Everything you need to know about first time cruising!
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Cruising for the first time can be a bit of an information overload. To help you navigate this new world of travel, we have compiled a list of 4 top tips you should know, but may have missed, before jumping aboard your first cruise.
POWER ON BOARD
Depending on your ship, you may need to bring an international adapter to utilise the outlets on board - remember just because a ship is departing Australian waters, doesn't always mean it is set up with Australian outlets. Ships that are permanently sailing from Australia often have Australian outlets, so adaptors not required. Best to check this with your specific cruise line and sailing ship however rule of thumb is P&O ships are all based in Australia, and Carnival's Spirit and Splendour are fitted with North American Grounded outlets as well as Australian standard 3-point outlets.
More on power, bring a few double adaptors with you. Your cruise cabin will have limited power outlets, and the more people in your room, the more precious these outlets become. With a few double adaptors, you’ll be able to charge your phone, cameras, use hair accessories and everything you need with much more ease. Note: surge-protected power boards are NOT permitted on board and will be confiscated as the cruise power supply is not earthed. This creates a potential fire hazard, which has landed power boards as banned items onboard. Some people get away with non-surge protected boards, but it is really not worth the risk, as these items are confiscated and sometimes destroyed.
Don't underestimate the humble carry-on when cruising. It's a good idea to pack your carry-on with the essentials. When you check your bags onto the cruise, they are transported to your room, but it can take hours for them to arrive! Sometimes your bags might be waiting for you as you board, sometimes they arrive as late as the next day, after they’re screened and sorted.
To ensure you’ve got your essentials, pack your carry on as if it is an overnight bag, just in case. Some swimmers, change of clothes, pyjamas and clothes for dinner are great things to pack, in addition to any important items you’d already pack with you like medications and passports - do not pack the passports in your checked bags!
RESEARCH YOUR PORTS
Understanding where you’ll be visiting will go a long way to understanding how to pack, what you might like to see, and how much a port stop might cost. Every day, you're likely to receive a daily newsletter which will tell you a bit about the port, as well as things like temperature, re-embarkation times, and bits and pieces alike. However, knowing the port before you arrive gives you the upper hand! You might want to go to a particular museum, which only opens at 11am -save yourself the early tender boat and enjoy a sleep in! Or you might want to get to a cultural village 2 hours away from the dock - so it'll be worth the early tender to make sure you have enough time. Our Unique Experience Guides can help you to plan your port stops - reach out for more information!
KNOW YOUR INCLUSIONS
You may have heard the words "drinks package" being thrown around when researching and booking. Essentially what this is, is a facility added to your card that grants you a certain amount and type of drinks to be purchased on board, free of charge - well, prepaid really. The most common drinks package is a purchase of soft drinks, usually allowing you a set limit a day, say 1 drink an hour, or an unlimited amount for the day. On board, you won't pay for this, but expect a rather hefty price tag up front. If this is a feature which you will get good use out of, it can be totally worth your while as on board drinks can get rather pricey, think $5+ for a can of Coke!
Gratuities, or tips, are another inclusion (or exclusion) to be aware of. Australian ships often don't require gratuities, however internationally based ships may, particularly Royal Caribbean and US based Carnival ships. Gratuities are something you can have worked into your final cruise price, essentially pre-paying them, or you can simply opt out and pay when due on board. If you're gratuities aren't included, you can anticipate that any kind of service you receive will come with a hand out for tips as well. This includes your dinner wait staff, bag staff helping with luggage, house keepers, casino attendants, bar tenders, and just about every service member on board. For some, especially first time cruisers, this is quite unexpected and can feel rather rude given tips aren't a regular part of Australian culture.
What tips have you found most helpful? If you've cruised before, what's the best tip you have for someone just starting their cruise journey - leave your tips in the comments below!