SECRETS CRUISE SHIPS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW
If you're thinking about taking a cruise, there are some things you should know. Some are good. Like how to get a deal. And some are not so nice. All these cruise ship secrets will help you save money, stay healthy and open your eyes a little.
Get Great Deals via Email
There are many places to get great deals, but one of the best is signing up for newsletters from the cruise lines.
Save on a Re-positioning Voyage
Another way to save big on a cruise is to hop aboard a re-positioning voyage. The big companies re-position ships at various times of the year. Depending on the seasonal popularity of a destination. It's a chance to sail across the Atlantic or Pacific for a fraction of the regular cost.
The Ship Won't Wait
Not a big fan of group tours? If you decide to explore a port of call on your own, be aware that the ship will not wait for you if you're delayed. But, if you're on a cruise line organized tour, the ship will wait. (I've been close only once,in Bali, but thanks to the quick actions of my cab driver, we made it back for the VERY last tender boat.)
Grab the Free Stuff
Read the ship's daily newsletter for special offers, free drinks, and other discounts.
Escape the Kids
If you've brought the kids along, you may find the need for a parental time-out. Most major cruise lines have free childcare facilities on board. Take full advantage. (My daughter LOVES the kids club. It's a great way for them to make friends, and have their own "alone" time. If your cruise ship offers the VIP package for kids, it's a well-worth-it added expense. My daughter has had the opportunity to steer the cruise ship from the bridge including meeting the captain, and had a behinds the scenes looks at the theatre including costumes and lighting. Way cool for the kiddos!)
A lot of first time passengers fail to read the fine print. Not everything's included on your voyage. Take the time to read the details about what your package includes. And doesn't, so you're not surprised when you board. If you have questions, ask before booking.
Save on Food
One way to reduce on board spending is to dine at specialty restaurants for lunch, when the menu is cheaper. Also, look into buying restaurant packages as part of your ticket.
Watch the Extras
Don't get nickel-and-dimmed on your cruise. Skip non-essentials like the on-board photography services and tacky souvenirs.
Save on Drinks
Many cruises offer packages for drinks. But you should add up what you expect to spend (don't forget to include tips) and compare that to the package. Sometimes you're better off paying as you go.
Pack a Power Bar
Travelling with all sorts of electronic gizmos and gadgets? Be aware that most cabins only have one or two power outlets. Pack a power bar.
Book the Right Cabin
If you can afford it, you should book a cabin with a balcony. You'll appreciate having a private place to hang out. Also, make sure your cabin isn't under anything noisy like a bar or the gym. And stay away from cabins at the front of the ship if you don't like the motion of the ocean. (We like a cabin close to the elevators so we can get out quickly and easily. It can be a little noisier but I don't have to walk down the endless hallways searching for my cabin.)
Avoid Peak Season
Another way to save on your cruise is to avoid peak season. Easy. Late spring and early fall is when you will find the deepest discounts on cruises.
Find a Quiet Spot
Sometimes you need your own space. During your first few days at sea look for a place that you can call your own. It might be a little more than a hidden spot tucked around a corner on a popular deck. It can be your special place to gaze out over the sea and ponder the magic of it all.
Wash Your Hands Often
When you have so many people packed together, it's no surprise that it's easy for something to spread. To reduce the chances of picking up a bug, wash your hands a lot. Packing some hand-sanitizer is a good idea too. (There is hand-sanitizer available at every entrance to every restaurant. USE IT!)
Go Online on Land
On-board internet can be quite expensive. Unless it's important, most online activities can wait. Find access free WiFi in the next port of call. (Even better idea: Put the phone down and enjoy your cruise experience. Unless you are taking photos.)
Don't get too upset over the occasional episode of bad service. Remember that many cruise ship employees get paid peanuts. Most ships aren't regulated by labour laws and staff work hard for very little. Most employees that interact with passengers receive better salaries. But domestic staff rely on your tips to make a decent living. (Tips are not included in your cruise package. Expect the additional fees to appear on your account once on-board. We like to give additional tips to those who provide exceptional service. We had a room stewardess, Luna, that was delightful. She learned that my daughter had a favorite stuffed toy with us. So, every day she would roll towels to make various animals to keep my daughters stuffed toy company. The last night on the ship, she made... -she picture below.)
There's a Morgue
If you die on your cruise, don't expect the party to stop on your behalf. No sea burial, either. Instead, your body will gets sent to the refrigerated morgue until the cruise ends.
There's a Jail
Most ships also have a small jail (brig) to hold suspects until the ship reaches a port of call. At that point, the miscreant gets handed over to the local law.
There's a Secret Staff Bar
Ever wonder why you don't see staff mixing it up with customers in the bar? It's because they're not allowed to. But, they do have access to a secret staff bar. And you're not invited.
Where does all the waste from a cruise ship go? You guessed right: the ocean. A one-week cruise can generate 800,000 litres of human waste, also known as black-water. That's far too much to store and transport back to land. So, when the ship is a certain distance from shore, the tanks get pumped out. (Thank goodness I've never had to witness this, but I did see a smack of large jellyfish off the coast of Indonesia once from my cabin balcony. -Just another reason to book the balcony cabins.)