The world of cruising can be daunting to one who has never experienced the joy of sitting on a sunny deck and sipping frozen beverages. For cruise virgins, Jeanne Wyndrum, senior vice president of, shares these tips.

Find out what’s included

A lot of people have misconceptions about what they will need to cover. What is included: meals, entertainment and accommodations. What is additional once you get on board: soft drinks and alcohol, spa treatments, shore excursions, certain dining experiences, the Internet and gratuities. Those are the additions you should be ready for when you get the bill at the end of the trip.

Be prepared

Have all proper documentation when you get to port. They are being very strict nowadays, so be sure your name matches your documentation exactly. If not, you could be denied boarding. Since most cruises now require that you preregister online, this is a good time to make sure your passport isn’t expired and all of your paperwork is in order.

Do your research

Learn about ports you will visit. Most importantly, see how far the port city is from the city center, as that makes all the difference of what kind of experience you will have. For instance, if you are going to Rome, you’ll find that the port is far from the center of the city, so you might want to prepurchase a shore excursion. It will save you time if you have a good idea of the city layout and what you want to see since your time at port is limited.

Book your shore excursion early

It depends on the place you are visiting, but in some cases you should book in advance. If you wait until you get on the ship, that’s OK, but don’t wait until the morning of.

Arrive early

Although the ship might leave at 5 o’clock, you can actually start to board around noon. You’ll be free to enjoy the ship and decks all afternoon — this really adds an extra day to your vacation and helps you relax instead of rushing to make departure.