Initially, this post was going to be all about what cute dresses you should take on your cruise, skincare items, and fun things to do. And it will be. However, after spending my first cruise sick pretty much the entire time I decided to add a whole section on how to prevent it. Because while the other first-time cruise tips are great, you won’t care about that cold-shoulder dress when you can’t keep anything down. Right? Right!
But don’t worry, I’ll still be talking about all the other fun tips, too. Oh, and if you’re looking to save money on your cruise, or any other travel, you’ll enjoy this post on saving money traveling abroad. Now let’s get to it.
(This post probably contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)
First Time Cruise Tips
1.) What to Pack
Let’s talk about clothes first because, let’s be honest, we love vacation clothes!
I don’t know about you but I always end up taking way more clothes than I end up wearing, with the exception of underwear. Always take more than you think you need.
But for the rest of it, I find I end up wearing my favorite swimsuit the whole time, that pretty cover-up every day, and even re-wearing some of my favorite dresses.
Unless you run a fashion blog where you have to show off five different swimsuits I’d highly suggest you pack light. There are many items, like shorts, that you could wear every day and be fine. Plus, I found I pretty much lived in my bathing suit, or a dress for dinner so all the other shorts, tank-tops and extra sweaters sat in my suitcase.
Since bathing suits are small anyway, feel free to pack more than necessary. However, I highly doubt you will need more than three on a week-long cruise. I ended up wearing the same two bikini sets the whole time. (Saltwater cleanses, right?)
I also packed one beach cover-up which I wore the whole time and it was fine, although two would probably be a good idea as well, one for the beach and one for the pool.
Let’s talk about dresses. On cruises, you generally get dressed up for dinners, even “casual” nights. I ended up taking seven dresses and wore a different one each night. Since you have the same waiters I can see why this is worth it. Plus, some of the casual dresses you could re-wear another day as a beach cover-up or a day at port.
The other thing I like about dresses is that it’s a whole outfit in one. No need to match anything or have two items to pack. Dresses all the way.
I also pack several pairs of socks because hotel/cruise ship rooms of any sort always gross me out and I like to wear socks to act as a buffer. I’m sure that’s just me being paranoid but it makes me feel better so, yeah.
Lastly, let’s talk about what shoes you should wear. I packed one pair of dressy shoes, two flip-flops and one pair of sneakers. In retrospect, I would have left the sneakers at home and only taken one pair of flip-flops. However, if you’re one of those people that must use the gym while on vacation then I’m sure you will want to wear your sneakers. I’m always more optimistic about working out than I actually follow-through on.
In summary, here is a packing list for your clothes:
- 7 dresses
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- A pair of dress shoes. These are my FAVORITE pair from Crocs that are super cute and super comfortable.
- One pair of sneakers
- 1 or two cover-ups
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2 tank tops
- 1 t-shirt
- 2 sweaters for dinner
- 1 sweatshirt for chilly nights (like watching a movie on the deck)
- Several pairs of socks
- 2 bras – one regular and 1 strapless
- loads of underwear!
- A beach hat
What to Pack: Everything else
Now let’s talk about the rest of what else you should pack.
Besides clothes I took my laptop to try to keep up with my blog (major fail. Didn’t happen because, well, seasick and second because my social media plan didn’t work that well), phone charger, camera (also major fail. It’s so heavy I didn’t want to take it anywhere.)
However, if you’re blogging about a trip you will want it on hand for those pictures after. But if you just need some nice photos for your Facebook page, I’d suggest leaving it at home.
Out of all these, I’d suggest the phone charger and possibly an extension cord as there is usually only one outlet in your room.
Another option is to download some podcasts before your trip to listen to as there is lots of downtime on the ship.
This is not technology, actually the opposite, but take one or two good books. I made it through the whole Poldark book on the trip and could have probably gotten through another one. It’s a great time to tackle those books you’ve been wanting to read!
Here’s what you should pack:
- Phone Charger
- Extra extension chord
3.) Beauty Products
A cruise ship has even fewer essentials than a hotel room so you are going to want to make sure you pack them. Of course, the stores have anything for sale if you forget, but you’ll save money by taking your own. They usually provide a bar of soap, and shampoo/conditioner combo along with body wash in dispensers in your shower.
If your hair care is important to you, take your own shampoo and conditioner. I’d suggest travel sizes if possible. You also need a toothbrush, toothpaste, and contact solution to cover your basics.
One of my favorite skincare companies right now is FRÉ. It’s specifically made for women who workout but also sweat. And you don’t sweat more than on a cruise or at the beach! It’s made with natural Argania Active Complex©, a revolutionary formula made of organic Argan oil and leaf extract. FRÉ is a comprehensive skincare treatment that specializes in combatting sweat-induced skin damage: breakouts, acne, dehydration and sun damage.
I love it because it smells good, feels good, and is made with natural ingredients. Use my code SARAHALT for at least a 25% discount today.
4.) Sun Protection
SPF-don’t forget it. My favorite kinds are Coola because it doesn’t contain chemicals and Tarte for my face. Yes, they are more expensive than the CVS brand, but in my case (the other kinds make me break out and trying to avoid hormone-disrupting products) it is worth it.
Also, make sure to take aloe vera gel. You will be so thankful if you get burned. plus, it helps you maintain your tan longer. Just check the ingredients to make sure aloe is the first one.
And are you ready for one of my best tips yet? READY??
Buy a salt deodorant stick. They have them on Amazon and in natural stores. Guys, you just rub the stick over any place you are prone to sweating and it absorbs it. Pinky swear. Best kept secret.
But let’s talk about skincare.
Traveling alone can wreak havoc on your skin, let alone being in the hot sun. I’d highly suggest you take not only your favorite skincare with you but some extras to help you stay extra moisturized.
Take your favorite face wash. Trust me, your skin will not be happy if you use the bar soap they provide. And don’t forget your favorite moisturizer as well. If possible, you may always want to take a mask. I love sheet masks because they travel so well. There is even an aloe vera one from Tony Moly.
Right now I am loving FRÉ, made specifically for women who workout or are out in the sun! With its breakthrough natural Argania Active Complex©, a revolutionary formula made of organic Argan oil and leaf extract, FRÉ is a comprehensive skincare treatment that specializes in combatting sweat-induced skin damage: breakouts, acne, dehydration and sun damage.
I just love it because it’s natural, smells good, and feels great. Use SARAHALT for a special discount today!
Here is the skincare list I’d suggest:
- Travel Size Shampoo & Conditioner (my favorite brand right now is Acure)
- Favorite Face Wash
- Sheet Mask
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Contact Solution
All right, now we can turn our attention to…
First Time Cruise Tips: What To Do
Cruise ships are full of activities. The Carnival Pride, which I was on, had three pools, two water slides, a library, game room, arcade room, basketball courts, mini golf, running track, decks for lounging, and about a million bars (which aren’t my thing, but there you have it.)
There are also shows all day long, from comedy shows to musicals to activities for people of all ages.
With all this going on you won’t be bored if you choose not to be. For me personally, I’m more of a sit by myself type of person and read a book, which there are plenty of places to do that as well.
But let’s talk about excursions.
Excursions are activities you pay extra for like snorkeling, riding horses through the ocean, zip lining, FlowRider surfing, etc.
As I mentioned, I got very seasick and did not sign up for any. But from what I could tell from watching others, and talking to people that have gone on the same cruise, if you choose an excursion you will most likely miss out on the beach that day.
Which is some cases is fine. I’d just recommend that you don’t stuff your trip with excursions and instead plan for at least one relaxing port day.
This is where you have to do your research. If I went on that same cruise again I’d do the excursion at Freeport, Bahamas, because there wasn’t that much going on at port except locals trying to sell t-shirts.
The other two islands we went on (Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay) were stunning and ones that you definitely want to take full advantage of the beach.
All you have to do is read reviews before you go and there are plenty of people willing to share their experiences on which ports you don’t want to miss, and which ones you might want to plan an excursion.
Lastly, let’s talk about preventing sea sickness.
First Time Cruise Tips: Preventing Sea Sickness
I could probably write a whole post on this. Guys, I was sick for the whole seven days. I even knew I was prone to seasickness so packed everything imaginable beforehand: Dramamine, ginger, sea bands.
Quickly, let’s talk about what causes seasickness. It’s when your eyes and your inner ears send your brain different signals. For instance, on a boat your ears are telling your brain you’re moving, but your eyes – say if you’re inside a ship, say you’re not moving. Once the brain gets these confusing signals it causes motion sickness. Fun!
Sadly, nothing helped me. I even got a special prescription from the nurse on the ship. I guess I am just a rare case.
The good news is, I really do think I am rare and with these tips, you should be able to prevent getting sick, too.
And here is a picture of me trying to look happy drinking my coconut but feeling pretty bad. I even look sad.
First, let’s talk about prescription/drugs:
1. Get prescription patches from your doctor.
In full disclosure, I did NOT get these before the trip but had major regrets. Everyone I talked to said they are life-savers. While you do need a prescription, most people said the doctor won’t make you come in though and will just fill it for you. Get them!!
2. Take your own stash of OTC drugs.
For those who are only slightly prone to motion sickness, Dramamine may be all you need. Also, check with your doctor about getting a prescription for promethazine. It is stronger than Dramamine and said to be used by Astronauts! But guys, even this didn’t do much for me. I told you, I was a rare case. Don’t forget to pick up some Sea Bands too. They helped me a lot when I was pregnant too. Coincidentally, I was actually six months pregnant on this cruise too. Hmm.
Natural Remedies for Seasickness
There are loads of natural remedies for seasickness, some I learned before and some I learned from the crew. There are many reasons to choose natural remedies including pregnancy, OR as an add on to the drugs you’re taking to double protect you against seasickness.
Here they are:
- Ginger Ale
- Green apples
- Natural Dramamine (basically ginger)
- Saltine Crackers
- Sea Bands – an acupuncture type of wrist brands (no pain I promise.)
First Time Cruise Tips: What to Pack, What To Do and How to Prevent SeaSickness