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First Cruise Tips, Advice & Planning

05 Apr 2016 at 14:30

Congratulations on booking your first cruise holiday. There can be few things more exciting than leaving port and heading for far away adventures on board a beautiful cruise ship. If you’re looking for some tips and advice on how to make your cruise experience memorable and magical, we’ve put together a handy selection to ensure your cruise holiday is plain sailing.

Get Your Bearings

Cruise ships are often huge and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve just entered a small city rather than boarding a moving vessel. Once you’ve unpacked it’s a good idea to go exploring to get your bearings. We recommend starting at the top deck and working your way downstairs. Take along a notebook so that you can jot down the restaurants and bars that you would like to hit first. Make a note of safety features too such as meeting points in the event of an emergency and the nearest emergency exit to your cabin.

Start Your Cruise With Something Colourful

Once you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to relax. Why not head to one of the nearest bars and treat yourself to something long, cool and tropical to get you in the cruise spirit? You could also treat yourself to a souvenir glass to remind you of your cruise once you return back home.

Take Your Time And Beat The Crowds

One of the most crowded places on board any cruise ship is the buffet restaurant. This is especially the case on embarkation day where most people have been travelling to the port for hours and are famished once lunch or dinner time comes around. Rather than heading straight to the buffet with the rest of the travellers, why not buck the trend and see if any other venues are open for lunch instead? Better still, if you are lucky enough to have a balcony, why not purchase your lunch from an on-board shop and eat overlooking the ocean?

Don’t Forget The Photos

There are always plenty of photo opportunities on board a cruise ship. From the fun and fantastic towel animals lovingly created by your maids, to the all-important family shot by the ship’s rail, you’ll want to ensure you have a camera on hand at all times. Most cruise ships also have a professional photographer on board - perfect when you are dressed for dinner and want a memorable souvenir of the occasion.

Avoid The Elevator On Embarkation Day

If you can manage it, take the stairs on embarkation day. This is the busiest day and passengers will be everywhere with their luggage trying to reach their cabin deck. Not only will you get to your cabin quicker by avoiding the lifts, but those extra calories mean you’ll be able to enjoy your after dinner dessert guilt free!

Arrange Spa Appointments And Activities

Spa appointments and sports activities on board are likely to get booked up quite quickly, so why not act like a cruise pro and get everything booked before you reach your first port, or even better before you board?

Book Speciality Dining And Shore Tours In Advance

Most cruises allow you to book your shore excursions and speciality dining experiences before you embark. You can do this online or with your tour operator over the phone. Knowing that you have made your bookings before you leave port means you’ll have more time to relax once you are on board.

Don’t Miss Sailaway

Sailaway is a great moment on any cruise and features live music, flowing drinks and plenty of opportunities to let your hair down. This is a great way to kick off your cruise and meet fellow travellers.

Make The Most Of Sea Days

Depending on your cruise destination and stop-off points, you may have one or two days that are spent completely out at sea. Why not make the most of the sun and fresh air by booking a premium area on the sundeck or even a cabana room? Space is often limited in these areas and so pre-booking is recommended.

Don’t Forget Your Cruise Insurance

No matter where you are travelling, it makes sense to ensure your travel insurance covers you for the unexpected, especially when out at sea. RAC makes this easy with our optional Cruise Cover policy. Call us on 0330 159 0412 to find out more.

Pay Attention To Health & Safety

The muster drill is one of the most important points of any cruise, even if you have cruised before. During this exercise you’ll be given important information on what to do in the event of an emergency.

Before you set sail, make sure you are fully covered with RAC Travel Insurance.