Cruise Ship Balcony
Photo By: Roderick Eime (Creative Commons)

Going on a cruise is an experience that a privileged few get to enjoy. So when you do get the opportunity to be one of those, make the most of it. Don’t hold back! But wait, going all-out on an already pricey cruise means you have to (almost) literally break the bank right?

Here’s what we found out – you can enjoy all the little perks and enhance your cruise experience without having to spend (or at least not too much) for it! All it takes is a little research, a bit of planning, and maybe a few insider/frequent cruiser tips. Here are some of them:


Cruise Port

Photo By: Port of San Diego (Creative Commons)

This is literally where your planning skills should start to kick in, and also where you can begin to make the big savings.

You may have read a number of booking tips, but what’s for sure is this – avoid peak season travels. Normally, this pertains to summer breaks, where families storm the cruise lines to make the most of the allotted vacation time.

Cruise insiders advise on two things when it comes to bookings – either you book way in advance, or you book at the last minute to score the best-priced deals on cruises.

The latter’s great if you’re the flexible type. However, the safest choice is still booking in advance, for two good reasons: you get the inclusions you like, such as date of cruise, cabin type, among other particulars, and you get to make extra savings on travel costs apart from the cruise itself. The latter can include airfare and transfer fees to the disembarkation points.

Where to book? The two best options are through travel agents and via comparison sites. Agents can give you add-ons (for a minimal fee, and sometimes, for free!) that you might not find on other sites.

If you’re not yet decided on which cruise line to go with, comparison sites will offer you the ‘bird’s eye-view’ of the best deals online. Make time for some pretty serious online scouring – your efforts will pay off.

Frequent cruisers say it is best to be a few minutes away from your disembarkation point on the day the ship leaves – not only is it less stressful, it also saves you from the possibility of missing your ship, and having to go through the hassle of re-booking.

Don’t forget to inquire about extra discounts or perks if you book using a particular credit card! Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and it shall be given.


Packing Tips

Photo By: Yasmina Haryono (Creative Commons)

Clothes are definite must-haves on your cruise, but ever wondered what things you usually do not bring, but might actually end up needing? Here are some of them:

Walkie-talkies – If you are traveling with family, using your cellphones to stay in contact in the big ship may make your mobile provider too happy with roaming charges and other miscellaneous fees. Use walkie-talkies instead! They do the job without letting you incur extra costs.

Refillable water bottles – Of course they offer bottled water onboard, but costs can add up when you have to buy them repeatedly. Best thing to do? Bring at least one refillable water bottle with you, and save on beverage/re-hydration expenses. This is especially helpful to have when you go on a tour at your port of call.

A bottle of your favorite wine – Corkage fees may figure into the equation. But, those are small compared to what you will spend on bottles of wine onboard. If wine or champagne is a necessity for you, pack one ‘for the road’ – don’t forget to ask your cruise line on what and how many you are allowed to bring.

Green apples – Afraid you might get seasick the minute you set foot onboard? A green apple or two might prove helpful. Don’t ruin your precious cruise experience by being seasick for most of the trip. Candied ginger might also be a handy cure for nausea.Pack these into your handy bag and be ready for the long, exciting journey ahead!

Photocopies of your travel documents – You never know when you might need an extra copy to present.

Little presents for the crew – Tipping is already a common practice in cruises. But if you want to be extra nice (and possibly receive extra exceptional service in return), a small gift from your town or city will be much appreciated by your favorite cabin crew. Like the usual adage goes, it’s the ‘thought’ that counts.

When Onboard

Open Deck

Photo By: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan (Creative Commons)

All packed and ready to go? Let’s see what frequent cruisers and insiders have to say about how you can make the most of your experience – and by ‘the most’ we mean more fun at less cost (if possible):

Onboard dining is an important part of your cruise. The day your ship embarks will definitely be when most cruisers will want to check out the buffet, to get first dibs on what it has to offer. Want to save yourself from the super long queue and the stress it brings? Make reservations in the specialty restaurants. Insiders say these areas usually offer good deals on embarkation day.

Plan your meals too, and know more about the onboard restaurants. If the latter offers the same specialties as their restaurants on land, then you might want to skip those. Chances are, there’s a considerable markup with their onboard prices.

Need to snack? You might want to ask around the coffee shop or other dining venues on what they offer in terms of complimentary eats. You just might discover your favorite bites can be enjoyed for free!

Cruises are extra fun when you get a glass or two of your preferred booze. Think it’s expensive? Just choose the best time to have yours, and you can get them at a reduced price! Find out when ‘happy hour’ is or snag one of those souvenir glasses – you can actually refill them at a discounted price.

Sharing a bottle (even with a complete stranger) can also get you your booze, a new friend, and extra savings too.

Storage can be quite a concern for the heavy packer, but there’s really no need to stress yourself out on this matter. Ask your cabin attendant for a quick but extensive tour – you’ll be surprised just how many hidden storage nooks there are in your room.

And of course, what you do at your ship’s port of call figures significantly in your experience too! Most cruise liners offer excursion packages, but insiders and frequent cruisers suggest that you book them directly in advance.

Advance booking will not only prove convenient and less pricey, it also ensures that you get reputable guides, a well-planned tour, and the best of what your cruise destination has to offer.

Now that you’re privy to some good advice from fellow cruisers who’ve ‘been there-done that’, it’s time to get ready for that much-awaited trip. Enjoy your cruise!