13 things I learned on our first cruise

Randomly, I was looking for a notepad in my bedside table when I came across a page of scrawled writing. As I looked at it I realised it was a list I wrote during our Norwegian Fjord Cruise. It was so badly I could barely read it – I must have written it in the dark during the evenings in the cabin as the girls slept. With no WIFI but time to kill my mind went into overdrive of blog ideas, but hardly any of them made it to the blog as I scrawled them on pieces of paper…. until now! So, I thought it would be a waste not to share it. 

At the time, we’d been on board a few days on our cruise and I’ll admit – cruise holidays are somewhat of a culture shock! We’d had a couple of days thinking ‘WHAT ARE WE DOING?’ and getting lost/wandering about and by this point I felt like we were finally settling in. We’d never been on a cruise so there were quite a few things to get used to and things to learn, so I wrote this list to share a few things we learned on our way, some of which I hope might help if you are cruises newbie like we were! 

Cruise ships are MASSIVE and there are so many people on board – It takes a couple of days to get your bearings around the ship and you WILL get lost. Give yourself a good 10-15 minutes to walk to your destination as it will take longer than you think. This is also great for getting babies to sleep, we walked round and round and round the deck at nap time.  

The rooms can be TINY – especially for a family so pack light and get organised with your stuff as soon as you arrive in our room or you’ll be falling over everything and pulling your hair out when you can’t find something. For once on holiday I DID unpack and thanked myself for it! 

Find out the quiet times around the ship – You’ll soon learn the routine and rhythm of your ships passengers – we ate early which was pretty unpopular, this meant we avoided queues and people. 

Get breakfast delivered to your room – we woke up to fresh coffee, fruit and pastries delivered to our room every morning which was such a lovely touch. As we are total piglets we went for breakfast as well, but this is such a great service as we had a few snacks to keep the girls happy whilst we got ready for breakfast and a coffee for us too!

You can’t feel much movement – I was so relieved that we couldn’t feel much movement at all and we were on the North Sea. I usually feel sea sick but felt fine on our cruise. 

Double buggies are a NO! Take a tiny buggy as corridors can be narrow and space inside the room limited – as we still need a double for our girls, we took a single buggy and a baby carrier and alternated between the two.

You don’t have to do it all – when you arrive you’ll be given the schedule for the ship, it’ll include all sorts of things from formal nights, yoga classes, magic shows, different restaurants, shows, movies and seminars… but these are just options. Don’t feel pressured to do it all, or anything at all! Dip in and out of the schedule when you fancy it. 

You will have NEVER eaten so much – Two breakfasts, lunch, afternoon tea, kids tea party and adults dinner was a normal day. No wonder my clothes were feeling a bit tight. 

SWITCH OFF! The Internet is ridiculously expensive (£25 per day!) so prepare for a social media detox and a switch off! If I can manage it, so can you. 

Cruises are perfect for fussy eating toddlers and weaning babies – a stress free way to get them to try lots of different foods without wasting any money, also there is food and room service available 24/7 so you will never ever go hungry.

Do all your washing onboard – take all your laundry to the launderette, it’s free as long as you bring your own detergent. Get it all washed and dried before leaving the ship as it saves the washing pile for when you get home! My top tip is to do your washing during the formal night, the laundrette was empty! 

Do the excursions yourself – we didn’t book any and found they were much cheaper once you disembark from the ship plus we enjoyed the freedom to decide what to do when we fancy without being tied to times.

The kids will sleep really, really well – maybe it’s the sea air or the gentle movement but make the most of the best sleep you’ll ever get from a baby and a toddler! 

Have you been on a cruise? What did you learn the first time? 

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  • I have never been on a cruise per say, but work on boats half the year and scuba dive the other half! My biggest take-away is take seasick meds a bit before you leave, no matter how well you think you’ll do! Better safe than chundering. Also, there’s no one cure to seasickness, different meds/ methods work for different people. For example, people say get below deck to feel better, but I find seeing the water and acknowledging the movement is more useful for me!

  • I’m terrified of the sea unless I can see land. But hear me out, I’m very tempted by a cruise. I just think it would be such a good way to get over my fear of boats.

  • Oh wow, what a helpful post! I’ve been thinking about a cruise for years now as they’re meant to be wheelchair friendly and so much of this ticked my boxes! Thanks for the great post!