A Guide for First-Time Cruisers

We're pretty open about our love for cruising, but even we have to admit that planning, booking, and preparing for a cruise can be an overwhelming process if you don't know where to start. Knowing that many people give up in frustration before they ever book a single cruise, we created this guide to give first-timers everything they need to know from booking to boarding.

Need a little convincing before you get your feet wet? That's alright — so did we! Read up on the most commonly asked questions by first-time cruisers, learn why some things you've heard about cruising are completely false, and then compare cruises to resorts to see which is the best vacation for you.

Glad we've got your attention. Start with our Cruising 101 quiz: we'll test your knowledge about the basics of cruising and show you where to learn more about the questions you get wrong. Then learn how to cruise without a passport and how to avoid the 9 most common mistakes of first-timers.

Don't skip ahead to picking a cruise just yet. Timing is everything when it comes to planning. If you book too early, you'll probably end up overpaying for your fare. Book too late, and your options will be severely limited. We'll also tell you what you can expect to spend and how to get the best deals possible.

The vast majority of cruisers make their choices in the following order: destination, line, ship, cabin. You should research each choice thoroughly before moving onto the next. For personalized recommendations, take our quizzes for the best lines and destinations according to your interests.

Start your final preparations by consulting our How to Prepare checklist. If you're the kind to forget things easily, we included a printable version in the article as well. Finally, read up on shore excursions (they're not going to book themselves) and learn what you should (and shouldn't) bring onboard.