Cruise Tips8 Ways Rookies Waste Time on a Cruise

8 Ways Rookies Waste Time on a Cruise

You’ve heard the saying “time is money” a thousand times or more in your life.  Why? Because it’s true. Here are eight practical ways that will help you make the most of your time on board and avoid waiting in the least amount of lines as possible.
1. Eating dinner at peak times for Anytime Dining – Anytime dining is a great, flexible way to enjoy dinner when you feel like eating.  However, showing up at peak times (6:30-7:30) and you will likely end up waiting in long line.  Showing up when the dining room first opens or late in the evenings and you usually will be seated right away.

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2. Not making dinner reservations – Most cruise ships will let you make dinner reservations to the main dining room if you have anytime dining. Taking a minute or two to make reservations in advance can save you from waiting 30 minutes or more to be seated.

3. Arriving first for the muster drill – For cruise ships that have the muster drill outside on the promenade deck, arriving first for the drill will mean you will likely be crammed in the back.  NEVER be late for the drill but arrive 5-10 minutes before the start time.  This will also allow you to make a quick exit when the drill is finished and not stuck way in the back.

4. Attending shopping talks – The shopping talks held onboard cruise ships are used as a way to get passengers to shop at the stores where the cruise line receives commission from each sale.  They aren’t telling you about certain stores because they feel they are of good value, it is because those stores are paying them.

5. Not reading the daily program – Not reading the daily program is a great way to waste time walking in circles trying to figure out what is going on around the ship.  Tip: Bring a highlighter and highlight the activities that will interest you the following day.  This will make it easy the next day to not miss certain activities that you want to check out.

6. Trying to tender at peak times – I have waited an hour or more when I have tried to tender at peak times.  If you are unsure when the peak tendering times are for a certain port, don’t be afraid to ask the staff.  The cruise director on several of my cruises made announcements over the loud speaker telling everyone the times when the lines would be longest.  Listen to their advice if you want to wait in the shortest line possible.

7. Checking on your bill at guest services – I once saw a friend I was cruising with in line at guest services.  He told me that he wanted to check on his onboard account.  Instead of waiting 30 minutes in line, he could have used one of the kiosks or checked his account spending on his television in his stateroom. Don’t waste time waiting in line on something you can check yourself in less than a minute.

On many ships, you can even use your phone or table to view your onboard account and make reservations for shore excursions.

8. Not pre-booking shows – Many newer ships like the Quantum and Oasis class from Royal Caribbean will let you pre-book tickets to the onboard shows.  While you do not necessarily have to pre-book tickets to see the shows, it will save you from waiting in line to see if there are extra seats available. If you can, always pre-book your shows online before your cruise.  This way you can walk right in and sit down.

cruise rookie mistakes

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise Tips8 Ways Rookies Waste Time on a Cruise


  1. Number 8 is completely stupid. May lines ‘Let’ you make reservations for shows?!? More like if you’re on a mega ship and you don’t make reservations – you won’t see it. Better to stick with a line like celebrity that doesn’t pack so many people aboard, then you can be spontaneous and reservations aren’t required for anything. Isn’t that the point of vacationing? We never have problems walking into a show or a step up on a whim, and don’t feel like cattle.

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