Top 10 Cruise Hacks
Save time and money with these insider tips from pro cruisers.
Save Money by Bringing Your Own WineSherry Kennedy, founder of Cruise Maven, says some lines will allow a bottle or two in your cabin, but be sure to check the cruise line’s alcohol policy in advance. Most lines only allow it during embarkation day. Also, don’t forget to bring a bottle opener, or choose wine with a twist-off top to avoid paying a corkage fee.
Conversely, Kennedy says the least expensive wine package can be worth it, especially “if you don’t want to spend the $20 corkage fee on a $10 bottle of wine.” Even better, the waiter can save any leftover wine by noting your name and room number, and you can enjoy it at another meal at any of the ship’s dining venues. 960 1280
Don’t Feel Obligated to Book a Shore Excursion Through the ShipExperts agree that independent operators are often cheaper and can provide a more in-depth experience. Stewart Chiron, founder of The Cruise Guy, even advises leaving the ship for a night in order to experience a city. For example, on a Mediterranean cruise, he advises getting off in Livorno in order to spend a full day and night in Florence. From there, one can take a train to Rome to catch up with the ship. “It saves an hour and a half return from Florence,” he says. Of course, book the hotel in advance.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor in chief of Cruise Critic, also suggests connecting with other passengers beforehand in order to save money on an independent tour. Her site offers a section called Roll Call, which allows passengers who have already booked a cruise to chat up to a year before the sailing. Doing so facilitates finding others to share excursions, like chartering a catamaran from St. Thomas to St. John. “I think those experiences tend to be more special than getting on a catamaran with 50 people you don’t know,” she says. 960 1280
Avoid Paying High Rates to Connect to the InternetIn order to avoid spending 75 cents a minute to get online, Kennedy suggests buying a package to save money. For example, Carnival offers a social media package (which includes access to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more) for just $5/day. While in port, she recommends asking (or following) crew members to find the best Internet cafes. 960 1280
Ask for Ginger if You Feel SeasickThe odds of getting seasick on a large cruise ship are low, but it's good to be prepared just in case. Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy to treat nausea and motion sickness. Kennedy says that many ships, including Norwegian, Holland America and Princess, will provide it for free in their restaurants. (Although some ships will charge you.) Luckily candied ginger and gum are also easy to find at many supermarkets if you'd rather bring it with you.
If you suspect you might need something stronger, consider bringing Bonine, Dramamine or motion sickness patches to avoid paying higher prices at the infirmary.