Smooth Sailing: Avoid These Top 6 Mistakes for an Unforgettable Cruise Experience

We LOVE cruising! It’s a fun way to explore the world and create unforgettable memories, but just like any other form of travel, it requires careful planning and preparation. I’ve compiled a list of the top 6 mistakes I see people make when cruising. Keep reading so this won’t be you!

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6. Not researching enough: Before booking a cruise, it’s important to do thorough research about the ship, destinations, and itinerary. Many people make the mistake of choosing a cruise solely based on price, only to find out later that they’re not happy with the experience. By doing research, you can make sure that you’re choosing the right cruise for your interests, preferences, and budget. Every cruise line (and ship) is different. I like to say it’s like they each have their own personality and you need to do one of those Glamour magazine quizzes to figure out who your match is. 😂


Pay close attention to the itinerary. Look at the times you will be in each destination, how many sea days you will have, and how far the ports are to your destination.

5. Overpacking: Cruises offer plenty of opportunities to dress up and look your best, but that doesn’t mean you need to pack your entire wardrobe. Many people make the mistake of overpacking, which can make it difficult to move around your cabin and can even result in extra baggage fees. Instead, pack only what you need and try to mix and match outfits to save space. I also love these packing cubes to stay organized! Remember, many cruise ships have self-serve laundry facilities or you can pay to have your clothes cleaned. On our last cruise, we knew we were doing several land days before and after the cruise and they did not have self-serve laundry facilities. Fortunately, before our trip I spotted a deal on the cruise line’s app where we could pay a flat fee in advance for unlimited laundry. We literally sent laundry our first day on the ship and almost every day after that! It was returned to us either folded in tissue paper or hanging, it was marvelous. [and if it is wrinkles you are worried about, we love this to freshen up our items!]

4. Ignoring safety instructions: Yes, it’s important to pay attention to safety instructions and emergency drills when you’re on a cruise. But what I’m talking about here are the people that do not show up for the emergency drill at the beginning of the cruise and hold everyone up! Every single person on the cruise has to be signed off that they attended the drill, no exceptions. Do not think you can just start your vacation, have a drink and get in the pool and forget about it. Fortunately, many cruise lines now offer an easier option which includes watching a video on the cruise line app or cabin TV. It couldn’t be easier! But still every cruise you hear the names of people being called out over the loudspeaker because they didn’t do it. Don’t be that person! Also, we know the chances of a disaster happening are slim, but accidents do happen, and we all need to do our part to be prepared.

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3. Not being prepared for cruise requirements: Traveling after Covid definitely made things more interesting. We suddenly had to pay attention to whether or not a Covid vaccine was required and when, did we have to test and when, etc. Things have changed and lightened up some since then but there are still restrictions and requirements you need to be aware of. First, the Covid restrictions could tighten up again at any time if there is another increase in cases. You also need to be aware of Visa requirements when traveling to other countries and speaking of other countries, you may also have vaccine requirements there as well. Your cruise line’s website and app will list everything out for you that is required to board the ship and visit the stops on your itinerary, but you are responsible for making sure you are informed and have followed those instructions. Oh, and don’t forget to check your passport! Many countries require you have at least 6 months left before your passport expiration.

2. Missing the ship: I follow the rule of arriving at least one day before cruise embarkation. Especially with the flight delays and cancellations we are seeing these days, this is a non-negotiable for me. When we travel internationally, I add a day to that and arrive at least two days before embarkation. It sounds like a lot, but it only takes one flight cancellation and some weather issues to mess up your best plans. Once you are on the ship, please make sure you know when you are supposed to be back on the ship each day. You don’t want to end up on YouTube as a “pier runner” because you missed your time to board!

And in my opinion, the biggest mistake people make when it comes to cruising is…

1. Not understanding the costs. Every cruise line is different, every sale they run is different, every cruise is different. For instance, one cruise line may offer free room service, while on another line only a basic breakfast is complimentary. Then it may even be different based on the type of room you have – club level or suites may have more complimentary items than standard rooms. Not to mention gratuities! This is always a confusing item for new cruisers. Sometimes there are discounted packages that include the gratuities but other times not. So, you may end up at the end of your cruise with a hefty bill you didn’t know was coming! I recommend always reading the contract before signing and if you have questions, call the cruise line or your travel agent BEFORE you purchase your cruise. Many times, what seems like a great deal may not be in the end because of “hidden” fees. It’s very difficult to compare cruise prices because it’s usually not comparing apples to apples (it can be more like apples to mango!). I use a spreadsheet to keep track of each cruise option, the fees, what’s included or not included, etc. More to come on that soon!

I truly love cruising and hope this list helps you avoid some of the most common mistakes I see. Questions about the list above or cruising in general? Please comment below!

Happy cruising! 🚢

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