If you’re wondering about the many cruise tips and hacks you should know to have a fun, successful cruise vacation, I’ve covered some of them here.
Of course, there’s no way to put everything we’ve learned in our years of cruising in one tiny article, but secrets of the seas could go on ad infinitum.
If you are a first-time cruiser or have sailed the seas endlessly, I hope these cruise tips will make your voyage less stressful, less overwhelming, and much more enjoyable.
Seems that every time we take a cruise, we gain more information about how to make the most of it. There is so much to see, so much to do! Enjoy as I share many of our cruise tips with you!
1. Most, if not all, cruise lines have their own app. Download the app before you even leave home. You will find tons of useful information, including the layout of the ship in most cases.
2. Be sure to go up to one of the higher decks and watch your ship sail away. What a magnificent feeling! You may see breathtaking views, so be prepared for your photo moments.
3. If you are cruising to foreign countries, download a currency converter app on your phone. This is really the only way to make sure you are paying the right price for something and receiving the correct change.
4. It is always, always, always a great idea to fly the day before your cruise begins to the city where your cruise port is. There are things that can and do go wrong. If you are late for your ship, they will not wait for you.
5. When you are packing for your vacation, keep in mind that you will likely want to bring back some souvenirs. Leave a bit of room in your luggage for those.
You won’t be charged an overweight fee by the airlines heading out for your vacation, but you may be charged one coming back home. But ONE overweight charge is better than TWO!
6. Your souvenirs will be much less expensive on the shore than they will be on the ship.
7. Put your cell phone on airplane mode as soon as you get on the ship. The roaming charges are outrageous.
8. Check with your cell phone service provider. Most service providers offer cruise ship packages to help you save money on your cell use.
9. When you are in port, you can find free Wi-Fi at most local restaurants, bars, libraries and such.
10. Take a power cord and a power adapter. Most every ship we have been on has used a regular 220, but some do not. Many countries have their own type of power outlets.
If you are spending time on land overnight at a hotel, research this before you leave so you will be prepared for it.
11. Did you know you can pre-book your activities on your ship before you even leave home? You can also pre-book your dining preferences. In fact, the cruise lines advise this.
Each cruise line is different on this, so check with yours for their policy.
12. Gratuities will be automatically added to your bill at the end of your journey. You have the option to adjust this if you feel you need to.
If a cruise employee has gone above and beyond, you are at liberty to reward them even more for their exemplary service.
We usually take dollar bills everywhere we go for this purpose.
13. Don’t try to skip out on the muster drill. This drill will take place after all passengers are on board. It is mandatory and for your own safety.
And they will know if you skip out on it. If you try that, you will probably get a knock on your cabin door requesting you to attend your own private muster.
14. Do not forget your passport. If you are going to a different country, you will not be allowed on the ship without it. Put it on your packing list!
15. Even after you book your cruise, keep checking back as prices may drop. Your travel agent may be able to get you the lower price.
Or if you booked your trip yourself on-line, you could be given the lower price if you bring it to their attention.
16. If you want to try one of the specialty restaurants but neglected to make an advance reservation, try going to the specialty restaurant on the very first night of your cruise. You will likely get in. It’s their slowest night.
17. Empty out the minibar in your cabin and fill it with your own water bottles full of whatever you’d like.
18. Most times it is less expensive to book your tours online before your cruise sets sail. There will be people on the pier when you are in port selling tours as well. These are much less costly than the ship’s tours.
Just be sure you are back on the ship when you are supposed to be. You are taking a huge risk of being left behind if you are not back in time.
19. Your cabin walls are magnetized. Bring magnets to hang some of your stuff on. You will be glad you did!
Put a magnet on your cabin door, hang some type of decoration on it, and you will have no trouble finding your cabin in the very long corridor of cabin doors that all look alike.
20. We were told that cruise ships are beginning to ban straws. Not sure if this has happened yet, but take a few of your own if you prefer a straw. I take some on every cruise we go on and always use all of them.
21. You are allowed to take a carry-on when you board the ship. Your luggage will be delivered to your cabin sometime before 7:00 p.m.
In your carry-on bag, include a swimsuit, sunblock, a camera, your meds (in the rare event your luggage gets lost), your passports and cruise documents, a change of clothes.
22. Seasickness is rare on cruise ships. But if you find yourself feeling queasy, the Guest Services desk will have seasickness pills or other alternatives that will do the trick.
Saltine crackers work well too. Some people say ginger works. You can get some from the galley.
Many people will wear a seasickness patch behind their ear or a bracelet that does the same thing. Cabins in the middle of the ship tend to sway less.
Honestly, there has been only a couple times in 25 years of cruising that we have felt any type of sway on any ship.
23. Need some cash? Don’t use the ATMs. Way too expensive. Do this instead.
Insert your cruise card (a/k/a room key) into a slot machine in the casino. You will have a choice of how much you want to put on your card. Rather than spend it at that machine, press the cash out button. Take the cash-out receipt to the cashier. Boom! Receive cash back.
24. I like to take extra hangers when we cruise. They take up virtually no space at all. Hangers are quite limited in your cabin closet. However, the steward will be happy to bring you more. I just like to have my own from home.
25. It is okay to buy alcohol at your ports, but the cruise staff will take it from you when you get back on the ship. It’s not allowed to be brought on board from a port. They will hold it for you until the last night of your voyage.
26. Did you know that if you want more than one main entrée for yourself in the dining room, they’ll bring it to you? And more than one appetizer? And more than one dessert? You can make your appetizer your meal if you’d like to!
27. If you do not feel like eating out, room service is free on most ships. It’s also very tasty!
28. Are you single and want to go on a cruise? The cruise lines have always been “based on double occupancy,” but they are beginning to cater to solo travelers. Many have single cabins now. Just ask!
29. Bring a refillable water bottle from home. The ship’s water is totally safe to drink, and you will save money refilling your own bottle.
30. On many cruise lines, you can even bring your own sodas! Some do, some don’t. Check this before you leave. You’ll save money there! However, you are limited as to how much you can bring on board. Check this with your cruise line.
31. If you are a wine drinker, bring your own wine. Most cruise lines allow at least two bottles, if not more. The waiters will cork it for you and label the bottle with your name.
During the course of your trip, ask your waiter (you will have the same waiter every evening) for your wine and it will be served. Pretty cool, huh!?
Take your own corkscrew. There is a one-time corkscrew fee, usually around $15.
32. One of the best cruise tips you will ever get is to get to know the ship on your very first day. Your luggage may not be delivered to your stateroom until several hours (often more) after you board.
Start at the top deck, use the stairs, and see what is on every floor. You don’t necessarily have to walk the entire deck, but take a look at the maps posted that show what is on that floor. You’ll be glad you did!
33. Many people do not realize that the beautiful coffee shops on board also serve beautiful desserts, FOR FREE! If you don’t like the buffet desserts, head to a coffee shop.
You’ll need to purchase your coffee, cappuccino or latte, but the delicious desserts are complimentary!
34. If you are itching to try out the casino but don’t know what to do, did you know they offer free casino lessons? Give it a shot! Word of warning: the odds in ship casinos are stacked way high against you.
35. Upload your pictures daily to Facebook or another album (i.e., Walgreen’s) on the Internet. Should something happen to your camera or phone, you’ve still got your irreplaceable pictures.
36. Want to pack less? Ships have laundry rooms! They sure do. Take along a few detergent pods and wash a few clothes. Pack less and save the airline charges for luggage!
Who wants to do laundry on vacation, right? They’ll do it for you for a very nominal fee!
Cruising is becoming a favorite way to vacation for many. Seems that every year it is growing in popularity. New ships debut frequently.
Whether this is your first time to cruise or you are a seasoned cruiser, these cruise tips are sure to make your trip more enjoyable and relaxing.