- I’ve worked on cruises for seven years and have seen my fair share of new passengers make mistakes.
- Try not to overpack, and don’t bother walking your luggage on board instead of checking it.
- Book your excursions beforehand to save time and make sure you get the tours you want.
Cruises now have so many guests and activities that lots of decisions and planning can let lost in translation, especially when sailing for the first time.
And after working on cruise ships for over seven years, I’ve clocked the most common mistakes new passengers make.
Overpacking for your vacation
Most people overpack for cruises, but cabins are often small and have very limited storage.
Instead of stuffing your whole closet into your luggage, go on the ship’s website and plan out what you’ll need, plus a few backup essentials.
You’ll be a lot happier when you have all of your necessities, as well as the space to spread out in your cabin.
Skipping online check-in
Make sure you check in online prior to your vacation, since doing so typically allows you to complete a virtual muster drill (a safety requirement by most cruise lines) and choose a boarding time.
I’ve found that earlier boarding times are better so you can avoid the lines and have more fun on your cruise.
Flying into the port city on the same day as your cruise
Even if you think you have ample time to get from the airport to the ship, day-of flights are super risky.
Flights can be canceled or delayed, so it’s best to fly in the day or night before and choose a hotel with a port shuttle to make your connection to the ship seamless.
Immediately heading to the buffet on the first day
The minute most passengers get on board, they often go straight to the buffet. Because of this, it can be the most crowded place.
Explore lesser-known food options around the ship, like cafés, and save the buffet for later.
Walking your luggage on board
When you arrive at the ship, porters will immediately offer to take your bags to bring to your room later.
Lots of passengers opt to keep their luggage on them, but many don’t know that their stateroom won’t be ready for hours, so they’re stuck carrying their suitcases around the crowded ship.
So opt to check all your luggage — it’s free and dependable.
Standing in the guest-services line on boarding day
This is probably the biggest time suck, especially considering there are usually alternatives available.
Passengers join the line for an array of reasons, from show to dining reservations. But there are separate kiosks around the ship for each individual area.
Generally, the only thing you need to stand in line for is setting up your onboard payment account, which is something you can do before the cruise to save time.
Forgetting to book excursions
Many passengers don’t plan their shore excursions beforehand, but this can lead to hassle.
Not only will you spend precious vacation time trying to book excursions, but you’ll also most likely find several of the tours you wanted are sold out.
Debarking without a plan
Debarkation day (the last day of the cruise) can be a headache, especially after a relaxing vacation. So make sure you’re prepared.
Know what time you’re debarking, if you’re checking luggage, and when you need to get to the airport for your flight.
Coordinating all of this ahead of time will save you a lot of energy and worry in the long run.