18 Big mistakes you make on your first cruise

Big Rookie Mistakes on a 1st Time Cruise

18 mistakes you make on your first cruise

18 mistakes you make on your first cruise

Are you going on a cruise for the first time? It can be an overwhelming experience and there are many things to learn as a rookie. That’s why we’ve listed 18 mistakes many cruise newbies make on a first cruise, and how to avoid them.

1. You have not booked a balcony cabin

Balcony Celebrity Constellation

This is one of the most common mistakes people make while going on their first cruise.
The reason is that most people do not know the difference between a balcony cabin and an ocean view cabin.

An ocean view cabin has a circular or rectangular window which cannot be opened. A balcony cabin, on the other hand, features an extra outside space with some chairs and a side table.

The advantages of the latter include privacy and the chance to experience stunning views from the comfort of my room.

2. You have been seduced by the low price

This is another mistake I have found new cruisers making on their first cruise. I always advise that you find out why the price is low on a certain cruise.

Of course, there are some valid reasons, but some may turn out not so great as I have found. The price drop might be on a route with not so good weather, not so much to see, or not much activity.

3. You booked the wrong cruise

I always make sure to check my cruise itinerary whenever I decide to book. I get to know the schedule, the planned activities on and off-board, and if it is a themed cruise.

The season also matters as these dictate the kind of cruise-goers you might encounter. There is nothing as annoying as wanting to go on a laid-back cruise and then finding out too late that you booked a party cruise instead.

All this information can be accessed from the cruise line and having it on hand helps me make better cruise choices.

4. Fly and cruise on the same day?

Hotel ICON Hong Kong

My advice, don’t. I have heard and seen so many people who ended up on the wrong side of the ship, thanks to an unforeseen traffic snarl up or flight delay on the day they should have boarded.

Any seasoned cruiser will tell you that sacrificing a few dollars for a night’s stay at a hotel near the port will save you a lot of headaches, which you always want to avoid on vacations.

Cruises are time conscious and the ship will sail without delay. The rule of thumb for me is always fly a day earlier. Period.

5. You haven’t booked your excursions before the cruise

As a new cruiser, mistakes sometimes are unavoidable. But some you can avoid. Things tend to be cheaper upfront and cruises are no different.
I have found that booking an excursion before boarding has always been cheaper than on the cruise and I don’t miss out on the best ones because I enquired late when they were fully booked.

It also helps get prepared physically and psychologically. So one of the best tips is to research the places you will be visiting and book your excursions earlier.

6. Don’t be too late back in the port, the ship won’t wait

Like in everything that we do, time on a cruise is a big factor. The ship is almost always on time and it does not wait for anyone. This is among the things that you should be conscious of whenever you are off the ship: time.

Ensure that you board a few minutes before the actual time.
Avoid being too far off when it’s almost time to leave port. Otherwise, you will have to find your own way home or a means to get to the next port.

7. You eat too much

Most cruises offer an all you can eat buffet. One of the biggest mistakes for first-time cruisers is falling into temptation with the huge array of food and overeating.

First, overeating can cause discomfort, and on a cruise, it is especially disappointing since you are supposed to be enjoying yourself and relaxing. Secondly, you do not want to go back home overweight or out of shape.

Tips to avoid these mistakes include an understanding that you do not have to always give in to your waiters’ suggestion. Create a meal plan and stick to it.

8. You have no budget for extra costs

I have always found myself in a pinch whenever I have traveled without some disposable cash. Even on a cruise, there are extra charges that some services will require.

Tips and specialty restaurants for starters require extra cash. Some other facilities like internet connectivity, gym, sauna or spa treatments will also call for charges other than what the cruise cost.

Having extra cash means you do not miss out on some of the more relaxing things you can access while sailing.

9. You don’t have a drink package


When it comes to drinks, I find it prudent to compare drinks cost and package costs. A package might save you the nasty surprise of a huge bill. Then again, if you are not a frequent drinks fan, a package may not be necessary. Part of the things advisable is to weigh your options and decide which serves you better.

There is always an option that will be cheaper even though it is not immediately recognizable unless you are experienced.

10. You drink too much

The US coastguard has found that drinking on board a cruise ship makes you drunker. Huh! True. It does not mean a necessarily high blood-alcohol-content, just a more drunken feeling. This is due to the wind, sun, noise, vibration, and motion of a boat or ship. Drinking impairs judgment and on a cruise, nobody needs a drunk.

Being at sea also means that alertness and responsiveness are key at all times. Even though indulging in a tipple or two is expected, keep it in check and do not overdo it.

11. Not enough protection against sunburn

Being on a cruise, more often than not, I have found that more time is spent basking in the sun or just chilling after a swim in the ocean or a dip in the pool. Sunscreen always plays a huge role, otherwise, nursing sunburns can be painful and uncomfortable.

Investing in a waterproof sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF is always a great choice. Having enough supply is key so one can invest in one big bottle and a small one to carry around.

12. Dressing inappropriately

Cruise ships vary and rules are also different from one to the next. Getting to learn the policy of a certain cruise ship will exempt first-timers from looking dumb. There might be areas that require formal attire while some will be good with whatever you choose, given its decent.

To be safe, pack one formal attire at least, and a smart one. Otherwise, most areas will be okay with jeans and a t-shirt or shorts and flip-flops.

13. Missing the best activities – not reading the daily planner

shore excursions explore

Most cruises have a daily planner with activities that will leave you begging for more. Keeping tabs on the daily planner will inform cruisers on the best activity times and places so there is nothing to miss.

Remember that these are tailor-made to make your cruise memorable and enjoyable so indulge.

14. You can store your suitcase beneath the bed

Of course, you have to check first as some beds might be screwed in place. But storing suitcases under the bed leaves a bit more space in the room, which is always appreciated given the size of most cruise ship cabins.

15. Thinking the only food included is in the buffet

Are you thinking the only food included in the cruise is the self-serve area and not the main dining room? The free included buffet might be tempting, but most cruise ships also feature specialty restaurants and other dining areas with a wider array and possibly more sumptuous meals.

It is advisable to get familiar with as much of the ship as you can on the first few days.

16. Not going to the shows

Another one of the beginner mistakes for first-time cruisers is missing the show. Some of them are hilarious and rib cracking, others are informative with a lot of history on the sea while some are just a joy to behold.

Besides, most are already paid for in the cruise package so why not enjoy a few?

17. Not using hand sanitizers, norovirus!!!

Norovirus medicine

Cruise ships can be bacteria breeding places given the human traffic onboard a ship at any given time.

To be on the safe side, it is advisable to always have a hand sanitizer close. Use it every once in a while, especially after coming to contact with surfaces in and around the ship.

18. Going to bed too early?

Rookie mistake. As evening approaches, activities such as shows and dances start picking up. There are dancing lessons in a variety of genres. There are also activities like learning new languages and different games that one can participate in.

Stargazing at sea can be breathtaking as the view is better than in the city thanks to the darker surroundings and bigger view.

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