Today I am sharing some First Time Cruise Tips for all you newbies to cruising. These tips will help you feel comfortable getting ready for your cruise.
Although I went on a baby cruise a couple of years ago, I felt like I would still be classified as a first time cruiser on this big ship. So I am here to share the experience and some first time cruise tips from my voyage on the Carnival Freedom. Be sure and check out my other posts on my overall impression of the cruise and what to eat on the Carnival Freedom.
The Carnival Freedom First Time
1. Facebook Groups
First tip is to join the Facebook group for your cruise. Someone has probably already started the group and you just have to search for it. Your fellow cruisers will share activities, reminders, and excursion ideas for your particular trip.
2. YouTube cruise tours
Go watch YouTube videos before your cruise. There are so many videos of people doing tours of each ship so take the time to watch a few just to familiarize yourself on what the ship has to offer. I’m glad I watched some because that is where I really got a feel for what to expect and what to go in search of once on the Freedom.
3. Complete the online process
Once you complete payment of your cruise (around 3 months before your cruise), you will be asked to complete the online check-in process for your cruise. This is where you put in all your information including passport number, credit/debit card information for the cruise. This will make it so easy for you to make a smooth entrance onto the ship.
4. Print out your paperwork
Once you complete the online process, print the documents out and start a file. Keep any confirmations you receive for your parking and excursions. And don’t forget to take this information with you on the cruise!
5. Luggage tags
Amazon has luggage tags that fit the size of luggage papers you will be asked to print out before your cruise. These are metal clips that go on your bags and have a clear plastic tag to place the paperwork. This ensures your tags don’t get torn off and your bags make it safely to your room.
6. Drinks onboard
If you are not going to buy the drinks package, you should definitely take advantage of what you are allowed to bring onboard. We brought six 12 oz drinks each of our favorites – Coke Zero and Big Red Zero. We also each brought a bottle of wine. And yes, the inspectors do look at it closely to see if it has been tampered with. I carried these in an insulated bag for safety reasons and used the bag for additional space for souvenirs getting off the ship. You can also bring the small insulated wine glasses and a corkscrew on board with you.
7. Water bottle
If you are going to bring a water bottle, I would suggest you bring one that can attach to your pants or shorts. I ended up not using mine as often as I thought I would only because the only place to fill up with water was in the Lido deck near the buffets which I never went to unless I was getting ice cream or water.
The Cruise ship does not have a whole lot of storage space when you consider there are two people to a room at a minimum. My sister and I each took one full-size luggage and a small bag/backpack. We each had one small closet area to hang clothes and then one closet area with shelves to place things. There were also three drawers that we split. One of the nightstands was full of cruise items so that was a space that wasn’t usable. In hindsight I took too many clothes. I would say for a seven day cruise bring 3-4 shorts, seven tops, 2 pairs of pants/slacks/capris with 4 different blouses to match, 2 sundresses, 3 or 4 bathing suits and coverups, 2 pairs of sandals and water shoes. Oh and don’t forget chonies/bras and nightclothes. I always forget those! The first port day we overpacked our beach bags. You really only need to go out in your bathing suit and coverup, take some sunblock, sunglasses, towels and wear your water shoes. We dried off quickly enough to be comfortable getting back on the boat and immediately got in the shower once we were back in our room. Formal night can be as formal or informal as you want it to be. And maybe pack a sweater. We watched a movie on the Lido Deck one night and it was chilly.
Take small samples of medicines you think you will need (ex: Ibuprofen, Imodium, etc.). We took more than we needed but for peace of mind I’m glad we had it all. Our ship was rocky at times but not to the point of seasickness for either of us. I would recommend a small first aid kit (and sewing kit), sea sickness medicine, cold medicine, Imodium and your regular daily prescriptions.
10. Miscellaneous things to take
Here are some miscellaneous items I found helpful on our cruise:
- Ziploc baggies – for wet items or things you don’t want to leak
- Clothespins – for hanging your wet bathing suits from the clothesline in the shower
- Waterproof iPhone holder – for all those pics taken in the ocean
- Lanyard – to hold your card given upon check in that is used everywhere on the ship
- External battery charger for cellphone
- Poopouri or Lysol spray (don’t be stinky)
- Pop up hamper – helps to keep the room organized
- Magnets – the walls are magnetic so you can hang the sheets they give you every day with the activities going on
- Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer – wipe everything down and use that hand sanitizer
- USB power strip – long enough to reach across the room
- Wrinkle release – so you don’t have to go in search of an iron
- Foaming hand soap for the bathroom – I hate those little bars of soap
11. Carnival Hub App
Get this app. It was great for seeing the activities, a map of the ship, places to eat and their menus, and ordering pizza to your room.
12. Social Media WiFi package
I got the cheapest WiFi package and kept my phone on airplane mode the entire time. I was able to communicate with my family back home through WhatsApp, text my cruise mates and stay updated on Instagram (thank goodness because that entire Megxit went down during my cruise.)
Unpack as soon as your luggage gets to your room so you can feel at home. The rooms are small so put everything in its place and keep your room tidy. The room stewards come twice a day to clean up so don’t be a slob. If you are in an inner room, you can leave the television on at night to the forward facing view and watch the sunrise – it will help you to wake up. (peep my Clorox wipes by the TV)
14. Port Days
There are breakfast room service options for a continental breakfast. We did this on port days so we weren’t rushing trying to beat the crowds to eat. Be patient as you are disembarking on port days – people are always eager to get off and not miss their excursions.
Let them take your luggage down the night before. It will go much quicker than taking down your luggage by yourself as so many people are carrying their luggage down the stairs. You can get the tags the morning before on Deck 5 outside the casino by the Viennese coffee shop. The earlier you get the tags, the earlier your number to disembark. Make sure you keep a change of clothes for the morning and a toothbrush/toothpaste. Open your door when you leave your room for departure to let the stewards know the room is empty. Go to Lido deck on Deck 9 to eat at the buffet or omelets at The Deli. They will call your deck on the loudspeaker when it is your turn to disembark. Get a porter to help once you get to your luggage and they can bypass the lines. Be sure and tip the porters!
16. Bring thank you cards
You may want to tip your room steward and dinner servers extra as they do so much to make your trip comfortable. Bring thank you cards that you can put money in it with a little note of gratitude. Our steward Lin was the absolute best! Oh and another tip – ask for a blanket. They are so soft and comfy and we even took them down to use on movie night to help stay extra warm.
Most important is just to let it all go and enjoy yourself. I had the most fun on this cruise and was so relaxed. I was ready to book another cruise the minute we started disembarking. Thank you Carnival for a wonderful trip!
* I have shared Amazon affiliate links of what I used for our cruise that you might find helpful. Amazon gives me a tiny commission at no cost to you.