries – it’s surprising how easily people forget they are travelling when on board a ship.
Day-to-day cruising hacks
- Get acquainted with your ship. Modern cruise ships offer a plethora of entertainment and interesting features such as spas, cinemas, cocktail lounges and restaurants. Check the daily programme to find out if there are any deals on or anything exciting happening that you won’t want to miss and spend some time exploring so you know your way around.
- Consider your meds. If you have never cruised before and think there could be a risk of developing sea-sickness in choppy waters, come prepared with appropriate medication. You’ll probably be able to purchase remedies on board the ship but they are likely to be much pricier than if you come prepared. If you prefer to take the natural route, some people swear by ginger to soothe nausea.
- Avoid the rush at port. Once you dock, the crowds that rush to be the first to set foot on dry land will just end up stuck in long lines or be pounced on by touts. Wait for the crush to disperse so you alight at your leisure. Return to the ship a little earlier than planned, too – no queuing for you!
- Don’t overfill port days. You may return from your cruise feeling like you need another holiday if you try to maintain a high pace of activity on every port day. Prioritise the activities and attractions you want to take part in whilst ensuring you plan a good mix of fast-paced sight-seeing and lazier spa or beach days. Additionally, read between the lines of the tour brochure – you might want to hit up a variety of sights in one fell swoop but it might be better to spend less time on the bus and more time in just a few of the places of interest. Investigate DIY tours instead of ship-sponsored excursions, too – you might just land yourself a more personalised and better value trip.
Our last tip applies not just to cruises but to any holiday – ensure you book the right travel insurance for your travel plans, taking into account the activities you might participate in. Medical Travel Compared can help you get this sorted so you can concentrate on enjoying your first cruise worry-free.
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