- Insider spoke to more than 25 experienced cruisers who were on Carnival Cruise Line’s first ship out of the US since 2020.
- The avid cruisers shared common mistakes they see passengers make onboard the ships.
- From forgetting cash to buying Wi-Fi, here are the mistakes cruisers should avoid.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
I was one of the nearly 2,700 passengers aboard the ship, and while it was only my second cruise, I spoke with many guests who told me they had dozens of days at sea under their belts.
During my trip, I gathered cruise superfans’ best tips on how to maximize the experience and what mistakes to avoid.
While some cruisers said it takes experience to understand what you will and will not need on the cruise, many mentioned bringing breathable clothing that can transition easily from an outdoor to an indoor setting.
To combat overpacking, cruise superfan Denise McGraw told Insider that she packs an empty shoebox in her suitcase. She said this ensures she will have enough space for all the souvenirs she plans to purchase.
Mike Foster and Lynn Michael, who told Insider they’ve been on more than 25 cruises, said that they now resort to packing laundry detergent and hand washing a few items throughout the cruise.
“We’re only seeing each other, so it doesn’t matter if I re-wear an item a few times,” Michael told Insider.
One of the biggest things Dunlap said he wishes passengers would do is leave tips to crew members. The majority of most crew members’ salaries comes from gratuities, so if a crew member stands out for their service, consider tipping them a little extra.
Most cruises have an automatic daily gratuity added, but Dunlap told Insider that it’s “the bare minimum.”
Dunlap added that tipping your cabin stateroom attendant at the beginning of the cruise may also be a smart idea. He told Insider he believes he may get better service when he starts off his cruise on a positive note.
Terrie Castille, who has been on more than 20 cruises, said that passengers should prioritize trying new eateries and new foods each day of the cruise.
“Even if you don’t think you’ll like escargot, order the escargot and try it,” she told Insider.
While not every restaurant on the ship is free, most cruise lines have a dining room everyone can eat in — and often, the food is better than the food served at the buffet.
Whether you’re on the ship, docked at a port, or on a shore excursion, there are dozens of opportunities to tip, so bring cash.
It’s also smart to bring small bills so you don’t have to search for change when tipping your cab driver or bartender.
Now, after 13 cruises and counting, Grammar said she doesn’t hold back — and you shouldn’t, too.
For example, on Carnival Cruise, there’s a nightly dining service where guests order a three-course dinner. While it’s designed for people to have an appetizer, main, and dessert, passengers can order as many entrées and dishes as they’d like.
So try it all, James Berggren, who has been on a handful of cruises, told Insider. Plus, the menu is constantly rotating, so there’s no promise the dish will be there later in the week.
Chances are you don’t want to spend your whole vacation feeling sick, so pack Dramamine or some other type of motion-sickness medicine.
“Pace yourself,” Sammie, who has been on more than a dozen cruises, told Insider.
Miriam Grammar agreed, saying: “Be as little or as much involved as you want to.”
So unless you absolutely need to have access to people back home, skip buying Wi-Fi.
“Try to disconnect,” avid cruiser Sonya Fudge told Insider. “A cruise is all about the ship and relaxing.”
“People come in here and think that it’s not going to cost a lot,” Dunlap said of cruise trips. “But that usually isn’t the case.”
Drinking, gambling, shore excursions, and all the extras can quickly add up, so expect to spend some money on the ship, Dunlap said.
Depending on the ship, the range of formal wear can vary greatly, so do your research beforehand.
For example, nicer shorts would work for a Carnival Cruise Line’s formal night, but Jeffrey Dunlap told Insider that shorts may not be the case on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
While you’re doing your research, check to see how many formal nights the cruise will have so you know exactly what to pack.