On Valentine’s Day, I was surprised with tickets to go on a cruise through Mexico. It’s going to be 7 days this summer where I can kick back, relax and focus on myself and not being a mom. However, since this is my very first cruise I have had to research, prepare, and of course plan for shopping. Therefore, today I’m sharing some of my tips that I have picked up as I prepare for my first cruise.
Make Sure You Have All the Required Documents
In 2016, 24.2 million people took at least one cruise. Many of these will have agonized over the correct documentation. It’s not much different from what you need to take a flight. You may need certain visas and you’ll certainly need some form of booking confirmation to get your ticket before you get on board.
Make sure you have all your relevant visas and tickets well in advance of your cruise. If you need to apply for a passport, get that before you even choose a cruise as the process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
However, I do caution against using digital documents exclusively. It’s always good to have everything on paper in case you don’t have access to an Internet connection.
Plus many cruise lines still want paper tickets/booking confirmations.
Make Sure You Have TSA Approved Luggage
If you’re cruising you’ll still have to go through the same level of security as you’d find at any airport. Buy luggage that has been TSA approved. That means a TSA approved lock that can be opened by an agent without the need to cut open your luggage.
This Rockland Luggage is TSA approved, without compromising on style or space. This is the luggage set I have purchased for myself as it’s a carry on yet still allows me to fit in what I’ll need and a foldable duffle bag for any extras that I may pick up during my cruise.
Know the Dress Code
The fact is that 39% of millennials now prefer cruises over other vacations. Younger people often struggle with the way dress codes work on vacations, but they’re quite simple.
Cruise lines are upfront about this. Formal wear means a tuxedo, whereas business casual is just a simple pair of shoes and a nice shirt. Different restaurants aboard the ship may have completely different dress codes.
Do your research for your cruise and don’t be afraid to call and ask.
Know What Toiletries and Amenities are in Your Cabin
Nothing ruins the start of a cruise like forgetting certain toiletries or not being aware of what’s in your cabin and entering disappointed.
Be aware of what you’re going to need and what to expect before embarking. Check your booking at least a week before you leave so you can make any upgrades.
Different classes on cruise ships can offer entirely different experiences in your cabin. It’s not just about the view you (or lack of) that you pay for.
Know the Options for Excursions
Cruises can get expensive when you take all the excursions into account. Most cruises will have a variety of excursions. The longer your cruise the more you’ll need to take into account.
It’s advisable that you either book these in advance or make sure that you have the budget to join excursions.
This is where most first time cruisers fall down. It’s not the price of the cruise that defines how much you spend on your vacation. It’s all the added extras.
Luckily, any reputable cruise line will provide you with a full list of possibilities before you even leave, along with the prices.
Alternatively, when you get to port you could have a local show you around. This will be riskier; however, it can save you some money and give you a look around the area that the excursions won’t provide.
Final Thoughts on Preparing for Your First Cruise
I am overly excited about going on my first cruise this summer. However, what I immediately found out is that it takes a lot of research and planning beyond just having tickets. I plan to arrive a day early, which meant finding the perfect hotel or Airbnb (I opted for EB Hotel Miami as they provide airport shuttle and port shuttle), keeping track of flights to get the best deal, and of course, doing research about the ship and some shopping.
What tips do you have for someone preparing for their first cruise?