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Top tips for first time cruisers

( 27 September 2018 )

New to cruising? We've collected top tips for first time cruisers from renowned journalists and bloggers to give you an insight at what to expect.

Top tips for first time cruisers
Well known cruise journalists and bloggers give their top tips for your first cruise.

New to cruising and don’t know where to start? To help you take that leap of faith, we have collected top tips from renowned journalists and bloggers to give you an insight at what to expect, and how to make your first cruising experience a special one.

Teresa Machan, cruise editor, Telegraph Travel

Don’t think for a minute a cruise holiday will confine you. What you see each morning when you draw the curtains sets your agenda and the day is as active as you want it to be. Read up on where you’re going and plan ahead. Book a cycling tour or a meal in a great restaurant. Take guide books. You’ll get far more out of it.

Steve Newman – Travel writer @steevNewman

Adventure cruising is amazing but landing options on a beach or rocky shore can be very different depending on the ship. Most adventure cruise companies use zodiacs, the rubber inflatable dinghy that can take up to twelve people, whilst others use Polar Cirkle Boats or DIBs. The latter two have steps to get on and off but with a zodiac you’ll have to clamber over the sides. It’s a good idea to find out first which one your chosen cruise uses before you go as each has pros and cons regarding manoeuvrability, comfort and your own state of mobility. When anchored off shore Saga use tenders in port so you can sit in comfort to the jetty.

Dave Monk – Cruise blogger “Shipmonk”

Plan ahead: Research your cruise line and ship – are they the right ones for you? Check the itinerary – what will the weather be like then? Go through the shore excursions before your trip and book any you’re particularly keen on – that will save you time on board and the possible disappointment of missing out. But schedule in some down time too and take advantage of sea days – it’s not an endurance task, it’s a holiday and you’ll want the chance to relax, go to the spa, read a book or simply enjoy the ship.

Cruising traditions

Gary Bembridge. Travel writer, video maker and blogger at

The most important thing any new cruiser should do is make sure they are choosing the perfect line for them. It is even more important than the destination! Cruise lines include and exclude different things in their fares, attract certain types and ages of people, provide relevant types of facilities and entertainment, have their own approach to dress codes and have different philosophies and levels service and formality. You are going to be spending a lot of time on board and must make sure you will be surrounded with like-minded people, ages and be in an environment that reflects you and that you are comfortable being in. Most cruise lines go to the destination you will want to go to – ensure you are travelling there on the perfect cruise line for you.

John Honeywell – Editor, World of Cruising

The best thing about cruising? Apart from the food and the entertainment – all included in the fare – and apart from the fact that it goes without saying that the care and attention you receive from the crew will far exceed anything at a hotel or resort on land? Once you’re on board and the luggage is unpacked, you don’t need to think about suitcases again until it’s time to go home. After a day exploring in port and a convivial evening with new-found friends in the bar, you will wake up next morning and throw open the curtains to find that while you were asleep the captain has delivered you to somewhere new, ready for the fun to start all over again.

Thinking about taking your first cruise? To make sure it all goes well, spend some time researching the possible cruise lines and ships to find the one that best suits your lifestyle. There IS a cruise for everyone, but they are not all the same. No point booking a trip on a party ship if you would rather spend your days listening to enriching talks rather than lounging by the pool, and if you want to be in bed before midnight and not dancing the night away. And vice versa.

Yes, there is food available in unlimited quantities throughout the day (and most of the night). And yes, there are people who arrive at the start of a cruise as passengers and disembark a couple of weeks later as cargo, having gained a stone – or more – and complaining that the ship’s laundry has shrunk all their outfits. But there is nowhere better than a cruise ship to eat healthily – from the lighter options on the menu, often recommended by the health club or spa – or from the extensive and mouth-watering selection of sales in the buffet.

Cruise cuisine: what to expect from food on a cruise

Becky Wiggins – blogger “English Mum”  – Best Cruise Blogger, Cruise International Awards

Cruising is the perfect family holiday: there are always lots of different activities on board, and brilliant kids’ clubs so that you can enjoy a bit of time on your own too. Add to this fabulous shore excursions and a great choice of different restaurants and cafés, and it’s a no brainer!

When you’re choosing a cabin, have a think about what sort of cruiser you might be.  If your cabin will be just a place to lay your head, it’s worth saving money and opting for an inside or porthole cabin.  If you’re more likely to be spending some time there, it’s worth choosing a balcony cabin or splashing out on a bit of extra space by upgrading.  Also, look out for aft cabins, the views are amazing.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.