First Cruise? Everything You Need To Know Before You Go

First cruise - everything to know

If you’re about to embark on your first cruise, you’re in for a treat. Cruising means you don’t have to wait until you reach your destination to unwind and have fun. Your vacation starts as soon as you step onboard! While you’re on your way to your destination, your days will be spent sampling delicious food, getting spa treatments, shopping, or hanging out poolside with a tropical drink. It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Before you set out on your first-time cruise, be sure you get the lowdown on all things cruise-related. Below, see common questions and their answers to learn everything you need to know before going on a cruise for the first time.

What’s Included When I Book My First Cruise?

You might be surprised to learn just how much is included in your fare when you book a cruise. In addition to stateroom or suite accommodations, you get visits to one or more ports of call, all of your meals, and all kinds of activities. Some luxury cruise lines even include transportation to and from port.

But that’s just the start. Your entry to nightclubs and piano bars is covered, as are Vegas- or Broadway-style shows and supervised kids programs. It won’t cost you a cent to do yoga, play basketball, or make use of the gym, pool, and hot tubs. Port charges are also included.

What’s Not Included?

There are plenty of extras you can splurge on when you’re sailing. There will also be some additional charges that you’ll likely accumulate on your trip, such as cruise gratuities and occasional fees at some specialty restaurants. You’ll have to pay more for spa treatments, casino gaming, alcoholic beverages, any shopping you do, and shore excursions. And you’re responsible for covering and arranging your own airfare.

Luckily, with’s exclusive bonus offer, you can use the onboard spending perk (up to $1,500!) toward some of these extras, so not all of it has to come out of your own pocket.

What Are Some Cruise Ship Amenities?

Cruise ships are essentially floating resorts, so it’s no surprise that there’s a ton of variety for things to do. However, amenities and activities vary by cruise line and cruise ship. The list below is just a sampling of the types of cruise ship amenities you may encounter onboard:

  • Rock-climbing wall
  • Ice skating rink
  • Martini & champagne bars
  • Teen discos
  • Wave pool
  • Bowling lounges
  • Zip line
  • Ice bar
  • Casino gaming
  • Cooking/enrichment classes
  • Spiral waterslide
  • Planetarium
  • Shops & boutiques
  • Butler service
  • Miniature golf
  • Poolside movies

Which Stateroom Should I Book For My First Cruise?

Staterooms and suites come in varying sizes and styles. Inside staterooms tend to be the most affordable, and they’re perfect for those who just want a comfortable place to rest their heads at night. Oceanview staterooms have a window or porthole that let you view the ocean. Balcony staterooms come with their own balconies, giving you some private space to take in those amazing ocean blues. Suites are well-appointed and offer extra living space, just like hotel suites do. Luxury suites are the best of the best and are ideal for large groups or those who like to travel in style.

A dedicated cruise expert can help you choose not only the perfect stateroom or suite, but also determine which part of the ship will best suit your needs, whether you’re prone to seasickness, a light sleeper, or want to be close to all the action.

Which is the Best Cruise Line For My First Cruise?

The best cruise line for you depends a lot on your budget, your preferred way of travel, and your destination of choice. There’s a ton of variety in terms of cruise ship size and style, and each cruise line offers a unique experience. Dining, activities, and family-friendliness differ greatly from ship to ship. Our dedicated cruise experts can help you navigate the wide array of choices and pinpoint the perfect sailing for you.

What Are My Choices for Cruise Destinations?

Today’s cruise ships are equipped to circle the globe. Some hop between exotic islands in the Caribbean, while others make the trek to the remote wilderness of Alaska. You can go to destinations in Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, and more!

Just keep in mind that certain itineraries are only available from certain departure points. For example, Alaska cruises never depart from the East Coast. Depending on where you want to go, you may have to factor in flights.

Overwhelmed by your choices? Our cruise experts will probably have some helpful advice on which one is the best cruise for first-timers based on your personal preferences.

Where Does My Sailing Depart?

There are 21 cruise ports located in the United States, along the East Coast from New England down to Florida; in the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana; and along the West Coast in California and Washington State. Cruises also depart from Alaska and Hawaii.


Book smart and get your choice of a FREE bonus offer when you book with instead of booking directly with the cruise line. We give you our exclusive bonus offers, plus all qualifying cruise line offers, plus all of the cruise line loyalty program benefits. Book online at or call 800-288-6006 today.

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