Going on a cruise adventure, especially for the first time, can be invigorating and exciting. It can also be overwhelming. With the ability to hold between 3,500-5,000 passengers nowadays, you are basically setting sail with a small town full of strangers. And, because there is such a diverse group of passengers, there are going to be a lot of amenities offered in an effort to please as many people as they possibly can. This is an important thing to know in advance. Cruise ships are not the best environment for introverts. 

Your first important decision will be on deciding where you want to travel. This is where research is key. Even if several different cruise lines are all traveling to the same destination, it doesn’t mean your experience will be the same with each one. When choosing a cruise company, do not just go for the cheapest option. You will most definitely get what you pay for. 

In addition to overall rate differences, there are many types of rooms available per ship. Not every room has a window, for example. If you suffer from claustrophobia make sure you are getting the type of room class that will satisfy you throughout your trip. If you have saved up for the ultimate splurge getaway, then it’s all the more reason to research this topic thoroughly.

Not all cruises are focused on the same thing, either. A food-centric ship might have multiple 5-star dining options, while an entertainment-focused vessel might put maximum energy into entertainment and nightlife. You should choose the ship that shares your priorities since you are the one who will be making memories for years to come. There are also many theme cruises that are aimed at specific interests, such as cat lovers. It’s important to be surrounded by people who have similar interests throughout your vacation. 

While it may be natural to want mementos of your experience, do your best to avoid the onboard gift shops. Just like airport terminals, there is an upcharge for the convenience of having souvenirs so close by. Speaking of convenience, it’s a wise idea to pack a small carryon bag with a few essentials because you might not get to your room/luggage straight away. 

When you do pack for the trip, remember there is usually a dress code for mealtimes. The daytime T-shirt and shorts will not be sufficient for the dining rooms. As far as meal plans, it’s wise to splurge for the all-inclusive package so you have flexibility.