7 Tips to Know before You Take Your First Cruise ...

Before you take your first cruise, you probably have a whole laundry list of questions: What should I pack? Do I need to bring anything special? Are there things I should do before the cruise? This article attempts to answer some of those questions before you take your first cruise. These seven important tips can help make your cruise experience fun and hassle-free.

1. Pack a Power Strip

If nothing else, pay attention to this important piece of information before you take your first cruise. Most cabins on cruise ships only have one or two electrical outlets. Plus, these scarce outlets are often located in inconvenient spots. On my last Carnival cruise, the one outlet in the room was down by the floor, behind my bed. Pack a power strip in your suitcase. It doesn’t hurt to pack an extension cord, too.

2. Bringing Soda and Alcohol on-Board

Typically, you are allowed to bring one 12-pack of soda and one bottle of wine on the ship. Do it! Most cruise lines sell a soft drink card that entitles you to unlimited sodas for a set period of time. However, you will still save money if you bring your own 12-pack. Usually the one wine bottle limit can be substituted for another type of alcohol, but this varies per cruise line. If you are planning to drink on-board, do yourself a favor and pack that bottle!

3. Spotty Internet

Some people consider this a blessing, while others find it incredibly inconvenient. Many cruise ships have terrible internet service. Plus, it is usually expensive to use the wifi on-board. On my first cruise, I found it to be extremely frustrating because I expected normal internet service. Bring your laptop, if you must, but don’t expect to do any online banking or anything like that while you are on the ship.

4. Call Your Credit Card Company

If you plan to use a credit card, be sure to call your credit card company before the cruise. Otherwise, any unusual charges in a foreign port may cause your card to be flagged and blocked. Avoid the hassle by being prepared. Let the credit card company know about your travel plans, in advance. This can help you avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience of having your card declined when paying for souvenirs.

5. Motion Sickness Medication

You probably don’t know whether or not you’ll get motion sickness on your first cruise. If you have even the slightest inkling that it could happen to you, begin taking your motion sickness medication before your cruise. Before I take a cruise, I always start taking Bonine two days in advance. I have never once been sick on a cruise ship. Believe me, it does work.

6. Passport

If you are leaving from and returning to the same U.S. port, you do not need a U.S. passport to cruise. However, consider getting one, anyway. During my first cruise, I didn’t have a passport, but I was afraid I’d regret it. Everything turned out fine, but if you have an emergency and need to fly home early, you can only do it with a passport. Also, don’t wait until the last minute because it can take weeks for your passport to arrive.

7. Packing Your Carry-on Bag

During embarkation day, you will likely be on the ship for hours before your suitcase is delivered to your cabin. I am chronically early for everything, so I’m usually on the ship a few hours before my cabin is even ready. This means I get to hang out on the Lido deck or wander around the ship and get the “lay of the land.” If you take medication or think you may need something on-board, pack it in your carry-on bag.

There you have it. To me, these are some of the most important things to know before a cruise. What is your number one tip for first-time cruisers?