Best Cruise for First-Timers

Best Cruise for First-Timers: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Cruise Vacation

by Christian Petzold - updated September 19, 2023

Thinking about taking a cruise but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone! Choosing the perfect cruise for your first time can be tricky. In our guide, we’ll make it easy for you, breaking down everything you need to know. From budget-friendly options to exciting destinations, we’ve got the best tips to help you set sail on an adventure you’ll love. So grab your sunglasses and get ready to explore the world of cruising.

Understanding Cruising for First-Timers

Cruise Basics

If you are a first-time cruiser, it is essential to understand the basics of cruising. Cruising is a vacation where you travel on a ship that takes you to various destinations. The ship is like a floating hotel, with restaurants, bars, entertainment, and activities on board.

There are various types of cruises available that can span from a few days to several weeks. Certain cruise lines are designed for families, while others are tailored to adults. While some cruises are all-inclusive, others may require additional payment for drinks and activities.When choosing the best cruise for first-timers, it is essential to consider the type of experience you are looking for. Do you want a more relaxed and laid-back cruise, or do you enjoy a more adventurous and active cruise?

First-Time Cruiser Tips

If you are a first-time cruiser, some tips can help you make the most of your cruise vacation.

  1. Choose the right cruise line: When choosing the best cruise for first-timers, choosing a cruise line that caters to your interests is essential. Some cruise lines are more family-friendly, while others are geared toward adults.
  2. Plan: Before you embark on your cruise, plan ahead. Research the ports of call and plan your excursions.
  3. Pack smart: When packing for your cruise, bring comfortable clothing, shoes, and any necessary medications and toiletries.
  4. Take advantage of onboard activities: Most cruise ships offer a variety of onboard activities, including shows, movies, and classes. Take advantage of these activities to make the most of your cruise vacation.
  5. Be open to new experiences: One of the best things about cruising is visiting new destinations and trying new things. Be open to new experiences and embrace the adventure!

By following these tips and understanding the basics of cruising, you can make the most of your first-time cruise vacation and choose the best cruise for first-timers.

Choosing the Right Cruise Line

Choosing the proper cruise line for you can make all the difference if you’re a first-timer looking for the best cruise for first-timers. With so many options available, deciding which cruise line is the best fit for you can be overwhelming. In this section, we’ll explore some factors to consider and compare significant cruise lines to help you make an informed decision.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a cruise line, there are several factors to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Budget: Different cruise lines offer different price points. Determine your budget and look for cruise lines that fit within that range.
  2. Itinerary: Consider the destinations and ports of call each cruise line provides. Make sure the itinerary aligns with your interests and preferences.
  3. Ship size: Large ships offer more amenities and entertainment options, while smaller ships provide a more intimate experience. Decide which ship size fits your style.
  4. Onboard activities: Some cruise lines cater to families with children, while others offer adult-oriented activities. Look for cruise lines that offer activities that interest you.
  5. Dining options: Some cruise lines offer multiple dining options, while others have set dining times and assigned tables. Decide which dining style works best for you.

Comparing Major Cruise Lines

Here’s a quick comparison of some of the major cruise lines to help you narrow down your choices:

Cruise LineBest ForPrice RangeShip SizeNights
Celebrity CruisesFirst timers2000-30000Large7-nights
Royal CaribbeanSolo travelers$200 – $1000 / PersonLargePer night
Norwegian Cruise LineFamilies, budget-conscious travelers$700 / personLarge7-nights
Carnival Cruise LineFamilies, first-timers$1000-3$700Large7-nights
VikingAdults, culture-seekers$2000-3$000Small7-nights
SeabournLuxury travelers$2000-3$500Small7-nights
Holland America LineSeniors, foodies$2000-3$500Mid-sized7-nights
TUIBudget-conscious travelers$1000-$2500Large7-nights

Keep in mind that this is just a brief overview, and each cruise line has its own unique features and amenities. Do your research and read reviews from other first-timers to find the best cruise line for you.

Remember, choosing the right cruise line is an important part of finding the best cruise for first-timers. By considering factors such as budget, itinerary, ship size, onboard activities, and dining options, and comparing major cruise lines, you can make an informed decision and have a memorable first-time cruise experience.

Budgeting for Your Cruise

As a first-timer, budgeting for your best cruise can be overwhelming. However, understanding cruise fares and the cost of extras can help you plan and stick to your budget.

Understanding Cruise Fares

Cruise fares can vary depending on the cruise line, destination, and time of year. The good news is that most cruise fares are all-inclusive, meaning your meals, accommodations, and onboard activities are included. However, there are some additional fees that you should be aware of, such as port fees and taxes.

When comparing cruise fares, it’s essential to consider the value you’re getting for your money. Some cruise lines may offer lower fares, but they may include fewer amenities or have as high of a quality experience as other cruise lines. Look for cruise lines that balance value and quality so you can get the most out of your budget.

Cost of Extras

While most cruise fares are all-inclusive, there are some additional costs that you should be aware of. For example, excursions, spa treatments, and specialty dining may cost extra. Before booking your cruise, research the cost of these extras and factor them into your budget.

To save money on extras, consider booking excursions and spa treatments in advance, as they may be cheaper than booking onboard. Additionally, some cruise lines offer all-inclusive packages that include extras like specialty dining and drinks, which can help you stay within your budget.

Overall, budgeting for your best cruise for first-timers can be a breeze if you understand cruise fares and the cost of extras. By planning and comparing prices, you can find a cruise that fits your budget and offers the experience that you’re looking for.

Cruise Destinations

Choosing the right destination is crucial if you’re a first-timer looking for the best cruise experience. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most popular cruise destinations and offer tips on choosing the best one.

Popular Cruise Destinations

Some of the most popular cruise destinations for first-timers include the Caribbean, Alaska, the Bahamas, Mexico, Florida, Northern Europe, Rome, Antarctica, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Tahiti, the South Pacific, the Danube, the Mississippi, Amsterdam, Budapest, and the Hawaiian Islands. Each destination has its unique appeal, and the best one for you will depend on your interests, budget, and travel style.

Caribbean Cruise

The Caribbean is a perennial favorite, with its white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture. On the other hand, Alaska offers breathtaking scenery and wildlife, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. The Mediterranean is perfect for history buffs, with its ancient ruins and rich cultural heritage. And if you’re looking for something unique, Antarctica offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll always remember.

Antarctica Cruise

Choosing Your Destination

When choosing your cruise destination, it’s essential to consider several factors. First, think about your interests and what you want from your trip. Do you want to relax on the beach, explore historic sites, or see wildlife up close? Next, consider your budget and how much you will spend on your trip. Some destinations, such as the Caribbean, are more budget-friendly, while others, like Antarctica, can be expensive.

Another factor to consider is the time of year you plan to travel. Some destinations, such as Alaska, have a limited cruising season, while others, like the Caribbean, are accessible year-round. Finally, consider your travel style and what type of experience you’re seeking. Are you looking for a laid-back, all-inclusive cruise or a more adventurous, off-the-beaten-path experience?

No matter your preferences, there’s a cruise destination out there that’s perfect for you. By evaluating these factors and researching, you can choose the best cruise for first-timers and have an unforgettable vacation.

Onboard Amenities and Activities

As a first-timer, choosing the best cruise for your vacation can be overwhelming. One of the factors to consider when selecting a cruise is the onboard amenities and activities. You want to ensure you have plenty of options to keep you entertained and cozy throughout your trip.

Entertainment Options

The best cruise for first-timers should offer a variety of entertainment options. There should be something for everyone, from live music performances to Broadway-style shows. Some cruises even have movie theaters where you can catch the latest blockbusters. You can participate in game shows, trivia contests, and karaoke nights if you want something more interactive.

Dining and Food Choices

Dining is an essential part of any cruise, and the best cruise for first-timers should offer a wide range of dining options. From casual dining to fine dining, there should be something for everyone. Most cruises have buffets where you can enjoy a mix of cuisines, including Italian, Asian, and American. You can also dine at specialty restaurants and indulge in gourmet meals.


The best cruise for first-timers should have myriad of amenities to make your trip relaxing and enjoyable. Most cruises have spas where you can pamper yourself with massages, facials, and other treatments. You can also relax in hot tubs or saunas. If you want a more active experience, you can hit the gym or take fitness classes.


Cruises offer a wide range of activities, and the best cruise for first-timers should have something for everyone. You can participate in sports activities like basketball, volleyball, and mini-golf. You can attend cooking classes, art auctions, or wine tastings if you want something more relaxing. Some cruises even have onboard water parks to splash around in the sun.

Bars and Suites

The best cruise for first-timers should have plenty of bars and lounges where you can enjoy a drink and socialize with other passengers. Most cruises also offer a variety of suites, including balcony suites, ocean-view suites, and interior suites. Suites provide a more luxurious experience, with more space and amenities.

Swimming Pools and Kids Clubs

Swimming pools are a staple of any cruise, and the best cruise for first-timers should have plenty of options. Most cruises have multiple pools, including adult-only pools and family-friendly pools. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to ensure plenty of activities for them as well. Most cruises have kids clubs, where children can participate in age-appropriate activities and make new friends.

In conclusion, the best cruise for first-timers should offer a variety of onboard amenities and activities. From entertainment options to dining choices, there should be something for everyone. By considering these factors, you can ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable vacation.

Specialty Cruises

If you’re a first-timer looking for a unique experience, specialty cruises are a great option. These cruises cater to specific interests and offer a more tailored experience. Here are two types of specialty cruises that you might want to consider:

Adults-Only Cruises

If you’re looking for a more mature atmosphere, adults-only cruises might be your best option. These cruises are perfect for couples or groups of friends who want to relax and enjoy some time away from their children. Some popular choices for adults-only cruises include Viking Expedition and short sailings.

On an adults-only cruise, you can expect a more refined atmosphere, with fewer crowds and a more relaxed pace. You’ll have access to more sophisticated dining options, such as specialty restaurants and wine tastings. Additionally, you’ll find more upscale amenities, such as spas and fitness centers.

Explore Cruise Lines Offering Exclusively Adult-Only Experiences. Discover the perfect retreat where relaxation and sophistication meet, catering exclusively to adult travelers.

Luxury Cruises

If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury and relaxation, a luxury cruise might be your best option. These cruises are perfect for those who want to indulge in the finer things in life. Some popular choices for luxury cruises include Viking Expedition and luxury cruises.

On a luxury cruise, you can expect the highest service and amenities. You can access gourmet dining options, personalized service, and luxurious accommodations. Additionally, you’ll find more upscale activities, such as art auctions and exclusive shore excursions.

Specialty cruises are an excellent option for first-timers who want a more tailored experience. Whether you’re looking for a more mature atmosphere or the ultimate in luxury, a specialty cruise is perfect for you.

Explore Cruise Lines Ranked by Unparalleled Luxury. Delve into a world of refined elegance and exceptional service as we showcase the most luxurious cruise experiences.

Shore Excursions

As a first-timer on a cruise, shore excursions are essential to your experience. Planning is crucial to ensure you get the most out of your trip and enjoy the best the destination offers.

Planning Shore Excursions

Before you embark on your cruise, research the ports of call and the available shore excursions. Most cruise lines offer various tours catering to different interests and activity levels. Look for excursions that align with your interests and budget, and book them in advance to avoid disappointment.

When planning your shore excursions, remember the time to get from the ship to the site and back. Remember to factor in some extra time for unexpected delays or traffic.

Cultural Immersion

Shore excursions are an excellent opportunity to experience your destination’s local culture and cuisine. Look for excursions that offer cooking classes, food tours, or visits to local markets to get a taste of the local cuisine.

If you’re interested in learning about the region’s history and traditions, look for excursions that focus on cultural immersion. These excursions may include visits to museums, historical sites, or local villages.

Remember to respect the local customs and traditions, and always ask before taking photos or participating in cultural activities.

Cruise Ships

If you’re a first-timer looking for the best cruise experience, you’ll want to know about the available ships. Here’s a quick rundown of some popular options:

1. Iona

Iona is a new ship from P&O Cruises that’s perfect for first-timers. It has a range of activities and entertainment options, including a 4-screen cinema, a theatre, and a variety of dining options. The ship also focuses on sustainability, with features like a hybrid engine and a glass roof that lets in natural light.

2. Octantis

If you want to try something a little different, consider Octantis from Lindblad Expeditions. This ship is designed for adventure, with features like a fleet of kayaks, a remotely operated vehicle, and a helicopter. You’ll get to explore some of the most remote parts of the world, like Antarctica and the Arctic, while still enjoying comfortable accommodations and delicious food.

3. Britannia

For a classic cruise experience, check out Britannia from P&O Cruises. This ship has something for everyone, from a kids’ club to a spa. You can enjoy live music, comedy shows, and more in the ship’s many venues. Britannia also has a range of dining options, including a formal restaurant and a pizzeria.

No matter which ship you choose, you will have a great time on your first cruise. Just be sure to do your research and choose the one that’s best for you.

Pre and Post Cruise Arrangements

When planning your first cruise, it’s important to think about the logistics of your trip before and after the actual cruise. Booking flights and arranging transfers to and from the airport can be stressful, but with some careful planning, you can make the process go smoothly.

Booking Flights

When booking your flights, arriving at least one day before your cruise departs is best. This will give you time to explore the port city and ensure you don’t miss your embarkation day due to any flight delays or cancellations. If you need help determining which airport to fly to, check with your cruise line or travel agent for recommendations.

Some cruise lines offer airfare packages that include transfers to and from the airport, which can be a convenient option. Alternatively, you can book your flights and arrange a private transfer or taxi to the port.

Hotel Transfers

If you’re staying in a hotel before or after your cruise, you must arrange transfers to and from the port. Many hotels offer shuttle services to the port, but you should confirm this with the hotel before booking.

Another option is to book a private transfer or take a taxi. This can be a bit more expensive, but it offers more flexibility and can be more convenient if you’re traveling with a large group or have a lot of luggage.

Embarkation Day

On the day of your cruise, you must arrive at the port with plenty of time to spare. Check with your cruise line for specific embarkation times, and plan to arrive at least two hours before your scheduled departure.

Once you arrive at the port, you must check in and go through security. This process can take time, so be patient and bring a book or other entertainment to pass the time.

Author’s Note

In conclusion, pre and post-cruise arrangements can be stressful, but careful planning can make the process go smoothly. Book your flights and transfers in advance, arrive at the port with plenty of time to spare on embarkation day, and enjoy the best cruise for first-timers.

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