Never been on a cruise before? Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. Cruising continues to draw new passengers hand over fist.
If you’ve never sailed before, then you’ll have to face the first-timer’s learning curve. Aboard the ship there are all sorts of details large and small that you’ll have to figure out before you get your feet under you and become a cruise pro.
We’ve rounded up some of the most obvious things that we’ve seen with rookie cruisers that you are likely to experience yourself. Don’t worry though, we’ve all made these mistakes!
1. They don’t let people off the elevator before trying to enter
We’ve all used elevators before. In most situations on land, there are usually just a couple of people on them, and they are easy to catch. On a cruise ship, elevators serve as the hub of the ship, and thousands of people are using just a few lifts to get around the boat. Rookie cruisers often make the mistake of standing right in front of the doors, making it hard for people to get off the elevator.
2. They sport a massive sunburn
Never been to the lower latitudes of the Caribbean? It surprises first-time cruisers with how quickly you can get sunburned from the more direct sun rays. It just a matter of 30 minutes you can get toasty and red. All day in the sun? You’re a cooked lobster. Veterans know the importance of sunscreen and hats, even on cloudy days in the Caribbean.
3. First-timers think that muster is optional
Before every cruise, there is always a mandatory muster drill. Mandatory. You can’t opt out. So when the call for muster is made, head to your assigned station. The drill isn’t complete until everyone is accounted for. Staying in your room will just delay the drill’s completion and irritate other passengers.
4. They run for the ship as it is leaving
Some folks simply call them “runners,” and veteran passengers make it a pastime to watch these people sprint to make the ship before it leaves a port. Rookie cruisers often don’t realize that the times for leaving port are hard rules. There is no hour-long grace period and the ship won’t wait because you aren’t aboard yet. Get to the ship before the end of your port time or risk becoming a runner… or being left.
5. Rookie cruisers pack a huge number of bags
A seven day cruise, with formal nights, swimming, on-shore, and dinner apparel? It sounds like you’d have to pack your entire closet just to cover all your bases. Veteran cruisers know that’s not the case. It doesn’t matter if you wear the same outfit twice, and there are laundry facilities on the ship if you want to have something cleaned. Plus, swimsuits shouldn’t take up that much room!
6. They say they are going to work out in the gym every day of the cruise
Ah, the cruise ship gym. No other place on board looks so different on the first day of the cruise versus the last day. At the start of the trip, it’s full with people working out to shed some last minute weight for that bikini. By the end of the trip, reality has set in. You’re going to eat, drink, and be merry on your cruise… not work out.
7. First-timers wait until the last minute to make reservations
Want to get into the steakhouse? Want to make sure you get a spot on that excursion? Then you should be booking your spot as early as possible. Too often the most popular times and activities will fill up if you don’t plan ahead. Remember, there can be up to 5,000 people on a ship, all with the same options that you have. Book early to ensure you get that prime spot.
8. They re-enact the scene from Titanic… and think it’s funny
“I’m king of the world!” Yes, we know it’s from Titanic. Yes, someone will do it every cruise. Nope, not funny anymore. Don’t out yourself as a first-timer by making the same old tired joke!
9. They are blindsided by the end-of-cruise bill
It’s no fun to think about, but cruising can’t get expensive if you don’t budget accordingly. First-timers are usually shocked to see how quickly their bill has run up when it comes time to settle things at the end of the cruise. One thing to watch out for — gratuity. It’s automatically added in and can run several hundreds dollars if you are traveling as a couple or family.