25 Cruise Secrets Everyone Should Know

Want to truly get away? Cruising is not only relaxing, it is also one of the most cost-effective ways to travel! These 25 cruise secrets can help you find the best deals, discover little-known tips & tricks, and help you make the most of your next cruise vacation.

There’s no getting around it–cruising is a great way to travel. Not only is it a great value and relatively easy to find fantastic deals, it is so relaxing to just get on the ship and have everything taken care of. No hassles, no decisions, no worries.

As a Florida resident, I get to enjoy the added bonus of living relatively close to several different ports, which makes it very easy to take advantage of last-minute deals. I realized it was high time I write a blog post about this topic, not just to list the benefits of cruising (which are many), but to actually share some of the best-kept cruise secrets we’ve learned along the way.

25 Cruise Secrets Everyone Should Know

Here are the 25 “insider” secrets to successful cruising that I think everyone should know.

Booking & Travel

You can guarantee about 80% of the success of your cruise vacation by taking a good amount of time to research and thoroughly plan for your trip in advance.

1. Choose the Right Ship for You

Choosing the right ship is the most important step in determining how successful your cruise vacation will be, and believe me, not all ships are created equal! Take the time to research the amenities of the exact ship you will be cruising on, not just the cruise line. We have cruised on Carnival, Norwegian, Holland-America, Royal Caribbean, and Princess, but our favorite ship so far has been be Carnival Sunshine. (Hard to beat a 4-slide water park and P.Y.O.B. (pour your own beer) on the Lido Deck!)

To avoid the cost of airfare, look for ports within driving distance, whether it be Florida, New York, New Orleans, California, or Seattle. Cruise Critic has an extensive searchable database of cruises where you can sort by destination, ports, special interests and more during specific travel dates.

2. Check for Special Interests

Whether you are interested in a romantic trip for two or a trip the whole family will love, look into cruises that fulfill your and your guests’ special interests. Many cruise lines offer themed cruises or special events for singles, families, music lovers, etc. Carnival is now even offering big name concert events on some of their ships. This concert series, aptly named Carnival Live brings in some of the biggest names in classic rock and country music to do on-board concerts. For just $15 a ticket you can see big names like Lady Antebellum, Daughtry, Chicago, Kansas, and many more. (For $100 you can get a VIP ticket that gets you a front row seat and a chance to meet the band!)

3. Book at the Last Minute

If you are willing to be flexible with your travel plans you can get some amazing deals on last minute cruises! One of the smartest way to book a last minute cruise is to first find out how close to the departure date a traveler can cancel their reservation without a penalty. This time is typically 2-3 months prior to departure, and it is the exact time you will want to call and check back for better deals. Cruise lines will often  try to sell any available space at this time by reducing fare. If your cruise is already booked, this is also a good time to call to check for cabin upgrades. On Norwegian we were once able to upgrade our inside cabin to a full suite (complete with butler service) for just $250 per person by calling a month before the cruise to check for cancellations. That same suite normally would have cost several thousands of dollars more had we booked well in advance!

4. Ask for Special Discounts

It doesn’t hurt to ask, and more than likely it will be worth the time it took to ask the question. Just like hotels, cruise lines have incentives for different travelers… seniors, teachers, military, FL resident, etc. Cruise lines master accommodating all types of passengers and love to incentivize you to cruise with them over their competitors.

5. Compare Prices

When you are shopping for a cruise, there are numerous sites such as Priceline that you can use to search for best rates. Find a great deal? Call the cruise line directly to get an even better deal! Sellers will compete to get your business and can often discount the price you see online or give other perks such as on-board credit, free wine at dinner, or priority boarding. And remember, even after you book, keep checking back for additional deals or upgrades!

 6. Check in After 2 pm

Most cruisers are eager to get on the ship as early as possible, which means that the cruise terminal can be really busy–and more than a little stressful–during the first few hours of boarding (generally from 11 m-2 pm). And while you may be able to get on the ship that early, chances are you won’t be able to get into your cabin until later in the afternoon, which means your first few hours on board will be spent hauling your stuff around. Not exactly the most relaxing start to a vacation! Instead, avoid the rush and the crowds by waiting to check in until after 2 pm (assuming your ship sets sail at 4 pm or later!)  You’ll be able to walk right on without waiting and then go straight to your cabin.

7. Pick the Right Time to Go

Want to get a great deal on a cruise? Book your cruise for just after Labor Day when kids are back in school–the 2nd week in September offers some of the very best deals of the year. Coming in at a close second is the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time when most people are too busy to travel.


Once you decide on the ship that’s right for you, look into room options that best accommodate you and your guest(s). Then, plan what to bring with you carefully and make yourself at home once you’re there.

8. Spring for a balcony

Room options are typically either Inside (no windows), Outside (window/porthole view to the outside), Balcony (a room with a balcony on the outside of the ship), and Suite (a larger cabin often with separate living and sleeping areas and more amenities). If you plan on taking advantage of in-room dining, have kids who will be taking naps or typically get seasick, you will really appreciate the extra space and killer view you get from a balcony room or suite.

9. Make the most of an interior cabin

If cost is your primary concern, plan on spending most of your awake time enjoying the ship and excursions, making the time spent in your room mostly for sleeping and getting ready. To avoid seasickness, keep the TV turned on to the ship camera which will create the illusion of having a window when you have an inside room.

10. Don’t Take Too Much Stuff!

Make a list of clothing you need on the trip. Then cut that in half! While ship cabins do make the most of a small space, they are still small, especially when you are traveling as a family! No one cares if you wear the same clothes over again, and all ships offer laundry service if necessary. Find out ahead of time how many “formal” nights the cruise has, if any, and also how strict the dress code is. If you don’t like dressing up, you can always choose room service or Lido dining those evenings to avoid having to pack a tux or formal gown.

11. Bring Magnetic Clips

An often forgotten detail about cruise ships–they are made out of metal! These handy magnetic clips make it easy to hang important items, such as your ship card, dining menus, reminders, and even notes to your family and friends if you split up for the day.

12. Take Time to Unpack

Though you’ll see many destinations while on your cruise, you only have to unpack once! Do unpack. Whether you are on a cruise for 3 days or 3 weeks, making yourself at home by unpacking will make your trip (and getting ready for each event) SO much more enjoyable. Room stewards are experts finding out-of-the-way places to stash suitcases, and even the smallest cabins have a surprisingly large number of drawers and closets.

13. Keep Things Tidy

Even “large” quarters on ships are a much smaller space than you are used to living in. Take a few minutes each time you come back to the cabin to keep things tidy in order to avoid feeling like the walls are closing in on you.

Does it get any better than a build-your-own burger buffet on a cruise ship?

Food & Drinks

Cruise ship cuisine is pretty spectacular! It is best enjoyed when you know all of your dining options and take advantage of them.

14. Don’t be Afraid to Order What You Want

You are on vacation! Many first time cruisers don’t realize that even in the main dining room, you can order as many entrees, appetizers, or desserts as you please. And if you have special dietary needs, there are always healthier options you can mix in with the meal of your choice. Ask for a special diet menu that may include lower sodium and lower fat options.

15. Plan Meals Ahead

Ask to see the main dining room menu for the week. That way you can plan your meals accordingly and book specialty restaurants for the evenings that the main dining room fare doesn’t excite you. On Carnival you can receive a free bottle of wine for booking a reservation at the steakhouse on the first day of your cruise.

16. Don’t Miss the Specialty Restaurants

Most cruise lines have now begun offering specialty fare at a slight up charge (between $5 and $25 per person, depending on the restaurant.)  While your first inclination may be to skip the specialty dining in favor of all the free options, it is worth setting aside a little extra room in your budget for at least one night of specialty dining. Carnival’s JiJi Asian Bistro ($15 per person) is downright phenomenal, and the steak house on our Norwegian ship was absolutely amazing. Of course not all specialty dining has an added cost, and even some of the premium restaurants are free at lunchtime–just check your ship to see what is offered!

17. Take Advantage of Free Room Service

Most cruise lines offer free room service, which makes for a relaxing evening in. Don’t feel obligated to go to the dining room – this is your vacation! Room service breakfast is also a very nice way to start the day, particularly if you have a balcony room.

18. Drink Smart

While cruising is mostly all-inclusive, drinks are not generally included! Therefore it is smart to get creative on how you partake. A tip for wine drinkers? Bring your own wine. You may be charged a cork fee but it will be significantly cheaper than buying a full bottle on the ship. For non-alcoholic drinks you can typically purchase a drink card that will give you access to unlimited soda.

 19. Eat Lunch in the Main Dining Room

For a quieter, more relaxing lunch,  try eating lunch at least a few times in the main sit-down dining room rather than the busy Lido deck buffet. The dress code is still casual but the food is usually amazing and the service impeccable. Carnival also offers a Sea-Day Brunch that is absolutely to-die for!

Excursions & Entertainment

Depending on the ship you choose, chances are each day you will wake up in a new place with the option to go onshore and explore or stay on the ship. By knowing what activities are available to you on and offshore, you will be sure to be entertained in a way that’s best for you!

20. Explore Your Ship

There are tons of on-board amenities you can take advantage of when you are out at sea or want to stay on board vs. going on an excursion. In the first couple of days, be sure to walk around and familiarize yourself with the ship and its offerings. Also – ask others what they are looking forward to on the ship or have enjoyed doing thus far.

21. Choose Excursions Wisely

Cruise lines offer shore excursions at every port – from bus tours to activities like snorkeling and zip lining. You may also have the option to tour around yourself, but be mindful of time and language barriers. You are best off reviewing excursions in advance of the cruise and booking them online to avoid any confusion or overbooking the day-of. This will also give you time to carefully read the fine print and excursion restrictions.

22. Don’t Miss the Shows

While the shows do vary from ship to ship, they are almost always really good and very entertaining. You may even have the opportunity to see a big name performer for a concert or comedy show for almost nothing. Because of the smaller size of a cruise venue vs. an arena, these events are more intimate and enjoyable than typical concerts–there is literally not a bad seat in the house!

23. Take Advantage of the Kids Club!

A ship typically has well-organized camps and activities for children, organized by age, typically 3+. (For younger children there are sometimes classes or special babysitting times offered.)  These interactive classes and activities will keep the kids entertained while giving parents some free time as well. We have personally been most impressed with the quality of kids club facilities and variety of activities on the Carnival ships we have been on, but all the cruise lines have been very good. The best part is that aside from late night babysitting, it is completely free!

24. Research Ports Ahead of Time

Take the time to find out a little about the ports you will be visiting to find out what you might like to do or see while you are there. You may also find some highly rated excursions at a better price than you would find if you purchased on the ship. Our all-time favorite excursion in Alaska was this Sea Plane excursion to Taku Lodge, which is significantly cheaper when not booked through the ship, and our favorite excursion EVER in was Dolphin Discovery, which we booked online before our cruise. We went to the one in Cozumel, but they have locations all over Mexico and the Caribbean.

25. Find a Favorite Hangout

Every ship is different but all are purposely designed to offer comfortable spaces for a variety of tastes. Often your favorite memories from a cruise will come from having found your “special” place somewhere on the ship, whether it be a particular bar or restaurant, deck chair, or cozy corner in the atrium. The staff assigned to that particular spot on the ship will generally stay the same through the duration of your cruise, which can come in handy, and it is also a good idea to have a designated meeting spot in case you get separated on board, since cell phones don’t usually work at sea!

Whether you plan to cruise for three days or three weeks, knowing some of these “insider” secrets can help make your next cruise your best trip yet. Bon voyage!


Similar Posts


    1. I went on my first cruise last October it was nice but I have motion sickness and m doctor prescribed me a patch it was making my eyes puffy when I got home I read not to wear in Extreme heat soon next trip I would just try drama mine it was fun except for side effects of patch

        1. I am sorry that happened to you. I was on a 2 week Holland America Cruise, and I got motion sickness. I was given 1 Dramamine, and wrist bands for motion sickness. The band had a hard marble like ball in it which I placed on the inside of my wrist. It was acupressure which totally cured it. I did not take it off the whole 2 weeks! I will be going on another cruise in May, and it will be on when I board the ship! So simple, so effective.

      1. Try taking ginger pills, drinking ginger tea or ginger ale. Ginger pills sold over counter helped me. Learned in Australia from a sail to Great Barrier Reef. They work and not sleepy from Dramaine.

        1. Ginger pills are great I’m Australian so I also know from travel to and from reef but be careful not to take to many and try and rely on tea or wristbands as side effect of pills is something we call jelly butt and no one needs that on hols.

      2. I get very seasick and found something called a Relief Band. It looks like a watch that you wear on the inside of your wrist and works like a charm. They’re available on amazon.com and are worth every cent! There are no drugs, so no nasty side effects. I can’t cruise without it.

        1. I thought these armbands were a joke until I put one on each arm. They worked. I also had a ginger pill. I am so glad this worked out, but did not believe until it happened.

        2. I had the bands for our first two cruises , now I don’t need them unless the weather is ruff. Just love to cruise 🙂

      3. We just came home from Carnival Splendor, 7 day cruise, my family were all seasick at one time or another during the week. We did wear the wrist bands which sell on ship, but more expensive, of course, also bonine worked wonders. My son googled and found that green apples were the cure. Coinsidently, the food court had tons of green apples, and my son swears by the green apple theory. I went to vitamine shop and purchased Ginger candy, i believe this helped me the most, maybe more mind over matter but whatever works.

        1. On our last cruise, my husband became very seasick. I was able to purchase a small bottle of essential oils called Motionease. I applied it behind each ear and it took care of the motion sickness in just a few minutes and for the remainder of our cruise. We were amazed! You can buy it at many stores. Just google it! 🙂

      4. The patch is strong and dries me out so much that I cannot even read the menu. My doc told me to cut the patch in half and it works wonderfully!

      5. just a little hint about sea sickness. my first cruise was a disaster. so sick. went to my doctor and he gave me a prescription for meclizine. IT IS A WONDER DRUG. I take one on awakening and one before I go to sleep. I have been on 6 cruises since then and not one bit of seasickness. ask your doctor about this medicine.

      6. Only because of David and his wonderful program ( https://sites.google.com/view/cruisesecrets101/home ), my husband and I were fortunate enough to take a two week honeymoon to Hawaii! Intelligent Cruiser provides me with an avenue to travel at unbelievable savings and has the potential of being a source of income simply by booking trips for your family, friends and co-workers. Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but this is by far the best thing my husband and I have done to improve our quality of life. Our trips used to consist of camping for $12.00 a night, now we are enjoying cruises for as low as $35.00 a day! Don’t miss the boat–get this program. You will reap fabulous benefits!

      7. Try it without medication! Seriously I’ve suffered from motion sickness since I was a baby so was very wary of taking a cruise but ended up taking a cruise with work. On that first cruise I discovered that except for a couple of rare occasions, I didn’t even feel the motion of the ship and didn’t get queasy at all. I’ve now been on 5 or 6 cruises and only experienced one bout of very mild motion sickness for a couple of hours on one sailing during rough seas. The stabilizers on modern ships are so good that if you suffer from medical motion sickness (caused by inner ear inbalance) it’s unlikely you’ll experience motion sickness.

        However, if your motion sickness is more psychological in nature (for example if you are prone to motion sickness on trains and airplanes) then non-drowsy tablets should help. It’s worth bringing tablets with you and trying the cruise without them, if you do get motion sick you can then take some to eliminate the symptoms.

    1. We were on the Sunshine last Summer and it is our favorite ship as well!!! Doing the Sunshine out of New York July 2016!! Carnival Breeze August1!! Can’t wait!!

    2. Those of you who agreed Carnival Sunshine was your favorite….what was it exactly that made it your favorite?? Thanks!!

  1. Awesome! I think the last tip is so relevant, especially if you’re travelling with a group! Having a “spot” makes finding people and making plans for the day so much easier!

  2. This post is perfect timing for me right now! I’m about to go on my first cruise in July. I’m super excited, but it’s also a whole new experience so I’m a little nervous as well!

  3. My tip would be use the Purell whenever you see it. Our kids got a stomach bug that confined them to quartered it was so contagious. Purell might have radically altered that trip.

    1. The Noro virus, so prevalent on cruise ships, needs a chlorine based sanitizer, not an alcohol based one. The Purell would be ineffective . So bring a different sanitizer.

  4. It’s a good idea to bring seasick bands or pills.especially for first timers,also walkie talkies to keep in touch with kids or your other members,as cell phones don’t work at sea. Most important,if possible bring some bottled water for each person! Never leave your kids alone to walk around,never let just anyone in your cabin and never talk too much about yourself to strangers. Have a great safe trip!

  5. My husband and I went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean for our honeymoon a few years ago. It was fantastic. We’ll definitely be going on another one – so these tips will definitely come in hand! Especially the upgrade because after being in a room with windows & balcony, I don’t think I could do it any other way!

    1. I felt the same way, but one time we got a really good deal on an inside room so we took it because we’re only in the room to sleep and get dressed. That trip we ran through a very bad storm and it was nice to go to our room and close the door and it was like there was no storm going on around us.

  6. I would say pick a port you can drive to……huge savings if you don’t mind the drive! Also become part of the cruise forum…this allows you to chat with people who have been on the cruise you will be taking or meet people who will be on the same ship as you. Always always research the ship deck plans before you go. Cruise with friens if possible. Do NOT stay in your room….the ship has so much to offer…..at least Carnival does! Kick back & enjoy!

    1. That’s an important point about finding a port that’s within easy driving distance, because while we usually think about traveling TO our vacation, you also have to think about the road back home! You don’t want to wipe yourself out with a long drive at the end of your vacation, leaving you tired rather than refreshed.

      At this article you can even find a Google Map that has all the major cruise ports shown, so you can see which ones are withing driving range:


  7. Our first and only cruise was when our son was 16 months old… and it was awful. He was considered a full priced passenger as the 3rd person in the room because of the “special programs onboard tailored to his age group”, which made sense considering that we pay for him at the swimming pool, children’s museum, etc. Once onboard we realized that there were no programs for him, he wasn’t allowed in any pool including the kiddie pool (not potty trained), and we couldn’t even play with him in the kids area because the area was only for kids programs. We spent the week wandering the halls, looking at the water, and learning how to crawl backwards down the stairs. It was like vacationing in an office building. I would absolutely go again…after the kids are old enough to enjoy being left in the daycare area by themselves (maybe 5yo?)

    1. Not a fair comment. Cruises are definately not the place to bring a 16 month old. There is no way you could possibly enjoy your vacation.

      1. As I said in my comment to the above poster, we really loved our cruise with our 17 month old. You just need to cruise on a ship with a drop-off nursery. We don’t have anyone we could ask to watch our child for several days, and I think we have every right to still be able to go on vacation. Especially if we are sailing a family-oriented cruise line.

    2. I am truly sorry you did not have a good experience! We cruised last winter with our then 17 month old, and although there were a couple things we couldn’t do (like certain excursions and staying up really late) ensuring that we picked a ship that had a drop-off nursery for his age was essential. (Only on Royal Caribbean) They also had a baby splash pad for diapered babies. We spent the mornings having breakfast together, then swimming in the splash pad or off to port, then we split his naptime 50/50, the one who stayed in the room read or napped on the balcony, the other explored the ship. Then after nap he was dropped off to the amazing nursery to play with his new friends until bedtime. And we got to have our alone time. I hope you will consider looking into that program in the future. We all deserve a vacation! And I know that we as parents don’t always have someone who can take our kids for long periods of time.

    3. Please…why would you want to take an infant into a confined ship when they are known for harboring Norovirus? Also I did not save up for a cruise to have a bawling baby onboard

    4. I went onot a Carnival cruise when my son was 19 months & I was able to drop him off at their kids area. They also had a Build-A-Bear workshop for kids (extra $). It was a little chilli for us to swim, but we didn’t have any issues. I even left him with the kids area when we went offshore (b/c the horror stories with kidnapped children in other countries). Of course, leaving him on the ship without me was terrifying as well, but their childcare attendants were awesome.

    5. Definitely a good example of why doing homework or research on a particular cruise is so important. If you booked this one with a travel agent get a new one that was their job

  8. Regarding shore excursions – BE AWARE!!
    If you book an excursion through the cruise line, and something happens to delay you, the ship will wait for you!
    If you book an excursion through an outside company or group and are delayed getting back to the ship (for whatever reason) you will be watching it sail away without you, and it will be your responsibility to either get yourself home, or get yourself to the next port of call to re-board the cruise.
    Is the minimal savings of booking with an outside company really worth the risk?
    This is why it is a great idea to book your trip with a Travel Agent – they are there to help you and have loads of knowledge about these kinds of issues!

    1. Oh yeah, we’ve seen people running down the dock as we sailed away. The ship WILL NOT wait for you, and once they’ve closed the door they will not let you on. We’ve seen people standing on the dock as the gangway was pulled up and it didn’t matter.

    2. We booked 3 excursions with http://www.shoreexcursioneer.com in May and it was the best ones we have ever been on! So much better than the overcrowded, overpriced cruise excursions. We had 6 people & 2 crew on a catamaran sail & snorkel in Cozumel, fresh pineapple, guacamole, chips, margaritas, & the best instruction I’ve ever heard on snorkeling! They DO have a guarantee and will pay to get you to next port if anything happens. They wouldn’t be in business for 15 years if they didn’t care about getting cruisers back on time. It is just a scare tactic about booking only with cruise line. Most people that miss the ship have gone out on their own and didn’t allow enough time to get back. I’ll never book with the cruise line again!

    3. Great post! Thanks. I found it on Pinterest and am pinning it to read before my next cruise as a “refresher”! We have been on many cruises and have always only done the excursions from the cruise line. I’ve wanted to choose an independent excursion because of the potential savings, but am nervous about it because of the time guarantees. On our last cruise to Belize, we were more than 4 hours late returning to ship (3 hours after the ship should have already sailed!). It wasn’t really anyone’s fault – just lots of people going to the same places and we lost time. Carnival was very apologetic about it (although I really didn’t feel like anyone needed to apologize) and even joked a little about us setting the record for the latest return of any group they’ve had! An adventure for sure but we would have been out of luck if we had booked on our own. Any other suggestions ?

  9. Great tips! If you get to the port by 10-10:30 am there is not a wait and they will start boarding as soon as the ship is ready, before 11 am! Yes it’s true you can’t get to your room, just pack a beach bag with the essentials and then enjoy lunch on the lido deck, they start serving at 11am! Also walkie talkies are essential!!! you will always be able to get in touch with your group, anywhere they are on the ship the entire week. The walkie talkies were the best investment we made, especially when traveling with a large group of family or friends! Make sure you look at the itinerary for each day, there are often events that do not get announced that are awesome and you would otherwise miss if you do not pay attention, like free liquor tasting a few hours after boarding, on the first day!

      1. I would also like to know which walkie talkies people have found to work best. I’m going on Princess alaska cruise and I imagine it will be mostly non school age kids but mine are 13 and 16 and will run off on their own and I’d like to be able to contact them (not sure if I can get my 16 year old to carry a walkie ?)

  10. I agree with every single tip you said. I’ve been on 5 cruises, enjoyed them all immensely, and am about to take my 6th in a couple weeks.
    Having breakfast in the main dining room is a great way to go, also. Usually a spectacular view, great service, and you can get such niceties as eggs benedict, or even make unusual off-menu orders. I love the coffee onboard also, and it’s nice to not have to go to a line to get a refill.
    Be sure to tell the cruise lines of any special events. Our first cruise ever, we were celebrating our 20th anniversary. The cruise line went out of their way to make it special. We had our own private dinner table in the rear of the ship, with an absolutely glorious view. When our daughter went on her honeymoon, it was the same treatment.
    Lastly, when you go on your cruise, turn your cell phone off, throw it in a drawer, and leave the world behind. Plan to completely disconnect, and trust that the world will continue to turn, the people you put in charge WILL manage without you, and relax. Don’t even call. Don’t even try to email. Enjoy your spouse, your time, your food, the entire experience. Sing karoake, even if you stink. Go sit in the hot tub. But you are NOT allowed to turn on your phone. (BTW, it costs like $10 per minute anyway. So don’t do it.)

  11. I second the suggestion to use a travel agent. We got way better deals with agents than direct from the cruise.

  12. I’ve been on numerous cruises, but only a handful with the kids. One thing I just discovered is a money-saver (and sanity-saver) when traveling with the family. In the past, the four of us have stayed in the smallest suite room type (on RCCL this is a jr suite). What I have found is that it costs less to book two balcony rooms side by side with a CONNECTING DOOR. I was surprised this was a cheaper alternative and we get the bonus of two closets, two bathrooms, and two tv’s.

  13. My wife and I recently finished a ten day East Bound Trans-Atlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 and it was great! We booked through Expedia and got incentives (coffee mugs) plus I applied for the Military Discount and got all our gratuities paid. The service on-board was top notch and the meals were delicious. Too bad the weather wasn’t nice, but that wasn’t Cunards fault. Our next cruise is QM2 West-bound.

    1. Tom: I’m sure you and your wife will enjoy the QM2 westbound transatlantic transit too. We did one a few years ago and the approach to NYC / Statue of Liberty was awesome ! Because it was westbound, part of the entertainment was (for the Brits especially, going to the “Colonies”) live music “representative” of American culture: great music of the Jazz Era, Big Bands, etc. Cheers !

    2. We just booked they expedia and now the same cruise has much better incentives, like a savings of seven hundred dollars, but they are not willing to give them because it has to be booked this month and we booked last month.
      Anyone have any ideas? I would lose six hundred plus free gratuities. But this one is a two hundred dollar drink package each plus more onboard credit

  14. Ruth, one of the BEST tips we were ever given was for us to pack our swimsuits and sunscreen in a carry on and then you are the ONLY ONES at the pool while everyone else is running around in their travel clothes while waiting for their bags to be delivered to the room……..this has always been our favorite tip! 🙂

  15. We love cruising, we find Princess suits our family perfectly. Sadly there are no interconnecting rooms on our ships of choice, so my tip is to get two cabins if you’re a family of four. Two cabins side by side, with one adult and one child in each, is much roomier than all of us crammed into a quad share cabin, and on Princess doesn’t cost any more, as our 3 & 5yr olds pay full adult fare!
    Also, if travelling with young children, have Passenger Services block purchases on their cruise cards. Preschoolers don’t need to be able to shop on their own. This way, if they lose their card, nobody can find it and go on a shopping spree.

    1. We just recently (very recently) went on to crown princess! It was nice and the dining rooms were completely free! The drop of spots were very nice as well. It was my whole families first time and for a first cruise it wasn’t bad at all. It was a very pretty ship. One thing I don’t recommend that she did is booking when kids are in school.. We did that and there were only 36 teenagers (13-17) on the whole ship. And only 7 out of that would go into the teen lounge. Other then that they it was a great cruise!

      1. Our teens went to the teen room and reported back to us that no one was there. Seems they all peek in the door, fail to see anyone and leave. We sent them back to stay for 30 minutes. A couple hours late we spotted them with a huge group of teens on a scavenger hunt. They enjoyed the entire cruise with their new friends.

  16. Take a deck of cards in case of a rainy day, carnival allows one bottle of wine per person (doesn’t matter how large the bottle is), takes lots of batteries bc you do not want to pay the ship prices, and take cash bc the on board at charges a pretty hefty fee

  17. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains.
    If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

  18. I have taken wine in my cruises in the past. Carnival let’s you take 1 bottle per adult. Never had a problem at all. It’s nice to be able to take a bottle or 2 along.

    1. If you have it in your carry on there is no problem, but I know for a fact that they will confiscate it if it’s in your checked baggage.

      1. I’ve done both. Usually in checked luggage and never had a problem, but they say that it will be confiscated, so I assume that they sometimes do so. Once a porter tried to extort us for a bribe to make sure our wine got on so we just carried our check luggage on, and didn’t have a problem with 2 bottles per suitcase.

    2. On Carnival, you can order a full bottle of alcohol on the first day. We ordered Gin about 50.00. We brought on board tonic water as your non-alcoholic beverage. Then everyday we got our consierge to have ice and cut limes in our room for 3:00 so when we got back from port, we’d enjoyed our gin and tonic on our balcony. It was great!

  19. Bojams.com‘s prices are pretty hard to beat for walkie talkies. I buy more and more stuff from there, whether it be walkie talkies or anything else. Way cheaper than any other place I’ve seen.

    But if you find better prices than Bojams.com for walkie talkies somewhere, please share! I’m always looking for deals.

  20. The food is free! Order whatever you want and as many as you want! (If you liked an appetizer order more) Send back a meal if you don’t like it! Make friends with the servers at each meal and servers around the pool! They will seek you out! Tip Well!
    Our Carnival cruise had a tour of the kitchen! Take advantage! Attend all meetings with the cruise director and book your excursions through the ship!! Ask your room steward for whatever you want..drinks iced down, fruit in room they will do anything you want! Definitely splurge for the room with a balcony! It is worth the extra money!
    Check out the ports; we went to Martinique and they were celebrating the Bastille EVERYTHING ON THE ISLAND WAS CLOSED! Saw a parade! BIG waste of a port of call!

  21. I forgot one other thing! Stock up on bottled water and snacks for the day you leave!

    When you arrive on the ship EVERYONE cannot wait to serve you and make you comfortable! On the day you leave,
    you will be lucky to get anything. FYI they do a turn around the same day you get off another group boards the ship. the entire ship has to be cleaned before the new people arrive!


  23. Ugh, you could not get me back on the Sunshine if it was FREE. Had that misbegotten ship on our honeymoon and while the honeymoon itself was still great, the ship was terrible. Ugly, first of all. Weirdly designed due to the revamp, and hard to navigate.

    I did enjoy the waterslides, and pour your own beer, but would still prefer an actually well-designed new ship over that Frankenstein.

    1. I would not go on any Carnival Cruise even if I was paid to. I had a cockroach in the bottom of my coffee cup…after I had drunk the coffee. They didn’t care. Blamed the waiter and the ship was dirty.

  24. carnival also has a “faster to the fun” fun pass you purchase in the excursions section under the embarkation port. its 50$ per cabin, and you get all sorts of special treatment like boarding faster, immediate access to your room and luggage, and earlier debarkation!!! also, the cheers card is now offered and you pay a flat rate for your alcohol for the trip!!

  25. If you have a child on the Autism spectrum – check out the program “Autism on the Seas” – they travel with some major cruise lines and provide special programming and support!

  26. Cruise lines will invite you to manage your own luggage for disembarkation. Do it. That way you won’t be delayed searching for your bags on the pier.
    Drinks served at poolside and elsewhere usually add in the tip on the voucher. The server will not tell you this so do not add a tip unless you really wish to.
    Don’t book the late dinner seating. Sometimes they are out of various dinner choices and service is quite slow.
    Honor the shipboard dress codes.
    Ask the cruise director about the “mutiny” night. Just kidding.

  27. I’ve been on several cruises especially on Carnival. I prefer the larger ships like the Dream, Freedom and Breeze. They have more activities like cooking demonstrations where you get to taste the food, and Salsa dancing classes. I also love Tea time on some of the cruises which is so cozy and reminds me of Tea time in the English country. If you love Art, don’t miss the Art shows wwwhere you can buy Art for unbelievably cheap. If you buy any Art it will be shipped directly to your home. Also join the VIFP club. We get our laundry washed, ironed and folded since we are Platinum members of the club. One last thing, you can check in to your cruise online at least 30 days prior to departure. This will make checking in very easy. If you have kids, check them in to Camp Carnival online, print your paperwork and bring to the Orientation. This will make your registration much faster and easier. For those going on your first cruise, you’ll be hooked forever!

  28. We just wanted to say how great these tips are. We regularly refer our customers here to give them some ideas of ways to save money whilst onboard. It’s great that you mentioned about ordering multiple appetizers and desserts etc as this is something not many people know. It’s also great you mentioned about haggling for the price of your holiday, I work for a cruise agency called Cruise Nation and we always work with our customers get the price down to suit their budget. The last thing you want to do is book a holiday and then feel guilty about the cost so getting the price down as much as possible is key!

  29. Interesting tips. Love cruising and we have been recently to Ensenada Mexico and we had a great time. We try to check in as early as possible as to check out you have no option but to wait for our turn. Also use the kids facilities as much as possible if you have small kids if you need to entertain a little bit without drinking too much then you would forget to pick up your kids.

  30. Windstar was our first cruise, chosen by our Travel Agent who really knew us. She chose well. We have been on two more Windstars, a Carnival Splendor and a Norwegian Pearl. Windstar still ranks number one for privacy, intimacy (there are only 135 passengers) and service (there are 185 staff people) and the food is unbelievable. Scuba, snorkel, water ski, windsurf, banana boat etc. right off the back of the ship. There is no dress up for any meal. The Captain’s table is open to anyone that wants to dine with the Captain. Guests are free to tour the bridge. It is a 440′ four masted sailing ship. Brilliant cruising that spoiled us for massive amounts of people and cattle calls for disembarking on larger cruise lines.

  31. Thanks for sharing your tips! My family and I will be going on our first cruise soon and we didn’t know what to expect. Now we have a little bit of a clue!

  32. Another great way to save money on a cruise is to work with a knowledgeable travel agent. Most offer their booking services and tips at no additional cost to you, and some will even help you plan your entire trip! They can help you figure out the best time to go, which activities your family would be most interested in, and help you find any discounts that may apply to you. For Disney Cruises there are even agents who work specifically with Disney so they know all the best secrets!

  33. One error that glars is the last minute booking. Book 1-2 years out as Early Saver and you will always pay the lowest fare offered (while getting the date and cabin you want). You will be discounted as the fare drops or get OBC if drops occur after payoff. We cruise ALOT and would never dream of booking last minute!

  34. I am a heavy cruiser, well over 145 days at sea. I travel mostly with Carnival and I’m almost a Diamond member. I have cruised Norwegian, Celebrity and they all offer specials on a regular basis. But I have learned staying loyal with one cruise line will get you the most bang for your buck. All the topics listed above are true and I could add tons more. And I agree cruising is relaxing not to mention fun. It’s what you make of it. You can go all out or hide and relax and yes even on a ship with over 3,000 people. You get to decide what you want out of the cruise. Have fun and anchors away.

    1. Manuela, you know a lot about cruises, please give us more tips! I’ve never been on one but sooo want to vacation this way in the near future!

      1. Let’s see one of the most important person on the cruise ship is your cabin stewards. Besides the fact that all of them work 10+ hours a day and have to clean many rooms several times a day I value them the most. When I board the ship I test my steward by simply asking him for one extra hanger or an extra towel. If he gets it to me in a reasonable amount of time usually about 30-45 minutes. I will give him $$ a very generous tip. After which if I happen to need something he will be very eager to help me out. Now granted this does not mean that one should take advantage of their stewards. But there are times I may need something and it helps to have some extra help. Remember the staff works long and hard hours and get paid so much less than what we would ever work for. I always keep my room very clean which makes their job so much easier. Your primary waiter is another one you want to keep close to you. Oh and your cabana waiter. I’ve had waiters up on the deck that once they see me my drink arrives shortly after and I never have to worry about my towel being removed from my chair. Cruising is fun and can be very relaxing if you know where to go and where to hide on a ship. Ask me anything and I’ll try to answer if I have the answer. I know Carnival is coming out with a new ship in 2018 and I’m planning on being on it. I’ll be cruising with a lot of crew friends who will be opening the ship. Can’t wait. Hope this helps a little.

        1. We are cruising on the new Carnival Horizon in April 2018 on a Mediterranean Cruise out of Barcelona. It is my 3rd cruise but my husband’s first. I need advice on clothing for that climate in May, if you know, and any helpful tips or insights to the Carnival cruise line you might could share. I want us to have a wonderful time. My husband is Italian and he is excited about going to Italy. Since it is his first time I would like to ensure an enjoyable time. We have a balcony room and are traveling with friends. Excited about that. We paid gratuities ahead of time but also want to tip where/when we should. I realize they work hard so advice for that would be helpful.

        2. Manuela,
          Have you ever thought of blogging about your trips? I would love to follow a blog from someone with so much experience!

          I have never been on a cruise and my fiance wants to take me on my first one for our honeymoon. We are wanting a cruise that is fun, not alcohol dependent, and one that doesn’t have a lot of younger children on it.

          My question for you would be how do you figure out what cruise to take? My fiance are having a hard time figuring out how to tell our cruise travel agent what we want when we don’t know what the excursions will entail to narrow them down….where do we start?

          Thank you for your time.

        3. Can you tell me any secrets to cruising Ins and out etc. How to save money, where to leave your car when your on the ship. We will be leaving from New Orleans. Any info you could give would be great

  35. I feel like my husband and I are seasoned cruise travellers, and your information is spot on! We don’t spend a lot of time in the cabin, so we choose an inside cabin on the Carnival Vista for our last trip, in Oct 2016, the cost saving was substantial.
    I would say check the location of your cabin choice, depending on mobility of course, but the further away from the elevators the better. While most traveller are very respectful, the closer you are to the elevators the more traffic will be by your room.
    We pre-purchased a wine package; there was some savings compared to purchasing by the bottle or even the glass each night in the dining room. We were allowed to take two bottles of wine on board with us, with a small deck just a few steps from our door we could enjoy an after dinner glass of wine without the cost of restaurant prices.
    cruise critic as great information on the different ports regarding what to see and what to avoid.
    Enjoy the free activities that are offered; we particularly enjoyed the ballroom dancing and the art lectures, although the art auction was not something we attended. The shows were often quite crowded, so go early for a better selection of seats.
    We love cruising; with stressful jobs we want our holiday to be relaxing, once aboard the ship everything is taken care of! We have travelled with Carnival, Royal Carribbean, and Holland America, and have never been disappointed.

  36. Thanks for mentioning that you should book a cruise as late as you can. That could help you ensure you get a good price! My wife and I have wanted to go on a cruise since we got married. We are finally going to make it happen this year! I will take your advice on when to buy our tickets, thanks!

  37. If you cannot come to some type of agreement its time to bring in some others to help you out.
    If you are unable to see the property a second or third time you still have ways of ensuring you’re not walking into a lemon. Chances are you won’t walk into parties and many social gatherings to you may sometimes need to force the issue with others.

  38. I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. This great article has truly
    peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new
    details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed

  39. My husband and I are considering taking a cruise with my son, his wife, 6year old daughter, and his 9 year old on son that is the center of the autism spectrum. we will be cruising out of New Orleans. are there any special cruises that could accommodate our family. I want all of us to have a great trip for all of us.

  40. I’ve been thinking about going on a cruise for a while now. I like the tip on researching ports ahead of time. People go on a cruise to explore. Knowing ahead of time what you want to see can make your trip more full. This definitely something potential cruisers should take into consideration.

  41. Wow, superb weblog structure! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The full glance of your site is
    wonderful, as smartly as the content material!

  42. We’re cruising for the first time in February 2017, leaving from Mobile, AL. Our ports will be Progresso and Cozumel. Any tips for us?

  43. I love this tip: Book your cruise for just after Labor Day when kids are back in school–the 2nd week in September offers some of the very best deals of the year.

  44. Yay! You’re getting me super excited about our cruise in December! That’s a great idea, checking the main menu and booking speciality restaurants ahead of time. I was actually just planning to look at the speciality restaurants and book a night or two. Now I’ll try booking them on nights that our favorite dishes aren’t on the main menu. Thank you!

  45. I went on a Caribbean cruise once and loved it! I agree, cruises are the way to go but it’s key to be prepared with everything you would need. I brought too many unnecessary things. You’re in your swimsuit most of the time so you don’t need a lot of luggage.

  46. I’m can’t wait for my first cruise. My husband just retired and the senior discounts will help lower the price. Glad to know you have different options on where to dine at and now in a crowded restaurant. Bookmarked these cruise secrets that will be helpful in the future.

  47. We have been Crusing for over 29 years. It’s such a Wonderful time to spend Together. As of now we have taken 17 and for Our 30 TH Anniversaryis We our planning a Trip to Italy and we are so very excited to go. We have been all over the Eastern and Western Islands. We Started with Carnival and Now we have been With Princess for the past few years. There are so many Memories and Pictures of all the places we have been to. We Love the Sea Days the most. We have Had all types of Cabins. We even did a Back to Back for 14 days and Having A Balcony was Awesome for That Time. The Food is So Good and We Love Going to The Special Restaurant’s for a Romantic Dinner. The Shows have been Great also. Got to see a lot of Wonderful People. And let me say getting a Sandwich and Chips in your Cabin late at night is the Best. The Desserts are out of this World. We have been Taken Care of So Very good. The Spa is Awesome as well. Getting Pampered is like Nothing Else. We are going to do a Couples Spa. It’s a Surprise for My Husband. So go make Your Plan’s and Make Memories of your own. ✈️☀️⚓️♦️♣️♥️♠️⚓️

  48. This is the best post about the cruise vacation I found on the web. Amazing tips these are while going on a cruise. This is all that a traveler needs to do for maximum utilization of their money and to make their vacations more enjoyable.

  49. I appreciate your advice on going to the shows on the cruise. My family is considering going on a Caribbean cruise next summer after my brother graduates high school. It is good to know that we should look into the entertainment options on the cruise.

  50. As a solo traveler, so far, I found that Norwegian Cruise Line is the most accommodating. They have Studio cabins which are for single travelers, and it has it’s own Lounge so that you can meet up with other lone travelers to go places or do things with.

  51. Cruising is such a great way to travel! For me, Disney cruises are just the best! The combination of great service, food, destinations, and exceptional Broadway-style shows just can’t be beaten.

  52. Here’s a cruising tip. . . pack old t-shirts, hats, flip flops, socks, etc. Rather than bringing them home, give them to your cabin steward before you leave to share with the crew. The crew works hard and has few days off to go shopping. Many travel to work from far off places. They appreciate something “new” to them to wear on their days off or when they are not on duty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *