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Things No One Told Me Before My First Cruise

By Edited Nov 24, 2015 3 3

There are so many things to learn before you go on your first cruise but when you get on the ship you will find a few things that may surprise you!

Cruise Vacation(42420)

Here’s a list of a few of these surprising things:

The ship is huge!  When you first arrive at the port and see your ship you will be shocked at how large it is.  The typical cruise ship is over three football fields long and one football field high!  Wear good walking shoes because you have a bunch of walking to do.

The swimming pools are small and generally not heated.  Most are salt-water pools.

You are expected to tip an average of $10 a day per person.  These tips are for the wait staff and room steward.

The standard cabin bathrooms just have showers, no bathtubs.  They are very small, compact bathrooms and you just step into the shower and pull the curtain around you.  Not much room, so hope you aren’t claustrophobic!

Speaking of bathrooms – the toilet flushes very loud and very forcibly.  Be prepared!

The inside cabins are very dark, even during the day, so take a little night light or mini-flashlight.  The lighted plug-in air fresheners work well.

They have very few plug-ins in the cabin.  If you have a lot of electronics it’s best to bring a small power strip to give you more plug-ins.

You don’t use cash on the ship.  Pretty well everything is charged on your sail and sign card credit card.  When you are boarding you will need a credit card, debit card, or cash to get your sail and sign card. 

The cabins are very small.  Not even close to the size of a hotel room!  But they are well organized with ample storage space. 

Room service is free! And, you can get it 24 hours a day but they do not serve hot meals.  You can use room service for you wake up call in the mornings.  You will have a card to fill out in the evening and hang it on the door before midnight to have your morning coffee and rolls delivered.  I suggest you tip $1 to $2 for this service.

They will have great sales on bottles of liquor in the gift shop but if you purchase them with the idea of saving money on drinking during your cruise, it won’t happen.  You won’t get the bottles of liquor until the day you leave the ship.

There are long lines waiting to board and get off the ship.  Use a rolling bag to take on the ship so you aren’t carrying a load for the whole day. 

If you get to the ship early you can’t get into your cabin right away.  They are busy cleaning and getting it ready because they generally have just disembarked passengers from another cruise.

You will have to pack up your luggage and set it out in the hallway the night before you leave the ship.  So have a small rolling bag to take off with you the next morning to carry your personal grooming items and night wear off the ship. 

You have to go through customs at each island or ports for most cruises. 

You need a passport for almost all cruises now.

Unless you are traveling with a group, you will be seated with other passengers for dinner.  You will have the same seating assignment for the whole cruise.  This is something many people love about cruising, the opportunity to meet new friends!

You must dress for dinner in the dining room at nights.  Most nights are dressy casual but you will have at least one formal dress night.

You can go to the dining room for breakfast and lunch every day.

There will be long lines at the buffet during meal times.

You can find something good to eat 24 hours a day!

Alcohol and soda pop are not included in the cost of most cruises.  But, they have juice, coffee, and tea stations available all of the time.

The cabin steward will clean and make up your cabin twice a day!  After dinner, you will come back to your bed turned down and ready for the evening. 

They have just about everything you might forget available in the gift shop and at reasonable prices.

If you wait until late morning or afternoon, you probably won’t get a lounge chair on deck!  And, even though they say you can't save chairs, people do.


Using cell phones and the Internet is expensive at sea unless you have a global plan.

Alcoholic drinks are expensive.

The ships’ photographers take pictures constantly and they are on display every night before dinner for you to purchase.  They are a little pricey!

You will have a “schedule” every night put in your cabin that will list all of the activities and information for the next day.

You have a safe in your cabin to store small valuables and cash.  You will need a card with a magnetic strip in order to use it.  Don’t use your sail and sign card.  Your library card will work! 

It can get very windy on deck when the ship is moving along!  Bring a sweater or jacket, even if you are going to warm weather climates.

You can order more than one entrée at dinner.  You can order more than two! 

Irons are not allowed in the cabins because of the fire hazard they pose.

Candles and open flames are forbidden at all times on all cruise ships.  

Shampoo and body soap dispensers are provided in your shower.

There are no ventilation fans in the bathroom!  Bring an air freshener. 

You give a porter your luggage when you arrive at the terminal and you won’t see it until much later in the day so take essentials on board with you.  I suggest a rolling bag because the lines are long.

You are not allowed to take “booze” on the ship.  They will confiscate it from you.  They want you to buy from them.  You can take a 12 pack of soda pop.

They have a ton of free activities going on all of the time.  You can have as much active fun or quiet time as you want.

The kid’s camp is free!  There is a reasonable charge for late night babysitting.  Most kids love going to the camp.

There are many more items that can be added to this list, but I will let you find out for yourself the joys of cruising!



Feb 28, 2011 8:45pm
Love this info! I haven't been on a cruise yet, so this information will come in very handy when I do go on one.
Mar 1, 2011 9:07am
Wow, sounds like a great list of things I wouldn't have thought of and this is helpful to many like me that haven't cruised YET... Congrats on your win in the contest and all those new articles will pay off for you!!
Mar 1, 2011 3:21pm
Thanks Vetochemicals! We could keep building on this list I'm sure...
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