First time cruiser? These top 10 cruise hacks will help you get the most out of your cruise vacation!
Booking a cruise a year or more out can save you money. However, cruise lines are notorious for running promotions to fill a ship, so make sure that you check on the prices after you book. If there is a lower price, you have to call either your cruise travel agent that you booked with or the cruise line themselves to request a price change. They will not do it automatically.
If you need to cancel, typically you have month or two before your sail date to do so without incurring a penalty.
I usually use CruiseCompete.com for all my cruise bookings. This is a site where multiple cruise travel agents will bid to get your business. I have had on board ship credits of $1,200 and all my gratuities covered when I booked through this site. If you rebook on the cruise for your next sailing, you can request to be released from your travel agent in order to bid out another booking.
If you are doing research for different cruises, the best site that I have found to give me feedback from actual cruisers is CruiseCritic.com. There are thousands of room reviews, excursion reviews, ship reviews, crew reviews, etc..
You can burn a lot of calories that you most definitely will consume on the cruise just by taking the stairs. My wife and kids made this a game. We would race to see who get to the pool the fastest, one group would take the stairs, while the other would take the elevator. Well, the stair steppers won on a consistent basis. This really does help keep the “cruise weight” off! We’ve all been there post cruise, gaining 5, 10, 15, even 20 pounds.
Did you say free drinks? Adult beverages on a cruise can add up quick. Especially because of that sea pass card that makes you “think” you’re not spending money. I like to get the drink packages on the ship with my onboard credit, but you don’t have to do that. You can get free drinks. How? If you like the bubbly stuff, then head on over to the art show. Most cruises offer free champagne for you to enjoy while viewing the show.
Another option would be to bring your own alcohol. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a limited amount of alcohol on the ship and it’s best to check with your cruise line the amount you are allowed to bring on. I am an avid Royal Caribbean cruiser and I always bring a nice wine for my wife and I to enjoy at dinner. Just know you won’t be allowed to bring the whole liquor cabinet or wine fridge with you.
Cruise cabins aren’t equipped with a lot of power outlets and some of the outlets are a mystery to find, usually hidden behind the bed or nightstand. I always bring a couple of power strips on board to charge my family’s various electronic devices. The power strips I use have two USB ports and four electrical outlets on them. This is the easy way to stay charged up.
That yummy soft served goodness can most likely be found by the kids pool. So enjoy the unlimited amounts that you can consume, no need to pay for that named brand on the promenade.
A lot of people are sensitive to motion and are more prone to sea sickness. Cruises are meant to enjoy, relax, rest, and party. One of the items that I found works great and is a natural remedy is ginger, known for its anti-nausea properties. Take some ginger powder with you or visit the juice bar and ask for them to make a ginger and green apple juice for you. This usually helps my family. Give it a try! If that doesn’t work, cruise ships usually sell motion sickness patches that you can stick behind your ear.
ATMs on cruise ships should be charged with highway robbery! I’ve seen fees as high as $6 per withdraw. Crazy! That’s twice as much as land withdraws. None the less, you can avoid these fees if you need some cash. Since your sea pass card is connected to your credit card or your checking account, just go down to the casino and load you sea pass card with the amount you need to withdraw and then get your cash out voucher and take it to the cashier in exchange for the cash. You have just saved on the $6 ATM fee that you will be charged on the ship.
Viator.com is an excellent website to book your land excursions and tours as you travel port to port. The company has a low price guarantee, fully refundable if you cancel your reservation seven days out. Another great thing is they know your ship’s itinerary, so they will get you back to the ship on time or they will arrange for you to get to your next port of call. That’s what they call their “worry free” policy.
Western Caribbean, Bahamas, & Mexico
Europe & Mediterranean
Travel insurance booked through cruise companies often lacks essential coverage such as medical, emergency medical evacuation, bad weather or hurricane evacuation. It’s nice that cruises attempt to be “all-inclusive”, but don’t bet your finances against their limited insurance coverage if your cruise gets cancelled or you miss your connection.
If you are cruising with a family or just solo, it is a smart thing to always make sure that you are properly covered. One thing that most people don’t know, is that your health plan or your credit card probably won’t cover you should something happen outside the country. Easily quote, compare, and purchase your cruise travel insurance with insureyonder.com.