39 Cruise Tips and Tricks for the Best Cruise Vacation

By ,   May 5, 2015 ,   Tips & Tricks

Don't miss our list of 39 valuable cruise tips and tricks.

These are going to help from the moment you start preparing for your future cruise - no matter you need a piece of advice about booking or packing.

Simple cruise tips and tricks are also useful onboard and keep you away from mishaps and bad emotions. If you know how to avoid seasickness, learn something about tipping tricks or what could help best after a night of drinking too much. Or... how not to be a "problem passenger". Here are our precious 39 cruise tips and tricks.

Cruise Tips and Tricks

  1. Let's start now with the cruise tips and tricks concerning the research for the best cruise of yours - prepare to be heaped up because there are numerous options. Travel agents specialized in cruising could help. Just pick your destination and go. Booking with a travel agent is often cheaper than doing it directly with the line.
  2. Another way for saving up money on your cruise is booking the last minute. Online you can find last minute cruises deals. The other extreme is to book in advance as far as possible.
  3. Book shore excursion before boarding the ship. Lots of cruise lines let this be done online and keep you away from the risk the excursion you want fills up or wait in line onboard for hours. Or why don't you save money by booking excursions directly with tour company? Depending on the tours, you can save up to $50 per ticket. Taxi sightseeing is also a good option. However, booking a shore tour through your cruise line will save you hassle and time - you will stay free to focus on the best vacation. Another advantage is that if the excursion is late the tour operator is responsible to contact a port agent who then will contact the ship. Captains always wait for delayed excursions booked through the line, but they'll not wait when there is no idea when a missing traveler will decide to board back the ship.
  4. If you want to choose the nicer cruise ships at sea, pick the newest. Older ships are not so nice but are less expensive for cruises of the same length. If you can choose and everything else is the same, choose the newer ship.
  5. Sail with a person who works on a cruise ship, if you know someone. You may only have to pay for the port charges. Staff members are able to get free excursions and know the best places in port to take you. Even if you cannot get a discount, you'll have much more fun than if you cruised as the other normal passengers (especially if you are able to access the crew areas).
  6. Sail with your friends. You will sure meet new people onboard, but it’s more fun to travel with friends you know. The greatest thing about cruising with friends is that you are not forced to be together all the time like if you rented a car during a land vacation.
  7. Cruise with your age group. When it's cold, they are old. Alaskan voyages have older crowd (any 5-days and longer itinerary). Younger travelers usually cannot afford longer voyages nor they have enough vacation time for them. Short sailings (especially Caribbean) are party cruises and have younger crowd. 2-days cruises to nowhere are popular with party crowds.
  8. Holidays and summer time cruises are best popular with families because children are out of school. Think about scheduling your voyage out of these times in case you want a sailing with fewer kids onboard.
  9. If you consider a transatlantic crossing, choose Europe for a start point, because you'll gain five hours daylight because of crossing time zones.
  10. If you book Alaskan Cruise and an outside cabin, better choose starboard cabin for northbound cruises and port cabin for southbound cruises. This way you'll be facing scenery instead of open water - easy cruise tips and tricks, much comfort and relax.
  11. Do not over-research or over-plan your cruise. If you're first-time cruiser, just enjoy the uncertainty of it all.
  12. Do not overpack. There's no need to have a carryon and two enormous suitcases for each on a 5-days cruise.
  13. Bring extra underwear - you'll want to be fresh for dinner after lying by the pool or all day walking around in port. If you use up your clean clothes, you can throw a load in the passengers' washing machines.
  14. Save room in luggage for the things you are going to buy on your cruise.
  15. And here is one of our most important cruise tips and tricks: Don't forget your passport! Many passengers fall in the situation to be in tears at embarkation terminal just because one in the group forgot all passports and they could not board the ship. So many ruined vacations... The cruises are not refunded. Nor are airfares. Nor are vacation days from the employers.
  16. Bring your watch as it will help get back to ship on time and make it to onboard activities that you are interested in. Don't forget to set your watch to the “ship time” - it may or may not change after you cross time zones.
  17. Bring onboard a walkie-talkie, especially if you travel with kids.
  18. Bring ear plugs - sleeping on airplane is easier with them. They also allow sleeping through the noise which may disturb you onboard the ship: kids running, noisy neighbors, afternoon announcements, and ship’s engines.
  19. Bring your suntan lotion - if you buy it at home, it will cost about 50% less than if you buy it in port or on the ship. Use it and reapply it often - there is no reason to feel miserable while on vacation.
  20. If you drink, onboard you will probably consume alcohol more than usual - so, if you take aspirin after a drinking night, remember to bring some with you. Don't bother if you forget, cause you can always buy onboard, no matter it will be more expensive.
  21. If you're flying to get to ship’s homeport, better leave enough time to compensate flight delays - they often cause missed cruise sailings.
  22. Don't be late, for any reason! Cruise ships wait no more than fifteen minutes after the scheduled sailing times. Each line has its port agent who could help if you miss the ship. A chance is to fly to the next port and meet the ship there, though you'll have to pay all extra expenses.
  23. Loiter around taxi stands while in port, and wait to share cab with someone else heading your direction. This way you're going to save a couple bucks as well as meet someone new.
  24. Just because you see a line does not mean you have to wait in. Sometimes the gangway heads to the purser's desk. On embarkation days, pursers really need to deploy somebody to keep travelers from getting in line, despite the fact they have no questions. After you board ship, just go to your cabin or up to Lido deck to have lunch.
  25. Don't expect you'll be able to upgrade or change your cabin after you get onboard. Cruise ships are usually booked to capacity, and changing cabins is possible only when there is "no-show" - someone who paid but did not show up. However, purser’s desk will not know if there is a "no-show" until ship sets sail. Also have in mind that cabins below or above the disco are loud and the ones near the engine room may vibrate. A good location is the very front of ship - you'll have to walk more and get some rumble from ship's thrusters and more swaying, but zero vibrations from the engines. Another benefit - it's quieter because of the less foot traffic by the door.
  26. Expect your stateroom to be much smaller than the typical hotel rooms. Don't make this a problem.
  27. Your luggage will probably not arrive to your stateroom until late evening - don’t waste time for calling the pursers, just be patient. Cabin stewards carry thousands of luggage and it takes much time to get all delivered. Don't forget to take a carry-on for the things like toiletries, medication, your camera.
  28. Do you expect everything to be perfect? The toilet in your cabin might not work. Your remote control batteries might be dead. Call a pursers if necessary, but remember that it's your vacation and maintain your relaxed mood. Control your emotions - be friendly but firm. If you raise voice, becoming difficult will not take you further.
  29. Use your credit cards and take cash for onboard purchases - better avoid traveler's checks. Ships have ATMs. So do the call ports if you need cash, but also use the ship's casino - get cash without ATM fees. Take some casino chips by using the ship card (it pulls from the credit card). Hold them for one hour, and then exchange for cash.
  30. If you have assigned dinner time, don’t be late aand observe cruise etiquette. Dining rooms onboard are not like the regular restaurants and serving many meals in such a short time needs good coordination. If you arrive late, your waiter’s schedule is it thrown off - it causes him waiting in extra lines in cruise ship's galley to get food that is out of synch with all other tables. Enjoy food, but remember you don't have to be stuffed to the limit five times a day in order to get your money worth.
  31. If something on your cruise goes wrong (like heavy listing or grounding), don’t get down if there are no injuries. Remember that what you have experienced very few other travelers have.
  32. Another one of our valuable cruise tips and tricks - boat drill could save your life, so pay attention during it.
  33. How to avoid seasickness? Don’t leave land! ;-) Cruise ships nowadays are enormous, and their movement is very minimal. If you're feeling seasick, follow the next cruise tips and tricks: Take a nap. Take medication (Scopolamine and Dramamine are between the most common medications). Ginger capsules can also be effective. Move to the open deck in middle of ship and look at the horizon. Use acupuncture wrist band. Stimulate underside of the forearm, three fingers down from wrist. Get a shot from ship’s doctor (expect to sleep for the next few hours). And read our review about Staying Healthy on Cruise Vacation.
  34. It happens all the time, but crewmembers aren't supposed to intermingle with passengers - they can get fired if caught. If you have romantic encounter with some of the crew, use discretion and also realize you're probably not the first traveler this crewmember is with. Mostly guys go to the onboard disco on the first cruise formal night in order to hunt - this is the best spot to look for romance with a member of the crew.
  35. To start a conversation with a member of the crew, don't ask if they live on the ship, how long their contract is or if they can get off in port. The very same questions are asked everyday and the staff and crew get sick of them. Yes, they do live on ship. Their contracts are usually eight months long. They can get off in call ports, but not every time.
  36. Waiters and cabin stewards work up to fifteen hours a day. Most of the crew get one day off in 8 months. Tip them extra $20 on first day of cruise to be looked after like royalty and let them know you'll be tipping them at the end of cruise, too. Few passengers do it, but those who do get the best service. Follow our cruise tips and tricks and if you have any special requests, you'll become staff's top priority.
  37. At the other end of spectrum, realize you can become recognized as “problem passenger" easily if you complain too much or are rude to staff. Crewmembers are a tight knit group - word travels quickly in it and after you've been rude to one person, the other crewmembers are likely to have heard about everything you did.
  38. The captain has authority to kick anyone off the ship when he thinks a person is danger to other passengers or his crew - remember that!
  39. The last, but not the less important between our cruise tips and tricks is that the ship is not just transportation to call ports - it's where you spend most of the time during a cruise vacation. Cruising is great to sample ports you want to visit, but if you want to spend more time in specific port, fly there, stay for a few days. When you cruise, the scheduled will let you be in each port for only eight hours (no guarantee the weather will be fine). Scheduled ports may change, but if your ship does not make it to scheduled ports, don't assume you'll get partial refund.