4 Insider Tips for First Time Cruise Ship Holidayers

First time tips for holidayers on a cruise ship

With international border lockdowns slowly easing in Australia, you might consider a cruise ship holiday.

P&O have the latest tips on what to look for when travelling by ship.

Living in Australia, we’re spoiled with the most beautiful coastline in the world. After a year in lockdown, we’re looking ahead to 2022 and getting excited to explore our country from the best vantage point. By water. And by cruise ship.

We always turn to cruises for a fuss-free holiday that truly allows us to wind down. If you’re new to cruising, we asked the team at P&O Cruises to share their insider tips for booking a cruise and what to expect on a cruise for the first time.

  1. Pack the essentials

Knowing what to bring with you on a cruise can be tricky for first-timers. While you can pop into the shops onboard, you’ll want to bring a few handy items from home. Here’s what to pack for a cruise:

  • A range of clothing. From swimming to dining, you’ll want to plan outfits for a wide range of activities. Along with packing the basics like swimsuits, cover-ups, sleepwear, shirts and pants, it’s a good idea to add a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a light jacket in case it gets chilly at night. While the dress code is casual on P&O ships by day, smart casual at night for dining in restaurants and entry to bars and if you’re planning to attend an event or theme night, you might want to bring a dressier outfit for that as well.
  • Toiletries. The amount of toiletries you need will come down to the length of your cruise. But as a general rule, bring your skincare, haircare and feminine hygiene products, plus sunscreen, deodorant, shaving supplies, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers, hand sanitiser and insect repellent. If you hop onboard and realise you’ve forgotten something, don’t worry, cruise ships are pretty well-stocked with beauty products and essential items!
  • Health and wellness items. Bring any prescription medications, vitamins and supplements you take, as well as a first aid kit.
  • Travel documents. If you’re travelling internationally, make sure you’ve brought your passport and any visas that are required. You will be advised by the cruise line if visas are required for any ports you are visiting. On most occasions, visas will not be necessary because they would have been pre-arranged by P&O Cruises. Then, pack your itinerary, insurance card and any other travel documents.
  • Gadgets. Your smartphone aside, consider bringing a tablet, camera or headphones, as well as any chargers you need.
  • Miscellaneous. Like any holiday, you’ll want to pack credit cards, books, an eye mask and ear plugs.

Top tip: When you embark, your luggage will be whisked away for a few hours. Since you might not have access to your suitcase straight away, it’s worth throwing your sunscreen, swimsuit and anything else you might need into a small carry-on bag.

2. Make the most of the activities 

The best thing about P&O cruises is that there’s truly something for everyone. Between the 60 onboard activities and various entertainment options, their cruises cater to all ages and interests. As a first-time cruiser, one of our top cruise tips is to spend some time exploring the ship and seeing everything it has to offer.

If you want to bliss out, you could book a treatment at the day spa, get your hair done at the salon, indulge in retail therapy or lounge around by the child-free Oasis. P&O’s Kids Club will keep your little ones entertained all day long, giving you the time and space to unwind. And if you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, we recommend that you buy an Edge Adventure Pass so you can go rock climbing, zip lining or any of the thrill-seeking activities at the P&O Adventure Park.

travelling by ship on a P&O cruise liner

3. Think about upgrades

With main meals in designated restaurants, accommodation and most cruise activities included, cruises are an incredibly cost-effective and hassle-free holiday. You can customise your trip even further by opting into extras, which is our cruise advice for first-timers.

The list will vary by cruise, but these are the most popular upgrades:

  • Pre-purchased drinks packages. These are available on cruises 7+ nights. To get the best deal on alcoholic drinks and make sure you’re sticking to your budget, make sure you look up what the drink packages options are in the leadup to your trip.
  • Shore tours. Most ships call at a couple of ports, and let you off to live like a local for the day. While you can explore on your own, shore tours are a huge part of the cruising experience. The options depend on the destination, but you can expect things like guided tours, cultural workshops and scuba diving. Shore Tours really help to maximise your time in your destination.
  • Your preferred room type. Do you want a suite with a balcony or oceanview? No problem! To lock in your dream room, select your room preference when booking online or chat to your cruise consultant in advance.
  • Specialty dining experiences. With a range of restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll never go hungry on a cruise (and you may even discover your new favourite cuisine). You’ll discover a range of specialty dining options as well, which are available for an additional nominal fee. You can make reservations in advance, which we recommend as spots tend to fill up quickly.

4. Book now for 2022

The earlier you can book, the better! If you’re among the first ones to book your 2022 cruise, you’ll have more options in terms of shore tours, specialty dining, rooms and spa treatments. Plus, we recommend keeping an eye out for early bird prices to save hundreds of dollars off the cost of your holiday.

Once you’ve decided to treat yourself to a cruise in 2022, all you have to do is choose a destination or a theme. As for the best cruises for first time cruisers, the Barrier Reef, Whitsundays and Moreton Island – Tangalooma put Australia’s breathtaking beauty on display, while the Comedy Cruise cruises deliver a belly laugh a minute.

Learn more about life onboard 

If you’re ready to set sail as a first-time cruiser, head to the P&O Cruises website to check out their cruise destinations, see a cruise ship activities list, the latest deals and start counting down to 2022.

Written and Sponsored by P&O Cruises Australia

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