First time cruise guide

Happy couple walking on board a cruise ship

Thinking about booking your first cruise?

Picking the right cruise can seem like a daunting task, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. From selecting the right cabin to our onboard tips and tricks, we’ll help you out with all the need-to-knows before boarding, so you can sail away carefree.


When to book

Special occasions

There's no better way to celebrate a special occasion than a cruise. But, make sure you get in early otherwise you might miss out on your cabin preference. 

Last minute cruises

Do you have some holidays saved up and no idea how to spend them? There's some great last-minute cruise deals available if you're feeling spontaneous. 

One-way cruises

For those looking for a spot of adventure, one-way cruises are ideal. Simply hop onboard and hop off at your final destination. 

Choosing a cruise

Crown Princess ship on ocean cruise

Ocean (Large)

When it comes to ocean cruising, bigger is better. Ideal for young families, ocean cruise ships offer everything from ice skating rinks to adults-only casinos. Stopping at a new port nearly every day, onshore visits are designed to be educational and insightful.

Mid size criuse ship sailing along beach

Adventure and small ship (Boutique)

It may not have all the frills of the mammoth ocean liners, but adventure and small ship cruises are perfect for those looking for more of a private experience. Think white sails, quiet beaches and no crowds. Most adventure and small ship cruises also house local experts, so passengers can get to know the area better. 

Seaborn Encore luxury ship deck at sunset with pool

Luxury (Mid-size)

If you’re after a first-class, opulent cruise vacation, then luxury cruising is for you. A little pricier than the average ocean cruise, luxury cruises offer passengers more space and 24-hour service. Onshore visits are always glamourous affairs, preferencing comfort and quality.

Choosing a cabin

Inside cabin on a cruise ship

Inside Cabins

If you’re travelling on a budget, cabins located inside the ship are an inexpensive option. These cabins are ideal for travellers who intend to spend more time onshore or socialising. You may not have a view or even a window in these cabins, but it’s a good base for the rest of your cruise. 

Outside cabin on a cruise ship

Outside Cabins

Almost identical in size to inside cabins, outside cabins have just one difference: a window. If you can’t live without a little natural light, these rooms are a very slight step up from inside cabins. If you don’t mind paying a little extra for a sealed porthole or window, outside cabins are the smart choice.

Balcony cabin on a cruise ship


With similar amenities to the inside and outside cabins, the balcony cabin is the next tier up from outside cabins. For more money, you get access to the outside world via a small balcony with sliding doors. Balcony cabins also have a little bit more room for dining in, in-room massages and other activities.

Luxury cabin on a cruise ship


Unlike other cabins on a cruise ship, luxury cabins come in all shapes and sizes. For a little extra luxury, you can get private balconies, suites, penthouses or even a villa. Some cruises even offer suites with access to the ship’s spa facilities.


Cruise ship sailing past Sydney Opera House at sunrise

Pre-boarding tips and tricks

For first time cruisers, the boarding process can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Most cruise liners will send information needed for boarding via email way before embarkment day. It’s important to read all information and to understand the process to minimise stress on the day. Aside from making sure you arrive early and prepare for long queues, we recommend having all documents ready, to ensure easy boarding. If you’re travelling with kids bring something to entertain them while waiting in line.

Couple enjoying balcony suite on board

Onboard tips and tricks

Welcome aboard! Navigating the first few days on a cruise can be tricky but relax, the onboard crew are there to help. Things to remember during your first few days onboard, don’t go straight to the buffet. Many travellers make this mistake and end up in long queues, take a tour of the ship instead and find your bearings. We suggest buying a drinks package while your cruising and pre-booking your offshore experiences to ensure you get the most out of your cruise.

Complete your trip

Find out more Australian passport

Travel insurance

Travelling abroad soon? Consider Qantas’ Travel Insurance policy and earn an extra 1,000 Qantas Points, plus 1 point per $1 spent on premium.* Travel with a little piece of mind your next holiday. 

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Find out more Couple working to the beach in Noumea


With coaches and private cars available in over 280 countries all over the world, getting to and from your cruise has never been easier. Start and end your holiday stress-free. 

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Find the perfect cruise for you

View our picks

Still not convinced cruises are right for you? Check out our selection of short cruises so you can test the waters before diving into an international cruise holiday. 

Important information

* Qantas Frequent Flyer members who take out a Qantas Insurance Annual Multi Trip travel insurance policy will earn 1 Qantas Point per A$1 spent on the premium paid and 1,000 sign on Qantas Points. You will be eligible for these points upon departure, and points may take up to 6 weeks from the date of your departure to be credited to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.