Most things in life will make a person uncomfortable the first time it is done. Cruising is no exception to this rule. The cost of the cruise, the size of the ship, concerns about safety, and just the unknown combine to make the anticipation difficult to tolerate. Like anything else, if you have some way of knowing what to expect, it can reduce the stress and prepare you to face your fears. Going on your first cruise should be a time of excitement rather than a time of worry.
Cruise ships are an extremely safe way to travel to exotic places.
While there is an occasional cruise ship accident, they do not tend to sink or have many deaths due to these accidents. The vast majority of cruises are uneventful and relaxing. The ships are designed to minimize the feel of the waves. They are much more like being in a large luxury hotel with a slight vibration and hum from the engines. The foreign ports are selected to assure your safety while off of the ship.
Shopping is a big deal in most ports.
If you like to shop, you can get it done in the ports of call. Almost all piers are designed to give passengers and opportunity for souvenirs and gifts. The price range is from fairly cheap to extremely expensive. Most cruise ships push jewelry stores. You also will be able to do duty-free shopping on the ship and in most ports. This can save you several dollars on your purchases. The ships will offer seminars and tours to assist your shopping pleasure.
Do not overpack for a cruise.
Most of the time you will be in very casual clothing. Some ships offer a guest laundry while others do not. The literature that is available before the cruise will make this clear for your specific cruise. You can purchase laundry service from the cruise ship for a reasonable price. Make sure to take more than one bathing suit if you like to tan or swim a lot. All checked luggage will be delivered to your room about 5 hours after boarding the ship although some may require a few hours longer. So, take along some essentials in your carry on bag.
Expect the ship to be larger than you thought and your room to be smaller.
Modern cruise ships are extremely large. They have a dozen or more floors with many elevators and stairways. It can take you several minutes to get from one end of the ship to the other. Your room, however, will be about the size of medium sized bedroom at your house. It will have a bed, a table, maybe a sofa, a bathroom, and closet space. Once you are used to the room, it will not seem quite as small. The beds will be made up well, but are not particularly comfortable.
You will have to watch your waist.
Cruise ships offer nearly around-the-clock food. There are buffets, pizza kitchens, sandwich shops, and the main dining room that all will tempt you to loosen your belt. The food is generally good, but it is often rich. The ship features all that you care to eat at every location that serves the food free to the guests. Experienced cruisers learn to eat what they want and leave the rest. You really do not have to leave the dining room and race upstairs to eat more at the buffet line.
Expect to be treated as an important guest on a cruise ship.
Your room will be made up twice per day. Your bed will be turned down in the evening. Some cruise lines will keep a bowl of fresh fruit in your room. Most of the staff that you will see daily will learn your name and wants by the second day. Most of them will not have a strong mastery of English, but they will speak it enough to communicate clearly with you.
Plan on tipping the help.
Some of those working on the ship receive tips for the entire week. Your dining room waiter and other staff should receive a tip that is suggested by the cruise lines at the end of your cruise. Others like those who bring room service should be tipped when the service is provided. Parking valets, luggage handlers, and others will expect to be tipped, also.
You may be bothered by vendors near the ship when getting on and off
Because the locals in the foreign ports depend on cruise ship passengers to buy their goods to make a living, some get aggressive in their marketing techniques. While they are harmless, it can become bothersome if you do not just say no and walk away. Try not to become angry with them. Often, the real problem is the cultural differences between yourself and the vendors.
The excursions will be expensive, but most are worth the money.
Being able to leave the ship and be immediately escorted to your excursion destination without having to negotiate prices can be a very nice way to go. You are in a strange place. The cruise line works hard to get you pleasurable excursions with safety in mind. Tours and activities tend to be interesting and fun. Most last from 3 to 5 hours. Even those listed as difficult rarely are as hard as you will believe from the literature.Cruise ships operate on a tight schedule.
Do not be late to board the ship.
Ships have been known to wait a few minutes for the last passengers to board both at the original port and at ports of call. However, they have also departed and left people behind. Remember, many of these ships carry thousands of paying guests who deserve to have their vacation go as planned. One person will not be allowed to ruin the trip.Customs will not be difficult unless you are trying to smuggle items.
Customs officials are used to cruise ships.
Passengers have the rules spelled out plainly on the ship. Following these rules will make dealing customs smooth and uneventful. You luggage may be sniffed by dogs for drugs. As long as you are playing fair, no one will give you trouble in customs.