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25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise

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25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Front of a cruise ship in port

[Last updated 4/30/19]

Is it possible to save big on your next cruise? Yes! – and it’s actually pretty easy. Here are 25 of our favorite and best tips to ensure smooth sailing.

*Note that these tips may vary from cruise line to cruise line.

BOOKING TIPS:

1. Book your cruise through a Travel Agency.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - book a cruise through a travel agency

You can frequently find perks, bonuses, and occasionally even lower prices whenever you book through a travel agency or third party (such as Expedia or Priceline) instead of directly with the cruise line. However, some cruise lines even have a place on their site where you can find a local agent.

The majority of a travel agent’s income comes from commissions paid by the cruise lines; however, some travel agents may also charge a nominal service fee (around $15) for their time and effort.

What’s the difference? Cruise line sales representatives only know what they’ve been taught about their own brands; most have not sailed on the cruise ships they’re booking. However, travel agents (cruise specialists) have been onboard many cruise ships and can offer first-hand advice, like which cabins to avoid (because they’re under the main theater or across from a crew-only access door).


2. Save big by cruising during off-peak times.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Cruise during off peak season

To secure the best prices for your cruise, consider booking your vacation during off-peak cruise times. A few good times to travel can be in early fall during back to school and in between Thanksgiving and mid-December, as opposed to the busy Spring Break, holidays, and summer cruises.


3. Don’t book travel insurance with the Cruise Line.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Carnival cruise

It’s very important to have travel insurance! If you don’t have travel insurance and get sick or need treatment during your cruise, you’ll be looking at a very expensive medical bill. But NEVER book travel insurance with the cruise line directly as their policies have minimal coverage and inflated costs.

When booking, be sure to specifically ask that they do NOT automatically include it, and look at booking third-party travel insurance companies instead, like RoamRight or Tin Leg.


4. Consider booking  early or last minute.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Royal Caribbean Cruise

It’s typically best to book a cruise as early as possible to lock in the best price. That said, be sure to keep an eye on the prices, because if the price of the cruise changes or a better promotion pops up, you can change your booking to take advantage of the new pricing or promotion.

Also, if you’re flexible and don’t have a strong preference regarding a specific itinerary, cruise line, or ship OR you can cruise during a location’s off-season OR you are comfortable booking a non-refundable cruise within a month or so from departure, you may be able to find the best deal booking last minute!


ROOM TIPS:

5. Take advantage of room service.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - room service cart

Many cruise lines offer complimentary room service to guests, allowing you to order food delivered right to your cabin (a tip is appreciated). Check your cruise line’s policy to verify if they do indeed offer free room service before ordering dinner for the family. Note that soda is not included in room service, so you’ll need to stock up at a beverage station if you need more.


6. Bring your own wine or champagne from home.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - bring your own wine or champagne

Celebrating a special occasion? Although most cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring beer and liquor onboard, they do let you bring one bottle of wine or champagne per person in your carry-on luggage. Also, note that some cruise lines charge a $10-$25 corkage fee for consuming wine in the dining room or restaurants, so consider bringing a corkscrew with you and sipping it in your room.


7. Need extra showers? Use the spa for free.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Shower on a Cruise

You can use the showers, saunas, and steam rooms not located in the fancy thermal suites completely free. Plus, showering in the spa can often mean access to more clean towels, nicer toiletries, and bigger shower stalls – it also prevents fights over who gets cabin bathroom access first.


CABIN ORGANIZATION TIPS:

8. Magnetic walls? Bring these!

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - magnetic hooks on cruise wall

Most cabins are made of metal, which means the walls are magnetic! It’s a great idea to bring along some heavy-duty magnets so you can hang all your cocktail party invites, alternative dining reservation notices, and daily planners conveniently on the walls and doors. Plus, you can bring a shower curtain along and hang it up with magnets to create an extra changing area.


9. Use the TV to keep gadgets charged.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - usb charger back of tv

Staterooms are often limited to only a couple of electrical outlets. However, many TVs on cruise ships have a USB port located on the back which you can use to charge your cell phones, ebook readers, and other small electronics with a lightning cable. If you have a lot of devices to charge:


10. Bring a universal power adapter & power strip.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - universal power strip

Often cruise ships have one single European power outlet and a single North American outlet (some cruise ships now offer USB options as well). Make use of the European outlet by bringing a Universal Travel Adapter with you (you’ll be able to use it wherever you travel in the future).

If your cruise line allows, you may also want to pack a power strip (such as this Belkin Travel Power Strip) to keep all your gadgets charged. This highly rated charger and surge protector turns one wall outlet into three outlets and it includes two USB ports!

NOTE – Some cruise lines do not allow you to bring power strips because they pose a fire hazard (Disney is one that does not allow them), so be sure to contact your cruise line to ask before buying one. Also, some cruise lines will have outlets that work fine with your plugs (i.e. Disney Cruise), so check with your cruise line before purchasing a universal power adapter.


FOOD & DINING TIPS:

11. Visit a specialty restaurant on the first night.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - dining table set for dinner

If you want to try one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, do this on the very first night of your cruise. Everyone wants to eat in the main dining room on the first night, leaving the specialty restaurants with several open tables (often with special discounts, such as 50% off and a free bottle of wine)! Check your ‘Day 1 itinerary’ for these promotions after embarking.


12. Skip the buffet on the first day.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - cruise buffet

On embarkation day, most people head straight to the buffet to have lunch and wait for their cabins to open – it can be chaotic and crowded! Many cruise ships have alternative venues open, such as the main dining room or a mini-buffet in the solarium or atrium area. Ask a crew member or check your daily newsletter to find an alternative for a calmer first meal.


13. Order one (or more) entrées your way.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - entree on a plate

You are not limited to one of each appetizer, entrée, and dessert in the main dining room. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you’d like! You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrées as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods!


14. Score free dessert & snacks.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - chocolate covered strawberries

Specialty coffees at the designated coffee shops onboard have an additional fee, but some of the desserts, pastries, sandwiches, and other foods at these venues are often free – just be sure to ask! Plus, there are often designated shops offering all sorts of included desserts and goodies.


15. Get free candy, too!

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - candy on a cruise

Have a sweet tooth? Don’t pay for the overpriced boxes of candy on board. Instead, head to the ice cream stand and ask the scooper for a cup of candy toppings of your choice completely free!


WI-FI TIPS:

16. Buy Wi-Fi packages before you embark…

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - dining area

If you’re planning to use Wi-Fi on your voyage, you can typically get a 10% discount if you book a Wi-Fi package before you get on the ship. You can find these packages as add-ons in your online account. Just login with your cruise line and take a look at the different Wi-Fi packages that they offer.


17. …Or score free Wi-Fi (but you’ll have to be fast).

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - laptop closeup

Rumor has it that some ships’ Wi-Fi will only deduct usage from your account if you’ve been logged onto the Wi-Fi for 30 seconds or more. Although you really can’t do much browsing in that short amount of time, it’s a great way to quickly pull in new emails or send a pre-written email to friends.


18. Access Wi-Fi during off-peak hours.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - sunset on a cruise ship

Unfortunately, Wi-Fi can be extremely slow aboard cruise ships. If you end up purchasing a Wi-Fi plan, use those minutes during a popular show, during peak meal times, late at night, or early in the morning to get the fastest speed compared to other times. Keep in mind that the “off-peak” times may vary by ship and itinerary, so be sure to ask the desk manager for the best times to log-on.


19. Ditch the walkie-talkies.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - walkie talkies

It’s been a long-used cruise tip to bring walkie-talkies with you to communicate with your cruise mates during the voyage. However, it’s actually pretty affordable to communicate using the cruise line’s app. This feature does cost extra, but that fee is likely less than $10 for a week-long cruise – less than the price of a pair of walkie-talkies that you likely won’t use again.


20. Stay updated with the Shipboard App.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Cruise App

Most cruise lines now have their own app that you can use on board for free. Just connect your phone to the ship’s Wi-Fi network and you’ll be able to use the app without incurring any Wi-Fi charges.

These apps are helpful for checking your onboard account balance, browsing the day’s up-to-date activities, reading up on your next port, checking daily menus, accessing a ship map, or even making dinner reservations. Be sure to download the app before your voyage so that you don’t incur Wi-Fi fees or roaming charges.


MOTION SICKNESS TIPS:

21. Find the best ship location to avoid motion sickness.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - Cruise Inner rooms

If you’re prone to seasickness, consider booking a lower stateroom in the middle of the ship where the motion is much more subdued. If your cabin is elsewhere, head to the most central part of the ship. Also, keep the air on ice-cold, which will further help counteract motion sickness.


22. Feeling queasy? Make note of these remedies.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - green apples

If you’re feeling sick, room service can bring you fresh green apples and saltine crackers completely free. The green apple remedy (or really any apple) is highly recommended among the crew members for nausea. Also, you may be able to get free seasickness medicines from the purser’s desk.


23. Or…head to the pool.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - pool

The pool water will feel refreshing and help cool you off. Plus, it allows you to move with the water in the pool rather than with the ship, which often helps with the imbalance in your inner ear that causes the sea-sickness in the first place! One of the best times to head to the pool is when it’s raining (unless there’s a bad storm) as it’s less crowded and you’ll have fewer lines at the waterslides and the bar.


MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

24. Go to Port Lectures for helpful info.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - cruise port calls

At the Port Lecture, the lecturer will highlight and show pictures of many of the tours on offer. You can use this information to help you decide which sites you may be able to see on your own or by simply renting an inexpensive rental car for the day. You may even pick up some money-saving coupons to use onshore or other shipboard freebies they use to entice attendance to these lectures.

Plus, there are some very helpful port maps and mini-guides available for every port of call, but for some reason, these maps are typically not distributed to all passengers. Often they’re handed out at the Port Lecture, so look for them there. These maps tend to contain a ton of helpful information like sample taxi fares, ATM locations, and Wi-Fi hot spots you won’t want to miss.

Hip Tip – Although Port Adventures are fun, they’re also pretty expensive. Since you’re usually only at that particular location for one day, there’s enough to do just by exploring and playing at the beach. Your day will usually fly by without the need to pay for any activities.


25. Turn leftover onboard credit into cash.

25 Tips to Save BIG on Your Next Cruise - cash in a person's hands

If you have onboard credit and don’t spend it, you will lose it. Unfortunately, you can’t go to guest relations and ask for this onboard credit in cash, so don’t ever let your credit go to waste!

Here’s what you can do: Just insert your sign & sail card into the slot machine. Add whatever is left of your onboard credit to the slot machine. Now that your funds are loaded as gambling credits, you can simply cash out those casino funds with the casino purser. You’ll have just turned your onboard credit into cold hard cash. Jackpot!

Hip Tip: Be sure to do this while in international waters. The casino will be closed once it nears port, and you’ll have lost the ability to cash out your onboard credit.


Like cruisin’? 🛳 How do YOU save on cruises?

(Sources: Roaming Around the World & Cruise Critic)
(Select photos taken from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, & Norwegian Cruise Line Facebook Pages)



Mary is a senior copywriter with 9+ years in frugal tips & deals. She has a Bachelors in Human Resources Interdisciplinary Studies. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn


Join The Discussion

Comments 64

  1. Niki

    Omg!! Just what I needed!!

  2. Katie

    Great tips! With room service you can also order juice or corkscrews for your wine to your room. If you use it for breakfast, it’s best to order with the card the night before otherwise it can take a while. I’m gluten free and have cruised with carnival 6 times. If you call ahead or let them know the first day they will help you recognize foods you can eat or pick it out for dinner ahead of time.

  3. melloddie

    Also for any excursions. Try not to book through the cruise. When I use to go in cruises, at each stop there would be local guides waiting by ship. You can negotiate pricing and not be on a packed excursion alone with 20+ others. Of course this should come with caution, be smart,safe& travel with at least one companion and asks lots of questions to avoid scammers.

    • Deb

      Also, if there is a snafu and you arrive back to the ship late, it may have sailed without you. If you book through the cruise line, they won’t leave til you are on board. Our cruise line matched any other excursion price.

    • Rhonda

      Or go online ahead of time to book. We did, saved over $200! If it rains and gets cancelled money is refunded for some companies, just do your homework

    • Morna

      I suggest first time cruisers go through the ship. Once you learn the ways and do a lot of research, I suggest Cruise Critic, then you can venture out to local tours. It can’t be emphasized enough that you can get left behind if you don’t book through the cruiseline.

      • Grandma Cathy

        I did this for 4 different tours in the Mediterranean. We never had an issue getting back to the ship and the tours were better and much less.

    • Paula

      Make sure you get back to the ship on time too as it will not wait on you if it is not a ship sponsored tour. Have seen people left behind.

  4. Frecklelily

    Don’t forget about the FREE kids club! Available at least on Carnival…drop the kids off and go enjoy some adult time.

  5. Melinda

    Are there any cruise lines besides Disney that will allow a family of 5 in one cabin?

    • Niki

      I just booked through carnival for April 14, to the carribean and I have 5 people, cost 2300$ I’m wondering if I need passports tho

      • Rhonda

        You don’t need them but if you require any medical assistance for an unexpected accident/medical emergency, you’ll be stuck on an island. You cannot take a plane home without a passport unless it’s Puerto Rico.

      • Chelsey

        You shouldn’t as long as your are leaving and returning to the US. However, if something happens when you are off the ship that causes you to not get back on you would be stuck in that country until you could get one.

      • Steph

        Im not sure why people are saying you dont need a passport. Unless its different going to Mexico, we had to show our passport before leaving the ship and returning at each stop. Also before you could board the first day you had to have a passport.

        • Tp47832

          If you’re doing a closed loop cruise you do not need a passport
          If your cruise starts in one location to another location you will need a passport
          However it out is always wise to travel with a passport because of something happens or you can leave the island
          Also when traveling a close loop cruise you can travel with just the raised seal birth certificate

        • Michelle

          Because you don’t need a passport to travel internationally on a cruise ship

      • Mercedes

        Carnival doesn’t require passports just your birth certificate and government-issued ID, however, they recommend that you have a passport in case there are any issues that cause you to have to fly back to the US.

        https://help.carnival.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/3409/session/L3RpbWUvMTUwMTAyNTY3NS9zaWQvZlVGZkM0VVg1WjlGaWx0JTdFZ3RhSDREdE1UeTZ6M0lOUTBGY0cybFNxT2tRY0J4XzloaU9VNUhBMTVuQnEwNjZkZ1Roalp0c3VxN1VpaFU3SFZUbFpPYXk2VlU1M2dBRU1PaTNhMEk0UF9zUTJzNlhPMWZ6bDVCckElMjElMjE=

    • Rhonda

      On some ships Royal Caribbean does.

    • Chrissy Reeves

      Carnival has cabins that accommodate 5!

    • Toni

      Yes. But usually a suite.
      I have 3 teens and it’s usually cheaper to get 2 adjoining rooms
      We have 2 cabins booked for Christmas and thanksgiving cruises. It was actually about 500 cheaper for 2 Cabins versus 1.

    • Tracy

      Hey Melinda! Norwegian Cruise Line and also MSC along with some others do offer cabins for 5!

    • Elle

      Hey Tracy
      I just booked one junior suite on the new RCL Mariner of the seas!!! Because the suites have bunks and a roll in cot for my toddler we were able to wing one room.

  6. kari

    Hi! I specialize in cruises and have been in the business for over 20 years. I can help you get the best bang for your buck and I don’t charge any service fees. RCCL is offering kids sail free and NCL is offering free third and fourth guests on many off peak sailings. If you live in the Northeast, NCL DAWN is offering free third and fourth on Feb 18 out of Tampa. It is President’s week when the kids have off.
    Please email me at lolaeven@yahoo.com if you want any information.

    • Shyann

      Does Carnival ever offer kids sail free?

      • Kari

        I have not seen Carnival free kids in a long time. RCCL and NCL have great ships with free kids…..!

      • Britney

        Royal is having KSF for specific cruises July 2-4th

  7. Brianna

    Yes to 18!! Especially on lobster night!

  8. Deb

    Just returned from an Alaskan cruise. Booked a specialty coffee package in advance. Loved it, however, I could have booked it on board for the same price. Also bought the 12-ok bottled water for days in port and on excursions. Didn’t really need that one. Went with 3 other couples. Using the cruise line app, we could all message each other without using any wifi or data. There’s also room to room phone and answering machine. Took a 2-bottle box of wine on board. Saved lots of $ doing that. Did NOT buy the drink package at $52/day per person. As most drinks were under $10, that’s a lot of booze. We couldn’t have used all that. (And we enjoy a few drinks…just not that many) Our ship had a daily 2 for 1 happy hour anyway. Princess line.

  9. Jennifer

    We brought our own cheap snorkel sets and skipped the excursions. We did a Disney cruise this past March and the excursions were cancelled due to wind anyway but we still got to explore ourselves. I usually get very motion sick. This time I did not because I started medicating myself 20 min before we ever got in the car, throughout the long drive, then throughout the cruise. I cannot stress this enough, you must start the Dramamine before the sickness starts to get the best result. I was the only one in my family that didn’t get sick. I brought a few prizes to give my kids each day that were Disney themed and stayed away from the gift shops on the ship. At the Dollar Tree, they sell dry erase magnets you can stick to your door to leave your family little notes. I also applied Disney stickers(also at Dollar tree)on top of the dry erase magnet boards then cut them out for some super cheap, stateroom homemade door magnets. Be careful about the wifi. Lots of people on our cruise were charged hundreds of dollars for wifi due to not understanding what they had agreed to. We just kept our phones in airplane mode. Also, bring a lanyard with the little clear plastic card holder for your key to the world card. They don’t provide them and will be glad to sell you a rediculously priced one in the gift shops. Don’t wait in long lines to see characters and waste your cruise time. You will see them throughout your trip and at the very end you will see them all. Your kids can have Shirley Temples with every meal on request, mine loved that. If you don’t like the food at the restaurant you are scheduled to dine at, just skip it, eat at Cabanas(or whatever the other one is called on the other ships), or go to the pool instead but be kind enough to let your waiter know not to expect you and check the times when the alternate restaurant will be open. Or you can always get room service. Try to get to the shows early to get the best seats for more dramatic special effects. The morning you are to get off the ship make sure to eat breakfast before you leave. You paid for this and most people rush to get off. You can leisurely eat a good breakfast with less crowding and by the time your done there will be no long line to get off. You really can cruise without spending anything other that tips if you just do a little research ahead of time. You can also prepay tips. There are some waiters, etc. that I felt went above and beyond so it is worth it give them a little more. Anyway, hope these tips help. My favorite part of the cruise was the shows and I would make sure not to miss any of those. Even the grown-ups can find a little magic in them.

    • Rhonda

      We got complimentary room service breakfast the day we left as we didn’t have to brave the crowds

  10. Amanda

    Does anyone have advise on cruising with little ones? My girls are one and two but I would like to book us a cruise for next summer. Does carnival have a place where the little ones can go all day? Or would Norwegian be better because they are more family oriented? Thanks in advance!!!

    • Carole

      Carnival has a kids club they can go to. My little girl will be 3 when we go on our first cruise in March!

    • Tp47832

      Carnival is much better for kids. Norwegian is doing a lot of free drinks and the people get pretty rowdy.

    • Kari

      RCCl’s new ships have a nursery for kids two and under. That would be your best choice.
      There is an extra charge for that but it will allow you some free time on your own. Email me at lolaeven@yahoo.com if you want prices as I specialize in cruises.

  11. Amanda

    Awesome! Thank you carole😊

    • Chelsey

      If they are in diapers they won’t be able to swim. None of the cruise lines allow diapered (not even swim diapered) kids in the pools. Disney had a tiny splash pad but that was it. Other than that we had no issues having a little one, they even cut up her food for her!

  12. Jenn

    Just went on the 14 Day transatlantic with royal Caribbean. They charge like $7.95 for room service if it’s a hot item now. Things like continental breakfast and coffee are still free.

  13. Candi

    What is everyone’s advice on tipping/gratuity? Do you pre-pay or pay at the end of the cruise? Also do you recommend removing the tips and paying as you go? First time cruiser here!

    • Mercedes

      To my understanding, with Carnival gratuities are mandatory. Gratuities are pre-arranged and can be added at the time of booking or anytime up to the sail date. We usually add ours at the time of booking so we don’t have to worry about them.

      You can choose to tip extra to whomever you please but a certain amount is mandatory per passenger per day.

      https://help.carnival.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1123/~/service-gratuities-%28tips%29

      • Bill Paul

        The gratuities might be added to your account, but are not really mandatory. You can visit guest services and have them reduced or even eliminated. However, that’s not really fair unless service has been really bad. Even then, cruisers should keep in mind that those tips also go to the staff behind the scenes, those who are washing your laundry, keeping public areas clean, arranging flowers in public areas, etc. Still, there is the option of adjusting the daily fees.

      • Carrie

        Carnival march 2016 – tips are billed but you can check on the tv what you are being billed for. ( friend was surprised at the liqueur price- better to buy the pail and put some in the refriderator). I went down to the desk and changed some of my tips because we didn’t go to the dining room a couple nights and our room guy was awesome!

    • MekaRTR

      I read a tip to not pay the gratuities ahead of time in the event you do have an issue with service, you can have your gratuities adjusted. I never prepay. Luckily, I never had an issue either.

  14. Evie202

    Thank you Jennifer for all the great cruise tips!👍😃

    • Jennifer

      You are welcome! Enjoy your cruise, it’s over so fast!

  15. Berdi

    Very fee cruise lines let you bring power strips anymore. And the confiscate irons now too.

    • Deb

      I brought a multi plug outlet, which was just fine on Princess. 3 outlets

  16. Tp47832@yahoo.com

    I would recommend using the cruise line for excursions. Having been on 22 cruises, cruises never get on ports in time. Ports get changed and cancelled. I’ve had 3 excursions bus or boats break down and arrived late to ship. If I would have stuck on the island if I didn’t book on ship.
    Also wifi is not that cheap. Carnival
    Has some good deals, celebrity was very expensive.
    I recommend the pop package for kids and drink package for adults if you drink.

  17. Vanessa G

    Thanks so much Jennifer. Have a upcoming Disney cruise booked and all tips and pointers help as this is our first Disney cruise ever!!

    • Jennifer

      You are so welcome! You all will have a great time. My husband doesn’t really like Disney anything yet he loved this cruise. It’s not “in your face” Disney everywhere. It’s just enough Disney.

    • Tracystravelfun

      You will love the Disney Cruise!!

      • Tabu Noorani

        Which disney cruise is good for 7 year old boy? Pls help we r planning to take our son on disney cruise but are very confused as it is expensive too

  18. Jessica

    On Carnival, you are allowed to bring a certain amount of canned drinks per person. We usually like to look at all the different options you can get in a can like Hawaiian Punch or pineapple juice to have an alternative to free water tea or lemonade. Additionally, if you have cruised more than one time, you get a complimentary 1.5 liter of water for free in your stateroom. With four of us traveling, we found that this was enough to get us through the week in our room.

  19. Grandma Cathy

    Go to cruisecritic.com and find your exact sailing. Here you can chat with other guests. On my Mediterranean cruise, I found others to take excursions with from private companies at half the price. Many worry that they won’t get back to the ship on time. You will and you will have a much better tour at half the price.

  20. Tracee

    I have been in a few cruises wuth Carnival. I take my kids. You are allowed (12 ) 20oz. Sodas per person and one bottle of wine per adult. They also let you take snacks , like lunch size chips or fruit snacks, and if memory serves you can even take drink boxes. We also take the big Bubba cups so we dont have to keep going back to the room. Take a sling backpack for the extra drinks and you can get ice from any bar or lido deck. We never spend that much money on cruises. We love it ! Happy Sails!

  21. Sharon

    Use Cruisecompete.com where you can enter the cruise you like and have different agencies bid on your business (you can specify room type, passengers, discounts, etc). Bring travel mugs for water and coffee on the go. Enjoy talking about your cruise before on the cruisecritic.com forums where they have groups for each ship & sailing – they usually plan a few events like a meet & great or pub crawl for those interested, too. You can usually bring some wine onboard (and incur a modest “corkage” fee) – check to see what size is acceptable.

  22. tbutterfly27

    I went on an Alaska cruise about a month ago with my sister – it was our first cruise so we booked an obstructed view cabin. We had booked through Expedia about 2 months before. On the day before we set sail, I got a call from Princess Cruises asking if we wanted to downgrade to an inside cabin for a full refund (excluding taxes). We downgraded so we were basically sailing for “free”. We spent money on excursions and shopping, but we probably would have spent it anyway. Everyone should see Alaska – the scenery is breathtaking! Thanks for the tips – I’ll use them on the next cruise!

  23. Maggie H

    Sign up for emails before hand. I had sailed Norweigan before so was getting their emails, We were thinking of taking the kiddos to Hawaii when I got an email with a kids sail free special . At the time all of my four kids were under 18 and did qualify. We used the savings to upgrade to a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom suite. It was still a splurge but was a great way to see more of the islands and the kids still talk about that trip four years later.

  24. Dana

    If you own Royal Carribean stock (100 shares or more) you can get an onboard credit of $100 every time you cruise with RCCL.

    • Diane

      Be careful on the stock option, though. You often can’t get any of the other special deals offered if you claim the stock option. Our Vacations to Go person said it is rarely a good deal so we opted not to buy it for the discounts. If you want it for the stock, that is fine. Too many times there is a discount for return sailors, or state you live in or over 50, or a credit card travel discount. Nothing else can be used if you use the stock discount which doesn’t amount to as much as the others, you will find. Also, Vacations to Go prices include the port fees and taxes, so be careful when comparing prices. Also, if you choose to purchase a drink package, you will still owe the tips and taxes on them unless you are getting FREE taxes and gratuities in your price package. We recently sailed to New Orleans and their state added an additional 19% on top of the usual taxes for the three days we were sailing up the Mississippi and while in port in New Orleans.

  25. Jenn

    Become your own Travel Agent (there are several free to sign up companies) and book your own cruises. You get the bonuses + the commissions. Ive been doing this for years and save a bunch taking into consideration the commision and bonuses i get to keep. It took me about 2 hours to learn how to book my own through my travel agency website.

    • Tami

      Do you have the name of a specific company that is best to sign up with for free?

    • Melinda spence

      Hey Jenn do you recommend any sites over others for signing up as a travel agent? Or do you receive any credits if I sign up under you? I’d be more than happy to sign up under you or use a code for you to get credit for recommending a site (or two) to become a travel agent to save money. Thanks!

  26. Dannie

    Sea Bands beat Dramamine, Bonine, or any of the patches for sea sickness. You can get them at walmart for under $10 and you don’t need to worry about stuff like avoiding alcohol or certain foods like you do with medications. They’re also good for car sickness and morning sickness if you’re prone to puke-y-ness!

  27. Jamie Hall

    These are great tips and advice. Never been on a cruise and my family of 4 would love to give it a try. What about which is the cheapest departure port? I’ve found great cruise deals but then the cost goes up for the flights to the departure ports. I’m looking at Florida ports. Advice?? TIA!!

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