My family and I LOVE cruises, I’ve been on a total of 6 at this point. It’s our favorite type of vacation because everything is included and it’s always so much fun!
I even wanted to work on a cruise ship when I was younger, but gave up that dream when I got my fur baby.
However, it is still a really awesome way to vacation, but if you’ve never been on one maybe you don’t know what to expect! In this article, I’m going to share with you 10 things I think you need to know before you go on a cruise!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you use my links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, however, all opinions are my own.
1. You Have Limited Access To Laundry Machines
Although a cruise ship is basically a floating hotel, unlike some hotels you typically don’t have access to a laundry room.
When packing for your trip try to bring enough clothing for the duration of your trip. I also try to bring pants or tops that I can wear more than once.
Something I like to do too is bring a travel size container of laundry detergent to wash my clothes in the sink for free.
This can be super handy if you don’t pack enough undergarments or accidentally stain your favorite white dress you wanted to wear for the rest of the night with a blueberry dessert at dinner (cough cough, real-life example).
Or if you simply don’t mind spending the money, the ship typically offers a service to clean your laundry for you at a cost!
2. Bring An Empty Water Bottle
You have to pay for bottles of water on the ship. Yup, you read that right. Most cruise lines will not allow you to bring water on board because they want to sell you water.
This one honestly pisses me off. You need water to survive, especially if you are drinking and/or in the sun, or ya know, want to live.
There is water readily available around the ship if you want a tiny glass, obviously, it’s free with your meals.
But if you want a bottle of water to keep with you at the pool, at the gym, or in your room, you’re going to have to pay for it.
As someone who drinks water like a fish, this can add up a lot.
Technically you’re not supposed to bring an empty water bottle and technically you’re not supposed to fill it up on the boat. Technically I don’t follow this rule…
Here’s what you do: pack a water bottle you picked up online for cheap or one you had lying around the house that you don’t care about in your luggage, not your carry on luggage because your chances of them taking it is much higher.
And I can’t guarantee it won’t be taken away, that’s why you bring one you don’t care to part with.
Then when it’s not busy, or there aren’t very many employees hanging around the water dispenser, you pretend not to see the sign that says “don’t fill up water bottles here” because what are they going to do? Throw you off the ship?
And you quickly fill up your bottle of water and be on your merry hydrated way.
But you didn’t hear it from me.
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3. Eat The Free Food First
Honestly, I’ve never paid for food on the boat. You’ve already paid for it ahead of time, and the cruise can have some really fancy and delicious food that’s included.
However, if you’re a foodie and want to try everything, then maybe this doesn’t sound the most appealing to you.
Regardless, I highly recommend checking out your free options first before paying. What you probably don’t realize is that there are restaurants on the boat with fancy delicious food included outside of the buffet.
4. You Probably Want The Drink Package
If you enjoy drinking, honestly, get the drink package. The drinks can be a bit pricy for what you get on the boat. They are typically around $8-10 dollars and you get mostly ice.
The drink package is something you purchase ahead of time and are typically around $120 each if you don’t get a deal where it’s free. That’s about 12 drinks over the course of the trip to get your money’s worth.
I purchased the drink package on the last cruise I went and honestly, it was so worth it.
Not only did I not have to worry about an added expense, but it paid for itself. It was also nice to be able to get a strawberry daiquiri when relaxing by the pool and a glass of wine at night with dinner. You also don’t have to worry about driving home.
I also loved that I could try different drinks without having to worry about wasting my money. I don’t usually try different drinks when I go out because I know what I like and I don’t want to waste my money.
However, if you have the drink package and you get a drink you don’t like, you don’t have to feel bad about wasting it.
For example, I got a White Russian and it was disgusting, I saved future me $10 because now I know I don’t enjoy that drink, haha.
5. Check Ahead For Theme Parties
I can’t speak for other cruise lines because I’ve pretty much only taken Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) with my family, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if other cruise lines have theme parties as well.
Pretty much every night NCL has a dance party for everyone that usually has a theme, like ABBA, the 70s, Latin Night, etc. But at the end of the cruise, they have their big party which they go all out for.
It used to be called “White Out” and guests were encouraged to bring white outfits with them to wear to this party, now it’s called the “Glow Party” or something along those lines and you’re supposed to wear white or neon.
Honestly, they’re really fun, even if you don’t like to dance. It’s also a lot of fun to have a reason to dress up, so check ahead of time what theme parties your cruise is going to have and make sure to bring clothes for it if you wish.
6. Disinfect Your Cabin First
I always bring disinfecting wipes when I travel so I can wipe down the room I’m staying in as soon as I get there. Your cabin is definitely cleaned by the staff on the cruise, and they do a really excellent job. I think they work very hard and are all-around awesome.
However, I don’t think they disinfect the room in-between you and the last person who stayed in your room.
They might, I honestly have no idea, but I’m not going to assume that they do.
Disinfecting your room, such as handles, the toilet, counter space, remotes, phones, etc. can help you avoid getting sick and thus ruining your vacation.
You honestly never know who stayed there before you and if they might have been carrying a germ that you could catch. There are doctors on board if you need them, but it’s best to avoid all of that if you can!
7. Be Extra Nice To The Crew
The crew deals with a-holes all of the time. People who are upset about the tiniest things and taking it out on the workers.
On the last cruise I went on I saw a dude yell at the bar staff because they didn’t have straws for his drink…. what.
Personally, I don’t understand why some people are so rude or angry, especially on vacation, it’s also not a good reason to be mean to a worker.
One thing I try to do on cruises is above and beyond kind to the staff because they deal with some crappy people all day, every day, so why not make their day a little bit better? Especially since they are always giving great service to you.
One thing you can do–if your cruise has them, I know Norwegian Cruise Line does–is you can ask the staff for a comment card and fill it out for the workers.
Especially if you encounter the same person a few times a week. We typically had the same servers because we often frequented the same restaurants.
The comment cards you fill out lets their boss know that you think they’re doing an awesome job, and can also help them with getting some time off!
I really enjoy doing this when I go on cruises as a way to say thank you, it means a lot to the works, and not a lot of people know about it.
8. Make Cruise Friends
Cruises can be a great place to make some cruise friends. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a life long friend or someone you’ll never speak to again once you get off the boat.
If you frequent the same bar during the day or often go to the dances at night you may end up making friends that frequent the same places as you. It’s pretty fun making a new friend you’ll see on the boat and can hang out with.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people! It may pay off and make your experience that much more fun.
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9. Bring Plenty Of Dramamine & Sunblock
Even if you don’t get seasick you should still bring some Dramamine just in case. You probably rather have more than enough than run out when on vacation. Why? Because it is overpriced on the boat and in the ports.
They know people will forget or run out of these items, pretty much everyone uses them on vacation.
The port shops and cruise ships know that they are typically a necessity so don’t waste your money and bring plenty of this stuff on your next cruise!
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Compete
So, throughout the cruise, the staff will host game shows and competitions to entertain guests.
They’re honestly super fun to watch, but don’t be afraid to sign up and participate in one! I’ve done it a handful of times and have always had a blast.
Sometimes you look like a goof, but honestly who cares? You don’t know anyone, except maybe you’re family who will probably get a kick out of watching you, and you never have to see anyone ever again!
It’s seriously a ton of fun and sometimes you can win some fun prizes.
I once won a bottle of champagne and some NCL swag winning the amateur dance competition. Try something new, maybe take a few shots before you sign up (you do you) and you’ll honestly have a blast!
These are the 10 things that I think that you need to know before going on a cruise, especially if you’ve never been on one before! This is my list of what to expect and some tips to have the best vacation ever! Happy sailing!