6 Tips for Your First Cruise Vacation

As mentioned in Quick Tips About Purchasing Travel Insurance, my best friend and I went on our very first cruise together. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before. It’s safe to say that although we felt prepared, we both learned some things to do and not do for the cruise. Here’s my post to share my tips for your first-time cruise. This way you know what to expect on your first cruise!

Tip #1: Don’t stay out late the night before the cruise

Tips for your First Cruise

Night out in Miami

The cruise was leaving from Miami’s port. My friend and I had dinner and then decided to go out for a few drinks. After those few drinks, we were both in the mood to go dancing so we went to Mango’s It wasn’t far from our hotel and my friend had been there before and knew it was a ton of fun. They have several rooms with different music playing. Whether you’re in the mood for salsa, hip hop, you will have fun. Just be careful – make sure you keep track of time. The next thing we knew it was 4am and the bar was closing.

The next morning, we were both hungover (oops). We had to do late check out just to try and feel like human beings again before heading to the port. This also included not doing our hair or makeup. We were a hot mess. Of course, it then got documented before boarding the cruise. Right before boarding, they have to take your picture to include with your onboard account. Hence, if you want the cruise workers to see a decent picture of you, don’t stay out late the night before the cruise.

Tip #2: Arrive on time for check-in, not early (or late)

When you check-in for your cruise, you get to select a time for arrival. We selected 1:30-2 since we figured we’d then have some time for breakfast and then getting to the cruise. Remember tip #1 about not going out late. Well, our breakfast plans sort of fell by the wayside due to being hungover. We decided to go early for check-in so we could just go relax on the boat. We mistakenly assumed we’d be able to get onboard right away. Nope, there’s one line for “on time arrival” and then there’s a second line for “early/late arrival”. The “on time arrival” line didn’t have anyone waiting and the people that went through were able to get on the ship right away. Those of us in the early/late arrival line had to wait for a while. It wasn’t horrible but we wish we would have arrived on time instead of early to save us the time waiting in line.

Tip #3: Don’t check your luggage

Although the cruise offers you the option to check your luggage. If you only have one small suitcase, I don’t recommend checking it. You may think it’d be easy and not a big deal. But, we felt a bit differently. First, we felt pressured into having a porter take our luggage for us and then, of course, tip him. Remember we were hungover so weren’t thinking clearly.

Then, we realized that they don’t put your luggage in your stateroom. Nope. They leave it outside of your stateroom’s door. As someone who has experienced theft, this was not a favorite of mine. When we got on board, there were lots of suitcases outside the doors but not ours. So, we decided to hang out in the stateroom for a bit to see if our luggage would come. After about an hour, no luggage had come yet. I happened to stop a cruise worker and ask him when our luggage would arrive. He said it should arrive by 6pm. That was still another 3-4 hours from then. My friend and I were hungry so we decided to risk it and go eat. Thankfully, when we returned, our luggage was in front of our stateroom.

Tip #4: Purchase your shore excursion before the day of

Tips for your First Cruise

Our private beach day in the Bahamas

My friend and I had originally planned on finding a public beach once we got to the Bahamas. But then, when we arrived and did some googling, we couldn’t really find one close to the port. After that, we decided to just purchase one of the shore excursions through Carnival. We knew it’d be expensive but oh well.

We get to the counter to purchase one of the excursions. We already knew we wanted one of the beach day ones so that’s what we asked for at the counter. There were only two left for us to choose from: Family Beach Day or VIP Beach Day. We decided to do the VIP Beach Day and it was worth it.

  • No kids
  • Cold face towel on arrival
  • Mimosa
  • Buffet lunch
  • Private beach that we only shared with maybe 10 other people
Tips for your First Cruise

Bestie and I at the beach!

Tips for your First Cruise

Enjoying my drink on the beach!

Tip #5: Check out the shows and activities on the cruise

Tips for your First Cruise

Playing Bingo!

I had no there would be so much to do on a cruise. I honestly thought it’d just consist of hanging out at the bar or poolside. And that’s it. So not the case. There were comedians, musical shows, clubs, lounges, bingo, dive-in movies! So much and all were a ton of fun! Below is what we did while on the cruise and I highly recommend doing them!

 Tip #6: Tour the spa for the chance to win spa money

Not sure if every cruise line does this but Carnival does. If you go to the spa for a tour your first night on the ship, you get to enter into a raffle to win spa money. We did the tour, entered the raffle, and then I won $75 for the spa!! I, of course, used it that evening for a facial. We also signed up for a 100-minute massage for the price of 75 minutes. This was one of the special deals after doing the spa tour.

Tips for your First Cruise

Nothing to do with the spa, other than a $50 spa gift card for my birthday and a fun towel animal

Don’t forget your travel insurance for your next vacation!


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6 Tips for your first cruise


Alisha Ruud is a Lifestyle and Travel blogger. She is an animal lover, volunteers with a local animal rescue, avid reader, and motorcyclist. With her many interests, she has found a way to inspire others with the same interests and goals in life. She also likes to keep things fun!

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