A few weeks ago we blogged about Everything You Need To Know About Landing The Best Cruise Line Jobs. But for those of you who aren’t looking to turn cruises into your place of employment – we have a brand new blog post for you!
When should I book a cruise? How do I get free upgrades? Where is the best part of the ship to stay if I suffer from motion sickness? Here are 12 hacks for cruise newbies.
Cruise Hack #1: Book several months in advance.
As with everything, booking early always has its advantages. Experts say that booking cruises as far in advance as a year can really save you some money.
This hack is especially important if you are planning on cruising during high season. If you book an off-season cruise, you will also save money. (Side note: keep in mind that depending on the area you are looking to cruise in, the high season and offseason may be different than what you are used to! Always double check.)
Think about it like this: if you cruise in a warmer area than you are used to, you will be warm anyways in the offseason! No need to worry about going on a cruise during the typical warm summer months.
Cruise Hack #2: Book last minute.
Threw you a curveball! For those of you that are not as lucky to book a year in advance, booking last minute has its advantages too.
Booking a cruise last minute is important for cruise lines – they want to fill up!
The only downside to booking last minute is that you will not have as many options for rooms, balconies, etc. But you will definitely save yourself some cash. Spend the extra money on dolphins or renting a quad!
Cruise Hack #3: Book your next cruise while you’re still onboard.
If you’re enjoying the cruise you’re on, why not book your next cruise with them ASAP? You can book your next cruise onboard and score onboard credit and most likely, a cheaper deposit.
Cruise Critic says you can book onboard and then transfer to a travel agent once you get off of the ship. A travel agent can usually offer you more than what you were offered on the ship.
Cruise Hack #4: Look for price drops.
If you book a cruise and the price drops for your specific cabin, then you can make changes to your bookings to upgrade yourself – if it makes sense to.
Cruise Hack #5: Send savings to your email.
We should all be sending cruise deals and savings to our inbox. Major cruise lines send ongoing deals as well as last minute deals to your inbox!
Keep an eye on your messages and you could make a spontaneous cruise happen anytime.
Cruise Hack #6: Download the Cruise Ship Mate App.
The Cruise Ship Mate app is revolutionary because you can input your cruise information into the app, and that gives you access to a bunch of your specific cruise’s info at the touch of your finger!
You can explore ships, ports, look at excursions, deck cams, and even ship tracking!
This app is also a fantastic resource to communicate with other “shipmates” on your cruise or on other cruises.
The app has a general news feed in which people can post small updates, tips, or questions that they have about the cruise. They can post photos too!
If you are curious as to what the inside of the ship looks like, you can check out this app for those kinds of photos, rather than going to each cruise lines gallery.
Cruise Hack #7: Use Credit Card Points for Upgrades.
Roaming around the World found that it’s possible to get a balcony upgrade through credit card points – it’s just a different way of doing it.
By booking an inside cabin and waiting for a price drop on balcony cabins, you can almost guarantee an upgrade. When this happens, you pay the difference between the rooms which can range from roughly $50-$200 more.
However, if you use a credit card that gives points that can be redeemed for travel, then you should be able to pay in points and receive a refund for that difference you paid.
Cruise Hack #8: Prepare for Motion Sickness.
While not everyone experiences motion sickness or seasickness, you want to be prepared. If you prefer to take medicine, make sure you pack those! If not, try the sea bands or patches for when the ship gets rocky.
Additionally, booking an inside cabin closer to the center of the ship will suit you better than near the sides. When the ship does get rocky, the sides of the ship will take the brunt of it, and the center will move less.
Pro tip: Stay hydrated when you’re feeling the motion of the ocean. Sip cool water and drink it normally if it feels okay in your tummy.
Cruise Hack #9: Book Your Own Excursions.
Don’t feel pressured to book the offshore excursions through the cruise ship because that is what’s being offered. Many of them are great, but it does not mean that you have to do it, especially if you want to save some money.
Research the ports and destinations you will be visiting whether it is a 7-day cruise or a 14-day cruise and determine whether or not you want to take part in those excursions. If not, that’s okay! There are plenty of things to do, plenty of places to see, and plenty of foods to try!
Pro tip: Be careful of the ship’s call time. If you book an excursion without the ship, the ship will leave without you! Yikes! If you do book an excursion or tour with the ship and it is late, the ship will wait. This is super important to remember.
Cruise Hack #10: Book Internet Packages.
The Travel Channel reminds us that we should book Internet packages while on board, vs. paying for each minute. The difference will save you several dollars!
If you absolutely need the Internet during your vacation, then consider booking a package vs. paying by the minute. Those minutes add up pretty fast – just be mindful of this!
Cruise Hack #11: Buffets are your friend.
I am a huge fan of pocketing the free bread at the beginning of dinner in restaurants when I travel, and cruising is no different!
Put away some free food from the cruise buffets on port days. This can include fruit, bread, whatever you have time and space for. This way, you won’t be spending extra money on local food.
Cruise Hack #12: Is it BYOB?
If a cruise allows you to BYOB, then most certainly do! Again, another way to save some money for other things you want to splurge on.
Always double check before you board, otherwise, your alcohol will be confiscated.
Now that you have a few simple hacks under your belt, it’s time to book! What’ll it be? A cruise to Bermuda or around Italy? Did any of these hacks surprise you? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! Ahoy!