From avid cruisers to those who have never-cruised-before, everyone has an opinion on cruising holidays.

The cruise industry is built on the foundations of tradition and heritage which is long and rich, but not necessarily how they should still be perceived. It’s not all white glove service and butlers and  you don’t have to ‘dress up’ to dine every night.

From solo cruisers and young couples enjoying their honeymoon to family reunions and retirement breaks – we firmly believe there is a cruise for everyone.

Think cruising is not for you? Think again.

Let us debunk some of the common misconceptions of cruising below with our frequently asked questions, top cruise myths and reasons on why you should book your next getaway on a cruise!

Frequently asked questions

If you have never cruised before, there will be plenty of questions whirring around your head. From booking your cruise to setting sail, here are some of the popular FAQs to help settle any preconceptions you might have about cruising.

Pre-cruise questions

Do I need my passport?

Much like the usual land holiday, you will need your passport in most cases when cruising. It’s often the first ID required upon booking and used to verify your identity on embarkation.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), certified Cruise Agents and cruise lines highly recommend that all cruise passengers travel with a passport. The US Government has slightly different regulations for travel within the Western Hemisphere, though other identification documentation is required.

If you or a member of your cruise party do not own a passport, it’s always best to check if you need your passport when you book your cruise.

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I've never cruised before, where do I start?

It can be hard to know what to look for if you have never experienced cruising. There’s a wide variety of cruise lines, ships, destinations and itineraries it can be overwhelming!

Our Cruise Concierge team are experts at finding the perfect cruise for everyone, whether it’s your first or twenty-first. We do this by finding out what you want from your holiday – family fun or relaxation?

Some other things to consider at the start of your cruise search include:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • Who else are you travelling with?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s a typical holiday day for you?

We can then use all of this information to determine factors of your cruise holiday such as whether to suggest an adults-only ship; a cruise line with a drinks package; a longer duration itinerary; or even a destination that offers fun for all of the family.

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What's included in my cruise fare?

Every cruise line is different in what they offer their customers. All cruise lines include accommodation, dining and selected drinks, entertainment, activities, youth programmes (where available) as well as more.

You can add-on extras such as transfers, flights, hotel stays, on-board packages and excursions

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Passport and suitcase - Holiday packing

Life on-board questions

What's the dress code?

Each cruise line has its own dress code, varying depending on the time of day, dining venue, and even destination. It’s often thought that cruise lines require you to dress formally for every dining event and have strict rules on dress codes, but that isn’t always the case.

Most cruise lines have casual dining venues where you don’t need to don your suit and tie, and have become much more relaxed over the years so you feel comfortable on-board. It’s always best to check with the cruise line to see what their dress codes are which will help decide what to pack and wear during your time at sea.

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What are shore excursions?

Shore excursions are trips you book to explore the ports you visit throughout your itinerary. The cruise line offers their own catalogue of excursions, as well as external providers which you can book yourself. They offer an excellent way to experience the destinations and not have to worry about logistics. The cruise line shore excursions include travel to and from your ship, as well as a guarantee that you will be back on the ship before it departs.

You usually have to pay extra for shore excursions, and you can book these either before your cruise or during your time on-board. If it’s something you really want to do, it’s worth booking it pre-cruise as you don’t want it to fill up!

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Will I get bored?

There’s plenty to do on a cruise ship! Cruises thrive on wanting to make each day as enjoyable as the next for its guests, that’s why there’s always something to do and keep you entertained on-board.

Cruise lines hand out daily schedules so you know what’s coming up for each day, varying from daytime activities such as trivia quizzes, live music, pool games and sports events to nighttime entertainment such as theatrical shows on par with Broadway, fine dining venues, bands playing in bars and playing the slots at the casino.

That’s not to mention the waterparks you find on some cruise ships, as well as exciting on-board activities found on some ships such as laser tag, surfing simulators, rock-climbing walls, skydiving simulators, go karting, bowling alleys, Formula 1 simulators, kids clubs and programmes, dodgems, zip lines, cinemas, mini golf, ice skating, sports courts… Need we go on?

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A couple in smart casual dress code on a Celebrity Cruises ship

General cruise questions

Will I get seasick?

For those who have never cruised before, and tend to get travel sick, it could be a major worry that you might feel unwell during your time on-board. Today, ships are built with innovative technology and engineering so that they can safely navigate around bad weather. They also boast stabilisers to reduce motion and the likelihood of guests falling victim to motion sickness.

Royal Caribbean’s Chief Medical Consultant – Dr. Benjamin Shore – has some tips for seasickness including walking around the centre of the ship as it’s the most balanced area or using natural remedies such as ginger, peppermint or chamomile

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What about my dietary requirements?

One of the things cruising is renowned for is its dining experiences. There are buffets, fine dining venues, outdoor grills, ice cream parlours, pizza kitchens, sweet shops and more!

If you have a dietary requirement, your cruise ship will be more than happy to facilitate your needs. All you need to do is let them know ahead of time, so that they can prepare. However, all tastes and requirements are already catered for on-board including Halal, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets.

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Isn't cruising expensive?

To a first-timer, cruising can seem expensive. They do vary in price depending on cruise line and ship, as well as the destination, time of year, and how many people you’re booking a cruise for.

When you’re shopping for a cruise, it’s good to bear in mind what you get for your money. Don’t forget that your cruise fare includes your accommodation, full-board dining, selected drinks, and everything you need to keep you entertained throughout the days and nights of your itinerary. When comparing to a land-based multiple destination holiday, cruising most definitely comes out top due to its value for money, appeal to everyone, and hassle-free holiday organising!

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Cruising myths

There are many cruise myths that circle the industry, from the age of guests to the dining venues. 

Myth #1: “Cruises are just for old people”

One of the most common myths of cruising is that it’s just for old people. Fortunately, it’s not the case! Cruises cater to diverse groups of people, with the demographics of age getting lower and lower each year. Multi-generational cruising is also becoming popular, as families are cruising with their parents and grandparents for the ultimate family getaway. Much of the activities on-board include family-friendly shows, as well as adult-themed options such as comedy nights and late-night events.

Family on the Boardwalk - Royal Caribbean

Myth #2: “Cruises are expensive”

Though at first, a cruise may seem much pricier than a land-based holiday, as soon as you break it down and compare you reveal the value you get with a cruise. Everything from flights, transfers, accommodation, full-board dining, on-board activities and entertainment, and the chance to see multiple destinations in one trip is included from the get-go – leaving you to just optional extras such as drinks or excursions. If you were to book a land-based holiday across the Mediterranean, this would involve multiple flights, hotels, dining arrangements, as well as research into things to do and see. A cruise does all of this for you!

Myth #3: “Cruises spend too much time at sea”

Those who have never cruised before often think that they will be stuck on a ship from beginning to end, but that’s not the case. Of course, longer duration sailings have a few days at sea, but shorter sailings visit multiple ports often with no days at sea at all!

You might even find that you spend more time off the ship exploring capital cities and local towns, rather than on-board. You don’t even need to get off the ship at every port. If it’s somewhere you’ve visited before – that’s prime sunbathing time as the ship is much quieter! Even if you do spend some time on-board, there’s plenty to do to keep you occupied so you definitely won’t be bored staring at your cabin walls.

Couple on a cruise excursion

Myth #4: “Cruise food is either fine dining or buffets”

If you’re thinking cruise dining consists of either posh restaurants or packed buffets, you’re very much mistaken! Many people have picked their favourite cruise lines purely for the foodie experience, with everything from simple poolside pizza stops and ice cream counters, to Michelin-starred menus offering sushi, teppanyaki, and culinary experiences.

Royal Caribbean hosts a number of land-based favourites such as Ben & Jerry’s and Jamie’s Italian, while P&O Cruises’ Foot Heroes include the likes of Marco Pierre White and James Martin. As for the main dining room, no longer are you tied to strict sitting times. You now have full freedom over your dining style, which is fully flexible with you and your family.

Family dining in Izumi on-board Royal Caribbean

Myth #5: “Cruises are boring”

There is never a dull day on-board a cruise ship. Go kart tracks, surf simulators, sky- diving, laser tag, ice skating, and waterparks do not look out of place on some of the more popular family cruise lines – meaning you have plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities to choose from during your stay.

As for somewhere to relax, most cruise ships offer first-class spa facilities and fitness centres for you to work out or kick back for the ultimate you-time. That’s without mentioning the West End-style entertainment, casinos, cookery courses and classes, libraries, live music, bubbling hot tubs, and plenty of places to eat and drink.

Boring isn’t in a cruisers dictionary! Cruise ships are innovative, modern, and perfect for all the family, so don’t let these common myths put you off! Cruises need to be as diverse as the passengers who travel on-board, so they offer plenty of things to see and do on-board to keep everyone happy.

Learn the lingo

For those who don’t cruise often, or ever have at all, it can feel like cruising has its own language at times. There are many phrases and words that might not make sense to first-timers, so here are a few to get you started!

  • Aft – At or towards the back of the ship
  • Ashore – On land
  • Cabin – Your room on-board a ship (also referred to as: Stateroom)
  • Deck – The floor of the ship
  • Disembarkation – The process of guests leaving the cruise ship
  • Dock – When your cruise ship settles in port
  • Embarkation – The process of guests boarding the ship
  • Fly-cruise – A cruise paired with flights, rather than sailing from your home country
  • Forward – At or towards the front of the ship
  • Gratuities – Tips given to the crew on-board the ship
  • Muster drill – Safety drill where all guests assemble at their allocated muster stations
  • Open seating – No fixed time or fixed seating is given for dining
  • Sea day – A day where the ship remains at sea and does not visit a port
  • Speciality dining – A restaurant on the ship which offers alternative dining to the main restaurant with additional fees
  • Stateroom – Your room on-board a ship (also referred to as: Cabin)

Take the plunge and book a cruise

A couple snorkelling in the Caribbean sea with Princess Cruises

Cruising is a holiday experience like no other, with something for everyone to enjoy on-board. Whether you’re young or old, a solo traveller or family group, budget-savvy or big spender – a cruise offers options for everyone to experience an unforgettable time on-board and return time and time again! They even have loyalty programmes for their repeat customers.

Take a look at our latest cruise deals by clicking the button below, or call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 for a chance to speak with our expert team about cruising and finding the perfect deal for you.

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Emma Smith
Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over a year. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2020! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

2 Responses to “New to cruise: Advice and tips for first-time cruisers”

    • Emma Smith

      Hello Lynn, you can find all of our cruises for solo travellers on our website, here. If you would like to know any more details or information, please call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 for more information. Thanks, Emma.

      Reply

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