Posted on 22 July 2022

Top six first-time cruise tips from experienced cruisers

As with everything in life, after you’ve been doing something for a while you come to know all the secrets and shortcuts that would have made life so much easier at the start. And this is certainly true if you’re going on a cruise for the first time. Luckily for you, we’ve put together the top tips that experienced cruisers would like to pass on to first-timers. So, if you’re about to sail away on your first ever cruise holiday, you can stop feeling like a novice and learn from those who’ve gone before you... 

1. Find the right cruise holiday for you 

If this is your first P&O Cruises holiday, then you might think all cruise lines or even all cruise ships are the same. Not only do different cruise lines cater for different demographics, but even individual ships will attract completely different people. If you’re looking to party late into the night, you’ll clearly want to avoid a ship that’s primarily for taking things easy. If you’re travelling with kids, then you’ll want to make sure your ship is family friendly with lots of engaging activities for you to do on board. If there’s one piece of advice a newcomer can take from an experienced cruiser, it would be to find out who they’ll be travelling with before they book.

At P&O Cruises, we’ve a fleet of ships and itineraries to suit all tastes and styles. On our family-friendly ships, Arvia, Azura, Britannia, Iona and Ventura, you’ll find a world of wow-factor entertainment for all ages waiting for you. And if you’re a couple or solo traveller looking for a bit of peace and quiet, then our exclusively for adults ships, Arcadia and Aurora, will provide all the tranquillity you’re after. With epic dining events, show-stopping theatre performances, awe-inspiring aerialist displays another example as this is exclusive to Iona and Arvia and so much more on all of our ships… you can be sure of a holiday packed to the rafters with unforgettable experiences as soon as you step on board. Find your ideal ship here

2. Join a Facebook group for your cruise

By far, one of the best places for first-time cruisers to learn about their cruise itinerary and their ship is in the many private social media groups dedicated to each cruise holiday. No matter which P&O Cruises holiday you’re going on, the chances are that one of your fellow guests will have already set up a Facebook group to exchange thoughts, tips and general advice on your upcoming holiday. Simply search by your cruise code on Facebook and request to join your holiday group.

As these groups are independent of P&O Cruises, you’ll be privy to open and honest advice from hundreds of experienced cruisers about your ship and holiday. If you have any questions, then this is the place to ask them. And you’ll find group members are only too happy to help. Want to know about the best shore experiences to book or what to wear on formal nights? Ask away, no question is too big or small here. Not only will you pick up invaluable tips, but you might also make some new friends to socialise with on your holiday. 

3. Research your destinations 

Even if you like to be spontaneous, it may still be worth having a look into each destination on your itinerary so you have a basic idea of what you want to do at each destination. Decide beforehand using [our digital port guides] what your must-see sights and experiences are going to be and plan around them. Another vital tip if you’re going on a P&O Cruises holiday for the first time is to make sure you plan some downtime in-between activities.

One of the best things about a cruise holiday is that you get to see more of your dream destinations in one trip. And when you holiday with P&O Cruises, you’ll get a full day in almost every place on your itinerary. Plus, as we have more cruises with evening and overnight stops, you’ll have the chance to soak up the local nightlife or explore places in more depth.

Whether you want to explore nearby or venture further afield to uncover hidden gems off the beaten track, make sure you familiarise yourself with the distance from your attractions to your ship (so you can be back in time before it departs) or look into one of our shore experiences and we’ll take care of it for you. Find out more about our range of shore experiences here. You can browse and book shore experiences online at up to 365 days before your holiday – we advise booking as early as possible so you don't miss out!

4. Take a carry-on bag on board 

In most cases, your suitcase will be waiting outside your cabin when you arrive but sometimes it may take a few hours for you to be reunited with your luggage. That’s why you’ll soon discover that experienced travellers bring along everything they need for their first day in a carry-on bag and you can start enjoying your ship from the moment you step on board. As well as essentials such as your passport, basic toiletries, sun cream and a change of clothing, why not pack your swimwear so you can have a dip in the pool? Also, when you’re off exploring ashore your carry-on bag will come in handy for any souvenirs you pick up for the folks back home. 

5. Get to know your ship before you board 

Even if you’re sailing on one of our more intimate ships, like Arcadia or Aurora, it’s worth spending some time getting to know the layout of the ship before your holiday starts. And if you’re travelling on one of our Excel class ships, Arvia or Iona, then this is a big one for your ‘to-do’ list. If it’s your first time on a P&O Cruises holiday, you might be surprised at how long it can take to get your bearings when you step on board your ship with so much to discover. This is why it helps to have a good look through your ship deck plans beforehand.

With P&O Cruises, you can explore your ship on our website or in your brochure, where you’ll find detailed deck plans for each ship in our fleet. With so many entertainment spots, bars and restaurants on board, you’ll be thankful you spent some time familiarising yourself with where all your places of interest are in relation to your cabin. 

6. Keep your phone in airplane mode 

We suggest keeping your phone in airplane mode while on board the ship. Whether you’re using your phone to just keep in touch with friends and family back home or to share your travel experiences on social media, by keeping your phone in airplane mode you’ll avoid falling into the trap of paying roaming rates for these services while on your holiday. 

On a P&O Cruises holiday, just log on to your ship’s Wi-Fi to get connected and then purchase or upgrade your internet package via My Holiday. Our all-new internet packages give you satellite internet access 24/7. Data usage within each package is unlimited, but services that can be accessed will depend on the package you choose. Find the right internet package for you here

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