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
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 website View coupon code for Royal Caribbean International

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
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 website View coupon code for P&O Cruises

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

Cruises from $149: 15th Annual Sale of Sales

Book cruises from $149 at Cruise Direct during their 15th Annual Sale of Sales. Includes up to $1500 Onboard credit.

Free flights with river cruise bookings

Available with select sailings from March until November 2017 on river cruises with APT or Travel Marvel through Flight Centre and get free or 2-for-1 flights to/from the cruise. Destinations include Spain, Portugal, France and Germany.

Second passenger cruises for just $1

Valid on select sailings until March 2018. Book select MSC Cruises sailings and the second passenger pays just $1 with a full-priced first passenger. Sample cruises include a 7-night Mediterranean sailing for $861 for two people, or just $430.50 each.

50% off deposit and $1000 OBC per cabin

Book on select Seabourn 2017 voyages departing between 01 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 to get 50% off deposit and $1000 OBC per cabin. Conditions apply.

20% off Amazon riverboat journeys

Valid on select riverboat journeys in Peru until 15 December.

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Norwegian FREE at sea offer

Book select Norwegian cruises for 3 nights or longer to avail the Norwegian free at sea offer. Includes Ultimate Beverage Package, 3rd or 4th guests sail free on select sailings and more. T&Cs apply.

Get up to $400 onboard credit

Book close-to-home cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and get up to $400 onboard credit, or book world cruises for up to $2000 onboard credit.

Save up to $4000 on cruises

Get up to $4000 off launch fares on select cruises and $1000 off fly/cruise holidays for sailings in Europe, Alaska, Japan and world cruise segments.

30% off select river cruises

Save 30% on select river cruises at G Adventures. Valid on select sailings departing before 31 December in Burgundy and on the Mekong, Ganges or Amazon Rivers.

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Browse all current deals with Princess Cruises

Find Princess Cruises’ best weekly cruise offers here.

Up to 79% off Carnival Cruises

Save up to 79% on the brochure rate of Carnival Cruise sailings when you book with CruiseAway.

Up to $1000 in onboard credit

Book a Royal Caribbean cruise with Cruise Direct and get up to $1000 in onboard credit.

Get discounted flights, hotels and everything else

Discover the world of low cost travel with BYOJet.

Save on last-minute bookings

Find discounts on last-minute travel bookings at Expedia

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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