Taking the advice of well-traveled cruisers is the best thing for first time cruise passengers to do. After all, why not learn from someone else's mistakes or mishaps? Of course, you will still have a few of your own, but that is what makes your first cruising experience memorable.
You've got your cruise booked and are counting the days until you set sail. However, there are a few things for you to do before you even start to think about packing. Check with the cruise line to see what vaccinations, if any, are needed for your journey. You'll have to make a trip to your doctor to get current on any shots.
While you are at the doctor, ask them about tips on staying healthy and avoiding the flu or colds before you depart for your cruise. It is no fun having to travel sick or canceling all together. Also ask about seasickness remedies. Some of these medications are prescription only.
Stock up on any other prescription medications just in case they are scheduled to run out during your trip. Often, insurance companies will make exceptions and allow a prescription to be refilled early if you are traveling with no access to a chain pharmacy. One last thing - get a letter from your doctor on official letterhead listing your prescriptions and stating that they were all legitimately prescribed for you. If you have to go through customs, a letter will sometimes keep you from being detained while your medication is inspected.
If you are on a special diet, let the cruise line be aware of this fact when you book your cruise. Most diets are easily accommodated, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. A few weeks before you depart, check in with the cruise line again to go over your reservations and special needs diet.
Pack a small first aid kit for those "just in case" emergencies. Include antacids and anti-diarrhea medications for those episodes of "Montezuma's Revenge" that seem to strike no matter where you travel. Aspirin, antibiotic cream and aloe vera gel for sunburns also come in handy.
Stow away sunscreen, moisturizer and lip balm in your luggage too. When you are having too much fun outdoors, you tend to forget things like sunburn. Be sure to apply the sunscreen lotion before heading outdoors. Moisturizer and lip balm keep your skin soft. Sometimes the temperature changes from the cold air conditioner to the heat outside can wreak havoc on the skin and dry it out.
In addition to the sunscreen, protect your skin by wearing hats and sunglasses. When you are on the ship's deck gazing at the waves, the sun's reflection off the water can be pretty bright. The sunglasses will protect you from harmful UV rays from the sun. Of course, the hats will shield you from the sun's rays and possible sunburn on your ears and face, two places that people sometimes forget to apply sunscreen lotion.
With the right preparation and precautions, you are well on your way to a healthy and happy first cruise. And when in doubt about something, ask your cruise line. They want to make sure your cruising experience is trouble-free. After all, they want you to sail with them again.