I have worked on cruise ships for over 7 years.  Here are the 8 biggest mistakes new passengers make.

I have worked on cruise ships for over 7 years. Here are the 8 biggest mistakes new passengers make.

  • I’ve worked on cruises for seven years and seen my fair share of new passengers make mistakes.
  • Try not to pack too much and don’t bother walking your bags around on board instead of checking them in.
  • Book your excursions in advance to save time and ensure you get the tours you want.

Cruises now have so many guests and activities that a lot of decisions and planning can get lost in translation, especially when you’re sailing for the first time.

And after working on cruise ships for more than seven years, I’ve identified the most common mistakes new passengers make.

Overpack for your holidays

Brown suitcase full of clothes on gray wooden floor

It’s easy to pack more than you need.


Most people overpack for cruises, but cabins are often small and have very limited storage.

Instead of stuffing your entire closet in your luggage, go to the ship’s website and plan what you’ll need, along with some backup essentials.

You’ll be much happier when you have everything you need, plus room to spread out in your cabin.

Skip online check-in

Be sure to check in online before your vacation, as this usually allows you to complete a virtual muster drill (a safety requirement of most cruise lines) and choose a boarding time.

I have found that earlier boarding times are better, allowing you to skip the lines and have more fun on your cruise.

Fly into the port city on the same day as your cruise

Even if you think you have enough time to get from the airport to the ship, daytime flights are very risky.

Flights can be canceled or delayed, so it’s best to fly the day before or the night before and choose a hotel with a port shuttle to ensure your connection to the ship is seamless.

Immediately head to the buffet on the first day

Buffet food on a wooden table overlooking the ocean on a cruise ship

The buffet is usually very crowded the first day.


As soon as most passengers board, they often go straight to the buffet. For this reason, it may be the busiest place.

Explore lesser-known dining options around the ship, like cafes, and save the buffet for later.

Walk your luggage on board

When you arrive at the ship, porters will immediately offer to take your luggage to bring it later to your room.

Many passengers choose to keep their luggage on them, but many are unaware that their cabin won’t be ready for hours, so they’re stuck carrying their suitcases around the crowded ship.

Then check in all your bags – it’s free and reliable.

Standing in the guest services queue on boarding day

This is probably the biggest waste of time, especially since there are usually alternatives available.

Passengers join the line for a range of reasons, from entertainment to restaurant reservations. But there are separate kiosks around the ship for each individual area.

Typically, the only thing you have to wait in line for is to set up your onboard payment account, which you can do before the cruise to save time.

Forgetting to book excursions

People kayaking in the beautiful water of Cooks Bay, Moorea in French Polynesia

Kayaking is a popular excursion.

Erica DePascale

Many passengers don’t plan their shore excursions in advance, but it can lead to hassle.

Not only will you be spending valuable vacation time trying to book excursions, but you will also find that many of the tours you wanted are fully booked.

Disembark without a plan

Disembarkation day (the last day of the cruise) can be a headache, especially after a relaxing vacation. So make sure you are ready.

Know what time you are disembarking, if you are checking in your bags and when you need to be at the airport for your flight.

Coordinating all of this in advance will save you a lot of energy and worry in the long run.

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