10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Cruise Rookie - Cruise with Leo

10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Cruise Rookie

Photo of author


first cruise

We have all been cruise beginners at some point in our lives.

During my early cruises, I made many mistakes. Back then, there was very little information available online about cruising, so we embarked on our journeys with a sense of adventure.

Fortunately, now with the internet, it’s much easier to share information, and even first-time cruisers can embark well-prepared and know what to expect.

Reflecting on the common mistakes made due to inexperience, I decided to make a list of 10 things that I wish I had known before my first cruise.
I hope you find them helpful!

1. Seasickness Isn’t as Big a Deal as You Think

seasickness bags
Cruise lines leave bags for seasickness when the sea is rough

When I tell someone that I love cruises, one of the responses I get most often is “I have never gone on one, I would definitely get seasick.”

This is untrue most of the time, and I’ll tell you why.

Large cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers that minimize the motion of the ocean, making it unlikely you’ll feel much at all. In addition, modern cruise ships use a whole range of measures to prevent excessive sway.

If the sea is very rough, and therefore the sway is very pronounced, you can simply pack some anti-nausea medication. You’ll probably find you won’t need it, but in any case, it’s just better to be prepared.

2. Daily Planners are Your Best Friend

Daily planner on a cruise desk
Daily planners

On the ship, you will find a best friend: your daily planner.

You will find it in your cabin every evening, and it will list all the activities and the opening times of all the services on board for the next day.

Use it to plan your day and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun. I usually underline the activities that I really wanna do, that way I don’t forget to go there.

3. Book Your Activities Early

Surf simulator on Royal Caribbean
Surf simulator on Royal Caribbean

Popular onboard activities like spa treatments, specialty dining, and shore excursions can sell out quickly.

From my experience, spa treatments and other onboard activities easily sell out on sea days, while some excursions can sell out for popular ports.

Book these as soon as possible, even better if you do so before your departure.

In the article about the mistakes to avoid on cruise private islands, I’ve already told you that many excursions were completely booked at CocoCay.

4. The Food is a Journey in Itself

Restaurant with an amazing view
Restaurant with an amazing view (on MSC)

Some people who went on a cruise for the first time told me, “We loved it, we ate everything at the buffet.

You guessed right, they never went to the main dining room and didn’t try any specialty restaurants.

Sure, there’s plenty of food at the buffet, but dining experiences at the restaurants are definitely on another level.

I personally think that even some specialty restaurants are totally worth the extra cost.
I’ve tried some really delicious dishes there over the years!

5. Beverage Packages Can Be a Lifesaver

sharing a drink on royal caribbean
Drinks on Royal Caribbean

I know, drink packages are not for everyone, but if you drink a lot they could be lifesavers!

Some cruise rookies think that they won’t spend much on drinks, but in reality, they often end up spending more than they should.

First of all, drinks on a cruise are more expensive than normal, and secondly, passengers are inclined to drink more because there are many bars on board.

Therefore, I always advise you to evaluate the drink packages carefully. Here on the blog, you will find the analysis of Royal Caribbean drink packages and MSC drink packages.

6. You Can Bring Your Own Wine

Champagne on a cruise
You can ask your cabin steward for an ice bucket.

Not a lot of people know this, but you can bring your own wine bottles on a cruise.

Most cruise lines allow it during embarkation day, just be sure to check their alcohol policy.

Usually, it’s ok to bring a bottle or two of wine or champagne per adult, but no beer or spirits.

This can be a great way to enjoy a favorite vintage without paying the onboard prices, however, be aware that there can be a corkage fee.

7. The Captain is a Celebrity

Captain Kate McCue
Captain Kate McCue

A person who has never been on a cruise might expect the captain to be a normal worker.

In reality, on cruise ships, the captain is like a celebrity.

They attend social events, offer meet-and-greet opportunities, and even organize parties. Usually, people dress up and even line up for photos.

Some cruise captains have even become stars on social media. You have probably heard of Captain Kate McCue. In this article, we saw everything about her private life and salary.

8. Tendering is a Thing

Tender boat
Tender boat

An interesting thing that cruise rookies must know is that sometimes the ship can’t dock directly at a port.

When the pier is too small or there are already many ships there, you’ll have to take a smaller boat called a tender, to shore.

It’s a unique experience, and it will be fun if it’s your first time, but it can also take some extra time and could be a problem for people with mobility impairments.

9. Your Stateroom is Key to Comfort

Luggage in a cruise cabin
Cruise cabin

Choosing the right stateroom can really make a difference.

I definitely recommend that you carefully read the guide on how to find the best cabin on a cruise ship.

In general, if you’re prone to seasickness, go for a mid-ship, lower-deck cabin.

While, if you’re a light sleeper, you should avoid cabins below busy areas like the pool deck. Also, to make sure you get the best rest, look at the tips to sleep like a baby on a cruise ship.

10. Don’t Overpack, But Don’t Underpack Either

Overpacked suitcase
Overpacked suitcase

I know that packing for a cruise can be tricky.

The risk is to overpack or to underpack, even though the first thing happens much more often than the second.

Try to bring versatile clothing for various climates, and check the cruise packing mistakes everyone makes in order to avoid them.

In addition, check the list of the cruise essentials and the list of the things you should always pack in your cruise carry-on bag.


Leave a Comment