We love to cruise. No, we really, really love to cruise! Cruising has totally changed our perspective on vacationing in recent years. Our standard for dining has risen, our sense of adventure has expanded and our passion for turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches has grown exponentially with each port of call we’ve visited. We’ve been on enough cruises to know the basics, so we typically lend my expertise to friends and family who are experiencing a cruise for the first time. We’ve asked a group of friends to give us their biggest question about cruising, and we think that these 12 Things to Know Before Your First Cruise should go a long way in helping you prepare for your first cruise!


1. What do I wear on a cruise?

By and far, this is the question we hear the most often. First, check your itinerary to see how many formal nights you’ll have. Men can wear a suit or tux – but they can also get away with slacks and a button down shirt and tie. Women can wear a nice dress (think “Sunday Best”) or go ALL OUT in a gown fit for prom, it’s up to you! Dinner in the formal dining room is business casual with the exception of formal night. Pretty much anything goes except for shorts, sandals and tank tops. As far as the rest of your cruise, think beach chic and resort casual. Here are some great options for the ladies! The only thing is, no matter where you are cruising, it often gets chilly in the evening because sailing on the open water lends itself to a breeze. You may want to bring a cardigan or a pashmina for evenings – especially in the restaurants.

2. How do I get the best deal on a cruise?

Sign up for your favorite cruise line’s newsletter! Most cruise lines have special sales, as well as offer discounts for previous guests, state residents, military personnel and special affiliations. Once you subscribe, you’ll receive notification whenever there is a special sale happening and you’ll never miss the opportunity to save on that cruise you’ve been day dreaming about! This is one of the most important 12 Things to Know Before Your First Cruise!

3. What happens if there is an emergency (medical, family accident, etc.)? What steps do you take to get home quickly?

Most cruise lines will allow you to get off the ship at a port of call to catch a flight in case of emergency but you MUST have your passport and photo ID – you can’t do this if you only have a birth certificate. Carnival Cruise Lines offers a Great Vacation Guarantee, where you can receive a full refund(plus 10 percent and all travel expenses), if you decide you want to leave the cruise. Just keep in mind – you must notify Guest Services within the first 24 hours of the cruise and you can only get off the ship at a port of call, never at sea.

4. What cruises are better with kids?

I LOVE this question because we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the new Seuss at Sea and Camp Ocean programs on the Carnival Freedom this past summer, and we were blown away by how much fun they are – for the kids and the parents! When searching for a cruise with children, check to make sure they have children’s programs that your children will enjoy.

5. How do you prevent getting motion sickness?

This is probably one of the most common questions we hear when it comes to cruising. We recommend buying Sea Bands, the little elastics that you wear on your wrists. They press against your pressure points and help keep sea sickness at bay. You can also bring along Bonine or Dramamine, and when taken before you get on the ship, they help prevent motion sickness. You can also take them if motion sickness strikes. Make sure to buy the non-drowsy formula, or you’ll wind up sleeping through your vacation!


6. How do I book/pick a room for the person who easily gets motion sickness?

If you are prone to motion sickness, choose a cabin in the middle to lower decks, mid-ship. The higher up you go, the better your view, so keep that in mind!

7. Is a cruise a good idea with toddlers/how does cruising with toddlers work best?

Carnival Cruise Lines offers free camp and babysitting services for children 2 and up,including for kids who aren’t potty trained(staffers will change diapers as long as they’re provided by parents). Angeline absolutely loved Camp Carnival – now Camp Ocean – when she was younger and still spends most of her time in the camp for teens, Club O2.

8. How much can I take part in WITH my toddlers?

If your toddler is enrolled in camp during a cruise, there are some times where parents are welcome to join them. This is usually referred to as “Family play.”

9. When is the best time to sign up for your shore excursion, before the cruise or once you get on the ship?

We highly recommend that you book your shore excursion BEFORE you set sail. Popular excursions sell out quickly!

10. I want to know how to find out what’s included in the price and what’s extra?

This varies depending on the cruise line. Most cruise lines offer your stateroom, all meals in the casual dining spaces and dining rooms, musical shows, club entrances, karaoke and pool area for the price of your cruise. Many cruise lines offer upgraded dining options in specialty restaurants, spa services and some fun extras like martini classes or dance lessons. Getting off the ship at port of call is always free of course, but if you’d like to take an organized shore excursion, there is always an additional fee.

11. How do cruises handle food allergies?

Most cruise lines can work with a range of food allergies, but only in the formal dining rooms. We highly recommend that you speak with a vacation planner at the cruise line of your choice about this topic, as each cruise line handles food allergies differently.

Most cruise lines can work with a range of food allergies, but only in the formal dining rooms.

12. Can I bring food or beverages on board?

Each cruise ship is different with respect to what you can and can not bring on board. Some cruise lines allow you to bring in a case of water, a 6 pack of soda, 2 bottles of wine – and some don’t allow you to bring ANY sodas. Check with your cruise line before packing!

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