If you’re an experienced cruiser you already know the drill, but for the first-time cruiser having a “cheat sheet” to navigate this new world helps.  After finding your stateroom, here’s what’s next.


  1. Get a copy of the ship’s plan.  They are usually found in the main reception area.  Get acquainted with the layout of the ship: restaurants, bars, entertainment venues.  Solve the mysteries of “forward” and “aft”, just remember there will be an emergency drill.  All guests and crew are required to attend an emergency drill before the ship leaves port and it’s no joke.  It’s a coast guard regulation.  When they start making announcements and the alarm sounds make sure you know where you’re supposed to be.  Safety is very serious business onboard.


  1. If you haven’t booked shore excursions in advance now’s the time, especially if you’ve never been to a particular port.  From a walking tour to zip lining, there’s something for everyone and booking onboard is smart for a lot of reasons.  Cruise lines carefully vet the tour operators they work with to ensure guest safety, exceptional value and a memorable experience.


  1. Everyone talks about the food.  There’s food everywhere, all the time, of every kind you can imagine.  It’s not hype.  People have amazing culinary experiences on cruise ships.  If you want to try one of the many specialty restaurants that today’s ships offer, make a reservation when you get onboard.  They fill up fast.


  1. Every vacation should include time to pamper yourself and cruise ships have some of the most spectacular spas anywhere.  They offer the usual mani/pedi and hair salon services but they also include cosmetic services like teeth whitening.  Indulge yourself with a service. The options are endless.


  1. Find a place to sit down, relax and order a drink.  You’re on vacation…just make sure you can find your stateroom again.

This post was written by Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.


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  1. I was a teenager when I had my first ride on a ship. We chose a budget package back then. But I wish now, I could bring my family into a cruise ship and enjoy all the facilities inside.

  2. I went on a cruise when I was a teenager, but haven’t been back on one since! I know my Mom would love to go on a cruise, so maybe she and I will have to make a mother-daughter trip somewhere in 2019 🙂

  3. This is great information. That is so true about the food. It is everywhere. And it is amazing! I tried all sorts of new things since it was all you can eat. Happy cruising.

  4. We love cruising! I love getting the ship’s schedule of events the night before and planning out the following day. We always wait until on board to book excursions, and it has worked out well. Just be careful not to wait too long to do this because the most popular choices book up at times.

  5. Some great tips. I have been on a cruise but did not enjoy it haha the food was terrible we also had bad weather which did not help

  6. I’ve never been on a cruise before, but would love to one day. These are great tips I’ll need especially being a first timer!

  7. Ok never been on a cruise! Maybe I should though. I am always forgetting that ships do shore excursions, which kind of makes it like taking more than one vacation!

  8. Okay, I wish I had this list when I went on my first (and only so far) cruise with Carnival a few years ago. It would have helped me choose a better company and destination.

  9. I have traveled quite a bit, but never on a cruise. A large ferry, North sea ferries, but not the same as a cruise… I have heard so many good and not so good things about them, but I still have a couple of cruises in mind that I would like to take. one thing though is staying away from the food, lol sounds like a great place to pile on the pounds with food everywhere.. Great tips, I will keep this handy for when I make travel plans

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