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Are you planning for a cruise? Well, you’re on the right track! We’ve prepared tons of advice and expert tips for first-time cruisers like you. You may now end all of your worries since we’ve listed everything you need to know before your maiden voyage. And if you want to you have the latest and significant information about your voyage, you can check and you can easily access all the data that you need.  

Searching for the best flight before sailing

If you haven’t booked yet an inclusive airfare for your cruise package, you need to pre-arrange it before sailing to get to the port unless it can be reached by car. If you intend to fly, make sure that you will arrive early in the morning on the embarkation day. If it’s possible to arrive the day before the embarkation day, it would be much better. Being late is a no-no that’s why you need to take in considerations like possible flight delays and other transportations glitches.

In any case that your flight is delayed, immediately inform the authorized personnel that you’re a cruise passenger and you are scheduled to set sail on the day itself. They may find a way to accommodate you on the other flight available. After that, contact your cruise line operator as soon as possible so they will be aware of such a scenario that you are in. Be sure that you have on hand the cruise line toll-free emergency number. There are some cases wherein when several

passengers are delayed, a ship departure may be postponed. If not, the passenger needs to fly to the next port to meet the ship and most probably, the passenger will shoulder all the expenses especially if the flights are booked independently with the cruise line operator.


Also, be sure you have the necessary cruise documents in you before you leave like the boarding forms which will be available three days before sailing. With regards to visa, you need to ensure that you acquire the necessary documents so there will be no problems before cruising.

What needs to be included in your luggage and carry-on bag

When passengers arrive at the cruise ship, the ship receives thousands of luggage and usually takes longer hours before it arrives in the corresponding stateroom. What you will put in your carry-on luggage is the key. Be sure you have your ID and other documentation needed, wallets, cameras, medications, swimming attire, sunscreen, and some clothes that will get you through a day.  

For the dress codes, you need to check your travel documents before packing since it’s listed there the evening’s code. Sometimes, it requires a formal attire both for men and women like tuxedo or dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for women. If what’s listed is just an informal attire, men can go for a jacket and slacks while women can wear a dress or pantsuit.

If you are planning to try on different activities on board the ship such as snorkeling, golf, or tennis, to name a few, you need to check out on the ship’s rental fee for the equipment needed so you can compare if it’s much cheaper to bring your own.

Also, you need to check your ship’s specification to determine if you need to bring an adaptor with you.

The most-awaited embarkation day

There are some cases when you can’t access your cabin right away, instead, you can roam around the ship and familiarized yourself with it. You can also get a pocket-size map of the ship at the reception to gives you an overview of what you can find inside the ship or grab a lunch in the buffet restaurant while waiting or book spa services, and those popular shore excursions available.   

Also, always check out the ship’s daily newsletter so you will be aware of the port that you’re visiting, the show times, the dining venues and operating hours and even the drink of the day. It can be found in your stateroom.

Shore Excursions

Approximately six months before your scheduled departure, you can now check the updated list of the available shore excursions. It is advisable to book your top three choices in advance which can be done thru online or phone since most of the popular ones do sell out fast. If you’re not able to do it, you can also book on board through the ship’s excursion desk, via the cabin TV or specified cruise line app.


There are cases when passengers pick the ship-sponsored shore excursion over the independent shore excursion and vice versa. If you pick the latter make sure that you’ll be back on the ship in time. Some passengers believe that they were able to save money by making plans directly with the independent operators on the city itself while others do prefer to explore on their own.  

Communicate with your loved ones

Majority of the cabins have phones used for ship-to-shore calls, but please be advised that the per-minute charges are expensive. Before you depart, be sure you research your carrier’s policies, accessibility and even roaming fees.

In the case of emergency, be sure that your chosen friends and family know the name of your ship, itinerary and even the ship’s contact number.

Money matter onboard the shop 

There’s the so-called cashless payment onboard which is the swipe card that you will receive upon check-in. All of the items and services that you’ve incurred on the duration of the trip can be settled either with a credit card or cash. Others make use of the RFID wristband which also functions the same with the swipe card.

Majority of the cruise ships also has an onboard ATM; however, they carry high fees per transaction. It is suggested that you carry even a small amount of local currency when in foreign ports if you want to purchase some items or services. Also, major credit cards are accepted in various place worldwide.

Medical and health information onboard

There are onboard doctors and nurse to take care of some minor temporary illnesses and accidents for a fee. Even those who have health care or travel insurance, they need to pay up before debarking and just submit their claim one they are home. If you have a serious illness, most likely you be sent to a land-based hospital.

If you experience seasickness, don’t worry, some cruise lines offer a motion sickness medicine. Or you can also eat green apple or ginger to relieve queasiness.

If you’re pregnant, some cruise lines do not allow pregnant women to sail if they already past the 24th week of pregnancy and a letter from a doctor is needed to specify the due date.

Your cruise vacation is about to end: Disembarkation

Gratuity policies depend on the cruise line and it’s around $13 per person daily. Usually, these gratuities are paid in advance. Always check your cruise line’s policy to be aware of the charges.

On your last evening, you will receive an itemized bill of the charges that you’ve incurred on the duration of your trip. You can settle your account either thru credit card or cash. If there is any dispute, be sure to contact the cruise line’s purser.

Also, the majority of the cruise line companies require their passenger to pack all the luggage the night before they disembark and place them outside the stateroom so they can collect it.


Aniket Singh
Aniket Singh works for Apple Inc. in California. He comes armed with a treasure trove of experience and knowledge gained through his internships abroad. Singh loves to talk to students during their formative years so that they can avoid anything that is not helpful to long-term growth. Singh holds a BTech degree in Electrical Engineering from the IIT, Madras, Chennai, and a Master’s degree in Wireless Systems from Politecnico Di Torino in Torino, Italy. He has interned at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland during this studies. For a rewarding internship and career, take the first step. Visit him at Check out his book at Intern Abroad This Summer