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First Time Cruisers - Tips, Please


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We are cruising on Independence of the Seas leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale on 12/26/16. Five nights - western Caribbean. Any tips for these first time cruisers, particularly in what to pack? I know all the regular stuff, but are there any things I might not be thinking of? For example, someone suggested extra hangers (that seems a little excessive) and someone else suggested a power strip or extension cord. Do we need to bring shampoo, soap, etc.?


Any food tips for vegans?


Thanks, Friends!

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I've never taken extra hangers.  There have been a few times when there weren't enough, but I just asked the cabin steward for more and they magically appeared.


My "go to" list is as follows:


  • Collapsible backpack for excursions
  • Light, water proof jacket for rain
  • Power strip without surge protection (you may find the number of outlets limited)
  • Hanging toiletry bag for the bathroom
  • Highlighters to mark events on the Cruise Compass

I also recommend getting to the port early rather than late.  I always aim for the 10:30/11 window.

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Book your excursions, dining preference (Main Dining Room or My Time Dining) entertainment now! Do Not wait until you get on board the ship, things you may want to do is booked full. My wife and I always bring our own soap and shampoo even though some is available in the bathroom. I totally agree  with Doc, get to the port early and get on board early. Put any meds you may need and a bathing suit in a back pack. That way you can start your cruise adventure early. Your room may not be ready, but, you can still walk around thee ship, check things out, grab a bite to eat and something to drink before the crowds show up.  Most importantly....relax and HAVE FUN!!!!!

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I normally travel in the Caribbean.  It's usually pretty warm all year round, however it can get kind of chilly occasionally.  I would be sure to pack at least a hoodie or a light water resistant jacket.  This came in useful on our last cruise when it was little cooler one night and we wanted to stroll the open air areas of the ship.  The top decks can get very windy at times in the "narrow" areas as well.  This is caused by the air the ship is moving through being force into smaller areas.  It's nothing to worry about, just be aware that it can make you slightly stumble a bit.  I agree on the hangers, I've always been able to get more from the steward if I needed some.


There is a dress code for the main dining rooms and the specialty restaurants, however they are usually kind of relaxed on that the first night since they know not everyone will have their luggage yet.  Speaking of, you will not be allowed in your stateroom until 1:00pm or so.  Your luggage could arrive much later.  I would wear or pack in a carry on size container anything you need for the day (meds, bathing suit, dry-close to change back into, sunscreen, camera, etc).  If you like soaking up all the sun and pool water you can get then you wouldn't want to be one of the unlucky ones that packed their swimsuit in their checked luggage and it be a while until you get it.


If you're ok with using the supplied soaps, shampoo, conditioner then that is complimentary.  However you are welcome to bring your own.  


I would take a pen and notepad (perhaps a post-it not pad) so you can leave messages for your stewart rather than having to wait to see him/her should you need anything.  They will certainly give those to you if you ask them, however I don't think they give it do you by default.  Also, once you ask for ice the first time, they will probably bring it to you every time they service our room for the remainder of the voyage. 


You may want to take a flashlight (especially if you're staying in an interior room -- those rooms are absolutely 100% darkness when the light is off and the door is closed).  You can use your phone for this if you wish. However, it's for 2 purposes. 1) to not have to worry about turning the main light on should you need to get up in the middle of the night and 2) in the unfortunate event of a power outage, you'll be able to see.


Get to the port on embarkation day as early as you can.  Make sure you have checked in online at least a week before sailing so you don't have to fill out all the paperwork at the terminal.  If you have checked in online then all you need at the terminal is your printed setsail pass and your travel documents.  They typically start allowing people to board very shortly after the last passenger from the previous cruise disembarks.  This is usually around 11:00am.

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