How to plan your First Cruise? Here is all you need to know!

Planning your first cruise can be daunting, especially when you know next to nothing about them and none of your friends have ever done it too. I am just back from my first cruise on the inaugural trip of world's largest cruise ship - Harmony of the Seas, and so here are some of my tips on planning your first ever cruise :)

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
Harmony of the Seas

As I sat on the balcony of my fabulous room in the ship and looked at a few ships passing by, I felt quite at peace. The sea was calm and the breeze cool, and I was quite content with enjoying this moment alone. I was on my first cruise and google maps told me that I was somewhere close to the French coast, though all I saw was miles and miles of sea. I digress, again.

How to pick the right cruise!

Do your research
There is no simple way of going forward especially if you are planning your first cruise. Go online and read articles (like this one), talk to friends who have been on cruises before, and connect with companies which specialize in planning cruises for you, like Tirun in India.

Purpose of the cruise
I can't quite emphasize how important this step is in deciding the cruise you should take. Whether you plan to cruise for a vacation (solo, couple or family) or for business, knowing your intent is very important. Sometimes you don't quite know the answer for this, and in this case it's best to talk to an expert who can help you decide. Here also talking to friends help.

How to choose the right cruise line or ship?
We are all different and so we like different things, right? absolutely and the same philosophy can be taken forward while planning for the cruise also. Do you want to do a cruise to enjoy all the on-board activities, or is cruise just a means to sail between countries and continents, and the key purpose is to explore these new and unknown places. No answer is right, but do find out for yourself what would your answer be.

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
An areal view of Harmony of the Seas

What's your budget?
Now this is critical, and perhaps the biggest reason who many of us do not go on a cruise. I do not disagree that cruises can be expensive, but then that's not always the case. In any case, you need to have a rough estimate of the budget for the trip and this will also decided how many days can you afford to be on-board. The number of days will then help you decide which cruise you can take; some cruises are for two weeks, and if you don't have the time and budget for that many days, it's best to simply skip them and look for cruises that meet your needs. For instance, Harmony of the Seas is a week long cruise and is actually perfect for first timers!

How to find the right itinerary?
The last and the most critical step is to actually find the actual cruise that you would like to take! For a first timer this could be a daunting task. You wouldn't know where to start, right? Wrong - I suggest start with industry leaders like Royal Caribbean who have excelled at the art of making perfect holidays in the sea. They have cruises for almost all budgets and a visit to their site will actually bust the myth that cruises are only for the rich!

You might also consider using an app for planning your cruise. Here is the one from Royal Caribbean called Royal App.

The Royal App

Tips for booking and pre-boarding planning

How to book your cruise?
If you are a first timer, it's best to book with those who you can trust. I am not a world expert, but I can certainly recommend Tirun who are partners with Royal Caribbean in India for all their cruises across the world. The important thing here is to do your research well.

How to pick your cabin?
It's a matter of personal choice in my opinion, but an important one at that. You can pick a cabin which overlooks the sea or the inner side of the ship. I loved my cabin which looked at the sea, even though nothing much happens in the sea during long cruises. On the other hand the cabins which face inside are more alive and you can see life till quite late in the night.

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
Inside the cruise

Passport and visa requirements
This is especially important if you are traveling on an Indian passport in Europe. The cruises usually stop by at multiple ports across many different countries, and it's important to have visas in place in case you want to explore land as well. For instance, Schengen visa allows you access to many countries in Europe, but not all. Know your itinerary and plan for visas accordingly.

Prep with medications if you are worried about being seasick. On long cruises it's better to go from East to West. Read more tips here. However, in my experience there is less to be worried about. We had a sea-storm but I didn't feel a thing. But it's good to still err on side of caution.

Tips when you are on-board

There is so much to do when you are on-board that it's quite possible to miss out on some of the activities, so do plan ahead. Royal Caribbean also provides an app called Royal IQ which is specific to the ship and you can use that navigate your way and also find things to do. Plan for stay and mark activities in the calendar - that way you won't miss out on anything! In any case, here are some of my personal tips :)

Royal IQ app

Don't skip the shows!
They are perfect places to unwind and you are even allowed to take your drinks inside. While on-board harmony of the Seas, I loved attending the premiere show of Grease and some very impressive performances in the ice-skating rink, and they were both memorable experiences.

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
Grease! An unforgettable show :)

Don't forget the workout
Eat as much as you can, but do workout as well. There are many activities, gyms and often a running track as well - use them all, especially if you realise that you are eating and drinking too much :)

Pick your restaurants well
There is often something for everyone on a cruise and it's useful to pick the right one for you. For instance, Harmony of the Seas has about 20 dining options and all of them are great. Some are informal cafes while others require you to dress up more formally - pick the right place based on your mood for the day :)

There is often good vegetarian food available, so in case you are veggie check it out in advance.

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
Restaurant on top of Harmony of the Seas

Mingle with guests
I think a cruise is a perfect place to meet new people and make friends, especially because you are confined to a limited space for a long time and it's always good to have company. For singles, it's a great place to mingle with other singles. There are multiple parties and you can sing and dance and make merry with complete strangers, and possibly make friends for life :)

Get adventurous
Now a cruise is an unusual place for adventures, but trust me adventures on-board can be even more fun than on land. Take for example, The Abyss, on the harmony of the seas and you will know what I mean. It's world'd largest slide in a cruise and at 10 storeys height, it's sure to give anyone an adrenaline rush!

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
The Abyss!

Well, this is it as far as the tips go. However, I am sure you will have even more questions about planning your first cruise. Leave them in the comments below and I will try and get answers from experts for each one of them :)

If you are in India, there is one recommendations that I can surely share. Do your first cruise in Europe! Such cruises are a perfect mix of eclectic activities on the ship as well as day trips in the gorgeous cities that the continent is dotted with.

tips planning first cruise india harmony of the seas
Me enjoying the view form my balcony...

Do share and spread the love :)


A cruise travel is best experienced on a luxury cruise, and if you are looking for a recommendation, here is one: MS Europa 2.


  1. Such a helpful post. Thank you, Sid.

  2. Great tips. When I first took my first cruise we decided to do the 4-day cruise first to see if our legs are seaworthy and if we can handle being on the ship that long. I believe it's best to try the shorter cruises first before going for the weeklong itineraries.

    1. Thanks so much! I agree on your tip...shorter trips first helps acclimatize to the sea.

  3. I have so far only been on cruises on the Baltic Sea, from Sweden to either Estonia, Latvia or Finland. Those are a bit different as they are usually no longer than 24 hours. Would be interesting though to go on a cruise in either the Caribbean or the Mediterranean one day. :)

    1. And I think I would love the 24 hours cruise too...the routes you take seem fascinating :)

  4. I want a cruise now like NOW... after seeing these amazing pictures I need to go on one asap

  5. I really enjoyed the Viking River Cruise I did of the Danube back in 2011. I liked the destinations and was sold for that reason.

    1. Viking cruise sounds very exciting actually! I am sure I would love that too :)


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