Doing anything the second time around is easier than it was the first time, cruises included. If you’re considering sailing the seas for your next vacation, there are many things to keep in mind. Cruises are a lot different than staying at a hotel, so it’s important to know what to expect along the way. Here are some tips to help you have a fun and relaxing first-time cruise experience.

Be Prepared

Whether you’re planning to try a Transatlantic cruise or another luxury option, it’s vital to pack the correct credentials you’ll need for the check-in process. Most cruise lines require you to have your boarding pass and photo identification. If you’re traveling out of the country, take your passport. 

Different cruise lines may require other documentation. To ensure you have everything you need, check the company’s website or talk to a customer service representative. If you forget anything important, you may not be allowed to board.

Purchase Insurance

Travel insurance is a necessity for several reasons. Regardless of where you’re going, it’s vital to ensure you’re covered in case you need to cancel at the last minute, as most airlines and cruise ships won’t refund these occurrences. Cruises aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to lose that money without gaining experience.

Additionally, you never know when you’ll be involved in an accident. If you’re in another country and get injured or become ill, your regular health insurance likely won’t cover the bills. Look into adding a medical benefit to your travel insurance.

Pick a Package

Check out and book cruise packages in advance. Making a selection before sailing can save you money on food, alcohol, and excursions. Waiting to decide until you’re on the ship will be more expensive. Each cruise line offers unique packages, so make sure you look at them before choosing one that fits your needs.

Pack a Carry-On Bag

Evaluate the items you should keep with you when boarding the ship. Ask yourself what you can’t live without for a few hours and which items you don’t want to take the chance of losing, and include those things in your carry-on bag. As a rule of thumb, you should pack your essential documentation, payment methods, cell phone, and medications.

If you get sick on wavy water or have never been on a boat before, stash motion sickness medicine in your bag. Taking preventative measures is critical. Most medications work best if they are taken before motion sickness occurs, so if you know you’re going to feel sick, take them before the ship starts to move.

Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode

Many phone plans don’t include making calls, texting, or using data while on a cruise ship. If you do any of these things during your time at sea, you may rack up a hefty bill. Set your phone on airplane mode to avoid using it out of habit.

If you want to use the internet from the ship, consider purchasing a Wi-Fi package. You’ll be able to surf the web, make calls via FaceTime or watch shows and movies without worrying about using your data.

Arrive Early

If feasible, book a hotel room near the departure area a day or two early. Doing so will ensure you don’t miss the cruise due to a traffic or flight delay. It will give you ample time to relax your mind before embarking on this new way of traveling, which is especially helpful if you have to adjust to a different time zone.

Before booking a hotel room on your own, ask a cruise line associate if the company offers any add-ons that cover stays before or after the voyage, as many do. Consider extending your vacation by staying a few days at the departure point to do some extra sightseeing.

If you’re getting ready to go on your first cruise, don’t fret about what could go wrong. As long as you’re prepared, the expedition will go smoothly, which will leave you wanting to go on the next one as soon as possible.