10 Cruise Tips, Tricks and Things to Know

Cruise vacation is a great way to see multiple countries in one journey. Its benefit includes cost savings, convenience and fun. I have been on five cruises and I am excited to share some Tips, Tricks & Things to Know for a cruise vacation.

My First Cruise in 2008!
7 Days Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Malta from Rome on Costa Concordia

1.      The Earlier you book, the Better the Room selection – Many cruise lines has the tendencies to post their best fares when itineraries first go on sale, and then they raise the rates as the ships sell out. I like to book early so I get to pick the room I want and you get extra perks for booking early which normally a complimentary upgrade or onboard credit. Likewise, if you decide to book late, just make sure you are flexible with what was offered.

2.      Don’t Worry about searching for the Best cruise deal – Cruise prices are the same on every website. Just pick your favorite spot to search. I have used Costco a few times for vacation packages and they also have awesome incentives for cruise deals!

5 Night Western Caribbean Cruise (Key West & Cozumel) from Tampa, FL on Royal Caribbean

3.      Picking the Right room – Your room (cabin or stateroom) is typically much smaller than hotel rooms. There are four types of cabins on any cruise vessel:

·         Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside

·         Outside: a room with a window, also known as ocean view

·         Balcony: a room featuring a private verandah outside & without going up to a public deck

·         Suite: a much larger cabin, often comes with separate living and sleeping areas, and includes a wide variety of extra perks and amenities.

4 Night Baja Mexico ( Catalina Island & Ensenada, Mexico) from Long Beach on Royal Caribbean

4.      Consider working with a Travel Agent – if you are new to cruising, consider using a Travel agent to get the best possible value. I have not used one but the travel agents can offer additional perks like free gratuities, onboard credit, or a specialty dining restaurant credit. Plus, a travel agent can help you with other aspects of planning and answer any questions regarding the trip.

5. Should you buy Travel insurance? – The cost of basic coverage is usually between 5 and 9 percent of the cost of the cruise vacation. Purchasing travel insurance before your cruise will cover you on your way to the cruise, during your cruise, and on your way home. All plans are not equal so make sure what is covered before purchase. Health insurance plans such as Medicaid does not provide coverage outside the U.S. borders so I would suggest seniors getting travel insurance. 

Ketchikan, Alaska
7 Day Alaskan Explorer from Seattle, WA on Holland America

Avoid cruise insurance sold by the cruise line, third-party cruise insurance normally has better deals. The insurance offered by the cruise lines is high and has low limits. It also doesn’t offer as much protection as insurance offered by a third party.

6. Consider Dining Options – Everyone usually eat the buffet for lunch and breakfast because it is fast and available, I like to get something of higher quality, and I always head to the main dining room instead of the buffet. They do serve both meals, but with much smaller crowds and the food is usually better. You will need to set reservations at the time of booking your room if you want to set time for dining at specialty restaurant.

7. Getting Prepare for Seasickness – I believe all ships have motion sickness medications available at the dedicated Medical Center, but just in case, be sure to take over-the-counter motion sickness medications, such as Bonnie® and Dramamine® . I get sea sick every time I go on a cruise so I am well prepared. If you have a tendency to get motion sickness, avoid smaller vessels. I always choose the cabin that is lower and more centrally located. A stateroom towards the back (aft) of the ship or a balcony stateroom is also helpful, as you can get out of your room to let in the fresh ocean air.

8. Book Your Excursions – Some of the popular tours or island activities could sell-out fast. Whether you choose to book directly through the cruise line, with an operator or with a third-party company, you should book your shore excursions. You don’t have to worry that the ship will leave without you if your tour is delayed.

9. Take advantage of the Activities, Entertainment and many more onboard – The cruise ships offer plenty of daily onboard activities and entertainment options, and most are complimentary. From physical, family to educational activities, there really is something for everyone. Some cruise ships differs slightly on what they offer and some cruise ship offers thrilling activities including Bungee Trampoline, Climbing wall, Zip line etc. Also, it does not cost a lot to get in-room babysitting while you go party as well.

10.  Arrive a half-hour to an hour before embarkation – I don’t like waiting in long lines with hundreds of people. Most people show up early and end up sitting around waiting to be called onboard. I arrive a half-hour to an hour before embarkation ends, and I find few people and no lines.

Before boarding the ship. You don’t have to go through the same hassles that you see in airports. You don’t have to take off shoes, belts or carry only 3 ounces of liquids. You’ll just have your bags x-rayed and walk through a metal detector.

Keep Calm & Cruise On!


2 thoughts on “10 Cruise Tips, Tricks and Things to Know

  1. We cruised NCL to Hawaii recently and liked the ‘freestyle’…we chose when we wanted to eat in the MDR, weren’t assigned shared tables with strangers, no formal dress code except for 2 of the restaurants. I see you cruised Holland America….what was that like by comparison? Specifically don’t want to sail a line if hubby has to wear a jacket or stick to the buffet.


    1. cruise to Hawaii sounds great. Holland America is much more upscale, and traditional than other cruiselines. The food and service is second to none. Quiet, older crowds, less entertainment/nightlife. On HAL they really encouraged sharing a table but I think they now offer open dining. They will provide meal options that reflect the ports you are visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

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