Here are a few pointers and thoughts about cruising, based on our experiences in mid-September aboard the Cunard Princess.

First-time cruisers should:- Be aware that while meals and some amenities aboard the ship are all-inclusive, there may be some extra on-board expenses. Bar tabs, wine and liquor are not included in your fare, for example.

- I strongly suggest setting aside part of your travelers' checks to be cashed at the purser's office just before the end of the cruise so you'll have sufficient funds for tipping.

As a rule of thumb, here are the latest suggested average per-person figures: $2.50 per day for the room steward; $2.50 per day for the table waiter (again, multiply this by the number of people in your particular party), and $1.25 per day for the busboy and the maitre'd.

The ship provided discreet little envelopes in which you could enclose your tips at the end of the cruise - usually during the final evening on board. Other tipping for day-to-day services in the lounge, for night stewards and the wine steward, is taken care of as service is rendered.

The red caps who load your luggage during embarkation and again when you return should be tipped about $1 per suitcase right at the curb.

- Also, take some extra cash or travelers' checks along in case you want to purchase any of the on-board photographs. The Princess had a staff of professional photographers who took passengers' pictures at major events - the captain's cocktail party, your arrival in port, your dining room group, etc. The prints, processed overnight, were displayed in the main corridor, where we had the option of buying them as souvenirs.

Like most travelers, we were shooting a lot of pictures ourselves, but it was nice to have these professional shots to augment our own. They run about $4-$5 each, so plan accordingly.

- Excursions and escorted tours in port are generally not part of your regular fare. These can be arranged in advance or through the ship's on-board excursion office.

(Note: For a helpful, 20-page booklet entitled "Cruising: Answers to Your Most-asked Questions," see your travel agent or write to Cruise Lines International Association, 17 Battery Place, Suite 631, New York 10004.) - Ivan Lincoln