I have been on over 70 cruises on 15 different cruise lines. I have sailed all around the world from the waters of the Mediterranean, to the Caribbean, and inside the Arctic Circle.
I’ve visited Singapore, Thailand, Norway, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Malta, Alaska, Hawaii, and more islands in the Caribbean than I can count.
I’ve made my fair share of mistakes on cruises and are some things on cruise ships that I won’t do again.
Buying Products in the Spa
I love visiting the spa on cruise ships and getting a massage, haircut, and a shave. It’s a great way of spoiling yourself when you are on vacation. But we all dread what comes at the end, the hard sell for insanely priced products. Sometimes it can be easy to say yes but I won’t do it again.
What will I do instead? I know that therapists get a nice commission on these products and if they do a great job, I believe in rewarding them. Instead of buying products, I give them a nice cash tip (so they don’t lose out) and buy the same products when I get home for 25-33% of the price the ship charges.
Attend Shopping Talks for Freebies
When I first started to take cruises, I always attended the shopping talks because of the freebies you could get. They would tell you about stores you could visit in port and receive free gem stones just for walking in. I was a complete sucker for this on my first ever cruise to The Bahamas.
When you walk into the store with your coupon for your free gem stone, they instantly try to sell you a necklace or other times. It didn’t take me long before realizing that I was wasting precious time in port for near worthless items.
Note: You know the stores that the cruise lines recommend? They are recommending them because they are getting paid to do so, not necessarily because it’s a great place to shop.
I try to treat every port I visit as if it’s the last time I’ll ever go there. This helps me make the most of the days on a cruise.
Book an Inside Cabin
On one of my earliest cruises, I booked an inside cabin to save money, even though an oceanview was only a few dollars more. I quickly learned that while some may love inside cabins, I hated it. I like to wake up with the sun and I was constantly sleeping in because the room was so dark.
While I usually book balcony staterooms, I need at least have an oceanview so I can look out the window and feel like I’m on a ship.
When I’m in an inside cabin, I feel like I’m in a closet. I love to wake up and see the port we are arriving in or the calm, soothing water of the ocean.
One thing I love about Norwegian Cruise Line and Viking is that there are no formal/elegant nights. When I first started cruising, I always brought the tux and formal wear for cruise lines that had these nights.
Now when I take these cruises, we visit specialty restaurants on formal nights. This is a tip I learned while sailing on Princess Cruises from a couple who took 10 cruises a year and were done with formal nights.
While we still dress nice (dark jeans, dress shirt, blazer etc.), the formal wear stays home and is used for events like weddings.
Try to Be Last Off the Ship
On my early cruises, I was always trying to be last off the ship to get every pennies worth of my cruise. But this often lead to me waiting in crowded lounges and extra long lines for customs. It was a miserable end to my cruise and I quickly learned that this wasn’t the way to go.
Now I always do self-disembark and can get off at a good time after I have breakfast.
Book the Cheapest Cabin in a Category
When you book the cheapest cabin in a category, you often end up in some undesirable locations. All it takes is one cruise where your cabin is over a lounge with a late night party to realise why it was the cheapest.
Many times just spending $20-50 more, you can be in a great location with cabins above and below you so you will likely have less noise.
Put Luggage Out Night Before Debark
I used to always put luggage out the last night of the cruise and then pick it up after I got off the ship. I was always packing things I needed for the next morning on accident. I even packed my cruise key card once when I left it in my pants pocket after dinner the last night. Note: If you do this, you will use your passport to get off the ship.
Now, we enjoy our last night without worrying about packing up and getting our luggage outside in the hallway in time to get picked up. It makes the last night more enjoyable for us.