‘I just got back from my first-ever cruise. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I went.’

People who go on cruises love going on cruises. 

Like, LOVE love it.

You're either a cruiser or you're not. 

And friends, I am now definitely... a cruiser.

I recently took a seven-night trip around the Mediterranean on Celebrity Cruises' ship Celebrity Edge and, yeah, I get the hype. Whatever outdated stereotype of cruising lives in your head, it's not that.

This was pure luxury living on the high seas. I was like a very fancy pirate.

But, being my first time cruising and all (something many on board were *shocked* to hear), there were a few things I truly did not expect. So for anyone else who's thinking of boarding a ship for their next holiday (do it!), here's a brief but detailed rundown of all the things I wish I knew, and am glad I know now for the next time I hit the high seas.

1. You're actually not on a ship at all. 

Okay, okay, no – it is *technically* a ship you're on. But the second you step on board you forget you're afloat. Honestly. This. Thing. Was ha-UGE. 

We're talking 29 bars and restaurants. Two cafes (essential for coffee addicts such as myself). A pool, a couple of champagne coupe-shaped jacuzzis, a running track for heck's sake (no, I did not do any running). A fully kitted-out gym. A super-luxe spa. An outdoor movie screen set amidst a lush green garden cafe. A cool, weird, darkened installation-y room that looked like some kind of magic forest and insisted I take a photo every single time I walked through it (which was every night on my way to dinner). 

Image: Supplied.

Celebrity Edge was it and just existing in this space was a big holiday vibe.

2. You… can’t iron on board.

Okay, I know this one's a bit random, but it shook me. Mostly because I packed my *mandatory* white linen everything Mediterranean summer wardrobe and the creases were plentiful.


In case you're wondering, it's a safety issue (and I do love a 'safety first' approach). And as far as problems go, this is not a bad one to have, and actually not an actual problem at all, because there's a laundry service available on board (PHEW). 

But just know when you're packing to go on your first cruise... roll don't fold. Or choose non-crushing fabrics.

3. Yes, one day in each port IS enough.

This was one of my main concerns going in. As someone who loves to spend a few days in a new city, wandering the streets and getting to know all its sexy little crevices, I did wonder if just a day in each port would leave me longing for more. 

But a day was, in fact, the perfect amount of time (it's like the cruise organisers have done this before or something), and by the end of each day of wandering, eating, exploring, shopping, eating, selfie-taking, eating... I was so ready to be whisked back to the ship to spend a little downtime on all the on-board fun there was to be had.

A day is plenty in Portofino. Image: Supplied

If you are convinced you might not get enough out of each shore day, though, I highly rec booking some of the shore excursions on offer, and doing it asap once you've locked in your cruise, because these babies sell out. After aaaaagonsing over which one to choose from the stacks of options, I ended up taking a small-group tour of Rapello, Santa Margherita and Portofino on the Italian coast and I do not regret a thing.

4. Speaking of on-board fun... 

When I saw on the itinerary that there was a whole day to be spent at sea (aka a land-free day), I was... nervous. Would I be bored? Would I be forced to sit in my room and look out at the endless ocean for 24 hours? Would I hurl myself over the side to make a mad swim for land? (... Unlikely.)

But if you've never been cruising and you're worried you won't have enough to do, stop right now because I can't imagine how anyone could possibly not find some way to entertain themselves on board. Ever. 


One of the many crew members I chatted to described Celebrity Edge as a "luxury resort at sea" and excuse me, sir, but I must disagree – because this was so much more than that.

Image: Supplied.

I can't list everything there is to do. I'd be here forever. But please allow me to give you a brief itemised list of Some Of My Favourite Things To Do On Board:

  • Sip cocktails at the Sunset Bar even when it wasn't sunset.
  • Lounge by the pool with a strawberry daiquiri.
  • Take in a live performance at the Theatre.
  • Spend literal hours in the Thermal Suite (complete with steam room, Turkish hammam, mist showers, infrared sauna, heated loungers, hanging egg swings...).
  • Catch a movie in the balmy summer breeze at the rooftop outdoor cinema.
  • Go for a massage. Okay, it was two. And a facial.
  • Visit the top-deck gym (which has, let's be clear, the most epic view you've ever seen from a leg press machine).

5. You definitely should pack your foldable backpack.

Or some other ‘shore bag’ that fits plenty of *stuff*. 

I had picked myself up a super cute and incredibly impractical little woven straw crossbody at Primark before I boarded in Barcelona and I loved it and I took it everywhere and no matter how many times I used it, it refused to miraculously fit more in it.


So make sure you pack a bag to take to shore – whether that’s a small crossbody (not recommended), a bigger bag (yes, this) or even a foldable tote or backpack that you can whip out on the days you’re planning to spend more time on land and need to take more supplies (I’m looking at you, beach towels and multiple bottles of water).

6. You’re going to need more looks than you think.

Here's where I went wrong, friends. 

I tried to go minimal. Tried to pack mix-and-match looks that would see me through the week. And they did, but... I wanted more. Because every moment on board is a moment, you know?

Cruising isn't for minimalism. Cruising is for going all the way out (if you so choose). Each night had a theme, and a couple of those themes were along the lines of "extra-super-fancy", and I'm not exaggerating when I say I saw people wearing tuxes and ballgowns to dinner. 

I felt wildly underdressed in my aforementioned unpressed white linen (but also fine, because after an aforementioned espresso martini, I felt right at home). 


Image: Supplied.I'm just saying – if you're into a bit of something fancy, don't hold back.

7. Storage space is ample. Use it.

Speaking of clothes, I need to make a confession. 

I’m not an unpacker. Not even sightly.

My suitcase is still sitting on my living room floor, full of clothes (what of it?) more than a week out from my trip. 

But the storage inside my stateroom was so clever, and knowing I was going to be in the one room for seven whole nights, I thought – why the heck not go WiLd and unpack? 

And I loved it. 

There are your standard drawers and wardrobe, obviously, but there are also secret hidey holes exactly everywhere you wouldn’t expect them, like the stool you can take the cover off of and the curved 'wall' that in fact pops out to reveal an entire shelving unit (IKEA would be jealous). 

So when you roll in, unpack and make yourself right at home.

8. There’s no shame in eating double dessert.

On the first night of my cruise, I was chatting to my server, Alice, who had a passion for desserts. I expressed my deep sadness that I was having a really hard time deciding between the tiramisu (an obvious pick but still a favourite) and the peach clafoutis (because yum and I enjoy the word 'clafoutis').

Aside from the fact that Alice referred to all desserts using she/her pronouns (which I shall be doing henceforth), she told me I should Just Have Both.

Image: Supplied.

 Alice – thank you. This is the holiday energy we all need. 


Nobody has ever offered me double dessert before and it was a trend I continued, popping up to the ice cream bar most nights for a couple of scoops following my three-course dinner because 'dessert dessert' is now a thing in my life.

9. Even if you don’t get seasick you… might get seasick.

A word of warning. 

I was feeling super smug when I got on board without so much as thinking about packing sea sickness solutions. I’ve never been seasick in my life, and this was a biiiiiiiig boat ship. Surely I wouldn’t even feel the ocean beneath my feet right? 

I was... wrong. 

For the most part, I couldn’t feel a thing and would've completely forgotten I was out to sea had it not been for all the... sea around me. But we did have some waves one day (guys, we were at sea, it's to be expected), and while it was actually kind of fun, my stomach did try to riot a couple of times. For my next cruise, I'll be packing some ginger pops and anti-nausea tablets just to be on the safe side.

10. A buffer is essential (especially at the end).

ICYMI, getting to Europe from Australia takes a while. It’s a flight that seriously takes it out of you, and while I stayed just one night in Barcelona before boarding, I think next time I cruise the Med (and you'd best believe I will), I’ll give myself a couple of days buffer at the start.

I also highly recommend you give yourself a couple of days to decompress (and shake off your sea legs) before you head back home.

Alix Nicholson is Mamamia's Managing Editor. Check out her obsession with travel, beauty and her stinkin' cute dog Lottie over on her Instagram

Feature image: Supplied.

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