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5 Worst Mistakes to Make When Packing for a Cruise

18th March 2019

While there will be some exceptions, there are cruise essentials that you will need no matter which cruise line you sail with. Read on for the five worst mistakes you can make when packing for your cruise, and avoid a packing faux pas! [More]

What Not to do on the First Day of Your Cruise

29th May 2018

If you’re fortunate enough to have a cruise booked and coming up shortly, you’re probably getting more excited every day, and might even be thinking about packing and preparing to get going. If this is the case, take a look at our hints to help improve your holiday from day one. Even seasoned cruisers make faux pas on embarkation day, so we thought it would be helpful to put together a handy guide to explain what not to do on the first day of your cruise.

1. Don’t ignore the crew

The staff onboard the ship are there to help make your cruise holiday the best it can be, so take time to introduce yourself, and remember a friendly smile can go a long way. Embarkation day can be hard work for the crew, so try to be patient and remember you are not the only guest they are looking after.



2. Don’t rush to the buffet

Many cruisers consider the buffet to be their quickest and easiest option for the first day, and because of this, buffet restaurants tend to get very busy very fast. Keep this in mind, and consider trying a different restaurant in which you can enjoy a more peaceful atmosphere and great service.

3. Don’t miss the Muster Drill

Those who have been on a number of cruisers might feel that the muster drill – a safety talk – is not necessary for them. Remember however, that layouts and safety procedures are likely to be different on every ship, and attendance at the muster drill is mandatory.

4. Try not to use the lifts

If you can help it, try to use the stairs instead of the lifts on embarkation day. They can get very busy with cruisers getting to know the ship and of course transporting luggage to cabins, so avoid the wait and use the stairs - and in so doing you’ll free up the lift for those less able.



5. Don’t stay in the sun all day

When cruising in a sunny destination it can be all too tempting to bask in the sun all day soaking up the rays. This is a mistake however as too much time in the sun is likely to cause sunburn, headaches, and even sun stroke – putting a damper on the first few days of your holiday.

6. Don’t drink too much alcohol

If you’re on an all-inclusive cruise, or have opted for a drinks package, it can be easy to get a bit carried away on your first day onboard. Avoid a hangover so early on and try to limit yourself; a good tip is to drink one soft drink (preferably water) between every alcoholic one.

7. Don’t stay in the outfit you travelled in

Get in the holiday spirit straight away by changing your outfit as soon as possible. Getting out of your travel clothes will help you feel fresh and ready to get started with your cruise, whether this is by relaxing, swimming, or simply exploring the ship.



8. Don’t forget to mention dietary requirements

Even if you informed your cruise agent of allergies and dietary requirements at the time of booking, it’s a good idea to ensure this information has been logged by mentioning to the maître d of any restaurants you’ll be dining in.

9. Don’t automatically dine in the main restaurant

As with the buffet, many cruisers will look no further than the main restaurant for dinner on their first day. This means speciality restaurants usually have plenty of availability – so make the most of this and see what you’d like to sample onboard.

10. Don’t forget to book activities

Whether this be the children’s club for your little ones, a lesson on the surf simulator, or a space in the Pilates class, if there’s an onboard activity that you’re desperate to do, make sure you get it booked as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

See our advice for first time cruisers for more useful information.

A guide for your first cruise

2nd February 2016

Updated October 2017


Cruising is the travel success story of the 21st century, and it's not surprising that more people are converting to cruises every year. It's estimated that one in three new cruisers say they will never take a land holiday again.

So if you've never taken a cruise, and are wondering what all the hype is about, here is our guide for first-time cruisers.


Guide to first time cruising


First time cruise FAQ's


Is cruising for me?

The simple answer is yes! With more ships being built every year, the options are endless - and there is a cruise to suit absolutely everyone.


What's so great about cruising?

With almost everything included in the price, cruising makes fantastic value for money. If you choose a cruise and compare it with the price of a land holiday (taking into account flights, transfers, food, accommodation, activities etc) it's almost guaranteed that a cruise will win hands down when it comes to value for money.

Travelling to multiple destinations and unpacking once is a huge advantage of cruising. No other holiday can offer you this, and with no luggage allowance you can take as much as you want. Could you imagine falling asleep in Australia and waking up in Fiji? Or visiting seven different countries in as many days?

One of the biggest attractions to cruising is having everything right on your doorstep as you travel the world. This includes superb entertainment from Broadway and acrobatic shows, to jazz bars and karaoke. Numerous restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world, often concocted by celebrity chefs. Bars such as chic champagne lounges, ice bars, and olde English pubs. Activities from surf simulators to TV game shows. Leisure facilities like world class spas, beauty therapies, and pools and hot tubs.


Is cruising suitable for young people? Cruise lines cater for everyone, and have rapidly grown to become one of the most popular holiday choices for families and young couples. However, choosing the right cruise line for you is important as some lines do tend to attract certain age groups. It has been revealed that the average age of people cruising is 50 years old, and the average age of a first time cruiser is 37 years old.


Will I be bored? It is highly unlikely that you will find yourself bored on a cruise ship. Whether you go away to relax, explore, or try new activities, a cruise ship has something for everyone.  With rock climbing walls, ice-skating, game shows, parades and much more, the schedule of activities onboard a cruise is endless - we did 100 activities in one day onboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.


First time cruise FAQ


Will I get sea sick?
 The chance that you will get sea sick on a cruise ship is low, because they are large vessels that have been built with stabilisers to reduce movement. If by any chance you do happen to feel sea sick, the onboard medical facility can usually offer you complimentary medication to help.  To avoid any chance of becoming sea sick, choose a cabin in the middle of the ship as these have maximum stability. 

Will I get time in port?
 One of the main attractions of a cruise is the fascinating places you travel to. Cruise lines will factor in time spent in port, ensuring there is enough for you to see a fair amount of each location.  Ships travel during the night so they usually arrive for a full day in port.  To fully explore the first or last destination, you can add a pre or post hotel stay to your cruise allowing you maximum time in your favourite departure port. Certain cruise lines are now starting to offering cruise and stay holidays in many destinations too. 

Is it claustrophobic?
It's unlikely that anyone will feel claustrophobic on a cruise ship. The ships are so large, and have so many different venues onboard, that it never feels crowded. With so much going on at the same time, it is unlikely that you will continuously bump into the same people. If you are concerned about this however, consider cruising on one of the larger ships.

Do I have to dress formally every night?  Depending on what cruise line you choose, the dress code may differ - some cruises are more formal than others. In general, most cruises will have a couple of formal nights during the holiday and the rest will be casual.

Will I just eat all day long?
 This myth is heard time and time again, and is completely false. Yes, food is an important part of a cruise, and there is a wide range of cuisine available to you most of the time, however it doesn’t mean it is shoved in your face! You can eat when you want and as much as you want.



Choosing the right type of cruise


There are so many different types of cruises, you can easily feel overwhelmed trying to work out which one would be best for you. Here are a few different types, plus some highlights to help you narrow down your search.


Mini cruise and taster cruises - Mini cruises or taster cruises are ideal for first time cruisers. Mini cruises usually last a couple of nights and make the perfect weekend getaway. Sail from the UK on a mini cruise and you’ll likely get a great introduction to Northern Europe as well as a great introduction to cruising.

Cruises from the UK - Many cruise lines offer a great range of cruises that sail straight from the UK from ports like Southampton, Harwich, Tilbury, Liverpool, and more. When you choose a cruise sailing from the UK you can start your holiday straight away, and enjoy the hassle-free process of arriving straight to your port for embarkation. Check out our top tips for embarkation when you cruise from the UK.


Fly-Cruises - A fly cruise involves catching a flight to meet your chosen cruise ship in your desired destination. This gives you the chance to travel far and wide, cruising to destinations you may never have thought possible. A fly-cruise is a great way to do one section of a world cruise, where you can meet your ship to sample just a section of the itinerary.


River cruises - These types of cruises are fantastic for cultural immersion. You cruise directly into the heart of cities, and most land excursions are included as standard. There tend to be more ports of call since less area needs to be covered, meaning you can spend more time enjoying the destinations. They are a great starting point for anyone who may be worried about getting sea sick.


first time river cruise


Cruise & Stay - These are a great way to see more of your desired destination. Spend a night or two on land in addition to your cruise, and get the best of both worlds. Ideal for those who would like a bit more time to explore certain cities.


Luxury cruise - If you prefer a more attentive service, larger staterooms, and an overall more inclusive experience, then luxury cruises are best suited to you. See our guide to choosing your luxury cruise line.


Six star cruise - The most luxurious way to travel, six star cruises offer the most inclusive experience at sea. The quality of services offered as standard are exceptional, and the whole experience is very personalised. See our guide to six star cruises.


World Cruise - A world cruise does exactly what it says on the tin. Choose a world cruise and you can sail to many exciting destinations worldwide. World cruises can last from anything between 30 days to 6 months. Choose a world cruise if you are not short of time, and want to experience a good variety of destinations. 


Themed cruises - These can include arts and literature, Disney film theme, cruises that take you to the Grand Prix, Calgary Stampede and Rocky Mountaineer and more! Themed cruises are all the rage, and perfect for anyone with a real passion or hobby that can be enjoyed while on a great holiday.


formula 1 cruise


Transatlantic Cruises - Transatlantic cruises have long been a popular choice for cruise holidays. You can sail transatlantic and experience a traditional British style cruise with Cunard. Your entire cruise will be spent at sea, and generally these sailings arrive in New York where you can explore and enjoy the Big Apple.


Single cruises - More cruise lines are now catering for the solo traveller than ever before. As well as offering low, or even no single supplements and dedicated cabins, they can make arrangements for solo travellers to meet and dine with each other if they wish. Several cruise lines are now even offering dance partners for solo travellers. View our top cruise line and ship recommendations for solo travellers.


Yacht cruises - Perfect for anyone who loves the water, there is no other cruise holiday that offers so much opportunity for water sports - with most equipment included as standard. These cruises also appeal to anyone who wants a real adventure, and wants to experience destinations that larger ships are unable to dock in. It is also a very romantic way to cruise, and offers high staff-to-guest ratios.


First time cruise tips


Choosing the right ship

One of the most important factors to consider when booking your first cruise, is choosing the ship and cruise line that is right for you. With over 40 different cruise lines and hundreds of ships, it can be hard to understand the differences. The first thing you need to ask yourself is; what do you want from your cruise holiday? Do you like to go away to relax? Explore new destinations? Try new activities? Meet friends? Get a tan? Take the family away? All these factors need to be considered when choosing a cruise ship.

There are larger ships that promote themselves as the main destination, smaller ships that are more port-focused, and luxury ships that offer much more of an intimate atmosphere. A common trend within the cruising industry is that the smaller ships will go to more unique destinations, and the larger ships tend to go to fewer stops and visit larger ports. You therefore need to weigh up the importance of onboard activity and destinations on your holiday.


Here are some recommendations based on the 2017 UK Cruisers' Choice Awards.


Best ships for first time cruisers: Freedom of the Seas, Norwegian Jade, Celebrity Constellation, Aurora, TUI Discovery

Best large ships overall: Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, Norwegian Jade

Best mid-sized ships overall: Riviera, Thomson Spirit, Queen Victoria, TUI Discovery, Thomson Celebration

Best small ships overall: Viking Star, Viking Sea, Saga Sapphire, Boudicca, Seven Seas Explorer

Best for families: Harmony of the Seas, Thomson Dream, Norwegian Epic, Celebrity Eclipse, Britannia 


Tips for first time cruise



A few final top tips:


 It can be hard to find all of the information you need before booking your first cruise, and you may have some questions. To try to help, here is our list of top tips:



• Before booking your cruise, take a look through our website for more information on different cruise lines and ships, or simply call our sales team who can offer expert advice and assistance to help you find a suitable cruise.

Sign up to our newsletters. With so much competiton in the cruise industry nowadays, you can find some incredible prices which are snapped up quickly. Be among the first to know about the hottest deals with our email alerts.

• Book a cabin that suits you. If you think you'll spend most of your time away from your room, go for an interior cabin. Or if you want the true experience of being at sea everyday, a balcony room is ideal for you.


Before you cruise

• Plan what you would like to do in the ports of call before you get onboard. Research the destination, and try to get a list of excursions the cruise line offers.

• Pack appropriately, there is no luggage limit on a cruise so you take as much as you like. There is likely to be a formal night, so remember to pack an evening dress/suit for this. Read our top tips on packing for a fly cruise with a luggage allowance.

• Ensure you take the correct documentation; passports, visas, confirmation and onboard account form.

• Depending where your cruise is departing from, it is often a good idea to spend the night before in a hotel. This should help to ensure you don't miss the ship due to flight delays or travel problems. Just like a flight - the ship will not wait for you!


packing tips for first time cruise

On your cruise

• Ensure your onboard account is set up. When you board, you're given a card that will be your room key, entry to the ship, and used for all onboard charges. You can link this to your credit card, pay in cash at the end, or make cash payments throughout your cruise if you wish.

• Ensure you know your way around the ship. Try to know your way from your cabin to the dining room, theatre, and any other favourite places onboard.

• If you don't know already, find out how the tipping onboard works. Some cruise lines include gratuities in the price of your cruise, some automatically charge them to your onboard account, and some leave it up to you.

• Every day you will receive a schedule of what is going on around the ship. Have a look at this every morning so you can work out what you want to see, and ensure you don't miss anything. It might be a good idea to pack a highlighter!

• Make the most of the ports. It's likely you'll chose your cruise because of the destinations, so ensure you wake up early and get off the ship as soon as you can to start exploring.


After your cruise

• Reminisce over all of your amazing photographs, let us know your thoughts, and start looking for your next cruise adventure! Share your favourite cruise moments with us on twitter @iglucruise



By now you're probably eager to book your first cruise! Your cruise journey begins from the moment you look for a cruise, and it should be an enjoyable and exciting experience from the start. 

Soon after, you'll no doubt be joining the many first-time cruises who profess "If I had known how great this was going to be, I would have done it a lot sooner."


Happy cruising!

Know before you go - staying safe abroad

25th June 2015

Updated March 2018

Ensure smooth sailing on your next annual holiday with some simple and easy safety tips.



Research your destination of choice
If you are visiting a place for the first time, it's always worthwhile reading up a little bit about what to expect when you arrive. From cultural differences and local customs, to current affairs, avoid awkward surprises by being well informed. The official British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website offers up-to-date global travel advice.

Inform family or close friends of your trip
Whether you're heading off alone, as a couple, or a family, it's a good idea to let loved ones know of your travel plans. This will make it easier to locate or contact you if necessary.

Consult a medical professional
You might need vaccinations before you travel, or to carry prescribed medication on your trip. Consult your doctor before you depart if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health whilst abroad.


Stepping off the ship for a day or two?

Use official and registered taxis
Your cruise line should be able to advise you on safe local taxis to transport you to and from the ship. Avoid unwanted situations by only using official and registered taxis during your stay.

Learn some basic local language
Knowing a few basic words or sentences in the local language can work wonders on your trip. Useful ones include hello, thank you, no thank you, excuse me, and help!

Avoid unknown and remote areas at night
The atmosphere can completely change when the sun goes down, sometimes for the better but unfortunately sometimes not. Get a sense of your surroundings and avoid dark alleys, beaches, or unknown areas at night. Walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas is also not advised.

Don't show off your flashy gadgets
Use a camera strap to keep a good grip on your camera. Try not to openly advertise flashy gadgets if you're visiting a crowded place, and and beware of pick-pockets.



Keep your bag zip at the front
Making sure your bag zip is at the front where you can see it means it’s less likely for pickpockets to unzip and access your valuables. If you have a backpack and are walking through a market or crowded area, wear it the other way around and on your front so that you can see it at all times.

Take only what you need
Work out how much money you will need for the day, and if you're travelling with others divide it between you. This means that if your money is lost or stolen, you will still have enough for your trip stored safely onboard.

Be wary of “friendly strangers”
Unfortunately not everyone who acts friendly wants to be your friend. Pick-pockets often work in teams and use distraction techniques. Try to suss the person out, and if you feel uneasy, politely decline their conversation but make sure you know where your valuables are whilst doing so. Placing your hand in your pocket or on your bag will reassure you that you’re still holding what you should be.

Try to avoid accepting gifts or leaflets from strangers; this is a known distraction technique.



Know where your passport is?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reported that in 2016 more than 21,000 British passports had been reported lost or stolen. Avoid falling victim to passport theft with some excellent tips from stealth crime expert James Freedman outlined below.

  • Be aware of your surroundings, and strangers who take an unusual amount of interest in you
  • A damaged passport cannot be used for travel, so value it and keep it safe
  • Lock your passport in a safe
  • Make two photocopies of your passport – leave one with friends or family and take the second with you.
  • Check the entry requirements of your destination before you go
  • Ensure you fill in the emergency details before you go

    While it is important to consider the safety aspects of any travelling experience, you should not let these distract you from having a fantastic time. The chances are that you won't experience any trouble during your cruise, so relax and enjoy the new experiences that are sure to fill each and every day.

  • 7 Essential Tips for Easy Embarkation

    19th May 2015

    The excitement surrounding the lead up to a holiday is almost as good as the actual thing, but in order to make the embarkation process as smooth as possible there are some key tips to keep in mind. There are a number of easy things you can do to prepare for the big day – read on to find out more! [More]

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