The more you sail, the more cruise secrets you pick up. Every time you cruise, you learn brand-new things about ships.
These unofficial cruise secrets reveal various options, let save money and allow you enjoy your time onboard. Contemporary cruising offers the best value for money, as your food, room, and entertainment are part of the package. But why should you wait to figure cruise secrets out the hard way and miss your chance to have better time? Whether you are "first-time cruiser" or not, you may find in our survey something you didn't know. Following are the cruise secrets for getting more out of your voyage. And don't forget to check our How to Save Money on a Cruise article.
Are There Cruise Secrets Concerning Food and Drink?
- Let's begin with your embarkation day. Most guest would head to the buffet right away to have lunch and wait for staterooms to be open. Have in mind that many ships feature alternative dining venues such as the main dining rooms and the mini-buffets in atrium or the solarium areas. Check the daily newsletter or ask a crewmember to find an alternative. For example, Princess Cruises ships feature International Cafe, Grill and Pizzeria; on Royal Caribbean - Sorrento's, Giovanni's Table, Starbucks, Park and Solarium Cafes, are all open on the afternoon of embark.
- Most passengers dine in the buffet or main dining rooms on the first night of cruise, and have not discovered onboard specialty restaurants yet. Book alternative dining venues for the first night, and you may even get a discount on some lines. Carnival Cruise Lines guests who dine in Steakhouse on their first night usually get a complimentary bottle of wine.
- Cruise ships' dining rooms are special treats. Guests dress-up and have the chance to eat something really special. But most people don't know that the food served in onboard buffets comes from the same ship's kitchen. So, if you are not in the mood to dress-up for formal experiences in the dining room, the greater part of entrees on the menu of the dining room will be available at buffet (with not the same deluxe titles, but the same food).
- In the main dining rooms you aren't limited to one appetizer, entree or dessert of each. Order three entrees or desserts if you want to. You can order portions of entrees that are appetizer-sized as starters, and also order some appetizers for main meal. It's great for trying new foods that you are not sure you would like.
- Room service - it's free of charge, however late-night hours are not on certain lines (Royal Caribbean, for example). You'd better tip the delivery person. Cruise ship in-room dining does not deserve the bragging as it does if you're staying at a hotel.
- Specialty coffee at designated onboard coffee shops comes with extra fee, but sandwiches, pastries, and other food are often free. Some specialties (like the chocolate strawberries) have a charge, don't think all these small bites also do.
- If you like ice cream, you could try branded licks like Celebrity gelato and Ben & Jerry's for a charge. However, remember that there is a free version, always - find out the buffet's hard-serve stations or the soft-serve machines on Lido Deck. Sometimes you can find different flavors from deck's either side soft-serve machines.
- Soda is not free on most lines, but iced tea in dining rooms usually is. Buy soda cards to save on sodas - soda cards offer set price and you can have unlimited soft drinks.
- Most lines let bringing onboard reasonable amounts nonalcoholic drinks - bring your own and save on pricey bottled waters and sodas.
- Check up if it's not cheaper buying a bottle of wine than some glasses, but what happens if you don't finish it? Cruise ship waiters mark bottles with guests' room numbers and save them for another night, may it be dinner in another venue.
- Beer drinkers can nake groups and save by ordering beer buckets. Get five beers in souvenir bucket and you'll pay cheaper per beer than if you order individual bottles.
- There is no rule for "open beverage" onboard and you may bring drinks from bars or buffets to the stateroom or elsewhere on ship - the same is valid for food.
- Do you feel attracted by the special drinks in souvenir glasses? Refill those at a discount. Another cruise secret is asking for the "drink of the day" in regular glass and save money. Watch the daily program for happy hours or drink specials with reduced prices. Order a fruity drink on the first day and get souvenir cup - use it throughout the cruise.
Learn more from our review on How to Get Free Alcohol on Cruise
What About Cabin Cruise Secrets?
- Inside cabins don't have natural light at all, but if yoy turn the TV to bridge cam station and turn off sound, you'll have instant nightlight and be able to see when the sun is up.
- Cabin designers nowadays create storage space as much as possible - pretty smart by the way. Explore your room or ask the cabin steward - you'll be surprised when you find the extra storage under couch or bed, behind the mirror or inside the ottoman.
- Any cruise secrets about bedding? Some lines provide top sheets, egg crate toppers, and alternative pillows by special request. Don't hesitate to ask, no matter before or during the cruise.
- With all the electronics we use these days, cruise ship outlets are always insufficient. Remember to bring power strip or charging station (if legal on your line), or ask the cabin steward. There is often an extra outlet which is hidden under the bed or behind the TV.
- Most cruise ship staterooms are made of metal - therefore they are magnetic. Bring some magnets (or buy as souvenirs) and you'll be able to keep your party invites, daily planners and reservation notices hung up on the doors and walls.
- If you're feeling sick, don't rush to the pharmacy before you make some calls. Cruise ship's room service will bring crackers and green apples to your cabin, and you can often get free meds against seasickness from purser's desk. Read about Staying Healthy on Cruise Vacation.
Excursions and Entertainment Cruise Secrets
Every cruise line provides dozens of excursions at a variety of call ports. Book ahead or during your cruise. Prices include a cut for the line with the bulk going to tour operators. All of the excursions that lines offer are available from various independent operators to greet you at port. Their fees are 25-50% less than the price you'd pay for ship's excursions. However, have in mind that independent excursions haven't been checked by the line for safety and quality, so it's at your own risk. Another outcry is that ships wait if one of their sponsored excursions hasn't returned yet, but no one will wait if you opt for independent excursion.
- Cruise ship spa centers usually offer a discount for first- and port-day spa treatments. Check the daily newsletters and find out about these deals. The saunas, stream rooms and showers, that are not located in the thermal fancy suites are free.
- Don't worry if some port talk is appointed at the same time as the massage you've dreamed for a long time. Shows and presentations are re-broadcast on ship's channel and you'll be able to catch the recording after missing the live show.
- Casino fans can get a hole in the room card and free casino lanyard for easy play and not forgetting your card in slot machines.
- Many lines provide free minutes when you sign up for Internet package the first day of your cruise.
The Carry-On Bag Cruise Secrets
Boarding thusands of people is a difficult task and takes a lot of time. Each has to check baggage and go through security, then check-in for cabin, make financial arrangements, and wait in line to get on ship. Once onboard, the staterooms may not be ready and luggage usually does not arrive for several hours. Imagine the situation - so many passengers stuck in clothes they've been wearing for hours. Remember taking a carry-on bag and don't forget to put in a swimsuit and a change of clothes. You'll feel great if you can change, grab a drink, and hit the pool before the others have even boarded. The most important of cruise secrets, because it concerns your health: Take your medications in the carry-on bag - sometimes bags go to the wrong room and it takes a lot of time to find yours.