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Common First Time Cruising Questions

Common First Time Cruising Questions – Our Experience

I am a HUGE fan of cruising and I often get asked common first time cruising questions. I absolutely love cruising and the feeling of being free, relaxed, and even disconnected from my phone and reality. You get to spend time with others who are ready to have fun and socialize. Meeting new people is generally a difficult task for me however, it seems to come so easily on a cruise. On top of the relaxation, stress free, fun environment, you also get unlimited food and great entertainment!

But… after trying to talk a lot of people into taking cruises, I find that a lot of people are hesitant and have a lot of questions.

I put together a list of common cruise questions for first time cruisers or cruisers in general that we have the answer to.

Keep in mind, this is all my experience and everybody may have a different experience. 

Now, lets get into the questions.

This blog posts contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

puerto rico
San Juan P.R.

Do I Need to Pay for Water on a Cruise?

No, Carnival and other cruise lines provide common drinks such as juices, water, tea, and coffee. 

How Do I Keep Track of my Spending on a Cruise?

This is a great question that many people are generally confused about their first time cruising. 

Once you start the boarding process, you will at some point get your cruise card. This card acts like a credit card and is used when you want to purchase anything. In addition, it is also you room key. While on your cruise, you are able to check and keep track of your expenses (usually at a kiosk by customer service). Once your cruise has finished, you will have one final payment that is drafted out of your bank account. 

Costa Maya
Costa Maya

How Do I Find People in my Travel Party While On a Cruise Ship?

Carnival has an app (Carnival HUB) that you can use to find people in your party. We have never used this because we genuinely like staying away from our phones and are always together but I know many people use this. I’m not sure what other cruise lines use to keep track of your travel party. 

Carnival Hub
Carnival Hub App

What Do I Do If I Don’t Like the People at my Assigned Table?

Lets talk about the dinning room tables. In the off chance you get a table with people you don’t like or maybe you don’t like your dinner time, you can talk to your dinning room host about changing tables or changing times. 

On one of our cruises we didn’t like the time we chose so we asked our host to change our dinner time. She put us on a waiting list and by the next day we got a note under our door explaining they changed our dinner time. 

If you don’t like your table or time and it can’t be changed, you have the option to eat at the buffet and seat yourself. However, one of the best parts about cruising is meeting new people and mostly everyone we’ve met has been very kind so I wouldn’t be too quick to rule it out entirely.  

Another thing we noticed on Carnival cruises is that they seem to sit you with people around your age which can be great if your looking to make friends.

travel couple
Captains Dinner

Do I Need To Pack a Beach Towel On a Cruise?

You do not need to pack beach towels when cruising. The ship will provide some for you however, you should note that you need to bring the towels back to the room otherwise you will run the risk of being charged for it. I know this is what carnival does but I’m not sure about other cruise lines. 

I personally like to bring my own towel because I am obsessed with cute beach towels and It takes away the stress of loosing the ships and having to pay for it. 

What Are The Pools Like on a Cruise?

The general honest truth about the pools on cruises is that they are normally packed on sea days. There is a lot of entertainment though so don’t let the big crowds scare you away, guest still have a great time in the pool. 

If your looking for a time that is less crowded, you can go towards the end of the day or while you are parked at a port. 

Carnival Breeze Pool
Carnival Breeze Pool in St. Thomas

Can I Do Laundry on Board?

Yes, there are laundry machines on the ships however, they do cost money to use. 

How Much Food Can I Order in the Main Dining Room On a Cruise?

One word for you, UNLIMITED

Do I Have to Dress Up For Captains Dinner On a Cruise?

If you plan on eating in the main dinning room on a carnival cruise for the Captains Dinner, you do have to follow the dress code. Most nights are a casual night however, for the captains dinner, you will want to dress formal. 

Do I Need a Passport? What Do I Do With my Passport During My Cruise?

Majority of cruises you do not need a passport. You will usually only need an ID and Birth Certificate. If you bring a passport, you can keep it in your room or take it with you. There is usually a safe for you to use if you want. Do whatever makes you most comfortable. If you get off the ship at your ports, you will usually need to bring you ID to get back on the ship and your cruise card. 

How Much Cash Should I Bring on a Cruise?

I like to bring cash for gambling in the casino although, you can charge your card for a fee if you want. I also like to bring cash for our port stops. When I eat or purchase souvenirs, I like to use cash. 

While you are on the ship however, you do not need any cash. With that being said, it is up to you to determine how much you think you will spend and how much cash you think you will need to bring, if you choose to bring cash. I also like to use cash to pay our room stewards at the end of the cruise.

st. thomas cruise
Scooter Rental in St. Thomas

What Should I Bring on a Cruise?

Most cruises go to warm places so it’s important to pack for the destination. You should consider bringing the following…

– Your ID

– Your Birth Certificate

– Chargers

– Health and Beauty supplies

– A book for entertainment

and anything else you may think you will need. 

Check out this article for a full list of What to Pack for a Cruise.

Can You Live on a Cruise Ship?

Okay, so many people don’t usually ask this question but it is an interesting and fun question to answer. 

I don’t know if people book cruises one after the other and literally live on them however, we have met a few people who cruise extremely often. One lady and her husband that we met cruise nearly 3 week/month. They practically live on the ships and are actually regulars. #goals

How Can I Save Money on a Ship?

Part of the reason I enjoy cruising is because you can often find good deals and if you are smart, it really isn’t as expensive as you would expect. To help keep our expenses down in the past, we have taken a cruise where we stayed in bunk beds and we would never do this again. We got stuck in this room because we let Carnival decide our room for us.

If you choose your rooms, they will up charge you. It is also cheaper to stay in an interior room rather than one with a view. Doing this would probably save you nearly $100 on a 6-7 day cruise. Another way to save money is to bring your own soda on Carnival or wine on Norwegian. We skip the drink packages because they can be a LOT of money.

We also like to skip the excursions on most ports because many times you can find an excursion right off the ship at the port for a cheaper price or on Viator. 

Cruise ships also give you unlimited food so we never spend money at the restaurants on board. We will also usually eat on the ship while at a port rather than getting off and eating at a restaurant. This usually depends on the port and what we are doing for the day.

An example of this would be getting off the boat for the day and have to be back on by 3pm. We will hold off on eating until 2ish and head back to the boat early to eat lunch which also helps us beat some crowds back on the boat.

St. Thomas
Perfect time to take photos – During a stop

Is Tipping Mandatory on a Cruise?

(Please don’t judge us here) 

The biggest way Andrew and I save money on a cruise is at the end. Once your vacay is over, the cruise line will automatically charge tips per person at the end. If you want, towards the end of the cruise you can go to guest services and opt out of their automatic tipping. Guests services will ask you how much you want to tip and we usually say a small amount or none at all. You will likely get a rude look but I understand why they would. 

What we do instead, is bring some cash and tip our cabin steward directly and our servers from our dining room table directly with less money than what we are charged by the cruise line. By doing this, the employees get to keep all the cash to themselves rather than splitting it between every employee on the ship. This makes them extremely happy and it feels more fair considering they are the ones who take care of us most of the time.

We feel bad that there are several employees on the ship that we don’t tip however, they probably wouldn’t see much of a difference and instead we make our server and cabin steward very happy. In this process, we also get the opportunity to save a little extra money in the end. 

Overall, tipping is not mandatory but make sure you tip somebody something (common courtesy).

How Much Should You Tip a Cabin Steward?

We typically tip $5/day per person to our cabin steward and only have them come in one time per day although they will come in up to two times per day if thats what you prefer.

Open Water on Carnival Paradise
Open Waters to Cozumel

How to Find a Cheap Cruise?

There is no easy answer to this question that we have found. However, we have noticed from past experience and talking to others, that you can often find a cheaper cruise during the off seasons or last minute cruises. 

Andrew and I live in Florida and have 5 ports near us. During August and September we are no strangers to hurricanes and find that cruises are much cheaper during those months. The ships are a little rocky at that time but if you don’t mind, it works out well. You may run into rain from time to time and you may run the risk of the cruise getting cancelled, but that doesn’t happen very often. 

This did happen one time in 2019 but the cruise line (Norwegian) refunded the money. 

For last minute cruises, you may be able to find real good deals OR something else we’ve found is that the more you cruise with a certain cruise line, the better deals you’ll get. We also found that if you gamble often, you will get good casino offers such as cheap cruises and free drinks while gambling.

Below is a screen shot of a cruise for $55 out of Miami leaving October 2020. There could be a few reasons for this deal.

1. Covid-19 

2. Casino Offer

3. Cruising during hurricane season

carnival cruise deal
Carnival Cruise Deal Leaving October 2020

How Do I Prepare For a Cruise?

To prepare for you cruise, all you need is your ID and Birth Certificate and to pack like you were taking any other vacation. You will need to check in online and you can print off your boarding pass but it will be fine if you don’t. Once you get to the port, somebody will print a boarding pass for you if you don’t have one.

There is no limit to the amount you pack so do your thang and get prepared to get away from reality and have a hella good time!

Beach Adventure
Get Ready For That Cruise


1. The basic cabins usually only have two electrical outlet ports. If you plan on using more than two outlets at a time, I recommend bringing an adapter.

2. You also may feel sea sick from time to time so if you’re not sure if you get sea sick or not, I would recommend bringing sea sick patches.

3. There is an iron on board for you to use free of charge. I would recommend getting there early before your scheduled dinner if your going to use is so you don’t have to wait in a line.

4. There is usually a library on board carnival ships where you can go to play board games or get quiet time. You may also want to bring fun items for you. You can read our suggestions here.

Have a question that wasn’t answered? Let us know below!

Suggested for you: What to pack for a cruise.

2 thoughts on “Common First Time Cruising Questions”

  1. I have never been on a cruise before but I would very much like to some time down the track. Especially once everything at the moment calms down. The hardest part will be deciding where to do the cruise.

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