My First Cruise

MSC Cruise
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I’ve just got back from my very first cruise with the MSC Orchestra on her maiden voyage to Australia from Dubai. As a cruising newbie, I have to be upfront and admit I was somewhat sceptical before boarding the ship as to how I would take to this unfamiliar way of travel. Would I enjoy it? What would I actually do on board the ship for all that time? Would I have long enough to explore the cities we stopped in? How would this differ from my usual experience of travel?

my first cruise

As I would soon find out, cruising is a great way to travel. It has an effortless appeal that will leave you longing for your return to the ship at the end of the day, thankful for the opportunities to explore with such ease, and incredibly nostalgic the minute you depart from your cruise. I would even go so far as to say that once you start cruising, its hard to ever want to stop. Thus explains the phrase “once a cruiser always a cruiser”.

Cruising is to a great extent a community of travellers who enjoy a more comfortable, reliable, and surprisingly affordable way to travel. Forget the days of airport security, immigration, visas, checking in and out of hotels, finding somewhere to eat or sourcing a local Laundromat… cruises have completely changed the ease and possibility of travel.

Of course cruising is nothing new, it is indeed one of the original styles of travel from way back in the early 19th Century. Yet still, for someone in their early 20’s, it is completely and utterly new. All of it.

Cruise ship

Here’s what you need to know before you go on your first cruise

Despite the Stigma, cruising is for young people too

As mentioned previously, cruising has been around for decades. As such, those who typically cruise as their preferred way of travel are an older crowd – but this is changing to some extent. Whilst on my cruise through the Arabian Peninsula I met a lot of young couples, honeymooners, and even a few fellow solo travellers. As mentioned in this blog post, cruising the Arabian Peninsula as a solo female traveller was a much more comfortable way to visit this part of the world on my own. Albeit only a few, I met a couple of other solo female travellers on board, leading me to conclude that this may just be the start of a new generation of cruisers.

You will definitely meet people as a solo traveller

On the flip side of the generational gap, I couldn’t have had a better time with the people I did meet who were 20-50 years my senior! As a bit of an old soul myself, I found there was so much to learn from the older generation of cruisers on board. We talked travel mostly and I gained some insight into new destinations that have long been on my radar (the minute I get a chance to visit Alaska or Antarctica, I’m outta here!).

(Almost) Everything is Included

As a cruise newbie, I had no idea what was or wasn’t included in the package price. There are a range of different price tiers of course, so you can choose a package that suits your needs and preferences. The all-inclusive base price means that what you pay for your cruise includes:

  1. your accommodation
  2. all food, all the time (restaurants, buffet, in-room continental breakfast)
  3. entertainment shows twice per evening
  4. on-board entertainment including swimming pools, tennis court, basketball court, some ships even have zip lining and rock climbing!
  5. Access to fitness facilities

Additional costs for the cruise (which can be purchased for a discount at the time of booking or for a higher price once on board):

  1. On shore excursions (I would highly recommend opting for these! Although they are more expensive than what you’d pay to hire a taxi driver to take you around for the day, they include incredibly informative guides and the peace of mind that you won’t miss the ship leaving port that evening!)
  2. Drinks (If you plan to drink a lot, consider a drinks package. These can range from an all-inclusive package with unlimited alcohol through to water vouchers)
  3. Spa services
  4. On-board shopping
  5. Internet Access (pricey but that is to be expected)

Some questions you may have regarding the optional extras:

Are the drinks expensive?

Yes and no. The price per individual drink sits around $10 (or 7 euros) which will soon add up. Drinks packages are a much cheaper option if you plan to drink a lot. According to my inside sources guests who purchase these packages far outdrink the price they pay for them.

Are the on-shore excursions worth it?

It totally depends on what type of traveller you are. Many people on board my cruise would venture off and do their own thing and they had a fabulous time. Personally as a solo traveller I really enjoyed the group tours to meet people. I also learned WAY more from my guides this way and walked away feeling like I really got an appreciation for each destination, despite only having one day in port.

Does the Internet actually work?

Incredibly, yes! I was stunned by the fast connection. The only place I wasn’t able to connect was throughout the Indian Ocean as the local authorities had required the ship turn off all wi-fi capabilities. Other than that, it was great!

Once on-board, you are bound to have fun

Before embarking on my first cruise I was convinced that my time on board would be spent in my room catching up on blog writing or connecting to the internet world and disconnecting from the ship. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s so much to do on board that I barely had a spare minute to scratch my head let alone get any work done. During the days at sea I would busy myself with spa appointments, personal training sessions, steaming away in the Turkish Hammam or going for a wander around the ship to see what I could discover. In the evenings I would sit down for an extravagant three-course meal, followed by an evening entertainment show and sometimes a cocktail or two afterwards. There was also everything on board from ping pong tables through to a library, cigar lounge, casino… you name it, it was there! Each day the ship also delivers a newsletter (delivered in your room the night before) filled with a list of scheduled activities such as games tournaments, arts and handicrafts, dance lessons and so much more. There is absolutely no way you will be able to do everything on board – there’s a lot to choose from!

There’s free food 20 hours of the day

Even reading this now scares me. Yes, you’re bound to over-indulge. Once in a routine on board the ship I found myself ordering in-room breakfast each morning, making my way to the buffet for lunch, indulging in an afternoon pick-me-up detox drink at the spa bar, followed by an early evening meal at the restaurant. Whenever I was feeling peckish there was oodles (perhaps too much) of yummy food available to me, just a staircase away. Dangerous!

my first cruise

You can travel the world without leaving the ship

Something I simply cannot forego mentioning is the incredible staff who choose a career in cruising. Onboard my MSC Orchestra voyage I met so many lovely staff members from around the world who would teach me a few words in Italian, speak fondly about their home country in Eastern Europe, or entice me with ideas and images of what to do when I reached their hometown in India. The guests were also very international and while I met many Australians, I also met many Italians, Brits, and even had a couple of great evenings with a couple from Hong Kong. The daily announcements were in English, Deutsche, French, Italian and Spanish – showing how truly international the ship passengers were!

But you certainly should leave the ship!

The biggest reason why I loved my first cruise so much was the ease and comfort of travelling part way around the world without the hassles of visas, airport security, long cues, unpacking and repacking…. The list is truly endless. Cruising took the hassle out of travel entirely. For those who would like a taste of different countries and cities, cruising is the way to go. But of course it is just that – an introduction to new places. I would highly advise travelling to new areas on a cruise to find out what you like and don’t like, combined with returning to these places to explore them further in-depth. There’s only so much you can do in one day in port, after all! But that was what made it so exciting – a different city every day, a different country every second day. It felt as though the world was truly my oyster whilst at sea – an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

First Cruise  

World of Wanderlust cruised with the MSC Orchestra on her maiden voyage to Australia as an invited guest. My opinions are as always, my own.

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    December 19, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    That sounds like a wonderful experience! Going on a cruise in my 30s in on my bucket list, and I cannot wait for the opportunity to do it! 🙂

    April 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Sounds lovely Brooke! x

  • March highlights and this month's blogger roundup
    April 1, 2015 at 9:13 am

    […] reading about someone new discovering the world of cruising, so I was thrilled when I read, My First Cruise, especially as she’s young which helps dispel the myth that cruising is only for old […]

    March 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I just returned to Melbourne from visiting a friend in Dubai, the journey definitely wasn’t as enjoyable as this looks.

    yubaraj bhusal
    March 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Visit our page for Nepal Tour

    March 15, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    It is fun to hear about your 1st cruise experience! I loved reading & seeing it all!
    It is lovely to hear that you had a fabulous time, dear Brooke!

    Fun cool photos too!

    Emily Hewitt
    March 14, 2015 at 1:11 am

    I absolutely love love love cruising! it is one of my favourite ways to travel as you can see so many places without having to pack up your suitcase each day and change hotels. The conception that only old people cruise is completely wrong, on my last cruise around Asia I met so may other young people and families. I am lucky enough to be going on two cruises this year! One up the Western Australian coast next month and also a Meditterranean cruise in July. I will be writing about both of them on my blog

    Ain Nabila
    March 12, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I love travelling, seeing this post makes me really want to go for a cruise. Surely adding this to my bucket list, thanks for sharing your experience xx

    March 11, 2015 at 4:17 am

    I cannot wait to go on a cruise someday. I have always been hesitant to try it because of the stories of contaminated food or feeling like your stuck in a little space, but this looks amazing to try one day.

    March 10, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Fantastic! I keep forgetting that cruises are actually a rather affordable option for travel, and I’d love to try one of the ones that head around Queensland and the pacific. Cheers for the tips!

    March 10, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks so much for the post! I’m joining MSC for her Adelaide-Perth leg for my first cruise so this has given me an insight of what to expect 🙂

    March 10, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Love, love, love!
    This post could not have come at a better time, I leave for my first cruise Thursday morning.
    Thanks for the wicked post Brooke 🙂

    <3 Kait

    March 10, 2015 at 12:59 am

    I’ve always been curious about cruises! I think I’ll try it one day, it can be an interesting experience 😀

    March 10, 2015 at 12:37 am

    I’ve always been skeptical of cruises. I mean it sounds fun and all, but how much do you really get to see the world?. I think you are right that there are a lot of stigmas and stereotypes I’d have to throw away to be able to hop aboard. It sounds like from what you said it is worth a try. I am glad you had fun!

    March 10, 2015 at 12:10 am

    I actually heard that cruising in the Caribbean can be quite cheap, too! Just few hundred dollars for 2 weeks or so! So it’s actually full of young people and even students who are all looking for a different type of adventure. I should definitely try it out, too, one day (before I’m 50, haha)

    March 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    My first cruise was in the Pacific islands and I loved it!!

    Lisa @ Strum Simmer Sip
    March 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    My first cruise was a blast! I did get a little sea sick but got over it pretty quickly. Thanks for sharing and I love your photos! xo L

    March 9, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Congratulations on your first cruise! I love cruising, it is easily one of my favourite ways to travel!

    March 9, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Hey, I just got back from a mini-cruise to Oslo (Norway). We’ve done this already several times as we love the city of Oslo. It starts from Kiel (Germany) and ends there too. It goes only 3 days but the ferry ship is great though it’s not that big. You only have 4 hours in Oslo, enough time for a guided sightseeing tour but we usually book a night or two in a hotel to have more time for all the sights, shopping and the nightlife. There will be a post about this on my blog soon (when I get back from Spain).

    Growing Positive
    March 9, 2015 at 3:38 am

    sounds literally amazing! The food sounds overly tempting, I would never be able to stay away. Need to start saving for one of these. Never was to fond of the concept but you’ve put definitely made it look good!

    Growing Positive

    March 9, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I’ve always wanted to go on a Cruise and your post makes me want to go even sooner. Sadly all the good cruises are super expensive.
    One day I’ll do it.

    You’re one of my biggest role models Brooke and I started my blog because of you.

    Love from Austria, Kerstin

    March 9, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Never been on a cruise before, but one of my friends loves to go on one each year with her family. Thanks for sharing your experience, definitely interesting!

    March 9, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Love the pictures! I’m glad you enjoyed your first cruise.

    March 9, 2015 at 1:16 am

    The appeal of cruising to me is that you can see a lot of cities or countries or a short amount of time. Then when you have more time off you can go explore further the places that piqued your interest. This may only be true for the Caribbean, but I’ve heard from some of my friends that cruise regularly that the locals have told them the cruise company takes a huge portion of what you pay for shore excursions booked through them and that the guides hardly get anything. For me I would much rather pay them directly, that way you are benefiting the local economies you are visiting instead of a huge corporation with tons of profit anyway. But like you said I suppose you would have to pay more attention to time.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Silly Medley: Lifestyle and Travel

    Katelyn Brown
    March 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    This is great insight! I’ve never been on a cruise, and reluctant to do one because I enjoy exploring on my own time. I suppose there are pros and cons with any type of travel, and I’ll have to try out a cruise!
    Katelyn // Relatively Offbeat

    March 8, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    we had a massive family trip (16 of us) on a Cruise ship once, it was definitely memorable

    Rachel @ Vagabondbaker
    March 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    I think I would have been sceptical too, I’m not the best sailor and I’ve been put off taking ships after a few seasick journeys to the Scottish Western Isles and Orkneys.
    I ended up taking a couple of ferries to and from Finland in December and I’m completely won over by this mode of transport. The boat from Stockholm was a cruise ship, it was quite fancy but with only 8 hrs overnight there wasn’t time to make the most of the facilities. The other ferry wasn’t a cruiser but I was on it a long time and I loved been cocooned in comfort with this amazing Baltic sea vista!

    I’m still concerned about sea sickness though, did you have any problems with it Brooke? The tablets I took made me so very drowsy!

    March 8, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    What an amazing experience! My parents love going on cruises. I hope one day I can go on one 🙂
    XO Janina

    March 8, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I never thought of doing a cruise alone but as usual, you got me thinking! I actually really want to do one around Norway – there’s some that go along the coast and end in Tromso. I have to see the Northern Lights!

    Jennifer Stevens | Adventurous Appetite
    March 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I usually shy away from cruises…maybe because I think they’re “too easy”?? But lately (after 5 years of voracious traveling) easy traveling sounds quite nice. Thanks for posting.

    March 8, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I would love to go one a cruise one day, either Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise. Can I ask what program are you using to add text to your photos? Your blog is just huge inspiration for me as I recently starter my travel blog as well.


    March 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I want to take off and forget everything just like you did.

    March 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    You should absolutely go to Alaska. I spent 6/months there last year and am heading back for the summer. Absolutely beautiful. If you take a cruise definitely add a land package and head towards Denali. Stunning

    Pro Travel Blog
    March 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I was skeptical going on my first cruise to the Caribbean, too, but it’s actually pretty fun and hassle free once you get on the ship.

    I think picking the right ship is the most important thing, and of course, the cruise itinerary too. Do a bit of researching on these two things and I think most people will have fun cruising.

    March 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Omg… reading that makes me sooo want to go travel now. I don’t even care if it’s a ship or not. Haha 🙂 I just want to experience sth new and meet other travellers. 🙂

    Jake Ryan
    March 8, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I’ve been considering a cruise as a way of travelling for some time now so this was a very interesting read for me.


    Penny @OnePennyTourist
    March 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I love your photos and – as I’m already a cruiser – I’m actually sitting here smiling because it really radiates out from your writing how much you enjoyed your first cruise. And make no mistake ‘we’ love to hear about another conversion to our hobby 😉

    I have to say, personally I *do* tend to steer clear of ship excursions myself and do DIY if I can. They are expensive, even compared to if you arrange for your own private excursion with guide (so you can still get all that local knowledge).

    However as you say, they do also come with that guarantee that the ship won’t leave without you if you’re late to return which gives great peace of mind, especially as they definitely WILL leave you behind if you’re late back independently. It’s something of a sport to watch the ‘runners’ just before sail away!

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    March 8, 2015 at 9:28 am

    So glad to hear these opinions on your first cruise, Brooke! I’ve been wanting to go on a cruise for a long time too – ever since my parents (seasoned travellers) surprisingly loved it!

    March 8, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I have never traveled by cruise. I didn’t like the idea of being stuck on board, but I may be warming to the idea. It looks like fun.

    March 8, 2015 at 9:08 am

    These pictures are so beautiful, I would love to try a cruise one day, they always seem so classy and luxurious!