Searching for actionable tips when cruising to enhance your journey? You’re in the right place. This article offers practical advice on stateroom selection, efficient packing, budgeting, and more. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveller, these tips will help you make the most of your cruise from embarkation to disembarkation.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right stateroom and consult a hula agent for the best advice to ensure a relaxing and comfortable cruise experience.

  • Arrive early at the cruise terminal and explore the ship on day one to avoid crowds and get acquainted with the ship’s layout.

  • Smart budgeting, proper packing, and using technology (like cruise apps) can significantly enhance your cruise experience and save money.


Stepping aboard a cruise ship is like entering a floating city with all the amenities and experiences you could dream of. You'll need a guide to the best-kept secrets and strategies to get the most out of your time on the high seas, especially if it’s your first time. That’s where we step in. With our wealth of insider knowledge and experience, we’ll guide you through the myriad options available, allowing you to make the most of your maritime adventure with our essential first-time cruise tips and time cruise tips.

Every stage, from initial planning to the farewell, plays a significant role in shaping your dream vacation. Consider this blog post your trusty first mate, armed with the expertise to steer you towards smooth sailing and away from potential pitfalls. So, let’s set sail on this adventure together and unlock the full potential of your cruise experience!

Choose the Right Stateroom


The right stateroom selection can provide you with a perfect home base for your vacation. It’s the little haven you’ll return to after a day of exploration and excitement. Imagine waking up to the gentle lapping of waves against the ship, sunlight streaming through your window, promising the start of another amazing day at sea. But how do you pick the perfect spot from the myriad of options that most cruise lines offer?

Consulting with a Hupla travel agent specialising in cruises can be a game-changer. We have insider knowledge of the cruise ships and can help you navigate the complex world of cabin categories, locations, and amenities. With our guidance, you can avoid common pitfalls and find a stateroom that suits your preferences and budget, ensuring your time aboard is as relaxing and comfortable as possible.

Pack Efficiently for Your Cruise

Packing Dean Pugh Unsplash

Packing for a cruise requires artful precision. You’re not just throwing clothes into a suitcase; you’re curating your wardrobe for an array of activities and destinations. But it’s not just about the clothes. It’s about being smart with space and remembering those essential items that will make your cruise go smoothly. Think of your suitcase as a puzzle, with each piece meticulously placed to make the most of every inch.

For the eco-conscious traveller, reusable travel-sized bottles are a must for your favourite products. They reduce waste and ensure you have all the comforts of home without the bulk. And let’s not forget about the importance of a well-packed carry-on, holding all your cruise documents, medications, and anything you might need for those first few hours on board before your luggage arrives at your stateroom.

Arrive Early at the Cruise Terminal

The first day of your cruise, known as embarkation day, sets the tone for the entire voyage. An early arrival at the cruise terminal kick-starts your vacation and minimizes stress. Imagine strolling onto the ship, cocktail in hand, while others rush and fret about making it on board in time. By planning to arrive a day early, you can explore the embarkation city, soak up the local atmosphere, and rest assured that flight delays won’t wreck your plans.

Once you’re at the terminal, early birds get the worm—or, in this case, the best boarding experience. Arriving early means avoiding the afternoon crowds, enjoying a leisurely lunch onboard, and even taking a dip in the pool while others are still queueing. It’s the perfect way to start your cruise with a sense of calm and control.

Explore the Cruise Ship on Day One

As your ship pulls away from the dock, the adventure of your first cruise truly begins. But before you get swept up in the excitement, take the first day to get to know your temporary oceanic home. A self-guided exploration of the cruise ship can be likened to a treasure hunt, uncovering hidden gems and shortcuts to enhance your stay. Start from the top deck and work your way down, marvelling at the ship’s design and amenities.

This reconnaissance mission is especially useful if you’re cruising with little ones. Knowing the quickest routes to the ice cream parlour or the kids’ club can be a lifesaver. Plus, familiarizing yourself with the ship’s layout means you’ll spend less time lost and more time enjoying everything your floating resort has to offer.

Budget Wisely for Onboard Expenses

While a cruise can be lavish, it doesn’t necessarily need to drain your bank account. Smart budgeting for onboard expenses is key to enjoying your trip without financial worries. Some cost-effective ways to indulge in your favourite drinks include:

  • Beverage packages, especially if you enjoy sipping on cocktails by the pool or wine with dinner

  • Happy hour specials, which often offer discounted drinks during certain times of the day

  • Bringing your own alcohol, as some cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of alcohol on board

But before you toast to your savvy spending, make sure to assess whether these options suit your drinking habits.

Beyond drinks, there are other expenses, like gratuities, spa treatments, and special restaurant fees. Understand what’s included in your cruise fare and what’s extra. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, automatically adds daily gratuity charges to your bill, so there are no surprises at the end of your voyage.

Use Technology to Enhance Your Experience

In our increasingly digital era, technology can greatly enhance your cruise experience. From planning your daily activities to staying connected with loved ones back home, there’s an app or gadget for virtually everything. Before you embark, download the cruise line’s app to book shows, make dinner reservations, and keep track of your onboard schedule. Think of it as your personal cruise assistant, right in your pocket.

But remember, the internet at sea can be costly and unreliable. To avoid frustration, locate routers for a stronger signal and consider downloading content for offline use. And when it comes to charging all your devices, a multi-USB charger is a godsend in cabins with limited outlets.

Plan Your Shore Excursions


While your cruise ship is a splendid floating hotel, the ports of call add richness to your travel experience. Shore excursions offer a glimpse into each destination's local culture, history, and natural beauty. Book early to ensure you don’t miss out on the best tours. The most sought-after excursions fill up quickly, and nothing is more disappointing than missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience because you waited too long.

When evaluating shore excursions, consider not just the cost but the value they provide. How much time will you spend in transit versus exploring? What’s the ratio of guided tour time to free time? These details can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your time ashore.

Enjoy Specialty Dining Options

Silver_Whisper - The GrillCruises are celebrated for their culinary offerings, with speciality dining experiences being the pinnacle. From intimate chef’s table experiences to exotic international cuisine, there’s something to tantalize every palate. Book once you're confirmed on the cruise to ensure you get a table at popular restaurants like Eden on Celebrity Cruises. Imagine enjoying a gourmet meal as the sun sets over the ocean—a perfect complement to your cruise experience.

But it’s not just about securing a reservation. Timing is everything. Consider booking your evening meal to coincide with a beautiful sail-away or on a special occasion. And don’t forget to inform the staff of any dietary requirements so they can cater to your needs and make your dining experience unforgettable.

Make the Most of Sea Days

Lady relaxing on chair on a Silversea Classic cruise 540x320

Sea days present an opportunity to relax and indulge in the plethora of activities your cruise ship offers. With no itinerary to follow, you can spend the day doing as much or as little as you please. Some options for your sea day include:

  • Starting with a yoga class to stretch your sea legs

  • Lounging by the pool with a book, the sunshine warming your skin

  • Joining in on a game of trivia

  • Learning a new craft in a workshop

The options are limitless.

And let’s not forget the relaxation opportunities. The spa onboard offers a tranquil escape, with treatments like massages and facials to soothe your body and mind. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, why not try your hand at bingo? You might just win your next cruise.

Stay Healthy and Hydrated

Despite the excitement and indulgence of a cruise, maintaining your health is crucial. Staying hydrated, especially in warmer climates, is crucial. Keep a refillable water bottle with you, and be mindful of the safety of drinking water at your destinations. And while it’s tempting to treat every meal like a feast, balance is key. Enjoy the lavish food offerings, but don’t overdo it—your stomach will thank you.

Norovirus is a concern on any cruise, so here are some tips to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands regularly

  • Use the hand sanitisers placed around the ship

  • If you’re prone to motion sickness, prepare in advance with medication or natural remedies

Remember, a healthy cruiser is a happy cruiser.

Document Your Journey

Your cruise will be packed with unforgettable moments. Whether it’s the breathtaking views from the top deck or the laughter shared with new friends on the pool deck, each memory is precious. Take plenty of photos—consider investing in a waterproof camera for those beach excursions or a GoPro to capture the action.

But photos aren’t the only way to document your journey. Keep a journal of your experiences, or create a scrapbook filled with mementoes like ticket stubs and postcards. These tangible reminders will allow you to relive your cruise long after you’ve returned to dry land.

Socialize and Meet New People

A cruise offers a fantastic opportunity to engage with cruise passengers from diverse backgrounds. Here are some ways to connect with fellow passengers during your cruise vacation:

  • Share a table at dinner

  • Participate in group activities

  • Lounge by the pool

  • Take advantage of onboard activities like dance classes or singles events

These activities can lead to engaging conversations and lasting friendships.

Getting to know the crew members is equally rewarding. They’re a treasure trove of stories and insights into the destinations you’ll visit. Plus, building a rapport with them can enhance your cruising experience, making it feel even more personalized and special.

Take Advantage of Onboard Entertainment

Cruise ships, operated by many cruise lines, are famous for their varied entertainment options that cater to every preference. On most cruise ships, you can find Broadway-style musicals, live bands, and comedians, making the evening’s entertainment a highlight of any cruise. And the best part? It’s all included in your cruise fare.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your luck at the casino or join in on a game of bingo? For a more laid-back evening, enjoy a movie under the stars or attend a lecture on the history of the destinations you’re visiting. Whatever you choose, the onboard entertainment options include:

  • Casino

  • Bingo

  • Movie under the stars

  • Lectures on the history of the destinations

The onboard entertainment is sure to be a memorable part of your cruise.

Be Prepared for Disembarkation

Like all good things, your cruise, too, must eventually come to an end. Disembarkation can be a hectic process, but with a little preparation, it can go smoothly. Decide whether you’ll leave your packed luggage outside your stateroom the night before or carry it off yourself. If you opt for the latter, ensure you can manage all your baggage, as you’ll need to navigate through customs and to your onward transportation.

Plan what you’ll carry on disembarkation day—passports, medications, and a change of clothes are essential. And don’t forget to settle any outstanding charges on your account. With everything in order, you can disembark with ease, already dreaming of your next cruise adventure.

Protect Your Travel Investment

While no one anticipates mishaps on a cruise, unexpected events can occur. That’s why smart cruisers know the importance of protecting their travel investment with comprehensive travel insurance. From trip cancellations due to illness to missed connections and emergencies, having the right coverage gives you peace of mind. Imagine the relief of knowing that if you miss the ship because your flight was delayed, your insurance has got you covered.

When selecting travel insurance, consider the full scope of your trip. Some policies extend beyond the cruise, offering reimbursement for flights or hotel stays related to your cruise travel. Group insurance packages can also be a cost-effective way for families and couples to safeguard their journey. Take the time to review your options and choose a plan that provides the best protection for your unique needs.


As we dock at the end of our cruise journey together, let’s reflect on the treasures we’ve uncovered. By choosing the right stateroom, packing efficiently, and arriving early, you’ve set yourself up for a voyage of comfort and ease. Exploring the ship on day one and planning your shore excursions with care has prepared you for the adventures that lie ahead. Through budgeting wisely and embracing technology, you’ve streamlined your experience and kept surprises at bay.

Embrace the special dining experiences and make the most of your sea days, balancing activity with relaxation. Stay healthy and hydrated, and document your journey in creative ways. Socialize and soak in the onboard entertainment—these are the moments that make a cruise unforgettable. And as you prepare for disembarkation, remember that protecting your travel investment is the final piece of ensuring a worry-free vacation. Now, with these insights and strategies in your captain’s hat, you’re ready to chart your own course to an extraordinary cruise experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I book shore excursions through the cruise line or independently?

It ultimately depends on your preferences and budget, so consider the level of convenience and flexibility you desire before making a decision. Choose the option that aligns best with your needs and preferences.

Can I bring my own drinks on board the cruise?

No, most cruise lines have strict policies on bringing drinks onboard. You may be able to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne, but it's best to check your cruise line's specific policy before packing.

Are gratuities included in my cruise fare?

Gratuities are not always included in the cruise fare. It's important to check with your cruise line before departure to understand their gratuity policy.

Is it better to arrive at the cruise terminal early or just before departure?

It's better to arrive at the cruise terminal early to avoid stress, enjoy a smooth boarding, and make the most of the ship's amenities sooner. Plus, arriving early allows for extra time to explore the embarkation city.

What should I do if I get seasick?

If you often get seasick, consider consulting a doctor for prescription medication, such as scopolamine patches, before your trip. While on board, focus on the horizon, avoid still tasks like reading, and stay hydrated.