5 Tips for Enjoying Your First Cruise

Recently I embarked on my first cruise: a 3-day sailing to the Bahamas. I wasn’t sure what to expect once I got on board, but I knew the experience was going to be different than my typical vacations.

As it turned out, I  had such a great time that I found myself longing to be back at sea as soon as I disembarked from my adventurous-yet-relaxing voyage. In fact, I’ve already started looking at sailing dates for next year.

If you’re a first-time cruiser, too, here are a few of my tips for making the most of your experience.

1. Check the cruise website to find out what to pack.

Most cruises will let you know if you need to bring or wear a certain type of clothing. Depending on the cruise, you could need anything from swimwear to resort casual clothing to formal wear for specific dinner nights.

Our cruise even had an optional pirate-themed night, so I made sure to pack a full pirate costume in my suitcase. I was glad I did — it was really fun to dress up and see everyone else in their costumes, too.

2. Bring remedies to combat seasickness — just in case.

I was nervous about getting seasick on the cruise, so I made sure I was prepared for the worst. I brought motion-sickness medicine with me, as well as sea bands for my wrists, which are meant to help your equilibrium while you’re on the ship.

During the first night at sea, I did feel my body slightly swaying back and forth, but thankfully I never got sea sick. Still, I’m glad I took precautions.

Quick Tip:

Don’t want to take any medicine? A former cruise employee told me that eating apples can help prevent seasickness during a cruise, too.

3. Figure out if/how you’ll communicate with people back home.

While on a cruise, your phone will go into data roaming mode. Many people choose to switch their phones to airplane mode and disconnect from the world during their trip. I did, too, so I could relax and soak up every moment of my vacation – plus save on my phone data bill.

But if you have to stay in contact with someone on land, you have a few alternatives. My cruise offered a pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi option that allowed passengers to send iMessages or access the internet. You can also check with your cell phone carrier beforehand to see if there are any data packages available for cruise travel. However, I strongly encourage unplugging if you can — for me, it was the most freeing thing I could do.

4. Don’t try to do it all.

Cruises offer a seemingly unlimited amount of fun — from live music to on-board movies and game shows to exciting off-ship excursions. When I boarded the cruise ship, I received an itinerary listing all the activities for the next three days. Looking at the pamphlet was a bit overwhelming due to the sheer number of options available.

I quickly realized I couldn’t be in multiple places at once. Rather than rushing from an off-Broadway show to a game of 80s trivia, I decided on a few must-do activities. Those usually included things I couldn’t experience at home — like the hilarious couples match game that became even more entertaining after a few drinks.

5. Enjoy your time in the destination port(s).

Need I say more?

Are you craving a cruise in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or even Antarctica? Check out the cruises available through the Marriott Vacation Club Explorer Collection.

Jessica is a social media and digital content manager for Marriott Vacation Club International in Orlando, Florida.