"I wish I knew before..."


Cruising for the first time? Our members will have you cruising like a pro in no time! Don't forget to read our 8000 reviews written by first timers just like you!
First Time Cruisers
You May Also Want to Read: Over 9,000 Published Cruise Reviews by First Time Cruisers

Best advice for first-time cruisers; learn how to pick a cabin, find the best cruise bargain, tips on what to pack.

Browse Cruise Critic's First Time Cruiser Resources (articles)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 07:13 AM.
Southlake, Texas
1,381 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
I'm going to disagree on the gifts. Crew quarters are tiny, they have no room for knick knacks. Cash is nice though, as well as a thank you and a smile.
Florida
12,064 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by Pudgesmom
I'm going to disagree on the gifts. Crew quarters are tiny, they have no room for knick knacks. Cash is nice though, as well as a thank you and a smile.


Anything that they can eat is greatly appreciated. Not only is their cabin small and shared but they have to fly home and luggage does not allow gifts.


Sent from my iPhone using Forums
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Oasis 9-9-2018
Oasis 9-23-2018
Oasis 9-30-2018
Symphony 10-28-2018 (B2B with Serenade) (Miami/Ft Lauderdale)
Serenade 11-09-2018
Oasis 1-06-2019
Vision 2-02-2019
Vision 2-09-2019
Jewel 2-25-2019
Serenade 3-25-2019
Harmony 6-02-2019
Harmony 9-08-2019
Harmony 10-20-2019
Harmony 11-10-2019
Harmony 01-12-2020
Harmony 03-01-2020
Ovation 4-11-2020
Ovation 4-20-2-20



Clint and Zandra
Eat Sleep Cruise
Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning
PC
Lincolnshire, IL
62 Posts
Joined Apr 2015
I agree that small gifts are nice, but that the crew prefers money or yummies that don’t start to take up space. Imagine if many people brought small knick knacks, souvenirs of where they come from, etc. That would create problems both while in the cabin and in their luggage going home! I agree, money and/or consumable items are the best. I think the best policy is to put yourself in their place - what would you like to have?
ontario
77 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
We where on a 36 day cruise and the crew where very glad to take something special
home to their wife or mother,so I feel it is personal choice,whether it be Money,candy special Tee shirt or something that they can not get in their country. It is the thought that counts.
Regards
Mary.
Florida
12,064 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by Ole417
I agree that small gifts are nice, but that the crew prefers money or yummies that don’t start to take up space. Imagine if many people brought small knick knacks, souvenirs of where they come from, etc. That would create problems both while in the cabin and in their luggage going home! I agree, money and/or consumable items are the best. I think the best policy is to put yourself in their place - what would you like to have?


Uh, candy?


Sent from my iPad using Forums
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Oasis 9-9-2018
Oasis 9-23-2018
Oasis 9-30-2018
Symphony 10-28-2018 (B2B with Serenade) (Miami/Ft Lauderdale)
Serenade 11-09-2018
Oasis 1-06-2019
Vision 2-02-2019
Vision 2-09-2019
Jewel 2-25-2019
Serenade 3-25-2019
Harmony 6-02-2019
Harmony 9-08-2019
Harmony 10-20-2019
Harmony 11-10-2019
Harmony 01-12-2020
Harmony 03-01-2020
Ovation 4-11-2020
Ovation 4-20-2-20



Clint and Zandra
Eat Sleep Cruise
Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning
PC
3,014 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
Originally posted by lloyd2050
We where on a 36 day cruise and the crew where very glad to take something special

home to their wife or mother,so I feel it is personal choice,whether it be Money,candy special Tee shirt or something that they can not get in their country. It is the thought that counts.

Regards

Mary.


I’m a teacher and when I receive a gift I don’t want, I don’t tell them! I smile and say thank you. Just because they said they were glad and appreciative doesn’t mean they are. They really live in a tiny space! Do you think the crew would still be on board if they told you “no, I don’t want your gift”.
Money talks— that’s always a gift crew will like!


Sent from my iPhone using Forums
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
NCL Breakaway Bahamas 2-15-15
Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas Greek Isles 7-19-15
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas Bermuda 8-22-15
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas Canada/New England 8-27-15
Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Bahamas 2-13-16
Celebrity Summit one-way repo San Juan to New Jersey 4-23-16
Coral Princess Northbound Glacier Bay to Alaska 7-9-16
NCL Breakaway Bahamas 2-19-17
HAL Zuiderdam Baltics 7-4-17
Celebrity Infinity Alaska 8-27-17







Indonesia
2,285 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Originally posted by denatravels
I’m a teacher and when I receive a gift I don’t want, I don’t tell them! I smile and say thank you. Just because they said they were glad and appreciative doesn’t mean they are. They really live in a tiny space! Do you think the crew would still be on board if they told you “no, I don’t want your gift”.
Money talks— that’s always a gift crew will like!


Sent from my iPhone using Forums
I need to click a LIKE button for you

Sent from my SM-J730G using Tapatalk
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Michael

Reviews :
Vision of the Seas - Canada/New England Fall Foliage, 11 October 2017
AmaPrima AMA Waterways - Christmas Markets on the Rhine, Nov/Dec 2016
Mariner of the Seas
- Spice of SE Asia, February 2015
Norwegian Epic
- Trans Atlantic, April 2014
Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean, April 2014
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand, March 2013
Crystal Symphony - Grand Mediterranean, April 2012

Roll calls :
Pride of America - Hawaii, 5 May 2018
We Move Around ;)
48 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Just wanted to thank everyone for all of the great ideas in this awesome thread! Spent a week reading over all of the tips and can't thank everyone enough. So many times I was thinking, "what a great idea". Already so excited about my first cruise to Alaska in September...and these boards are helping to make the trip even more special with all the fun planning. Thanks again!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature


So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.
Emily Dickinson
Talkeetna, Alaska
695 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
For those who are cruising to Alaska:
  • Layers, Layers, Layers - Rain, warmth & wind protection
  • We truly enjoyed seeing the Glaciers from the Hot Tub - you can hop out long enough to get a great picture!
  • Highly recommend spending time seeing part of the Interior - you can do this via the train, ships tour or our favorite car -- Get out, hike & enjoy
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cheers -- Von & John
SEPT 2018 - Transpacific - Vancouver to Tokyo - NCL Jewel
MAR 2017 - Far East - Vietnam & Thailand - Celebrity Constellation
DEC 2016 - Panama Canal & South America - Celebrity Infinity
APR 2016 - Greek Isles & Mediterranean - Rome to Venice - Celebrity Constellation
FEB 2015 - Barcelona & Canary Islands - NCL Spirit
NOV 2014 - Eastern Caribbean - Princess Regal
NOV 2014 - Western Caribbean - NCL Epic
DEC 2013 - Exotic Southern Caribbean - Celebrity Eclipse
DEC 2011 / JAN 2012 - Panama Canal Trans Canal - Coral Princess
JAN 2011 - Mediterranean - NCL Jade
MAR 2009 - Eastern Caribbean - NCL Dawn
MAR 2008 - Mexico - Dawn Princess
MAY 2007 - Alaska - Diamond Princess
FEB 2006 - Hawaii/Fanning Island - NCL Wind
JAN 2001 - Southern Caribbean - Celebrity Century
JUN 1990 - Caribbean - Carnival Fantasy
28 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
This is an amazing thread--thanks to all who've contributed tips; I hope I'll be able to put some of them to use on my first cruise in January. Having never cruised, I can't offer suggestions on that topic, but there's been a lot of discussion here on memory cards for cameras, and I thought I'd mention something on that.

Before my wedding (about 10 years ago), I found a handy device on eBay that was pretty much a laptop hard drive, memory card reader (supporting most formats), and rechargeable battery, all in a single package about the size of a larger smartphone. I asked our guests that if they'd be willing to share their pictures, they see the best man before leaving, and at the push of a button, the photos were copied off the memory cards and onto the drive. A device like this would give both a backup and extra storage, and be much smaller than taking a laptop along. It was something like this, though I remember it being considerably less expensive (and it didn't do WiFi).
Pennsylvania
6,528 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
I used to have a Digital Wallet (battery operated hard drive/card reader) but the cost/capacity of SD cards meand I can carry eight or more SD cards, each large enough for weeks of photos, in a case smaller and lighter than the old backup/storage solution.

My need for a device other than a camera is now more tied to wanting to share photos during the trip.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature


Past:
Queen Mary 2: 8 cruises
Queen Victoria: 2 cruises

ms Amsterdam: 1 cruise
ms Eurodam: 1 cruise
Caribbean Princess: 1 cruise
Carnival Pride: 1 cruise
28 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Yeah, card capacities have grown, and prices have dropped, as with most tech things. OTOH, cards do fail/get lost/get stolen, so a backup is still nice to have. Though with current capacities, maybe a better idea would be to come up with a way to back up onto a second (large) SD card.
143 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Originally posted by brillohead
The way to get around that, is change your settings on your phone to NOT automatically change time zones.

I turn mine to the "manual" setting at the start of the cruise, and then I change the time on the days we cross a time zone. When we return from the cruise, I reset it to the automatic time zone setting again.


This is a year-old tip, but I might have fallen victim to the automatic time change in Roatan the other day if my DH had not pointed it out to me. Next time we cruise, I’ll set a reminder to put my phone/watch on Manual on embarkation day!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norwegian Cruise Lines Eastern Caribbean June 1983
Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean November 1998
Viking Romantic Danube Nuremberg - Budapest July 2012
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas Western Caribbean April 2018
Viking Rhine Getaway Amsterdam - Basel July 2018
Viking Paris & the Heart of Normandy April 2020 (booked)
24 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
Originally posted by thego6girl
1)
2) Bring a small "gift" for your cabin steward from your hometown. I bring a t-shirt from our local area, but any souvenir will do. I wrap it in cellophane and add some candy and then put a note on the outside with a quick hello message (basic info about who we are and how excited we are about this cruise). I carry it on board, and put it on the top of the bed as soon as we board.

Which brings me to 4) bring small pre-made cello envelopes with a $2.00 tip (and again I add candy and a small pre-printed thank you) for room service.
I Love this tip! So doing this on our September cruise
United States
99 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
I always give a 2.00 tip for room service. If my travel agent pays my gratuities I still will give a sizeable tip to my room steward and my wait staff both the waiter and his or her helper. They are the people I see and interact with and I believe they need something extra for their service. I always start off the trip with a $20.00 bill to my Room Steward and ask them to be sure I always have ice in my room during my trip.
UK
13 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Originally posted by periwinklechi
Hello everyone! Thanks so much for this awesome thread with all of your tips and advice! I've spent the last several days reading over all of them! My boyfriend and I are seriously considering taking a cruise this summer for a trip together. We're hoping to book soon, to the Caribbean! I did have a few general questions.
  • How early can you book excursions?
  • Do all cabins typically have a refrigerator in them?
  • Are cruise carry on dimensions similar to planes? I'm assuming we could just carry on all of our stuff, but it doesn't seem like people do that from reading here.
  • We're heavily considering Celebrity, but we also liked a Royal Caribbean itinerary as well. However right now Celebrity is less expensive. It doesn't look like we could go horribly wrong with any cruise line, but of these 2 which would you recommend for a young couple? He's 29 and I'm 28.
  • How much of a problem are pickpockets in ports? I plan to prepare for the possibility regardless, but I was curious.
  • Are there outdoor dining options available on cruises? Obviously it's not a make-or-break thing, but I do love eating outside on occasion.
  • When dressing for an excursion, is it a good rule of thumb to perhaps just wear a swimsuit underneath a coverup like a casual dress or something similar?
  • We love going to the gym and are wondering how gyms usually are on board. They look fairly decent from what I could tell, but I was just curious if anyone had any experience with the weights in these gyms.
I'm sorry for all of the questions! We just have a lot of them and are very excited! Thank you again for all of your tips! I've already taken some notes
We have just booked a cruise for jan 2020 with celeb and have already prebooked a couple of excursions directly with them
STL
55 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Originally posted by qazedctgbujmol

Oh, and since every one seems to have an opinion on the subject of sports/duct tape, I bring sports tape but it is for use on the GF. She is a screamer. Seriously, you never know when something will rip/tear/break and at those times you would be willing to $50 for a single strip of a $5 roll. Then again, in a true emergency, ask your cabin steward or at the guest relations desk and they will probably help you out.

Zip Strips. Again, yes, but for the GF. I also use them on the luggage to know if someone entered it. It has never been opened on the ship but getting onto the ship, about a third of the time my luggage has been opened/searched.
Dude, you crack me up! I hope I meet someone with your sense of humor on our trip!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature


Norwegian Spirit - 7 Day Alaska Inside Passage Owners Suite - 8/03 (post Iraq deployment...refused to go someplace hot and sandy!)
Carnival Fantasy - 3 Day Bahamas - 2/00 (delayed honeymoon...brought back a "souvenir", now we're taking him and his sister with us 18 years later!)
Sandy Spring, Maryland
25 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Originally posted by jmmashke
You may not want to bring a power strip. A lady we cruised with this year had hers confiscated, making her luggage late to her room. Instead of a power strip, get an outlet plug that's smaller in size and has place for two more plugs.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Forums mobile app
Loving this thread! I have a entire list of things to bring!


With respect to the power strip, are they allowed or are they not? My husband has a CPAP machine and of course we need to charge phones (for photos) and batteries for the proper camera!

I am cruising on HAL this June for an Alaska cruise and none of the 7 of us has been on a cruise before.
Midwest
632 Posts
Joined May 2017
I bought something like this
https://www.amazon.com/3-grounded-Ou...outlet+adapter

at Walmart for about $3, I liked that they weren't right next too each sometimes side by side it gets a little tight. I also have an old USB hub that I'm taking. I have a very nice 3plug 2usb adaptor but turns out it has surge suppression so that's a no no. I even go so far as to plug everything in ahead of time to make sure I have room to plug everything in and all the necessary cables.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Sandi & Don Morris - Omaha