For plenty of travelers, heading off on an adventure on the ocean waves is one of the big-ticket items on their bucket list. A cruise vacation is a wonderful way to spend a vacation, offering an amazing combination of luxury and convenience, as well as the opportunity to see more exotic locations in one holiday than you might normally visit in an entire year.

A cruise vacation is a little different from a regular trip abroad and does come with its own specific needs and guidelines. To help you plan for your first cruise adventure, I’ve put together a few ideas, as well as some useful bits of advice you might find helpful. So whether you are cruising to Tampa or island-hopping around the Caribbean, this guide will give you everything you need to make your first cruise vacation a smash hit.

Before you set sail

Photo: Levi Ventura on Unsplash

To get the best out of a cruise vacation, it’s important to plan your time carefully. There are so many activities both onboard and ashore that it can be easy to get overwhelmed, and you won’t want to miss out on the things you really want to see and do. Make sure all of your documentation is up to date and in order, and that you have everything you need to go to every destination you plan on visiting. Book experiences in advance, and make sure you have packed everything you might need for your vacation.

Getting on board

Your cruise operator will send you detailed embarkation instructions, so read them carefully and make sure you know exactly where you need to be, and when. Expect to be separated from your luggage initially, as porters will collect your bags and your stateroom will need to be prepared, so pack a carry-on with all the essentials you might want for your first few hours on-board. Tour the ship, find out where everything is, and take the opportunity to relax by the pool – the perfect way to start your trip.

Life at sea

For many people, the ‘sea days’ are the best part of a cruise. Watching the horizon slip by as you explore the incredible dining options on board, swim in the pool, or take part in the array of programmed activities is an exciting experience, and you’ll find the time goes incredibly quickly. It’s a good idea to pre-book any activities you particularly want to do, as you’ll avoid queues, or missing out entirely. 

Heading ashore

Photo: ConvertKit on Unsplash

Getting off the ship and exploring new, exotic destinations is one of the best parts of a cruise vacation. Again, pre-planning is the best way to get the most out of your shore leave, and deciding what sights you want to see and what excursions you absolutely must do beforehand takes away the stress and panic of sorting things out last-minute. Whatever you do, make sure you know exactly when the ship is due to sail, and don’t get left behind, or you’ll find yourself having to get to the next port of call under your own steam!

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