Choosing your first Cruise? What ship, where to go? How and Why? Dress Code?


New to Choosing a Cruise? So many questions?

Within a short time you will become an expert like other cruisers, but for now a few tips might help. It is so easy to get it wrong! Choosing a cruise is easy, choosing the right cruise is a little harder. Doris Visits does try to help, just search Doris Visits.


Every cruiser will love to give you advice, because they love cruising; they have found the formula that works for them. Let us explain how wildly different it can be. Adult only ship with an older audience that love to dress up, normally a smaller ship v four generations of family who cruise together and want something for every generation, and don’t want to dress every night. The sun-seeking, beach easy Caribbean cruise v the hard, exhausting, hugely interesting and educational Baltic cruise – what a contrast.

They are all great, but you can see in an instant, that they are all different. Lets suggest your first cruise is an easy one to get you into it. You fly to the Caribbean, it needs little research and for two weeks the wonder of the ship and the port stops will keep you more than busy. However, some ports are interesting and some will have you wondering why you stopped there. I might suggest that Guadeloupe or Martinique are ports where you might want to head for a beach or take a tour. I might suggest that Antigua has some of the best beaches in the world, they claim 365 one for each day, but, there is little to see on a tour. However, the rain forest is interesting and a great tour. Now you are understanding how a little research helps avoid disasters. If you have ever been skiing, or played golf, you will know how everyone is helpful with advice that sometimes confuses. Here at Doris Visits, our own films made normally presented by Jean Heard, try to show you what is there and not pass judgement because we all have different tastes. So, in the paragraph you have just read, rain forest, Martinique are titles that if you hit them will take you to a link. That shows you the place. We also have some ship tours, ours include the Aurora, Britannia, Azura and Arcadia where as we have tours by other video bloggers on the Marella ships and others. You might want to make your cruise stops an adventure.


A ship is a village. Some ships are a city. The large ships are aimed at a new cruise market, the virtually integrated family cruise where three of four generations cruise together and never see each other but can when they want. In every city you will find a pub club or venue you like. Even on the large ships there are the small private areas.

Cruising costs money! The price of your cruise is the start. You can never eat away from the main very nice a la carte restaurant and never go on a tour, and never buy a drink and have a cheap cruise. However, there are fine dining restaurants which in London would cost a fortune, but on ship are a small extra premium. Restaurants from Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kuchhar and Oly Smith’s wine bar which is a firm favourite of ours on the Azura, but the layout it has on the Britannia puts it in second place.


It is not just about food, but you might like a more private sun bed and a little more attention when sun bathing, if so, most ships will have a premium area. This cost should be looked at if you want a better sun bed. But, if you are on a Caribbean cruise with few sea days is it worth it? Maybe not. The smaller ships have slightly older cliental on average though you will find couples with babies and young children even on the Aurora, however, they will be few. The kids club does tend to make the children invisible, because they do love it so much. The larger ship will have two choices of entertainment, maybe three, and maybe three clubs and additional bars with maybe a duo and or a pianist. I don’t like to lay in the sun, prefer to be in a quiet area, but prefer the larger ships. Jean likes the Aurora and Azura and enjoys the sun and finds little places that are not busy. I would go as far as to say, that those who have not liked cruising, may have made a choice that did not match them, because somewhere there is a ship that suits you, going to places you will like. It might be a small ship going to Greece, or a large ship out of Barbados, but look first. Even join a chat site and see what the others are saying.

Click here for the special CARIBBEAN SEASON menu. Islands and Caribbean Season Destinations here !CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Caribbean Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT


On Cunard, Regent Seven Seas, P&O and on Fred Olsen ships you will be in a small minority if you do not dress on gala nights. Most ships are the same but each has different rules. Cruising is a chance to dress and on gala nights black tie should mean a dinner suit and tie, ladies in evening dresses. A lounge suit is acceptable on most ships with a dark tie. Cruisers do enjoy the chance to dress-up. Using the P&O ships as an example, on black tie nights, you will be expected to dress for most areas in the ship. If you do not wish to dress up, the buffet and the pub and casino are normally the places left for your evening after the entertainment where dress code is not requested in the night club or theatre, however you will be in a minority if you do not dress. On the larger ships the areas not enforcing a dress code are extensive. If you are in an dress code area and in correctly dressed, if the waiters have not already suggested you might be comfortable in another venue then the fashion police will. As an example we are quote P&O exactly in their dress code.  

The following venues are exclusively Black Tie venues when Black Tie is the Dress Code of the ship.
Arcadia: Intermezzo, The Crow’s Nest, Meridian, Sindhu and Ocean Grill restaurants.
Aurora: Anderson’s, The Crow’s Nest, Alexandria, Medina, Sindhu and The Glass House restaurants.
Azura: Blue Bar, Planet Bar, Meridian, Peninsular, Oriental, Sindhu, The Glass House and The Epicurean restaurants.
Britannia: The Crow’s Nest, The Epicurean, Meridian, Peninsular, Oriental, Sindhu and The Glass House restaurants.
Oceana: Magnums, Yacht and Compass, Ligurian and Adriatic restaurants.
Oriana: Anderson’s, The Crow’s Nest, Peninsular, Oriental and Sindhu restaurants.
Ventura: Red Bar, Metropolis, Cinnamon, Saffron, Bay Tree, Sindhu, The Glass House and The Epicurean restaurants.

On tropical nights, Abba nights (leaving Stockholm) seventies nights etc, not every dresses but many will make an effort. Casual is normally smart tailored jean or trousers and a shirt, some ships require a jacket or blazer. Best way to look at it is you are joining the cruise ship, it is not joining you.

Finally, though all the ships have stabilisers and the big ships sit well in the sea. The Aurora is wonderfully stable. You might like to buy and pack sea sickness bands before you go. If you see others with grey wrist bands on you will know why. Have a look at our what to pack. Packing for the Galapagos Islands is different, and we have a separate film.


Here is another ponder – if you are someone who does not like New Years Eve but always wanted to see Sidney Harbour at that time of year, or the fireworks in Funchal, then that is an excuse to cruise. If you love Strictly and never managed to get tickets, then that is an excuse to cruise. And if you like 50 Shades of Grey and like an edgy romantic read then the Sally Katz books might be a reading introduction.

P&O Cruises cruises to St Maarten – view P&O St Marteen cruises here  Fred Olsen cruises to Sint Maarten – view now on the Fred Olsen site here Saga Cruises to the Caribbean – view there site here by clicking now Marella Cruises to the Baltics, Fjords, Iceland & Arcticclick here for Marella Cruise’s own web site – Baltics, Fjords, Iceland & Arctic Cruise deals page