In my recent post, Cruising with Carnival on the Carnival Liberty, I mentioned that it has become a tradition for my family to take a cruise once a year. Because of that, I’ve become quite knowledgeable on the in’s and out’s of cruising, I thought that it might be appropriate for me to take some time to share some of my tips for first time cruisers.
Booking a cruise
One of my first tips for first time cruisers, is to sign-up for emails. I know that it can be a bit annoying to sign-up for yet another email list, but honestly it is the best way to get a great cruise deal. I’ve been on several Carnival cruises and I’ve worked for both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Signing up for emails will ensure that you are the first to know when sales happen. For example, Carnival cruise has sales all of the time that includes half off deposits, free room upgrades and on-board credits as a bonus.
One of my favorite tips for first time cruisers, is to NOT book your excursion on the ship. Granted, it is convenient, but if you are on a budget or just prefer to not pay the inflated price, wait until you get to the port-of-call to book an excursion.
My family and I typically do city tours at any port we visit and we always wait until we are off the ship. You will notice that as soon as you get to the port and begin to make your way to the gates to exit, there are tons of operators waiting to sell you an excursion. And most often it is up to half off the price of what the ship would have charged.
Should you decide to do a city tour, don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide to take you to some of his or her favorite places to eat or to sites that aren’t so touristy, so that you can have a more authentic experience.
Another important tip for first time cruisers is that most cruise lines allow you to bring up to two bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom. If you aren’t big on hard alcohol this could be a bonus. You are only allowed to bring it on board the day of embarkation so keep that in mind. You can attempt to try to sneak on beer or hard alcohol, but let this be a warning that they will confiscate it lol.
Should you buy any alcohol at any of the ports, once you get back on board, the crew will bag it with your cabin number and name and deliver it to your room the night before debarkation. Also, should you purchase any alcohol on-board from the shops, you won’t be able to drink it during the cruise. It will also be bagged with your cabin number and name and will be delivered to your room the night before debarkation.
One of the advantages to shopping on a cruise and at the ports of call is that there is no tax. Depending on what you are purchasing, that can be a good thing. Jewelry is a big one because of the price tag. If you can save a couple hundred bucks in tax it makes the difference.
Alcohol is also a big focus when on cruises because the price difference between the Caribbean and the states is huge! As an example, I was able to buy 4 bottles of the 750ml Ciroc for $100. That size bottle typically retails between $35-$40 in the states. Again, everything is duty-free so there is no tax.
It’s OK to skip the buffet
My final and most important (at least to me lol) tips for first time cruisers, is to skip the buffet. Cruises have been long known for its grand buffets with endless amounts of food. But you also have the option to indulge and have a real culinary experience.
All cruise ships have a la carte restaurants that you can dine in for an additional fee and you can expect to have the highest quality food possible. Don’t get me wrong, the buffet is good, but I like to step my cruise experience up a notch if I can.
Cruising is one of the best ways to vacation. So I hope that my tips for first time cruisers was helpful if you were considering one for an upcoming vacation 🙂
Until next time…Happy Traveling! xoxo