An arrow points to a magnet on a blue door (R) an arrow points to a pool chair on a cruise ship (L)
Seasoned cruisers' tips for first-timers include ways to save money and make the most of your trip.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • Taking a cruise for the first time can feel overwhelming.

  • They shared their top tips to help prepare.

  • They told Insider that if you fly in on the same day as your ship leaves, you should get pool chairs early.

It might feel overwhelming if you are going on a cruise for the first time.

the back of wonder of the seas cruise ship docked in the Bahamas with blue skies
Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas docked at Royal Caribbean's private island.Joey Hadden/Insider

Going on a cruise might be intimidating for first-timers. It can be hard to figure out how to make the most of your trip when you are traveling on a large ship with so many places to eat and activities to choose from.

Insider sought out seasoned cruisers to share their best tips for maximizing the experience and saving money on a recent voyage on the largest cruise ship in the world.

Four cruisers on Wonder of the Seas
From top left to bottom right: Vickie Carmody and her travel companion, Sarah Kennard, Paul Gallifrey, and Stephanie Franks.Courtesy of Paul Gallifrey, Sarah Kennard, Vickie Carmody, and Stephanie Franks

It is helpful to hear from people who have done it before. Insider talked to people who have been on multiple cruises, who shared their best tips to help plan an incredible cruise vacation.

The world's largest cruise ship has 8 neighborhoods spread across 18 stories.

Try to pack light, but make sure you have everything you need.

suitcases outside staterooms on the world's largest cruise ship
Seasoned cruisers say to only pack what you need.Joey Hadden/Insider

Sharon Taylor told Insider that first-timers should be careful not to overpack.

She said that new cruisers think cruising is a fashion show and pack a lot of clothes and shoes, but they end up just wanting to be comfortable.

Taylor said she brings two bathing suits, four pairs of shorts, two pairs of shoes, one formal outfit, eight pairs of underwear, and six tops for a seven-night cruise. She will buy two more tops on the trip.

Paul Gallifrey, who has been on 30 cruises on various lines, said to pack what you need for the length of the cruise, but add a few extra options just in case.

Gallifrey suggested that you change clothes between pool time and the buffet.

Gallifrey said that zip lining and lace-up shoes are required for certain activities on ships and excursions. Pack accordingly if you check the website for these requirements.

You should pack a magnet to make finding your stateroom easier.

A magnet may be used to help a stateroom door stand out.Joey Hadden/Insider

Insider previously reported that large cruise ships have seemingly endless hallways of staterooms with identical doors.

Taylor said to put magnets on the door to help you spot it.

You will be happy to find your room down those long hallways.

If you have to fly into the port city from where your ship is leaving, book a flight at least one day before departure to avoid missing the boat.

A view of the port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from the cruise ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

Unless you book a flight through a cruise line package, the ship will leave without you even if your delayed or canceled flight makes you late, according to a passenger.

If a flight through the cruise line is delayed or canceled, the Emergency Travel team will get you on an earlier flight or fly you to the next port to join the cruise. You have to figure it out yourself if you don't book through the cruise line.

Franks said her friend's flight to Miami was canceled because of the weather in Florida.

They drove 19 hours to get here on time. You never know. It's best to be prepared early than late.

She suggests flying in at least one day before the ship leaves to give you extra time for delays and cancelations. She said that there are plenty of hotels in Florida with shuttles to the port.

When booking a cruise for the first time, I learned 7 surprising things.

Before you board the ship, experienced cruisers recommend booking any additional costs.

Excursions are available to book onboard the ship, or before you arrive.Joey Hadden/Insider

Specialty restaurants that cost extra are included in the price of a cruise ship ticket. You can book excursions when you stop at ports.

Prepayment for dining on the ship and excursions at the ports can be made once your trip is booked. It is smart to get this done as soon as possible to ensure you get the experiences you want. You will probably pay less if you wait until your trip.

"Do everything you can before you board to save money", said Tekeshia Browne, who has been on over 100 cruises.

It is easy to book excursions with the cruise line if you are a new cruiser.

People stand in line to board a ferry at a port.Joey Hadden/Insider

Passengers can spend their time as they please at each port. They can join an official cruise line excursion, sightsee independently, take a taxi to the beach, or link up with a local tour guide.

Gallifrey said first-timers will have the easiest time if they choose the last option.

If you book through the cruise line, you will be directed to exactly where you need to go. Some cruises include meals.

He said that if you are new to cruising and have not had experience arranging excursions, it is sometimes easier to go with the ones from the cruise line.

He said that self-booking excursions are outside of the guarantee.

Some say there is enough to eat, see and do without spending more money on a cruise.

Lunch and dessert options at a buffet onboard the ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

The price of the ticket is enough to have a great vacation according to some cruisers. You can eat at multiple restaurants on the ship, participate in games and activities, attend shows, and explore the ports at no extra cost.

After you have paid for your cruise, you don't need to spend any more money. There are lots of things to do at ports, including the main dining room and free shows.

You should always read the daily cruise planner, no matter how you choose to spend your days.

A daily cruise schedule in a stateroom onboard the ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

On Royal Caribbean cruises, attendants deliver the daily planners to the staterooms.

If you read the Cruise Compass or the Royal Caribbean app, you will know about the activities on the ship, from escape rooms and sports games to dancing classes and karaoke.

She missed out on her first cruise and said that first-timers should make sure they read the planners.

She said she was so bored on her first cruise that she missed a lot of entertainment.

If you want to relax by the pool, you should get a chair early in the day.

People fill up pool chairs onboard the ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

Franks said that on most ships, people take up chairs on pool decks by mid-day. She says to get up early to grab a spot.

Franks said she has rarely seen the rules against saving chairs enforced.

She said that it tends to be a bigger issue on larger ships.

The original article can be found on Insider.

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