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25 Essential Tips For First Time Cruisers

By Alice Teacake

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Ahoy there cruiser! Are you new to riding the waves of travel? I was too just a couple of months ago, but I’ve now been bitten by the cruise bug and I’m planning my next trip already. There are many things I learnt, and many tricks I picked up along the way on my 7 Day Mediterranean Cruise with Princess Cruises.

Princess Mediterranean Cruises

Step onboard the Crown Princess!

Without further ado, here are my 25 Essential Tips for First Time Cruisers to make your first cruise as plain sailing as possible!

Book a room with a balcony

There is nothing quite like the experience of looking out to sea just before bedtime and first thing in the morning. I witnessed many beautiful sunsets and glorious early morning sunrises on my balcony. Pay the little extra and ensure you get this glorious sea view too.

Princess Cruises Balcony Stateroom

Princess Cruises Balcony Stateroom

Don’t forget to pack your travel adapter

My particular cruise had American plug sockets – your cruise may be different. I always travel with an international travel adapter so that I can hook my electronics gear up in any situation.

Get your travel adapter here

Get travel insurance

One of my most important first time cruise tips. Princess Cruises will not let you onboard without it. Take care of yourself and do the right thing: get travel insurance. I trust World Nomads all year-round to look after me.

Get your travel insurance quote here

Use your cruise card for everything

When you board your cruise, you will quickly learn that it is a cashless system. Upon check-in, you’ll be given your own personalised card. This is your ID, room key and payment card.

You will need it to get on and off the ship for your own security, so whatever you do, try not to lose it!

Cruise Myths Debunked

Your card is also your payment card. Whenever you buy something extra which is not included in your cruise ticket price, like extra alcohol or massages, the bill will be charged to this card. Your final bill is settled at the end of your trip by credit card or cash.

Make sure you don’t de-magnetise your card by keeping it close to the typical magnetic field culprits like your mobile phone and camera too. I did that and got locked out of my room once because of it (whoops!).

Read your Newsletter every day the night before

Outside of your door every afternoon in your postbox on the side, will be your newsletter. It is going to tell you what shore excursions are ahead, what the weather forecast is tomorrow and when to expect sunrise and sunset. It will also give you an hourly rundown of all onboard activities on the ship too. Keep this information handy!

Make the most of the Princess Cruises app

Princess@Sea is your ultimate online connection to what is happening on the cruise ship. If you want to avoid carrying that newsletter around, you can have all the information at your fingertips on your phone. You will find all of the events listed for each day, the ship itinerary and port guides, be able to book shore excursions and access all other essential information. You can login using any smartphone, tablet or computer for free.

Book your excursions in advance

Popular tours sell out quick! You can opt to explore the countries you visit through Princess Cruises or go off and do your own thing with independent tours. I dabbled with a mixture of both.

Princess Mediterranean Cruise

Bit cloudy on the way up to Gibraltar Rock - but I did it!

There definitely is one benefit to booking the cruise excursions though. The ship will not sail until all its organised tours have returned. If you’re delayed the ship will wait. However, if you’re on an independent tour and you’re late, the ship will set sail when it says it is going to!

Wine tasting in Provence

Wine Tasting in Provence France - not bad at all!

24/7 Room service is free!

One of my favourite first time cruise tips! Many guests do not realise that they can have breakfast in bed and eat food at 2am if they’ve been having too much fun in the bar – for free!

There was one night where I went a bit OTT on the whiskey and had an early morning hike. A quick call to room service and like a true British champ, I was eating my beef sandwiches and drinking a life-saving cup of tea to stop that hangover right in its tracks. 24/7 Room Service for the win!

Make the most of the evening entertainment

There are so many wonderful things going on in the evening. Make the most of what is on offer! Princess Cruises have their own theatre which seats up to 800 people on their Mediterranean Cruise. There are magic shows and full on productions (which are seriously good!) 

Tips for first time cruisers

Princess Cruises Theatre

There’s also karaoke, trivia, rock n’ roll nights, Movies Under the Stars, Stargazing sessions and a nightclub to get down and boogie at!

Don’t miss the special events in the Piazza

In the centre of the ship there are special events going on most nights. They have a special champagne waterfall, a balloon drop, beautiful melodies from very skilled piano players and plenty of live games during the day. You also have to check out the stairs and get a photo on them: you’ll feel like a princess on those steps! 

Be aware of automatic tipping

One of my key cruise tips for first time cruisers: the automatic tipping! Princess Cruises automatically add a recommended gratuity per day onto your shipboard account on a daily basis.

This gratuity is shared amongst all of the staff that provide you service and support during your cruise experience.

The gratuity amount varies by the type of stateroom you are staying in. For my balcony stateroom, it cost £10.50 pppn.

Make sure to add this into your budget!

…and there’s more tipping bar, dining room wine and spa services!

On top of this automatic tipping, a 15% gratuity is added to bar charges, dining room wine accounts and spa services. Make sure you know what you are spending, even if you cannot see it.

You can hear through the walls

Many people come on a cruise to celebrate their birthday, wedding anniversary or honeymoon. Just to let you know…those walls are thin.

There’s more food than the buffet!

You’re going to find a staggering amount of variety both in the types of food and the types of dining experiences on offer.

Check out my 15 Delicious Unmissable Princess Cruises Menus

Princess Cruises Menus

Seafood at Sabatini's on Princess Cruises

Take the stairs

Not only will it help you keep in shape, but taking the stairs is usually a lot quicker than waiting for the lift. I always took the stairs if I was heading down the decks. And for my own fitness levels, I always took the stairs up too!

Be environmentally friendly

Turn off all lights during the day. Draw the sheers when you are out of the room – this keeps a comfortable temperature in your room and reduces energy consumption. Do not leave the balcony and ship’s sides doors open. Turn the tap off when you’re not using it!

Not sure if you’re going to like cruising? Try a mini one first

Due to some age-old cruise myths, some people are reluctant to try cruising at first. To put your mind at rest: seasickness is rare, you won’t feel claustrophobic, there are a variety of people onboard and if you don’t want to share your cruise with a bunch of kids – that is totally possible too.

Find out more about the Cruise Myths You’re Wrong About

Princess Cruises run cruises around the world to so many destinations, and the trip length does not have to be long. How about trying a short mini cruise first to wet your feet and see what you think? Cruises start from just one day, and their prices are great too!

Discover all Princess Cruises destinations here

Cruise Packing List

Do you have all your electronics packed to capture your cruise?

Get your alcohol’s worth

Enjoy individual beverages up to $12 for only $59.99 a day + 15% gratuity with one of Princess Cruises’ Drinks Packages. This includes cocktails, beer, wine, sodas, juices, specialty coffees, energy drinks and a 25% discount on all bottled wines. Well worth it if you’re down to drink!

There’s a hairdryer in your room

There are also toiletries in the bathroom to wash your hair, body and face but you may prefer to bring your own.

Read my Ultimate Cruise Packing List here

Bring some layers

It can get chilly out on deck in the evenings when you’re out at sea and it is better to bring something snug just in case the weather turns. Naturally, if you’re in Alaska, better pack a fair few more jumpers and sweaters eh?

Hang out in the Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is an adult-only zone and the perfect place to unwind. The sea views are glorious here, the atmosphere is incredibly quiet and they have a glorious special healthy menu to snack on and feel good about. I also checked into the Lotus Spa whilst I was here for a lovely body scrub and massage. It was worth it!

Princess Mediterranean Cruises

Chilling at the adult-only Sanctuary

The Sanctuary has limited space and is on a first come first served basis. It costs $20 for a half day or $40 for a full day pass. Book your spot when you get onboard.

Make sure to pack for formal night

Princess Cruises have ‘formal nights’ on their cruises. This is a chance to dress up for dinner and the evening entertainment – a little more glam than usual.

Read my Cruise Packing List guide to get your outfit right

Princess Mediterranean Cruise Princess Mediterranean Cruise

Princess Mediterranean Cruise Princess Mediterranean Cruise

If you have kids – they can be taken care of!

Youth evening activities are from 6pm to 10pm, teen evening activities from 6pm to 1am and late night kidsitting is available from 10pm to 1am ($5 hour per child).

Discover more about Princess Cruises for Kids here

Ask for help

The staff on Princess Cruises are vast! There’s 1 member of staff for every 2 guests on board, and they are definitely around to help you! Getting on a cruise for the first time can be overwhelming. Just ask any member of staff for help, and they’ll guide you in the right direction.

Do you have any more essential tips for first time cruisers?

Coming on your first cruise can be incredibly exciting but a little bit overwhelming. Follow the tips above and whatever you do, don’t forget your passport, visas and cruise ticket!

Comment Below

Are you a first-time cruiser or an experienced one? Do you have a question I haven’t covered above? Have you heard of different rules for another cruise line? Reply below and I’ll reply back!

Related Reading

The Best 7 Day Mediterranian Cruise Itinerary

The Ultimate Cruise Packing List

15 Delicious Princess Cruises Menus You Have to Try

12 Cruise Myths You’ve Been Wrong About Until Now

What is Ocean Medallion Class on Princess Cruises? Your Q’s Answered!

My complimentary Mediterranean cruise experience was made possible by Princess Cruises. As always, no matter how much a brand pays me, opinions are mine = honest, blunt and to the point.

Don’t leave home without travel insurance!

Don’t be a mug. Please don’t leave for your adventure without travel insurance. However careful you are, things can still go wrong. I’ve ended up in hospital in Russia, had stuff cut out of my arm in Vietnam and don’t even get me started on that time I was vomiting my guts up in Poland.

Do the right thing right now. Get a quote.

Are you going on a cruise for the first time ever? How exciting! Here are my 25 Tips for First Time Cruisers, with travel hacks you won't find elsewhere! Click on the pin to find out more. #travel #cruise #traveltips #wanderlust Are you going on a cruise for the first time ever? How exciting! Here are my 25 Tips for First Time Cruisers, with travel hacks you won't find elsewhere! Click on the pin to find out more. #travel #cruise #traveltips #wanderlust

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About Alice Teacake

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I'm a feminist British kickass solo female traveller who believes in women facing their fears, pushing their boundaries and reaching their full potential through solo adventure travel! I have been featured in Nat Geo Traveller UK, Lonely Planet, the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed and spoken about solo female travel safety on BBC One, whilst working with a bunch of awesome brands. Follow me for travel advice and inspiration, so you can go forth and challenge yourself to reach your own personal goals!

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25 Essential Tips For First Time Cruisers