Best cruises for first timers plus the tips and tricks to make you look like a pro

There’s a first time for everything, and if you’ve never been on a cruise before these lines make the whole process a breeze.

Booking your first cruise can be stressful. You have to consider which activities onboard will float your boat and the destinations you’d like to visit. Then, you have to sort out shore excursions, dining reservations… the lot!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s where these cruise lines can help. They can help ease you into cruising by helping you with the details so all you need to do is board and relax.

Feature image: Princess Cruises

1. Norwegian Cruise Line
If you believe that variety is the spice of life then Norwegian has some hot options for you.

This line offers more than 250 itineraries in13 regions (and counting), so there’s bound to be one with your name on it. Onboard, there’s a variety of entertainment options for all ages and interests so you’ll not be bored while travelling between ports.

  • Popular destinations: Bahamas, Florida, Bermuda, Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Pacific Coast, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
  • Onboard activities: Exclusive production shows, variety shows, interactive murder mystery, pools and activity playgrounds.
  • Assistance: Cruise consultants can be contacted online, via the phone or via a travel agency.

Go to Norwegian Cruise Line website View coupon code for Norwegian Cruise Line

2. Royal Caribbean International via CruiseAway
Get a taste for cruising with Royal Caribbean’s short-but-sweet cruise samplers.

Those toying with the idea of cruising can take advantage of Royal Caribbean’s 1-3 night samplers from Sydney and Brisbane. They’re ideal for getting a taste of what cruising is like without committing to a whole holiday.

  • Popular destinations: Australia, South America, North America, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
  • Onboard activities: Rock wall, ice skating, surf simulator, mini golf, basketball, volleyball, in-line skating and table tennis.
  • Assistance: Royal Caribbean is best contacted over the phone or via a travel agent.

Go to Royal Caribbean International via CruiseAway website View coupon code for Royal Caribbean International via CruiseAway

3. Princess Cruise Lines
Given the Best First-time Cruises award in 2015 by Cruise International, Princess provides exceptional service and some of the best cruise itineraries, too.

Young or old, adventurous or luxurious, Princess Cruises understands that everyone’s needs at sea are different and offers a wealth of entertainment for all. This includes shore excursions based on interests and activity levels, plus adults-only sanctuari

  • Popular destinations: Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, Caribbean and Europe.
  • Onboard activities: Culinary demonstrations, bingo, original production shows, headliner comedians, magicians, casino, ship tours, golf driving range, shuffleboard and nightclubs.
  • Onboard activities: Culinary demonstrations, bingo, original production shows, headliner comedians, magicians, casino, ship tours, golf driving range, shuffleboard and nightclubs.

Go to Princess Cruise Lines website View coupon code for Princess Cruise Lines

4. P&O Cruises via CruiseAway
Jump into a cruise adventure with Australia’s very own “home brand” cruise line.

If there’s one cruise line that knows an Australian’s needs through and through, it’s P&O. Start by choosing your holiday type, from Australian sea breaks, Asian sea breaks, events, island getaways and short sea breaks to long explorer sailings.

  • Popular destinations: Australia, Singapore, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, South Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
  • Onboard activities: Live music, waterslides, White Party, adventure park, sports courts, ocean bar and cinema at sea.
  • Assistance: P&O can be contacted via live chat, phone, email or via your travel agent.

Go to P&O Cruises via CruiseAway website View coupon code for P&O Cruises via CruiseAway

5. Carnival Cruise Line
The fun never ends on a Carnival ship.

If your idea of the ideal cruise is fun and partying all day and all night, Carnival Cruise Line has you covered. From the moment you step onboard, you’ll have more than enough activities to please all members of your party.

  • Popular destinations: New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Singapore and Hawaii.
  • Onboard activities: Water park, live music, dance lessons, pools, dive-in movies, comedy club, stage shows and a mega deck party.
  • Assistance: Carnival is best reached by phone or via your travel agent.

Go to Carnival Cruise Line website View coupon code for Carnival Cruise Line

First-time cruise tips and tricks

A few key pieces of advice every passenger should know before boarding.

    • Adhere to the ship times: Ship times are the law on the seas so give yourself ample time to get to the port on sailing day and back to the ship when visiting a port.
    • Tour the ship: Cruise ships are huge. Spend your first day getting to know where everything is.
    • Pack a good carry-on: Thousands of bags will be checked in on the first day and it can take hours for them to be delivered to your cabin so make sure you have everything you need for day one with you in a carry-on.
    • Mind dress codes: Research dress codes for evening events such as formal nights or White Night parties and pack accordingly. You don’t want to have to decide between missing out or sticking out like a sore thumb.
    • Prepay your gratuities: Many cruise lines let you prepay your gratuities at a set amount recommended by each line.
    • Check electrical outlets: Bring the correct power adapter to keep your electronics charged throughout the trip.
    • Not everything is paid for: Accommodation, meals in standard restaurants and some activities are usually included in your cruise price. Things that generally aren’t are alcohol, spa treatments and gym classes. These will be charged to a charge card which you’ll settle at the end of the trip.
    • Shore excursions: You can pre-book shore excursions with the cruise line before sailing. Research to see if this is right for you or if you might benefit from booking your shore excursions externally.
    • Prepare for motion sickness: If you’ve never been on a cruise before then you don’t know how your body will react. Bring sea sickness tablets or remedies just in case.
    • Lastly, bring a lanyard: Sounds strange but as cruises are cashless worlds, you will be given a charge card for any items your purchase. Don’t lose it. Bring your own lanyard. Or purchase one at the cruise store.

Top cruise deals and flights

Cruise from $98 per person: 3-day P&O sale

Valid on select P&O Cruises booked before 26 January. Sample fares include a 2-night cruise from Sydney-Melbourne for $98, 2-night cruise from Melbourne-Adelaide for $149 and a 3-night cruise from Sydney for $248.

Up to 80% off top cruise lines

Enjoy up to 80% off top cruise lines with Norweigian Cruise Line, Costa, Royal Caribbean cruises and more at Cruise Direct. Conditions apply

20% off sailing adventures

Valid on departures between 1 April - 10 May. Destinations include Thai islands in Asia, Greece and Croatia in Europe.

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After the store tab opens, come back to copy the code

3 for Free Sale: Upgrades, Drinks & Credit

Cruise on selected voyages and you can enjoy a free stateroom location upgrade, plus free onboard spending money, plus a free Wine and Dine package T&Cs apply. See site for details.

Up to 30% off + onboard credit on Royal Caribbean Cruises

Valid on sailings departing before 22 April and also includes 50% off deposits when you book select cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Transpacific and Asia repositioning cruises and more at CruiseAway. T&Cs apply.

Save up to $4,620 on select cabins and departures in Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

Save up to $4,620 on select cabins and departures in Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Valid for select 2018 departures, for travel between June and September 2018. Conditions apply.

Up to $600 onboard credit + free specialty dining

Get up to $600 free onboard spending money per stateroom. Plus book a Balcony, Mini-Suite or Suite and receive free specialty dining. T&Cs apply.

Up to $8,300 off select Antarctic voyages

Get up to $8,300 off select Antarctic voyages departing in the 2017-2018 season at Peregrine Adventures. T&Cs apply.

Up to 30% off select river cruises

Valid on select river cruises departing before 31 July in the Amazon, Ganges, Mekong and in Burgundy.

Fred. Olsen's Cruise Sale + freebies and more

Enjoy big savings, freebies and more when you book a cruise during Fred. Olsen's Cruise Sale.

10% off Croatia adventure cruises

Valid on Croatia Coastal Cruising Adventure only, all available cabin types, Dubrovnik to Sibenik or reverse, all 2017 departures: Discount excludes Private Groups. Discount applies to new bookings made and deposited between 9 Dec 2016 and 27 Feb 2017.

$1 deposits with P&O + free drinks package

Valid on cruises departing between 1 March 2017 and 31 January 2018. Cruises longer than seven nights will get a free premium beverage package. Cruises less than seven nights will get a free soft drinks package.

50% off second passenger on Azamara + free internet

Book outside cabins or higher on select Azamara cruises departing 12 June 2017 until 26 April 2018 and the second passenger sails for free, plus get free unlimited internet.

10% off adventure cruises

Get 10% off adventure cruises at Peregrine Adventures.

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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