We took our first cruise to celebrate our seven year anniversary. Neither of us had any experience with a cruise and really had no idea what to expect.
We read tons of blogs and watched youtube videos and there were still little things that we wish we’d have known beforehand.
There are dozens of cruise lines and cruise ships and it’s really overwhelming to know what to book. We ended up using cruise.com and were really happy with our experience.
They were super helpful and told us everything we needed to know for the cruise.
You can read more posts about our cruise here:
Here are our top tips for first-time cruisers and what to expect
1. Room Service Wasn’t Worth Ordering
I was super excited to order room service because I loved the idea of eating breakfast on our balcony.
The first reason I wouldn’t do it again is that there is a charge and since they basically bring you the same food from the dining area, it just didn’t seem worth it.
It’s only around $9 but that will add up throughout the week and you’ve already paid for food with your ticket.
Another mistake we made was ordering it on a day we were arriving at Nassau.
We needed to be off the ship by 8:15 am so we ordered it to be delivered between 7-7: 30 am. It didn’t end up coming until 8:50 am so we literally scarfed it down and ran out the door.
They actually refunded us the fee since they were late without us even requesting it which I was super pleased about. Customer service was on point the entire voyage.
The next day we went to the main dining area and there was literally the biggest breakfast spread I’ve ever seen in my life!!
I was kind of skeptical about the food because I typically do not like buffets but everything is fresh, hot, and delicious.
You can also take your food anywhere on the ship so you can easily bring it back to your room.
2. Bring Comfortable Shoes
This is a given on any vacation, but especially on a cruise. There is a lot of walking just on the ship alone.
We spend half a day at Blue Lagoon Island, which is beautiful, but we walked almost that whole day.
3. Book Excursions For Nassau
When we originally booked our cruise, we didn’t intend on adding on any excursions.
The more research we did, it really seemed like the excursions were worth the money.
They totally are!!
In Nassau, we did the Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin and beach experience and it was worth every single penny.
Blue Lagoon is the cleanest, prettiest beach I’ve ever seen!
The water is warm and crystal clear, there are a ton of water toys you can use like kayaks, water boards, beach beds, hammocks, and much much more.
We got to the island around 9:30 am and did the dolphin experience first thing in the morning.
It was one of the coolest experiences and I highly recommend it. We stayed on Blue Lagoon Island until 1:30 pm and took the first ferry back to Nassau.
We planned on spending the rest of day in Nassau just visiting the island and exploring.
This was a mistake.
Nassau is over saturated with aggressive vendors selling the same unauthentic touristy junk.
We were very much looking forward to walking around eating street food but the complimentary food on the ship was much better.
The downtown portion of Nassau is a tourist trap and not worth visiting in my opinion.
I would never visit this area of Nassau again.
Next time we would like to either rent scooters and get out of the tourist district or do a full day event exploring Atlantis which is a resort in Nassau.
We didn’t get to visit Atlantis but it looks amazing and will be at the top of our list next time.
4. The Food Really Is Amazing
I was a little skeptical about the food because I’m not a picky eater but we both enjoy high-quality food. I was also concerned that breakfast and lunch are buffet style.
I am not a buffet person at all.
I read from several sources that the food was amazing but it far exceeded any expectation we had. Definitely the best buffet I’ve ever eaten.
Everything we tried was delicious, fresh, and high quality.
Dinner is the only meal that is served restaurant style.
Portion sizes are realistic but you can order as many appetizer, main courses, or desserts as you want.
They have classic dishes like Caesar salad, prime rib, and lasagna but they also have more high-end unique dishes for people who like to try new things.
If you order something you don’t like, you can get a different plate with no problem. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly.
5. January and February Are The Best Months To Cruise
We went the second week of January and it was the perfect time to go. I’ve talked to many people who went in the late summer months and say the heat is unbearable.
The weather was ideal for our entire stay. It was mid 70’s, dry heat, with the perfect breeze but still warm enough to enjoy the water.
The ship was rarely crowded at all. Typically the in-season cruise is around school breaks like Christmas, spring Break and the early summer months.
The ship and excursions never seemed to be crowded or overpopulated at all other than elevators and meals.
It was really the perfect amount of people.
6. Wear Comfortable, Versatile Clothing
This is another given for any vacation but especially a cruise.
You can see what I wore here What I Wore On Our First Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Bring clothing that Is comfortable and versatile. I only brought a few outfits but used them all week interchange tops, cover-ups, and bottoms.
I brought pool clothing and cover-ups (two swimsuits but three would have been better), workout clothing, one nice dress for “dress your best night” which is the second day, and a pants/shirt outfit in case it was chilly.
I dressed mostly beachy but still had an interchangeable outfit to slip on over my swimsuit. It was really handy and worked well.
Next time I will bring more dresses for dinner because I really do enjoy dressing up.
7. Plan On Taking The Stairs
Elevators seemed to be congested the majority of our trip so we just made a habit of taking the stairs.
It was actually nice to stretch our legs and we ended up preferring it.
8. It Is Not As Inclusive As I thought It Would Be
I was under the impression that it’s very inclusive but there are many many things on the ship that cost money outside of your main ticket.
Most tours, excursions, and even several restaurants had an additional cost.
That being said, there is SO much that is included that you can easily enjoy your stay without spending a single penny.
We ate out of the main dining area one evening at a hibachi restaurant and even though it was great, there really is no need. The complimentary food is delicious. Next time, we won’t purchase any restaurant reservations.
9. The Staff And Faculty Are Amazing And Truly Love Thier Job
This was something I was pleasantly surprised about.
The staff on the entire cruise ship were amazing! They really seem like people who love their jobs. Super fun loving, super helpful and genuinely glad to be of service.
You will have the same servers each night at the dinner table. Ours always seemed genuinely happy to see us and would do magic tricks and randomly brings us appetizer to try. So.much.fun.
They cleaned our room twice per day and always folded our towels in funny little animals.
It was just an overall positive vibe throughout all the staff we encountered.
10. Visit Miami The Day Before Your Cruise
We made the rookie mistake of staying an extra day at the end of our trip which was a poor plan because we were in a hurry to get home to our littles.
Next time, we will fly in the day before. Miami is gorgeous and there are tons of restaurants I would love to try.
We ate at CVI.CHE 105 and it was one of the best restaurants we’ve ever visited. I highly recommend it.
11. Ships Run On Your Sea Pass Card
Once you get on board, you won’t need to carry cash, ID, or credit card. You’ll receive a SeaPass that looks like a credit card with all your info on it
I purchased a lanyard and clipped it to my sea pass to keep track of it and it was really convenient.
Our overall cruise experience was far above our expectations in every way and we will definitely plan another in the near future.
We also LOVED Miami!
If you are booking a cruise or have any questions I didn’t cover, feel free to leave a comment! I’d LOVE to be of service.
You can read more posts about our cruise here: