Seven essential cruise tips

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1. Don’t be afraid to book at the last minute

As with booking air travel, you can get amazing discounts if you’re prepared to take a risk and book your cruise at the last minute. And by last minute, we don’t mean the week before wish to leave.

Around two to three months prior to a ship’s departure date is when the deadline for cancellations without penalty occurs. This is the prime time for you to find a discount on that dream cruise, as cruise lines will be doing all they can to try and fill all available space on the ship.

And if you’ve already booked your cruise prior to reading this and feel you’re missing out on a better deal – don’t fret! Two to three months before leaving port is also the best time to call for cabin upgrades. A premier suite, which could usually set you back thousands, might be had for an extra couple of hundred dollars.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount either, especially if you’re a senior, military veteran, student or teacher. Go on, give it a go – what have you got to lose?

2. Bring a power board on board

Quite often there’s only one double power point in your room, which may sound sufficient for all your charging needs, but reconsider it if you have a phone, camera, shaver, iron, hairdryer – the list of power reliant equipment goes on. A power board will allow you to charge your appliances at the same time as ironing your shirt and drying your hair. Trust us – the power board will be very handy.

3. Arrive at the departure port city one night earlier

It is not as uncommon as one would imagine: just how many people literally miss the boat due to bad weather, traffic jams, car breakdowns and other unforeseen troubles. And sometimes the stress of making your boarding time can cause tensions between travel buddies, which can, in turn, ruin the first night or two (or more) of your cruising adventure. So why not extend your holiday by one night and book a room in the city the night prior to departing port? It sounds simple, but a relaxing stay around the corner from the departure port can really start your trip off on the relaxed, right foot.

4. Book restaurants before you board

Most cruises have a range of dining options available, but, sometimes, the more ‘fancy’ ones can be booked out quite quickly. So it pays to book either prior to boarding, or, if you’re not sure of the restaurants at which you’d like to eat, take a tour of the vessel on your first day and book in then.

5. Pack a ‘carry on’ bag with essentials

Sure, the porters will take all of your baggage straight to your room when you arrive, but the influx of cruisers all boarding at the same time means that sometimes your bags won’t be in your room before you get there. The best way to ensure you have what you need when you cross the threshold of your cabin is to keep it on you. Pack a small carry-on bag with all your essentials, and you can freshen up and sort your self out on arrival to your room, instead of getting frustrated, waiting for you baggage to arrive.

6. Unpack everything

Your room should come with a full wardrobe, so unpack your bags when you arrive and really settle into your suite. The beauty of cruising is that you should only have to unpack once, so get out your gear and set yourself up for the long haul – you may as well get as comfy as you can!

7. Say ‘no’ to a shore excursion or two

Port calls make it seem as if you’re going to see some of the country in which you’re visiting, but the truth is, you’ll often be charged a fortune for an excursion in a crammed bus on which you’ll experience very little other than someone talking straight out of a Lonely Planet guide book.

So, why not stay on board and make the most out of your already-spent money whilst everyone else disembarks? Take full advantage and enjoy all the onboard amenities. Relax by the uncrowded pool, spa or hang out at the deck bar. Most facilities will stay open and you’ll have them to yourself. You can pretend it’s your very own ship for the day.

Do you have any cruise tips for our members? Why not share them with us?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 11
  1. 0

    Top tip. Do not be a glutton.

  2. 0

    On our first cruise with P&O we bought optional tours which looked as if they were operated by P&O but we were to discover were not. Before even entering the vehicle I obtained an assurance that we would be back at the ship by 4 p.m. for a 5 p.m. departure. All went well until we arrived at an attractive beach where some of the passengers went into the water where they remained for long after our scheduled departure.
    We made ourselves extremely unpopular by pressuring the driver to get us back to the ship by 4 p.m. and eventually made it, but only just. In the case of P&O the tours sold onboard might cost more than tours bought on line, but the risks outweigh the benefits.
    Anyone who decides to take the risk should take a couple of simple precautions. Bring your passport and credit cards so that you can purchase accommodation and arrange transport back home.

    • 0

      hi Max. the reason you book through the cruise line is that they will wait for you if it is a sanctioned tour, but will not if you go off on your own. I have had this impressed upon me on 3 different cruise lines now

    • 0

      We research shore excursions very thoroughly on such sites as Cruise Critic. This generally leads to a decision not to take such tours, though you have to take into account that, where the reviews are mostly negative (as is usually the case) this can be because the travellers most likely to post a review are the ones who had a bad experience.

  3. 0

    Big you want to get EXTRA-special service, like from cabin attendant or your reserved dining table waiter/waitress give a conservative tip (money, not advice) to them at the BEGINNING of your trip. Another at the end of your trip is also a good move, and conscience-comforting, as well, as you may have that same crew person in attendance on your next trip/cruise.

  4. 0

    Be careful taking power boards on your cruise. There are a few ships that will allow them, but more ships are no longer allowing power boards due to them not being certified and are considered a safety issue. They can be confiscated on boarding and you will not get them back until the end of the cruise. You are better off taking a couple of double adaptors with you that will go through without problem. We get by for all of our charging needs this way and it is a good idea to have a couple of spare batteries that can be charged through the day when you are out and about.

  5. 0

    We declined booked tours because of outrageous costs and heard back from others how disappointed they were with some of them.Do your own looking. Staying on board at times is a good idea and more relaxing. Enjoy free classes the boat puts on. Some ships do not allow laundry so take a little line to hang ”smalls” on.Walk around the ship regularly. It’s fun and stops weight increase. Enjoy!

    • 0

      No matter where or how we travel we always take a camping clothes line, pegs and some laundry powder (in original box!) or liquid. Has saved us taking too many clothes and also saved so much on laundry fees.

  6. 0

    Do not take a power board unless you check first. Most cruise lines ban them

  7. 0

    So far, we have been on three cruses… All over 12 days in length.We love cruising as it is a total holiday for me (hubby’s retired)..
    o washing, ironing(unless you want to),making beds etc. Fantastic!!! We travel with friends or family and really enjoy it. I have learned a few things that may be of assistance to some.
    1. depending on the cruise line, they will offer cut price laundry service around the 5th day out and again a few days later. Some lines have laundries so DYI is great. Take some of those laundry capsules with you to save time looking for coins for the dispensers on board. You need coins for the washing machines as well and I usually take a few with me (hubby does the washing on holidays).We wash our smalls out each night and hang them in the bathroom to dry.
    2. You can’t take an iron on board. They will confiscate it at boarding and you then have the hassle of organising to get it back at the end of your trip.
    3.We took a power board last time and this was still allowed 12 months ago. I shall certainly look into that before our next cruise in January.
    4.Most cabins have hair dryers attached to the wall next to the mirror in the bedroom.
    5.Water for taking tablets etc is expensive if accessed out of the fridge in your room. Approx $5 a litre. We usually travel with Princess and take a few bottles of our own on board packed in our luggage.That way, you have the taste that you are used to and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
    6.If travelling with friends that are in different cabins to yourselves, take some post it notes with you. We colour code ours and leave each other messages as to where we will be at a given time. Hubby and I do the same in our room and post them to the mirror. That way you can do your own thing without losing touch with those important people.
    7.Maybe corny, but we also take a pack of cards, and a couple of board games for those days when we don’t leave the ship for shore leave. It is relaxing to play scrabble or monopoly ( the jnr variety only takes a couple of hours to play)…drink in hand and no crowds…fantastic. (We have yet to do a cruise where it is hot enough to venture into the pool)..
    8.Use the stairs and go for a walk every day. The food is so yummy that its really easy to pack on the weight. We tend to eat in the dining room rather than the buffet as everything is portion controlled.
    9.We booked a combination of on board and private excursions on one trip. We were lucky to make it back in time on two occasions. Only one of those was cruise line sanctioned. We did not take passports with us so were very lucky.



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