9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks

Are you looking for some first-time cruise tips and hacks for your upcoming cruise? I know that you must be so excited. Cruising is such a wonderful way of travelling. Way back cruising was only for posh people who could afford it.

Cruising is no longer just for the social elite. It is now accessible to most people and all ages in this digital age wherein you can easily book your cruise from the comfort of your home. 

There are a few things that you need to know before going on a cruise. The whole process can be overwhelming due to not knowing where you are going to begin and how can you ensure to get the most out of your first cruise without breaking your bank.

More on Cruising:  Best Cruise Destinations Around the World

Here are some helpful first-time cruise tips and hacks that you should know:

1. Know your cruise itinerary

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: Know your cruise itinerary Photo Credit: Equinox – Caribbean Cruise Itinerary
by Roger W / CC BY-SA 2.0

Probably one of the most important cruise tips that we can share with you is — You have to know your itinerary very well in terms of which port (country) you will be visiting. Once you know, you can start researching on how the weather is going to be so you can plan the appropriate clothes to bring.

When staying at sea, your option to go shopping is limited. Very limited!

Say you will be cruising in the Caribbean, better plan for light clothes, shirts, shorts, flip-flops etc. Or if you’re sailing in Alaska, obviously you will need thicker clothes. 

Knowing your cruise itineraries would also give you a heads up on what to see at a particular port. You can plan ahead the excursions that you may be interested in. The ships have their own excursion desks available for queries. Here is a sample cruise itinerary in the Caribbean.

2. Prepare your Formal Wear

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: Prepare your formal wear Photo Credit: Cafe Society Pink Gala and Art Show by moire g. / CC BY-NC 2.0

Yes, most of the cruise itineraries have at least one “Formal Night” depending on how long your itinerary is. Another one of the best cruise tips that I can share is — to bring a formal dress or clothes and shoes to match of course.

This is the time that they have everyone on the ship dressed up formally. You won’t be allowed to go into the main dining room unless you’re wearing the appropriate dress code (You can go to the Lido restaurant instead of a self-service buffet). It can be nice to get all dressed up once in a while. If you’re on a cruise, make the most of it!

3. Medicines

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: Don’t forget first-aid medicines and prescriptions tablets

Like any other vacation, bringing your medicine is always a must.

If you have medicines prescribed by your Doctor that you need to take on a daily basis, you should take them with you. You should also bring OTC medicines just in case (such as pain relievers, cold and allergy remedies, anti-acids etc).

But remember, always read the label and follow the instructions, especially if you’re taking prescribed medicines as it could cause some serious health problems and nobody wants to get sick, especially while you’re in the middle of the sea!

4. Chargers, cables and adapters

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: Don’t forget your chargers, cables and adapters

Now that most of us depend on electronics such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, it is a must to have all your chargers ready.

I would suggest you take an international all-in-one adaptor with you. Most cruise liners have American and European sockets. I always have my chargers, cables and travel adapters placed in one small bag so it’s easy for me to find.

Read more: 7 Tips on How To Prepare for an Expedition Cruise

5. Laundry

The laundry service on the ship is quite expensive! Just like in hotels, they charge per piece and if you are on a tight budget, then I would suggest you wash your clothes. Some cruise liners have a self-service laundry area where you can wash your clothes yourself. These are normally coin-operated.

I have also heard that there are some that don’t have self-service laundry. Anyway, it is easy to dry clothes such as undergarments and light fabric clothes that can be washed and hung in your cabin’s bathroom.

6. Cruise food and drinks

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: Cruise food and drinks

You should be aware that not everything is free once you step foot on the ship!

Food in the “LIDO” restaurants is free but if you go to a fancier one like fine dining and some themed restaurants, you’re going to have to pay extra. Another thing that you have to pay for is alcohol on board.

That is where cruise line companies generate their revenues – through bars. This includes beverage events such as pub crawls, wine tasting, whiskey tasting and many other events that involve alcohol drinking. So don’t expect anything free from the bar, unless maybe you’re BFFs with the bartenders!

Read more: Cruise Food: Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Food Coastal Kitchen for a Foodie

7. Shore Excursions

What you should know (and bring) when going on a cruise (especially for first time!)
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks: King Crab Safari cruise excursion with Hurtigruten Cruise line

Shore excursions organised by the ship aren’t free as well. You will be charged to your onboard account (I will make a separate article for ship terminologies that you should know). Though it can be really pricey compared to making the tour on your own, there are advantages.

For example, if the excursion organized by the cruise line runs late and they weren’t able to arrive before the all-aboard time, the ship will have to wait for them.

But if you made your own tour by yourself and happened to lose track of time and missed the all-aboard time, you could be charged for a fine and the ship won’t be able to wait for you as the itinerary is strict for cruise lines! I guess we will see you at the next port!

8. Wi-fi connectivity

Everybody would probably ask, and most people do, “Is there wi-fi?”. Nowadays internet connection is available on board just like how it is available when you get on the plane.

The Internet onboard comes with a price and it depends on how the Cruise Lines charge it. I personally prefer to enjoy the moment onboard without wi-fi but at some point we kind of need to communicate with someone or maybe check with the kids at home or whatnot.

Some charge it by the minute – wherein, if everybody uses the internet at the same time the speed would suck. Some charge it by Megabytes which is good only for chatting or quick talk over the internet.

The prices range from $40 for 20-30 minutes or $50 for 200 – 300 MB or more! It might be cheaper or more expensive on other Cruise Lines. It is crazy expensive!

If you want to upload photos and videos I would suggest you do what the crew does, when in port, find a restaurant with free internet and upload everything you need to upload! You would usually spot it easily when you see a lot of crew members hanging out!

Others have mobile data so let’s say you’re doing an Alaskan cruise and you have a US sim card with data, every time you get a signal from your provider, you get to use your data. Saves you a lot of money for sure!

And if the internet is life for you, (but you’re on a cruise you should enjoy it without too much digital intervention!) you can get an international sim card with data if you’re itinerary is outside the US.

Anyway, if you are not sure about how the internet works or how they charge, or you need to make calls, which are chargeable as well, the front office is always available to be of assistance!

9. Personal Items

Shoes, such as workout shoes, flat shoes and walking shoes. I am sure you will do a lot of walking especially if it’s a huge ship like the Costa, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises etc. So it’s better than you’re prepared instead of buying one on board!

Towels are provided in your Stateroom/Cabin room but if you are a little sceptical about the ship’s hygiene, you can bring one! I always bring my yoga towel because it dries up quickly and is very absorbent, plus it’s thin and easy to pack!

Toiletries and toothbrushes: some ships don’t have toiletries available for free or they only have shampoo and shower gels.

Anyways, if you forget some stuff, the cruise shops are open and they have pretty much everything you need! They are closed on port days so don’t get caught out! I might have missed some of the stuff you must bring or know but these are the basics! You can read more about our suggested cruise packing list.

Take it easy on your first cruise and try not to pack so much stuff because believe me, you will end up packing more when the cruise is over!

I hope that these first-time cruise tips for newbie cruisers will guide you on what to expect and how you can plan your first experience onboard.  This will ensure that you will absolutely have a great time on your cruise.

Read more of our fun Cruise stories and reviews.

Do you have other helpful cruise tips that you would like to share?
Leave it in the comment box below.

Helpful First-Time Cruise tips and Hacks
9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Jam Tsagkarakis


Had a degree in Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hotel and Travel Industry Management. Did a few training locally and abroad, had sailed (still sailing) the sea and exploring new ports and meeting new people, loves food and culture.

25 thoughts on “9 Helpful First-Time Cruise Tips and Hacks”

  1. Oh wow! What a nice list you have shared. I will be saving your link to my bookmarked post because we’re planning to go on a cruise in the future and this will be very helpful as I prepare I’m sure. I agree that medicines are really important when going on a cruise. I think it will be on top of my list more than cables for my gadgets. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi KT! wow I’m bookmarked! thanks! Yes Medicine is always my priority! It is so expensive when you have to go to the infirmary(ship’s clinic) for check up and they will just give you paracetamol. If it’s your first time you can bring a few sea sick pills just in case it’s not free on the ship! Let me know how you cruise went! 🙂

  2. I have never been on a cruise. I am sure I would find it really nice to be pampered on the big and classy cruise like Royal. 🙂 I did have a chance to be on a mini-cruise ship several times in the past. You see, here in the Philippines, there used to be a cruise ship that carries over a hundred passengers on a one week cruise in remote islands. I was a scuba diving instructor back then. So sometimes, I would get on board and be out there island hopping and diving for a week.

    • Hi Robert! thanks for reading my article! I think the smaller the ship is (luxury cruise lines), the more intimate and fancier it is. The bigger ships like Royal Caribbean, costa, etc.,the younger the crowd and the wilder it could get! haha. I’m sure you will love it either way! I hope soon you don’t just visit the ship but really cruise as a passenger! If that happens let us know how it went!!! Oh and I always love to try scuba but a little scared!! so I just snorkel… with a vest! haha

  3. I’ve never been on a cruise. But it’s definitely on my list. It just seems awesome to try it out. I am very curious. I think I will really like it. It’s good to learn from your tips and already know what to do at a cruise! Now I’ll just have to figure out which cruise I want to do.. 🙂

    • Thanks Carola for taking your time to read my article! You really have to choose a good itinerary. Usually, if you’re a first timer you might consider the proximity of the embarking port. Depends whether you want Caribbean cruise, Alaska cruise, Mexican Riviera Cruise, Panama Canal Cruise or even Antartica! wow typing these itinerary makes me excited haha! let me know when you get to go to one!!!

  4. I used to have a friend that worked on a Royal Caribbean cruise, he would tell me stories! I have never been on one of those but maybe in the future. My husband wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those, he prefers smaller boats like Chinese Junks. My kids on the other hand have seen videos and ask about going on a cruise ship! Who knows , maybe when they’re older. Thanks for the tips!

    • Thanks for reading my article! The Royal Caribbean usually have younger crowds and yes they have crazy slides so I’m pretty sure the kids would go crazy haha! There are some cruise lines that is more classy or more laid back, not too many kids, more formal nights etc so you and your hubby might find that interesting!

  5. I have been on a cruise twice and I loved it both times. My 1st cruise i forget my charger at home! it was awful. Taking a charger with the correct adapter is a must. The formal dress evening was my favorite. It felt like something out of the movie and i get got a chance to feel like a princess 🙂

    • Haha You’re right! I would never go out without my charger. I got a all in one adapter just in case and cables! even HDMI cables so I can watch videos from my phone to the Television in the cabin! And formal night is my favorite too! Everybody is dressed up and you will see some husbands not really happy about dressing up but their wives loved it! hah

    • Yay hopefully you’ll be able to get on one early next year. I think it’s the Caribbean season from Dec to March because it’s winter! I used to work on a cruise ship before but I got pregnant. That’s how I met my husband. He still works there so I get to join him sometimes as his wife on board.

  6. I’ve never been to a cruise. Although I plan and dream to go on a cruise someday! See, I have fear of boat rides. I had this near death experience when I was younger and have never really went on a boat ride that was longer than an hour. Someday I hope to overcome it, and go on a cruise like you! Until then, I will be bookmarking this for future reference! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Chessica! Thanks for reading my article! I had trauma too when I was young. I drowned and almost died. I actually don’t how I ended up working on board but worked for me! Let me know how your first cruise went!!

  7. I’ve never been on a cruise but my mom has been on one and she says it’s really so glam inside! I didn’t know they have formal nights, wow! I’m not very familiar with cruising, is the cruise ship already your destination and you’re just gonna chill around, maybe walk out a bit when it docks or is it just another mode of transportation, only more luxurious? XD

    • Hey Yan thanks for reading my article! Cruise ship is like a big luxury hotel with casinos, bars and shows! Only foods are free except from those special restaurants on the ship! You choose your itinerary whether you wanna go from Vancouver to Alaska and stop at different ports along the way and during sea days, you can enjoy different programs and events the ship prepares! It can be glam and fun! Let me know how your cruise went when you get on board!!

  8. Now this is what I haven’t done yet, cruising. I have blogger friends who got a sponsored cruise adventure recently and I was really green with envy. I have been wanting to cruise for so long but we all know that it’s not exactly cheap. But when I go on a cruise I am definitely bringing a dress, there is no way I wouldn’t be able to attend one of those parties on board.

    • Thanks marge for reading my article! What else could be better than getting a sponsored cruise trip! Usually they drop the price of the cruise at the end of the season so watch out for it! And yes dress always have a big place in my luggage and shoes! I need different kinds just in case! Let me know how your first cruise went! Everything is possible!

  9. I have never taken a cruise before but it is one thing that I would like to do. I didn’t know that besides the price of the cruise you have to pay for other things too, like fine dining or alcohol. It does make sense to book excursions on the land with the cruise line, it would be terrible to get to the ship late and see that you’ve missed it by a few minuets. The disadvantage I suppose it can be that there will be a lot of people with you in that tour. I have seen the crowds in Dubrovnik and it looked like a terrible experience to be honest.

    • I think everybody should try it atleast once in their life! Aside from the fun and glam,it opens up your mind to cross cultural diversity! It’s free in the main dining room. It is pretty much like fine dining because it is a table service and strict with the dress code during formal night. As for excursion, it could be crowded as it is always in a big group! You’d be lucky if only few passengers booked a certain excursion! Hope to hear from you when you do your first cruise!

  10. I´ve never been on a cruise but pinning this because maybe one day! I usually carry all of the listed except for the formal wear – I guess I´d just end up eating in the Lido 😉


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