OUR TOP 30 CRUISE TIPS
We are very passionate cruisers and have learned a lot from our 22+ cruises in the just the past several years. Here are some tips to help you out when planning & enjoying your next cruise!
1) Book a hotel near the cruise terminal
Since you will most likely be cruising from a major cruise terminal, be sure to look for a drive and stay place, so your car can remain there free of charge (If your driving to it,) and most will have a free shuttle to the cruise terminal. There is no better way than saving on cruise parking and getting to the port!
2) Bring your own power adapter(s)
These days the list of how many things we need to plug in grows every year! However, most cruise ship cabins will have limited outlets. Bring a couple of adapters with you. We also carry with us a universal adapter in case of a different style plug. This will only come into play if your cruising with a non-U.S. based cruise line.
3) Like standing in line? Then go early!
If your the type of person that likes to get on and off the ship first, then prepare yourself for quite a long line. Most likely there will be thousands more trying to do the same thing. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this! Lorie and I used to be these people. We have found though now that going a bit later makes things much more smooth and we get right on the ship with our luggage, without having to wait for the rooms to be ready.
4) All you can drink packages
These are now all the rage on cruises. For a set amount you can drink all you want with no bills! Beware though, the cost for the most part only pays for itself if you have 8-12 drinks per day before you start saving any money. For most people, you are better off just ordering drinks the old fashioned way. Check with your cruise line of choice regarding this. Most cruise lines will not allow you to bring hard liquor aboard, however many will allow you a bottle of wine or two.
5) Order a second (or third, or fourth!) entree if you desire!
Chicken or fish? Do not stress out. Order them both. Most cruisers, especially first-timers do not realize it but you can order as much as you want in the main dining room. Let loose and enjoy yourself. Dining is one of our favorite things to do on a cruise!
6) Shops & Shopping on board
Lorie and I have found that on just about every cruise something you have been eyeing in the onboard shops will be on sale before the end of the cruise, so wait until you find that sale you like. It most likely will happen!
7) Spa treatments pretty much the same
Most cruises will have at least one of two days where you can book the same treatment for about half the regular price. And since these can run quite expensive it usually pays off big time to wait for that special!
8) Cruise line employees pay
Lorie and I like to take the time to get to know the incredible staff that helps make cruising the great experience that is usually is. Many of you may now know that the average pay is as little as $800/month for a job that is worked 7 days a week!! This is why you will not find very many Americans on the waitstaff, or the crew in general. This is the reason they are very appreciative of gratuities, and work so hard to assure you of having an amazing time!
9) Bed not quite soft enough?
Lorie and I enjoy a soft bed, so this does happen with us sometimes. Ask your room steward for an egg crate. Most likely they will have a supply of them on hand. They really help!
10) Secret areas/decks on your ship
Many ships have decks that not easily accessible but are still public. These are fun spots to find on the ship be sure to explore every inch of your ship. You never know what you may find.
11) Idyllic ports of call - probably not
Sure, the photos on the cruise line website show crystal blue water, white sand beaches, and not a cloud in the sky. Truth is, however, that many port cities aren’t that nice — especially outside of the touristy area. The Caribbean especially is rife with poverty and many of the people depend on the tourism dollars that cruise passengers bring. That means you can expect people hustling to make a dollar. You might find them a bit pushy. Lorie and I usually just get past the touristy areas near a cruise terminal as fast as possible. Then the exploration begins!
12) Cruise line transfers - Don't do it!
Generally, you will need to find transport to and from the cruise port. Cruise lines charge a crazy amount for this! Never schedule this with them. Use Uber or any rideshare for that matter. Even a taxi will cost you less.
13) Cruise prices are pretty much the same
Everywhere you look online, there really is no better deals we have found. They are pretty much the same across all websites and platforms. We have found that sometimes Costco has some really great incentives.
14) Need something? Ask for it
Cruise lines want you to be comfy and to enjoy your vacation. If there is anything that might make your trip more pleasant, don't hesitate to ask for it. From blankets, pillows, towels or anything else you may think of, just ask. Very similar to a five-star hotel they will most likely have and get it for you.
15) Use the stairs if able to
Lorie and I always go into every cruise with the same goal of gaining no weight every time. We usually pull this off! The best way to make this happen is to simply never use the elevators. We will try to get our room on as high a deck as possible, for an even higher step count. Depending on the time of day as well, the waits can be quite long despite there being a lot of elevators on most ships.
16) Take a photo of the daily planner
Like Las Vegas, you’ll find you that you actually spend less time in the room than you anticipated. If you’re out and about and wondering what activities are coming up next, you don’t want to have to carry around the full daily newsletter that contains that day’s schedule. Instead, an easy thing to do is take a picture of the daily planner on your phone or camera. This way you have a copy of the schedule with you without having to carry the newsletter or go back to the cabin to see what’s going on. This is even a better option than some of the ships apps.
17) Internet at sea
Careful here! There are too many horror stories of cruise passengers forgetting to turn off their phone's data and coming home to HUGE bills with international roaming fees. If you don't plan on using your phone, be sure to put it in airplane mode or just turn it off completely. But I need to Instagram my trip while at sea! That is fine, Lorie and I do that. Just be prepared to pay a hefty fee for the ship's wifi.
18) Guys take a dress jacket
Even on the most laid-back cruise. You never know when it'll come in handy. For example, it can be windy on deck, or temps in port might be cooler than expected, and a jacket will keep you warm when outside. And you never know when you may want to spruce up your look.
19) Stateroom size & style
While Lorie & I do get a balcony room every now and again, we often get an inside cabin. Not necessarily due to the cost difference (which can be a lot!), but mainly because we are just rarely in our room. Keep this in mind when deciding on that higher cost room or not.
20) Don't break the bank on port days
Shore excursions can take a hefty bite out of your vacation budget. Lorie & I love to make our own adventures as we enjoy wandering around from the ship. You can also save a lot of money on that must-do excursion by just booking it locally when you get off the ship, or do your research upfront on tripadvisor.com, etc. Most times your ship will charge three or four times more for the same thing!
21) Organize your cabin on day one
Start out organized from day one! As soon as you get to your cabin, unpack everything, putting thought into where your belongings should go. Remember you won't have to unpack again. It makes your entire cruise more comfortable knowing where everything is.
22) Explore your ships eating place options
We see the same thing on every cruise! Everyone heads to the main eating buffet with the crowds. Most larger ships probably have a lot more dining options then you can even imagine. Lorie and I always manage to find uncrowded eateries on every cruise we take. And usually even better food!
23) Use your rooms safe
While nothing is 100% safe, your rooms safe gives you the best security. We always put our money and passports the first thing as we enter our room. Take a photo of your passport and have it with you on your phone. We almost never have the need for our passport on any cruise.
24) That queasy feeling
While Lorie & I never have this problem some do, especially on the smaller ships. The following may surprise you! Eating a green apple, or inhaling a peeled orange rind help with a lot of people! Ginger which is the common ingredient in most seasick tablets is also handy to have if you feel you may need.
25) Order room service
Lorie and I have only done this once or twice, but we know a lot of people enjoy this amenity. There is no extra charge to have that breakfast in bed!
26) Bring your own pharmacy
Whatever you feel you may need during a cruise be sure to bring it with you. You will be sticker shocked when you see what the most basic essentials cost in the on-ship stores.
27) Kids & teens programs
Ships offer amazing features for kids. Most cruise lines now offer even better kids activities and excursions, plus fun features like game rooms, circus schools, and teen-only nightclubs, among others. Be sure to check them out if your traveling with kids!
28) Keep your wine in the dining room
Wine drinkers will love this perk. Did not finish that bottle of wine? Just ask your waiter to store it for you, and they will then bring it to your meal the following evening. How nice is that!
29) Bring a coffee mug
Took Lorie & I many cruises to figure this one out. If you have room in your luggage and are a coffee drinker you will really enjoy having it with you. Must easier walking around the ship with a coffee.
30) Casino odds are not the best
Cruise casinos know you don't have any other choices on where to gamble. Just beware that they are known for the stingiest of payout odds.
Have any cruising tips that you think would go great on this page? Contact us and let us know. We will always be updating this page!