I heard this COVID-19 has put a damper on your cruise plans. Well, whether or not you’re looking towards your first sailing or your 200th, there will always be new cruise tips to learn when you take your trip. Once they open the seas back up to us, and you re-book, you’ll be able to put these tips and tricks into good use. I hope this list covers the basics plus a couple goodies, and you’re encouraged to get out and sail as soon as you’re able.
And while experienced cruisers may know most of the things on this list, you can rest assured everyone reading will something from a helpful hint. I plan to add to it as I have the opportunity to, but your feedback would be a great help.
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1. Many hotels near the port will offer free/discounted cruise parking and/or shuttles to the ship
Are you driving a day or two before your cruise? Look for hotels that offer cruise parking. Hotels in port cities will do what they can to attract cruise passengers. Including letting you park at their hotel during your cruise for free (or at a discount). And many will also offer a shuttle ride to the cruise port as well.
There is no better way to save money on your cruise parking and getting to the port than with this tip. You can find great deals at these ports: Baltimore
2. Pay off your cruise in installments
Most of us put down a deposit when first booking a cruise. A few will opt to pay off the entire cruise at once. Sure, it’s a nice feeling knowing that your cruise is paid for, but it also puts you at risk if there is a price drop.
You may not know that cruise lines adjust their fares, similarly to airlines. When you put down a deposit, you can call the cruise line if the price drops and they will likely honor the lower price. Not having paid for the entire trip already gives you some leverage since you can cancel and re-book at the lower price.
If you’ve already paid for the entire trip, you lose that leverage. (Even if this happens, still give the cruise line a call and ask for the lower price. You might get money back for the difference as onboard credit.)
3. Older ships are usually cheaper to cruise on
If you’re a new cruiser who likes a deal, look at sailing on an older ship. Even if an older ship and a newer ship sail the same itinerary, the fares on the older ship will be dramatically lower.
Of course, in exchange you won’t get the wild new things like waterslides and ten swimming pools. But if you’re the sort of person who simply wants to be out on the water, you can save hundreds of dollars by sailing on an older ship.
4. Want to sail cheap? Cruise when the kids are in school
When school is in, families with kids, a huge cruising demographic usually won’t take trips. That means the cruise lines are looking to fill rooms and will offer up cheap fares to entice people to sail.
In fact, it’s not surprising to find fares that double during holiday breaks when families can take their trips.
They should call it the “law of cheap cruising”. If you want to save a ton, be flexible with your dates and sail when school is in session.
5. Download the cruise line’s app before you board
Cruise line apps are extremely helpful. These apps keep you up to date on daily schedules, messaging to others on the ship, ship maps, and even tracking of your on-board spending account from your phone.
We’d suggest everyone download the app before your cruise to use on-board. It’s much faster to download over wi-fi instead of using a cellular network or the ship’s Internet.
6. You won’t need travel insurance … until you do
Odds are, you won’t need the travel insurance you buy, but when you do, it is a game changer. Travel insurance can cover a ton of different things, including if you get hurt or sick on your trip. But it’s also handy if you lose your luggage, miss the boat or have to make alternate arrangements to meet your ship and get back home.
7. Bring drink flavor pouches for free drinks
Sodas and other drinks aren’t free on a trip, but tea, lemonade and water are. A little trick is to bring a few packs of those drink flavors available your local grocery store. Drop a pack into your water to instantly make your favorite beverage for free. It’s also a good way to get the kids to drink something other than soda while on their vacation AND … it won’t weigh down your luggage.
8. You can order a second (or third … or fourth) entrée at no additional charge
Can’t choose between two dishes? Order both. Or order two lobsters. Most people don’t realize it, but you can order as much as you want in the main dining room (or other restaurants).
Cruise lines understand that people are on vacation to enjoy themselves. They also get that people love to eat on their trip, so they’re usually happy to accommodate your requests. But do be kind in asking and generous in tipping.
9. Free motion sickness pills are available at Guest Services
Are you concerned about getting sick on the cruise? You should definitely pack your own seasickness remedy, but don’t worry if you forget. If you start to feel queasy, Guest Services stocks seasickness pills. They typically have them to give away to passengers to help keep them happy on the trip.
10. Is EVERYBODY Hungry? Get a whole pizza for free
Just about every ship will have a place to get pizza by the slice. But what if you’re really hungry? Did you know that you can order a whole pizza, free of charge. This way, you get exactly what you want. It may take a few minutes to get your pie made, so be a little patient and again tip generously.
*BONUS* Check out the “secret decks” on your ship
Many ships have decks that are not easily accessible, but are still public. These are fun spots to find on the ship, especially if you are looking for a little more privacy or just get away from the crowds. Click here to see a list of Carnival ships with these secret decks.
Note: The only Carnival ships without “Secret Decks” are the four Spirit Class ships: Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride & Carnival Spirit with the Mardi Gras coming later this year.
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Stay safe out there and continue to protect yourself and each other.