Traveling and preparing for a Cruise can bring some challenges and surprises, every trip we have taken has prepared us for the next one but it is safe to say we continue to learn from each Cruise Trip. Today I want to share some great saving tips, some things to know when preparing for a Cruise, some things to avoid and things to keep in mind for a better cruise.
We just got back from our last cruise we took In July 2019 and even on this cruise we picked up some new things that I will share below. I hope these tips are helpful so you can make the best of your next vacation trip.
1. Book your cruise early – for better savings
Search as early as you can but don’t limit to one source. You can compare prices by using Booking.com, a Travel Agency, and each direct Cruise Line site. You can start to see what the prices are going for depending on the date and destinations. In some cases, you will see the prices are a lot cheaper if booking way ahead of time.
2. Get an upgrade or a credit
Once you reserve your trip, you can get a credit or even an upgrade if the price is from then the time you booked it. If you book your trip early on you will have a few months to pay it off during that time and even after is paid you can call to get an incentive if the price change. Depending on the cruise line if an upgrade is offered it can be done once for that trip.
3. Early on check interior and oceanview prices
Checking your cruise trip early on has many advantages, this is why I want to share this tip with you. One of our cruises had almost the same price from Oceanview to Balcony the only difference was $1 (isn’t that crazy) Once we saw Interior was $50 difference from Oceanview and $51 difference with Balcony. We decided to book our cruise Balcony and it was very much worth it. If you travel off-peak you can find many great deals booking your trip early and don’t forget to check out the other room options.
4. Don’t book during the holidays
We booked a trip during the holidays (Christmas time to be exact) we checked that same cruise with the same destinations and cruise ship. We notice the price was a few hundred dollars less for each person. We knew it was right for us during that time but we prefer to save that money and book a much longer cruise at a later time.
5. Cruise app
Downloading the Shipmate App. will allow you to see all of the information needed for your upcoming trip. The app offers many features including alerts when price changes. One important information we all need is the itinerary and that will also be included in the app. In addition here are some of the other features found in the app
- Cruise Countdown
- Itinerary Roll Call
- Deck Plans and Ship Info
- Port Info (reviews, tips, & photos)
- Deck Cams
- Cruise Price Alerts
- Port Excursion Booking
- And much more
6. Transportation to Cruise Port
Driving To Port
You cannot forget how you will get to your cruise port. After you book your cruise and you know what port you are coming out from now you can check on where you will park your car if you are driving to the port. The closer you are to the ship the more expensive it will be. Find a place a little further from the port. You can check in google to see areas that offer cruise parking. Sometimes it’s a hotel or a place that is only to park cars for people who are going on a cruise. Many places have transportation from where you leave the car to the ship and its less expensive.
Airport Transfer by Taxi
If you are flying into the port then all you need to do it catch a taxi, Uber or some other form of transportation to get to the cruise ship. We usually are a group of about 6 or more. We have used Suntransfers. They are a private transportation service that takes you where you need to go from the airport or cruise terminal. Usually, we have them waiting at the airport so that they then can take us to the cruise port. I have used this service a few times. When you arrive you find your driver. They usually have a person having a name for you. You also get the instructions in an email to what to expect and what number to call if you needed to. I have not had to call them since we can find the driver holding a sign. It’s much cheaper than going through the cruise transportation.
Airport Transfer by Bus and Train
Another option for example in Rome, Italy we used a train that took us from the airport close to the port, from there we took a bus that took us straight to the port. Since the entrance to the port is a bit further away we made a line passing the gates that had a bus provided by our cruise that took us straight to the ship. It does seem like a lot when traveling from airline to the port but in this case, the port in Rome was about an hour away from the airport.
7. 5 Port USB Wall Charger and Converter
How many of us have phones and other electronic devices like smartwatches we need to change at night? Cruise cabins do not have a lot of outlets. Sure you can bring a big power strip but this 5 port USB charger we use is much better. So bring one with you. We use this one when we are on a cruise or traveling in general. Here is the one we use. Anker 40W 5-Port USB Wall Charger. With this, you can attach 5 USB cables to one outlet. If you are staying in a hotel before or after your cruise trip then you will need a travel plug adaptor. We use this one here. But there are a few other ones you can buy like these here.
8. Portable USB Charger
A lot of times you are on port and will be out most of the day. Some places arrive in port at 8 am and then the ships leave at 8 pm. That’s a lot of hours without having your phone charged. Using your phone and taking pictures while on your trip can use your phone battery to drain. Especially if taking videos and maybe using other apps on your phone.
The best thing to do is to take a Portable USB Charger with you to charge your phone or keep it charged. Here is one we have used. Here is the portable charger we use and are happy with. 10000mAh Portable Power Bank with Dual USB Ports 3.1A Output and 2A Input
Since you are not allowed to bring an Iron on the ship you will not be able to iron your clothes. You can always pay to get your clothes done but why spend so much on that when you can spend that money on something else you can enjoy.
Roll your clothes, skip on Ironing
Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will help keep prevent your clothes from wrinkling and it will take up less space in your luggage. Verify with your current cruise if requesting an Iron is available. On our last Norwegian Cruise, it was available, my sister requested the iron ahead of time and it never showed up.
Sealed bag for more room
On our recent trip, we purchased a sealed bag, we bought 2 medium sizes and it was easy to add some of our clothes, roll to push the air out and it helped for us to have more room inside our luggage. It was easy to use and we didn’t need a vacuum or any other product to remove the air inside the bag. (here you can find out more)
Repeat some outfits
Check your cruise dress code, some cruises request a few formal nights while others are more casual. This can be so helpful when packing for your trip. Sometimes we overpack and realized we took more things then what was needed, instead, you can take a blouse/shirt or pants/skirt you can use in 2 different occasions. I normally don’t like to wear 2 of the same items but in some cruises when you are at sea it can be best to wear one item again.
Take a picture of your outfits
Sometimes we can forget the outfits we had in mind to wear with a top and a bottom. So before I place my clothes in my luggage I place them on top of my bed by pairing them how I planned on wearing them. So when I’m on the cruise I just go over my picture and know exactly what I would be wearing. This is something I started to do with my husband as well, and it has helped us save so much time on our cruise.
10. When to book your cruise
Book when its off-peak season. Everyone is traveling when the kids are off from school. If you can take a vacation when everyone is at school then you will pay less. Off-peak is usually during fall or spring. You will not only pay less but the places you visit will not be as crowded.
11. Sign up with the cruise line to earn points for future advantages
I love this tip, sometimes I realized how many people are missing out on keeping track of there past cruise trips. For every cruise, we have taken we always sign up with each cruise line and keep track of our cruises. Every Cruise line offers different rewards for the amount of points/days taken with them.
Our last cruise in July 2019 was with Norwegian and just for cruising with them before we usually get a bottled of Sparkling Wine. Last year since we had a Balcony room we got some chocolate covered strawberries with the wine.
Don’t miss out on possible great discounts and offers for each cruise taken. Know the points are added after the end of your cruise trip.
12. If you enjoyed a specific dish ask for another one (ex dessert)
Every cruise line is different but one thing I have been able to do on each is asking for double on any dish when dining out. From my kids to my husband they sometimes ask for double on Main Dish to Desserts. On one cruise our Maitred knew us so well that she would sometimes bring extra desserts without even asking.
13. tips on how to deal with motion sickness
Most of our European Cruises have been pretty smooth sailing throughout but on our last one, it got rocky on every floor. Luckily since we were on the fourth floor it didn’t affect us as much since our room was in the middle of the ship. But my sister and mother were on the front of the ship and they felt the rocky weather we went through.. Since our room was a few feet away from the medical center we asked for seasick pills and they gave it to us, they also let us know you can get them from customer service or even a vending machine.
Another tip a cruise crew member shared was to eat a green apple, she mentioned this has helped sooth the stomach when feeling the motion sickness on the cruise. She also mentioned anything acidic can irritate the stomach so my sister tried the green apple and the pill given by the medical crew. The pill given was good for 12 hours but it can cause some drowsiness, which my sister felt so sleepy on the island we went to. Also, the pill is given after a few questions were answered to make sure you are okay to take it.
14. If celebrating request a room decor
If traveling with a loved one whos is celebrating a happy event you can call, book online or request the service when traveling at customer service. For example, you can request your stateroom to get decorated for Anniversary or Birthday with a small fee. The crew will come to your room at the time requested so when you get back is all done for you. There are separate options and amount on each cruise line website.
We also received a formal card that mentioned the birthday celebration, they asked for us to give it to our dining crew and before our dessert order was taken the crew came in sang happy birthday and brought a nice birthday cake.
15. Reserve activities-shows (if applies)
Not all cruises are the same and we learned this tip really quickly on our Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Sea Cruise. In order for you to see some shows, you need to book the day and time ahead of time. Most of the shows have limited seating and is important to book them early on so you won’t miss any of them. Most Cruise lines we have traveled this option is not needed but I wanted to share this tip if your cruise requires for you to reserve your seating for some shows.
16. Reserve dining time (if applies)
Most cruise lines are changing how the dining experience is. On some cruises, your dining table is assigned to you during your cruise time, while others are offering come and dine as you please. If a dining table is not assigned to you then is best to reserve your party at the time you please. For example, the Norwegian Cruise Line has Dine when you like, so we would call or book our party in our app so all we have to do is show up at the reserved time.
17. Stay away from Gangway Stateroom
This tip might be helpful or good to know before starting your trip. We usually don’t hear much that goes on in the hallway but on our last cruise, our room was a few feet away from the gangway exit (which is the door used to go out and in on each port). If the itinerary was mainly during the day this wouldn’t be an issue but one of the port we visited we left at 10:30 pm and the noise in the hallway was pretty extreme.
Our stateroom was on the fourth floor and in the middle of the ship. But keep in mind there are usually 2 sections that are open on each port. The door used the most was the one by our room but the other door also open was in the front section of the ship. If this could be an issue for you is best to stay away from this section and floor but know the gangway might be at a different floor depending on the cruise ship.
18. Special discount on future trips
Most cruises offer a package or special deal if booking your next cruise with them. But the catch is you can only take advantage of that offer while on the cruise. Some Cruise Line may offer a great price on a specific cruise while others might offer a deposit incentive. The only way to know is on your current cruise trip, so keep your eyes open for these offers given on a form, on tv or on a specific info activity.
Norwegian was offering a deposit of at least $250 which you can add to your account that will last up to 4 years and it can be transferred to any family member. In addition, they will add an incentive to your deposit amount. for example on $250 they will add $100 to your account.
19. Register and check-in as early as you can
The most cruise line will have a check-in process you can complete online. You can start early since a lot of information is required on each person traveling including your passport (if applies). Once you completed your check-in you will get your cruise ticket with a barcode, luggage tags and everything else you may need to know before your cruise begins.
You can print your luggage tags, write the information on top, like your name and room number, so once you arrive at the port is staple right on top and ready to be taken to your room. This process is optional but we usually leave our luggage in the entrance so once we finish with check-in and start to go inside the ship we can see our luggage later on in that day.
20. Protect Luggage from Rain
Each port is different at least from how each luggage handles, last year our cruise port was in Barcelona, Spain when we arrived it was raining and we saw many bags getting wet, some were under a tent but others weren’t. This tip is optional but good to keep in mind when traveling. You can add a plastic bag or laundry large bag right on top to make sure your luggage doesn’t get wet inside. Another way to prevent this from happening is to buy a suitcase that is hardcover.
21. Book your trip with a credit card that offers travel insurance
Some Credit Cards offers some advantages from travel protection to car protection. Is important to go over the offers before signing up with a specific credit card. For that reason, I put to the side the credit cards we have that offer many travel advantages and protection. So before booking our trip and making payments with that specific credit card, we call to double-check that our trip is covered with the credit card we are using to pay for the trip.
22. Ship Tour vs Other Services
Comparing other times we been on a cruise visiting the port location has changed in a good way. For example more then 10 years ago when our kids were small the only option we had to visit the island or city was taxi or cruise tour. But now I was impressed on my last trip in July 2019 how each location offered Ship Tour (which was too expensive for us) Taxi, Car Rental and Hop on Hop off tour companies.
My advice is to check your budget, verify the activities offered by the Cruise Line Tour Package, check the location you would like to visit and then decide which service will work best for you.. Know that each service is different for each port you will visit on your cruise.
23. Need extra chargers?
On previous cruises we were limited on the plugs available in a stateroom for 3 to 4 people, in some cases, we would bring an extension cord to make sure we can charge all of our electronics at the same time. But I notice on our last cruise there were more plugs available from 2 separate counter section to the lamps in the room surely made it more convenient for us. Like we mentioned earlier if traveling to other continents the plugs are very different and is best to bring an adapter in the case we only needed 2 for our family.
24. Gratuity different Option
Each cruise gratuity is divided differently, there is an option you can control how to divide gratuities as you may wish. Visit the Customer Service or Relations and ask for the Service Fee (gratuity) to be removed that you prefer to give it in cash. Know there is a form you will have to sign but before you do read the fine print before making this decision. Know each cruise is different like I mentioned at the beginning, some may offer envelopes on the last night while others won’t offer it. You can now include your gratuity as you wish to keep in mind is by per person in your stateroom.
Its always good to have a checklist of items to bring just so you don’t forget. We have a post we created with a checklist that is free to download. Download it here.