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10 First Time Cruise Mistakes that I will Never Make Again on a Cruise

If you are new to cruising, then trust me, you don’t want to make the same mistakes that I did when I was a first time cruiser. Even if you are not a newbie cruiser, you’ll still want to read this. I have been on over 25 cruises, and I have cruised many times as a couple with my husband and with our kids. Here are the mistakes I made when I was a rookie cruiser. I hope you can learn from my mistakes so you can avoid making them yourself! Also, I’m sharing my cruise carry-on bag packing list as a free printable below.

1. Bringing a Toddler on a Cruise

A mistake that I’ve made is bringing my kids with me on a cruise when they were toddlers. Looking back, I don’t know why I did it because it turned out to be pure torture. 

I couldn’t enjoy any vacation time because I was constantly babysitting my kids. They were too young to be left alone in the kids’ club, and I had to put them to bed early, so I missed out on all the after-dinner activities and shows. To make matters worse, there was no Wi-Fi back then, so I was left in the dark with nothing to do but lie awake until they fell asleep.

It was a miserable experience, and I wouldn’t call it a vacation at all. If you want to read more about my ordeal cruising with my young kids, you can check out this article.

2. Not Realizing How far the Cruise Port is from the Airport

A big mistake that I made when I went on my first Mediterranean cruise was that I didn’t realize how far the cruise port was from the airport. I mistakenly assumed that Civitavecchia cruise port was located in Rome, but it turned out to be a 45-minute drive from Rome airport. 

I learned this truth only after arriving the night before and staying at an airport hotel in Rome. To make matters worse, I decided to save money on transportation and took the train from Rome airport, which ended up being a 1 hour and 45-minute ride. 

Dealing with luggage at the train station and getting to the cruise port on time was a nightmare! In hindsight, it would have been better to stay at a hotel in Civitavecchia instead of rushing to the cruise port on embarkation day. 

After that experience, I learned my lesson and always researched the location of the cruise port to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake again! (Remember, this happened before the invention of the iPhone, so researching before a cruise wasn’t as easy as it is now!)

First Time Cruise Mistakes

3. Not Booking Any Shore Excursions

One big mistake I made when I was a new cruiser was thinking I could wing it when it came to shore excursions. I remember looking at the prices and feeling sticker shocked, so I decided not to commit to anything in advance. 

I figured I could just figure it out when I got on the ship. But boy, was I wrong! I had no idea that shore excursions could sell out so quickly, and I didn’t realize how long the line for the shore excursion desk could be. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. Now, I always make sure to book my shore excursions ahead of time, and I recommend that you do the same!

4. Not Bringing a Carry-On Bag

Another mistake I made when I first started cruising was that I didn’t realize I had to bring a carry-on bag. Somehow I keep forgetting that the check-in luggage takes a long time to get delivered to my cabin. So every time I cruised, I didn’t pack a cruise carry-on bag and then I regretted it. 

I remember my kids wanting to jump in the pool, but they couldn’t because I didn’t have their bathing suits so we had to wait for our check-in luggage to arrive at our cabin. 

Since then, I always packed a carry-on bag with essentials like a toiletry bag, kids’ toys, bathing suits, and medication when I board the ship. Here’s my carry-on bag packing list, which you can download as a free printable to make it easier for you when you’re packing for your cruise.

5. Letting My Seasickness Spiral Out of Control

A mistake I made when I was a newbie cruiser was not knowing how to control seasickness. I’m naturally prone to seasickness, but over the years of cruising, I’ve learned to manage my seasickness. 

I know which cabins to avoid, I know how to prevent seasickness and if it starts, I know how to control it so it doesn’t get out of hand. When I first started cruising, I remember my seasickness was so severe that I literally threw up in the hallway! Check out my tips on how to prevent and avoid seasickness on a cruise.

6. Not Choosing a Cabin

When I first started cruising, I made the mistake of assuming that I couldn’t choose my cabin. Instead, I would always select the Guaranteed Cabin option, thinking it was the best deal since it was the cheapest. 

I didn’t realize that the good cabins get booked early and the reality is I’m stuck with the worst cabin by choosing the guaranteed cabin option. It certainly did not help with my seasickness, because I never got a midship cabin!

First Time Cruise Mistakes

7. Cellphone Not Switched to Airplane Mode

When I was new to cruising, I made the mistake of not switching my cellphone to airplane mode. I remember receiving calls while at sea and picking them up, thinking that they were urgent.

However, that was a big mistake as I got a hefty phone bill for those calls on the cruise ship. Ever since then, I have learned my lesson and I make sure to switch my phone to airplane mode the moment I’m on the cruise ship.

8. Heading Straight to the Buffet on Embarkation Day

A mistake that I’ll never make again is going to the buffet for lunch on embarkation day. It’s always so chaotic and crowded at the buffet on the first day because that’s where everyone is having lunch.

I remember balancing my tray full of food with my toddler in tow, looking for a vacant table at the buffet. It was a nightmare! Now, I skip the buffet and head to the main dining room for lunch instead. It’s so much calmer there and a more pleasant place to have lunch.

9. Not Knowing the Cruise Perks

A mistake I made when staying in a suite for the first time on a cruise was not being aware of all the perks that were available to suite guests. When I went on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, I failed to take advantage of all the suite benefits because I didn’t know about them. 

For example, I missed the chance to dine at the Coastal Kitchen, which is a special dining area reserved only for suite guests. It was only on the last night of my cruise that I discovered this. 

Nowadays, I make it a point to review the perks included with my cabin. I also check my loyalty perks to see if I am eligible for other privileges, like priority embarkation, complimentary laundry, and more!

10. Lining Up at Guest Services

When I was new to cruising, I made kept making the mistake of lining up at guest services for small account-related queries that I could have easily checked on the cruise TV folio. I regret wasting so much time standing in long lines during the busiest hours, like right after breakfast.

Now, I try to avoid the guest services line at all costs! And if I do have to line up, I now know that guest services are open 24/7. If I see a long line, I come back at a later time when the lines are shorter (usually later in the evening).

Free Cruise Carry On Bag Packing List

Get Your Free Cruise Carry-On Bag Packing List

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your carry-on bag so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

Packing List for Cruise Carry-On bag

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

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Caribbean cruise packing list

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