First Time Cruisers

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 22 August 2014 | 0 Comments

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22 August 2014

So you’ve decided to finally take your first cruise. Congratulations! You’re in good company. Cruising is one of the hottest trends in vacations, and it’s easy to see why. You board a gleaming, floating city that brings you to not just one but several destinations in style – more comfortably and for less money than land trips. Staffers are poised to tend to your needs morning, noon and night. And you only have to pack once.

You’ll be captain of your adventure. There are cruises that cater to singles, couples, kids, young folks and families in vessels large and small, formal and casual. And while you may know exactly where you want to go and how you want to get there, as a first-timer, you may be just a little nervous about how you’ll feel once on the ship.

Worried about feeling trapped or nauseated? Relax. Cruise ships can start at the size of a football field and grow from there, and most large vessels have stabilizers that make the ride so smooth you don’t realize you’re moving until see land moving away, especially in the calm waters of the Caribbean. Still concerned? Choose a cabin on a lower deck near the center of the ship, where movement is minimized.

Guides and important tips to help first-timers get the most from their inaugural jaunt can be found beginning at your cruise line site – and thousands of ports in cyberspace. Many seasoned cruisers recommend you do the same as you would for an air-land trip: Bring half the clothes and twice the money you think you’ll need. 

There also seems to be a consensus about a few things. If you are flying to your point of departure, DO plan to arrive in the city by the night before at the latest. DO bring comfortable, low-heeled shoes, a daypack, at least two bathing suits, extension cord with multiple outlets for your cabin, a thermal carry cup to stay hydrated and plenty of sunscreen. DO try to get a private balcony; the views will amuse. DO be on time generally speaking, and specifically pay attention to ship time vs. port time – it’s not always the same, and you certainly don’t want to learn this the hard way. And skip the ship elevators – always take the stairs as part of your daily exercise. (Yes, daily!) Many cruisers take home unwanted souvenirs in the form of extra poundage, but you can avoid this pitfall by eating sensibly and staying active. Those “goofy” group activities you’re way too cool for may turn out to be a whole lot of silly, calorie-burning fun, and you’ll meet your shipmates.

Finally, always explore new things, and never sweat the small stuff. Or even the big stuff: Ports of call are not guaranteed. Stressing over trip changes that are beyond your control totally defeats the purpose of going on vacation, so just chill, smile and go with the flow.

DON’T pack your passport or medication in your luggage before boarding. DON’T overeat, overindulge in alcohol, over-schedule yourself or your family, and then fall asleep exhausted in the sun on the beach at the first port of call. Away from work and a familiar environment and with so much on offer, it’s pretty easy to go overboard, especially in the first heady days of your trip. Resist the urge - stay shipshape and enjoy your entire adventure.  DON’T ignore safety information. Like insurance, you hope you never have to use it, but all smart travelers have it. And don’t forget to show the crew you’re grateful for good service.

Fireworks photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line,