As fun as cruises are, there are a few things you will probably want to avoid. Cruise ships try to cater to everyone, but there are some things that are just a bad idea, so hopefully these tips will help you to avoid making the same mistakes as many other people. Even if you are not a first time cruiser it’s easy to make the same mistakes.
The ever-growing list of things to avoid on a cruise:
1. Avoid Shopping Talks
Almost every cruise ship has these, especially if it is going to the Caribbean. It’s a little seminar that involves giving you tips about shopping on the islands. They lure you in by promising a free jewelry gift if you attend, but we found out that we could have gotten the gift without ever wasting our time at the seminar. They also want you to buy a coupon book that allows you to get free jewelry and gifts on the islands. But every store you go into tries to “guilt-trip” you into buying more and makes you feel bad if you don’t. This talk can last for over an hour so spend that time soaking in a hot tub instead.
2. Avoid the Buffet
There is nothing wrong with eating at the buffet, but the quality of the food in the main dining room is much better and you don’t have to fight the lines and crowds of the buffet dining rooms. I just talked to a guy who didn’t even know that they could eat in the main dining room and he ate at the buffet every night. No wonder he didn’t see any lobster tail, filet mignon, and crab meat. If you want to eat like a king and be treated like one too, avoid that buffet and only eat there when you want a little snack.
3. Avoid Bingo
You might love your Bingo, but from what I have heard, it’s just not worth it on these cruise ships. You pay $25 or more and it’s not a great experience. You don’t have to browse the forums very long before you find many people complaining about their Bingo experience, so just avoid it.
4. Avoid Over-crowded Pools
Pools can be the busiest part of the ship during the hottest part of the day. If you want to avoid these crowds you should book a cruise on a bigger ship. Some of these ships have 3-5 pools which means it’s easier to find a pool that is not so crowded. You can also choose to swim while everyone is dining at dinner time. The best part of the day to swim is when everyone else is on an island or port, but then you will miss out on all the fun on land, so you have to pick your poison here.
5. Avoid Interior Rooms
There is nothing wrong with interior rooms if you just want to save money and get the cheapest room possible. But the cruising experience is MUCH different in a windowless room that is tiny and cramped. You never know what time of day it is and you don’t have beautiful views to wake up to every morning. Spend the extra money for at least a window and a balcony if you can get one. You will have a little more room in these other rooms as well, and on a cruise ship, an extra 5 square feet makes a big difference.
6. Avoid Parking at the dock
At Port Canaveral I spent over $100 to leave my car there for a week. This is a huge waste of money. You are better off finding a friend who can take you to the port who lives nearby, or you can take a shuttle service. Even if the shuttle costs $50 you will be saving money and not having to worry about your car getting broken into. So if you are flying to a port, don’t rent a car that will simply sit there, and if you are driving to a port, leave your car at a friend’s house and have them drop you off. Also, you can save money by using “Park and Cruise Lots”.
7. Avoid Using Your Cell Phone
Cell phones can be used on cruise ships and some of them have deals with big cell companies like Verizon and AT&T. But it’s going to cost you. Rates can be as high as $5 a minute, but there are certain ports in the US Virgin Islands where you can make calls for free, so have a little patience and then check your voicemails. For a more detailed post on cell phone rates, click here. You can check the rates of a few cell providers below:
Also, turn off your data roaming as it can cost you $15 a megabyte.
8. Avoid Buying Bottled Water on Board
Bottled water on a cruise ship can cost you as much as $4 per bottle. You might be a big fan of bottled water and refuse to drink tap water, but a cruise ship’s water is MUCH better than tap water. They have high-tech filtration systems that allow the water coming out of your bathroom sink to be clean and more than pure enough to drink. Most cruise lines will let you bring a case of bottled water online with you on embarkation day if you have to have bottled water.
9. Avoid Eating Before You Get on Board
As soon as you get on the ship, the first thing you should do is get something to eat. After all, you already paid for it, and since you can’t go to your room right away it’s a great time to stuff your face with some of the best food on the planet. Don’t make the mistake of eating before you get on the cruise ship because you will just be wasting your money. If you are getting thirsty while waiting in line they usually have some water and lemonade before you even get on the ship.
10. Avoid the Rush Hour for Tendering
When ships tender to an island there is usually a mad rush during the late morning hours. A tender is simply a boat that takes you from the ship to the island because the ports are not able to accommodate such large ships. If you want to beat the rush, go during the very first tendering which can be as early as 7am or 8am. The lines will be MUCH shorter so you can spend more time having fun on the island. If you wait until 9:00 a.m. or 10 a.m. you will be waiting instead of enjoying your vacation.
11. Avoid Buying Excursions from Island Vendors
Sometimes you can get better deals when you buy an excursion on the island through one of the locals. But there are a few caveats that go along with that. You will not be able to get a refund should something go wrong. When you buy through the ship you are able to get a full refund, no questions asked. My wife and I needed a refund one day when we signed up to go snorkeling. But the jelly fish were so bad that we could not even get in the water and the ship gave us a full refund with no problem. Also, if you are on an excursion that you booked through the ship and are late coming back, the ship will wait for you.