7 Dead Giveaways It's Someone's First Cruise

giveaways its someones first cruise sailing
Using a phone like you would at home is an obvious sign. - Photo by RossHelen / Shutterstock

No matter how well prepared you were before your first cruise, there was a moment where everyone could tell that you had never sailed before. In fact, we would be shocked if there was a single cruiser out there who hadn’t outed themsSelves on their first sailing with at least one of these obvious tells:

1. Only ordering one dish at dinner.

dead giveaways first cruise ncl dining

The only place you'll see people ordering one plate is the line's stock photos. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

“Well yes, the food is free, but surely ordering more than one item of the menu would be excessive and gluttonous”... Said no experienced cruiser ever. The only time you’ll get confused looks from your table mates is when you don’t order multiple entrees.


2. Trying to pay with cash.

cash bar cruise ship

"Cards only" is something you'll only hear on a cruise ship. - Photo by Brent Reeves 

Pulling out a wad of bills at the bar is an instinctive reaction, but while cash is universally accepted on land, cruise ships operate on a card system. It’s nice not having to carry cash, but it does make it difficult to keep track of your spending, and you could be in for a rude awakening when you get your bill on the last day of your cruise.


3. Looking confused (or way too serious) at the muster drill.

muster drill cruise ship

Muster drills are really just about following these signs. - Photo by lejzo / Shutterstock

Once you’ve sat through a muster drill or two, you know it’s not that big of a deal. But to nervous first-time cruisers, especially those who’ve never been at sea before, it can feel like a matter of life-and-death.


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4. Not knowing about gratuities.

seabourn staff tips cruise ship

You can tip if you want, but tips are already included in your fare. - Photo by Seabourn

If you see someone leaving a cash tip after dinner, odds are you’ll also see them in line at the Purser’s Desk on the final morning of the cruise asking why they were charged $12/day. Gratuities for the ship’s staff are charged automatically to your room, so there's no need to leave a tip unless the service was truly exceptional.


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5. Being shocked at the size of the shower.

shower cruise ship

It's a tight squeeze.

A classic cruise ship comedian joke is “the shower is so small, I soaped up the walls and rotated”. Laughing too hard at this joke can be just as much of an indication you're new to cruising, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. Unless you’re from a city like New York or San Francisco where the bathrooms are so tiny you’re used to using the toilet with one foot in the bathtub, the first time you see a cruise ship shower can come as something of a surprise.


6. Forgetting (or not knowing) to put phones on airplane mode.

girl phone beach cruise ship

Don't use your phone like you would at home unless you have a travel plan. - Photo by RossHelen / Shutterstock

You may not be able to tell this one on sight, but you may hear their screams across state lines once they get their next phone bill. Make sure your phone is on airplane mode (or off), or you’ll get slapped with astronomical roaming charges.


7. Being unsure how port stops work.

port stop cruise ship

Get off the ship, do an excursion, wander around, get back on the ship. - Photo by Romolo Tavani

Strange as it may sound, it’s not uncommon to overhear people asking if they can still get off the ship even if they didn’t buy an excursion. Another point of confusion comes from tender boats, the shuttles that ferry passengers to and from shore on port stops where there isn’t a dock. Look no further than the comments on this picture of a tender boat to see how some people think that they’ll have to go ashore in a paddleboat.



Join the discussion

What obvious mistake did you make on your first cruise?


Posted by rileyswa

Ship's time v. REAL time! LOL, we almost got left in Cozumel when we and asked the car rental guy what time it was and when we needed to be back. Made it back, just as the ship's lines were being pulled in. Decided we better check it out! Gatekeeper/Policia saw us, asked if we were on the CARNIVAL Conquest, and then told us to RUN!!! And run we did, the entire dock, to cheers from everyone up on deck and to a very peeved Purser standing on the gangway, WITH our passports in his hand (yes, they'd gone to our room, opened the safe, and removed them to leave with the Policia just in case we didn't arrive back in time...that was surprising!). We profusely apologized and thanked them for not leaving us. We were over 30 minutes past departure time. Lesson learned! NEVER change your watch or phone time! Ships time!!

Posted by vwpalmer

I disagree about food. I was appalled to see one woman order 3-4 entrees and take a bite or two from each and move on. When I wanted a taste of something in addition to my entree, I asked the waiter for an appetizer serving and was accommodated every time. My regular breakfast waiter only needed one request for no bread items to start bringing me my paleo-centric breakfast automatically and you can BET I left him a nice cash tip on the next to the last morning. The bartender at the martini bar got cash tips too and so did the spa masseuse. That's kindness, not naivete.

Posted by omax44

Totally disagree with number one. Not everybody feels the needs to order multiple courses if they aren’t going to eat everything.

Posted by gabeb848

I think the Muster drills are very important, and as much as we all hate them, they are serious, and they are lifesaving. I also disagree with #1, some dishes are so big, you're too stuffed for another!!!

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