Cruise Tips Tips for Things to Avoid on Cruises

Tips for Things to Avoid on Cruises

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.avoid on cruise ships

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

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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:

Verizon’s rates
T-Mobile’s rates
AT&T’s rates
Sprint’s rates

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.

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J. Souza
Jon got hooked on cruising after his first cruise on his honeymoon, and today he is always looking for cruise deals and reading information about the cruise industry. Jon lives in the foothills of North Carolina and wishes there were a cruise port that far inland. Jon can be reached at [email protected]
Cruise Tips Tips for Things to Avoid on Cruises

89 COMMENTS

  1. I definitely agree about not booking an inside cabin. I’m miserable on the few times I’ve done it to save money. I do enjoy waking up and seeing land WITHOUT having to get dressed to go on the Lido deck (or any other deck) just to see where I am. I also like to come back to the room and just be alone at times and relax, so booking an ocean view or a balcony works really well for me.

    I go to the buffet when the main dining room doesn’t have anything I want to eat. So that’s a good choice for something different.

    Booking when you’re at the location saves you over 40% of what the cruise line charges for an excursion. Viator definitely will refund your money if you don’t make it to the port due to whatever weather reason is going on.

  2. We were on NCL in Rome , the bus got hit we sat for 2 hrs missed some sights and went through Vatican like a mad man. It was over 300.00 and had to beg for a minimal 100.00 refund.

  3. I do agree with your comments. There are very good travel companies which even compromise to go back to the pier on time to the ship and which also make a refund in case of not catching the tour or if the ship cancels the stop. The prices are significantly lower, than if you buy directly from the ship.

  4. I noticed your language indicates lack of experience, “from what I’ve heard”, etc. just to be clear. Most cruise lines will not allow you to bring “a case of bottled water” anything they confiscate will not be returned. Check with your particular cruise line policies. Some will allow 2 bottles of wine, but bring a cork screw or you will pay a cork fee.

  5. Good comments, but I disagree about NOT Eating at the buffet. We do that all the time. We travel with young kids and the wait at the main dining does not work for us. The wait also does not work for me as I sit all day in the office, os another 45 min every everning…no thank you.
    The food at the buffet changes somewhat, os if you don’t eat a little bit of everything every night, you are not going ot feel that it is the same food.
    And finally, I am on vacation and DO not dress up…eating at the buffet reinforces that feeling.

    • Thanks so much for reading the article and commenting, Sharon. We don’t expect everyone to agree, so good to get your viewpoint as well. That’s the great thing about cruising. There is something for everyone.

  6. A lot of these tips are very useful but I do disagree with a couple of them.

    As far as the cabin selection is concerned I say the best area of the ship to choose is midship, that was you’ll feel the least amount of movement should the seas get rocky. I’ve got to say that the length and destination of the cruise should be a deciding factor of which cabin to choose. I’ve cruised twice now, both times with balconies and honestly it can add something special to the trip! The first cruise was a week long Mexican Riviera cruise and I’m so glad we got the balcony! I loved hearing the waves at night and rising naturally with the sun rather than an alarm clock, my parents even saw a whale tale in the water; though I was still asleep. You can’t get that experience with an inside cabin. That being said, my last cruise was to Canada and it was too cold to use our balcony, so I wish I’d saved some money and gone with a window cabin instead. If a balcony isn’t something you must have but would like, you can always book a “Guaranteed” cabin. I’ve heard that sometimes you get a free upgrade and could end up with a balcony anyway at no extra charge to you.

    Second. On my first cruise the food was amazing everywhere I ate on the ship. Princess cruises was definitely on point. I never went hungry, and there was always so much to choose from. On my last cruise however, my friend and I ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch everyday because we didn’t know the MDR was an option and the food was honestly lack luster. I was told that they didn’t fully restock between cruises. Very disappointing to hear that on day 3 of 5 they ran out of soda everywhere except for at the bars. And they had tacky soda machines that you had to have special cups to use. I had the special cup but since the soda was out I couldn’t use it anyway. This plus the subpar service we received has ensued that I’ll never sail with Royal Caribbean again. The main dining room food was delicious every night though, until they ran out on the last night and their options and portions were serially limited.

    As far as the pool goes both ships I’ve been on have had multiple pools and at least one designated for adults so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a pool with room for you. The hot tubs are a different story since they are much smaller than the pool and fill up quickly.

    It also depends on the time of year you sail. My first cruise was mid November and my second was mid May. Both times are when most kids are in school so I didn’t have to worry about them. I highly suggest planning a trip during the school year if you want to avoid too many children.

    I’ve had good and bad luck purchasing excursions through the ship. I lucked into am amazing pirate adventure excursion in Mexico with Princess because the excursion I really wanted was sold out. However I did have the misfortune in Nanaimo with Royal Caribbean to take the most boring sight seeing tour of the “last remaining coal mining town” which mostly consisted of our guide saying things like “this is what it looks like now, but picture what it looked like a 100 years ago” and “if you look closely at this normal looking house you can faintly see that they added onto it in a way that was popular 100 years ago”. Then they took us to a beach for an hour where it was cold and windy. Both excursions were bought through the cruise ship with two totally different experiences. For my next cruise in using a travel agent and booking our excursions through her recommended site shoretrips.com.

    Another tip that I didn’t see mentioned was to go to the auction. It’s free, only lasts about an hour, and you’ll get at least one free glass of champagne. So if you want a free drink and learning something about art sounds like fun I suggest giving it a try. You don’t even have to stay for the whole thing.

    My next cruise is to the Western Caribbean in May with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I’ve heard nothing but great things about them and I’m so excited!

  7. We have taken many independent excursions especially in the Caribbean and would vouch for them. We have booked th in advance and researched thoroughly before doing it. Some of tours were private and we could take our time where we wanted. We have even had one tour taken us to a beach to catch another so we gat and island tour and a snorkel trip in one day and then taken by boat right to our dock. We are soon going to cruise out of Venice and have booked a few independent with other couples and small groups and we will get what we really want. Just read reviews and do your research!

  8. I would strongly disagree about the interior room. I’ve been on 12 cruises; 8 of which were interior rooms. If you booked your cruise to spend time in the room, you should have just gone to a hotel. Most days on a ship you will likely spend about an hour in your room per day, about 10 minutes at a time, when you’re not sleeping. As far as the window rooms are concerned, once the sun goes down and you’re at sea the window is black.

    • I totally agree with Joseph. I’ve done about a dozen cruises including one around the world, which I did from an interior cabin. I’ve had balconies and ocean views and, for the money, the interior cabin was the best. First of all, I don’t stay in the cabin enough to really benefit from the balcony. On port days, I’m on an excursion; on sea days, I’m wandering about the ship attending to music, lectures, theatre shows, swimming, in the spa, playing games, drinking, and eating. Who has time to sit alone in his/her cabin when there’s so much else to do! I find that I only dress, shower, and sleep in the cabin; the bulk of my time is taken up enjoying the rest of the ship and entertainment — in fact, there is always more than I can do.

      Of course, if you are honey-mooning, the situation is different.

  9. After about 20 cruises, I would rather do buffet! the quality, the variety, what ever and whenever i want, is better than waiting a ridiculous 2 hours to be served every course, and the sides, like too much rice, or very little amount of vegetables at the dining room, i do not enjoy at all;
    also , after this many cruises, the INSIDE room is totally great- not spending more time there than changing or sleeping, its a preference, dark , to sleep well, and center of the ship when sailing, does not have the flip flop of outer rooms, especially against currents or storms;
    Have found tours off the ship economical; it pays to search the web ahead of time, but many excursions right off the ship, when 20-30 people from ship get on, have been a better value, at up to 20% of the price, But study your ports prior, and warnings;
    Cruising is the best vacation for us; great food, safe place to sleep, ports to explore, and numerous things to do on the ship . HAVE FUN !!

    • My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises although most of them are on Princess. We always take the inside room and have had 2 free upgrades to a balcony and 1free upgrade to a room with a window. It was enjoyable as all these were in Europe however that being said we love the quiet of the inside cabin and we sleep so well!
      It has never taken 2 hours for a meal if you don’t want it too. I prefer the dining room for breakfast and dinner and there are so many fun options for lunch on sea days. Love the Pub Lunch or the Pizza Restaurant. All no extra charge. We late dine and if we want to catch a show, simply let our wait staff know and they get you out as fast as you like. Extra veggies…..no issues ….just ask. I have so many issues around what I can eat I don’t even try to pre-order anything and I have yet to go hungry. By day 2 the staff know you and all can be accommodated. We also tip extra and take 50-100 with us in $1. bills. It goes so far. I really appreciate the service and they work unbelievable long hours with no days off. My weak spot is the International Café and my coffee card with a dollar each time allows for my coffee being ready in short order and always correct.
      We research and book most things ourselves however if distance or language is potentially an issue we do use the ships tours. We also find other adventurous people who may be travelling and through chat rooms we end up meeting fun and interesting people. We have had so very unadventurous people join us on occasion as our favorite thing to do is go eat lunch where the locals do. If we have a driver for the day we ask him to stop where he eats. We have had some of the absolute best food ever that is local and no for tourists. Even had one take us home to Mom. That was so much fun. My husband retired a year ago and I am now looking at working less so we can cruise more as we just booked our next 4 cruises. For me it is the best vacation ever as I am truly pampered at all times. 80 days to our next cruise and counting. Have fun, try new things and relax…..life is short so best to enjoy it as much as we can!!

  10. We’ve done 10 cruises on Carnival and Princess, and tried inside and outside cabins. Since I’m only in the room to change, shower or sleep, inside is the best for our money. The balcony was a waste for us, since I felt obligated to spend time in the cabin, missing the music on the deck. .If you absolutely need a window, go for the obstructed view, or just bring a small night light to plug in at night. The buffet is noisy with kids, but early morning breakfast on the fan tail is beautiful. If you’re still hungry in the dining room just ask for another serving. One lobster night my hubby was very hungry and had five tails. He will usually have three bowls of soup before the main entrée arrives. As for excursions – use your head, some of the best have been purchased on the dock, and we’ve had some not so nice one through the ship. Our first cruise excursions were through the ship and as we “learned the rope” we struck out on our own at the dock.

    • We booked a shore excursion thru Princess for Tahiti. Thank goodness, as the bus broke down and we had to wait for ages for the small company that they hired sent a replacement bus. We eventually got back to the ship half an hour after scheduled sail time. Of course being a Princess shore excursion, the ship waited for us. The ship does not wait for private tours that are late. Be warned.

  11. At all cost, AVOID taking a Royal Caribbean cruise. First day my glucometer was stolen from our room, Main dining room food portions were so small that my 82 yr old mother-in-law left hungry after every meal, there was a $30 up charge for lobster and a $10 up charge for Espresso. Waiters smelled like they hadn’t bathed in a week. Drink package was $350 but God forbid you wanted to get someone other than yourself a drink. Bars closed in certain areas at 6 P.M. and clubs were shut down by 1:30. Forget about a midnight buffet, that area was closed off so you had your choice of going up or down floors to go to deck 5 for the worst pizza I’ve ever tasted. Sure each person over 21 can bring one bottle of wine on board but there is a $15 corking fee if you bring it to the dining room. State room was so cramped, even with the extra 5 sq. ft. that we had to climb across the bed just to go to bed. In comparison, Carnival’s service and attention to detail far surpasses RC hands down.

  12. All your comments have merit, but two. First you logic on Parking is just that no logic. Shuttles work per person. How many people cruise by themselves. The other is convenience. I parked at PC and it cost $120 to park at port could have parked 3 miles away let car in sun and saved $50 but would have had to tip someone else to handle the bags. And when party of 5 got off ship and was facing a 12 hour ride home do not want to waste another hour get back to car. Many hotel scuttle services are very limited and have long wait times. Hotels build cost into the room rate, we stay in Orlando and dive to PC save from $100 to $200 depending on Day of week for departure.

    Second is Buffet . For snacks and Breakfast I am, it appears the vast majority love the buffet. For dinner it is what you like its your cruise enjoy.

  13. Regarding #8. You can no longer bring bottle water on board on Carnival ships. Due to those wonderful folks who used the bottles (cleverly opened and then closed to look unopened) to bring alcohol on board, those of us who truly bring actual water in the bottles can no longer do so. Not sure about other cruise lines.

  14. I try to avoid the buffet for breakfast. If you go during peak hours, it is a mosh pit of madness – people saving tables, kids running for the plates, noisy,everyone is overly excited to start the day, etc. Not at all relaxing. I enjoy the dining room for the peace. Now, if you hit the breakfast buffet as soon as it opens – lovely. My kids LOVED room service for breakfast!

  15. Hi, I would like some feedback PLEASE!
    I’m planning my first cruise I’m thinking of the Eastern Mediterranean.
    I’m trying to figure out how much money I’ll need total?
    THANKS!

  16. We have taken excursions sold by the cruise ship, we have booked excursions ahead of time with other companies, we have walked off the ship and bought an excursion being sold by an independent person, and we have walked off the ship and taken a local bus to where we wanted to go. You need to do your research. You need to know the port. I have found the excursions I have setup ahead of time to have smaller groups than the cruise ships excursions. Touring with 10 people can be more enjoyable than with 30. To say that only the cruise ship’s excursions are the only way to go is incorrect. Just be smart about it. For example, While in Europe, I only did ship excursions when we were going to traveling more than an hour from the port. In Europe, trains and buses can go on strike in a heartbeat. Your trip back to the port can take twice as long as expected. But while in Nassau, we walked off the ship and took the local bus to the beach we wanted to go to for $3 each way. We had a great time. In Grand Cayman, we hopped a cab to the beach and took the local bus back. The only difference was the cab had AC and was a couple of $s more. They used the same mini-vans.

  17. Lol!! If you book an excursion through the ship and can’t go….you don’t get you’re money back…I only book excursions from local vendors off the ship,much cheaper and way more informative about the locals…

  18. Some are good suggestions. But I do disagree about the avoidance of an inside cabin. In most cases an inside cabin will be the same size as an outside.. and often right across the hall from outsides or even suites. True, some may be in undesirable areas like next, under or above show rooms or other busy areas. Just a quick look at the deck plans will tell you. I often eat all 3 meals in the dining room, more leisurely experience. Shopping talks? Uggh..

  19. I agree with the “excursion” advice. My husband and I decided tO try a DIY adventure in Mexico. We rented a car and found a local market area near a lagoon. Although, we got a SUPERANTISPYWARE deal on a “1hour” lagoon tour ($25.00 for both of us after we talked then down from $25 each). We felt so thrifty. However, about 1 1/2 hour through the lagoon, instead of heading back, we found ourselves heading out towards sea! Not speaking Spanish, we could tell them that we were in a hurry to get back. Although, they seemed like nice fellas (with a teen), I started getting a dangerous sinking feeling that they were scoping out my $3000 wedding ring. Fortunately, after about 2 hours, when I started turning my ring around to hide the diamonds, they turned around to head back. We made it back after our 1 hour tour turned out to be 3 hours…and barely made it back to the ship.
    Another note….we thought about later…the local driving there was crazy. It seems whomever beeps first has the right away at intersections. If we had wrecked, I hear that it is always considered “the tourists” fault…to bring in more revenue… that would have been awful. Way too stressful..don’t do it!

    • I had a cab driver in Cozumel that drove on the center line to pass about 4 vehicles, with traffic coming in the other lane. Oh, not to mention we were driving about 75mph. I just knew that I was going to die…lol!

    • Never wear expensive jewelry on holidays. Been there, done that, got mugged. Doesn’t matter where you go. I wear a cheaper, substitute wedding band, small gold earrings, cheaper watch and no gold chains, bracelets. Don’t flaunt that you have money, someone else usually wants it too.

  20. $100 for parking at the port? I wish! Its $50/per day to Park at Port Manhattan. For a 9 day cruise? No thank you. I’m parking in New Jersey.

  21. I have interior cabins because of single supplement. Only use it to sleep wash and change in so no problem. I get up in morning and go to deck to see the view! I use local tour operators, so lomg as sensible when picking them – no problem. Yes, if late back ship wont wait which is why you need to book carefully. agree with comments on port talks, they obviously have shares in local jewellery shops. I get free parking or a lift to port/ airport. I eat in MDR mostly but have seen menu in buffet for evenings and food sometimes the same. No problem with buffet food, have breakfast and snacks in there. Cell phone and tender tips common sense and most people would know this. Cant think which line you use to put forward these tips.
    Got any sensible tips?

  22. I allways tip one bartender well, whoever I think i would use the most. When he sees me he starts my drink, I dont have to wait in line. Once in a while he gives me a free drink.

  23. I disagree with your buffet and bingo comments. The buffet, though not a 100% of the time event, was good and won $1,000.00 on the bingo.

  24. At most ports in South America, we had representatives of jewelry shops Amsterdam Sauer and H Stern either on the ship giving talks or at the ports trying to talk us into visiting their jewelry stores. They take you to their shop, they might pressure you into looking but then you were free to leave.We Got free transport from Rio de Janerio port to Ipanema beach, then 5 hours later we walked back to Ipanema beach shop showed them the stickers they gave us and they drove us back to the ship. no purchases at all.

  25. I disagree with avoiding the Buffet and the Inside cabins. The windows and balconies cost a lot more money 30% more, for a room I only spend about 3 waken hours a day in, the rest of the time I am sleeping. and we like a dark room. Have booked the windows and balcony, not again, maybe when I am too old to get about the ship. The Buffet is a place with variety and can be fast if you avoid the rush times, they also have ethnic food venues that the MDR does not serve, try it for yourself and decide.

    • totally agree , we have had ocean view & balcony cabins, your mostly in your cabin to sleep anyway
      we chose to eat in the buffet most times because of better variety & actually getting what we want not ridiculous dishs that are not what they are supposed to be ie: ocean chowder , clear broth with a shrimp floating in it, jumbo prawns so small i would not buy them as anything but a school prawn etc
      4 specialty restaurants all serving the same menue as the dining room unless you visit 1 of the surcharge 1’s that really arn’t much better

    • I agree 100%. I save enough money booking interiors that i’m able to cruise much more often too!

    • Agree inside cabin. I sleep in the room, not watch tv. And if I wanted Sleep late I can with out the sun waking me up. $400 a cabin for a view of the water? Buffet get in get out. I love to eat dinner in the formal dining room but the portion small and I real don’t eat that much. They bring you bread and butter to keep you full. Most portion are shame fully small. If I wanted to be alone I would rent a yacht. Wine dreams and beer budgets. Cheap asskme

  26. Not sure what all the fuss is about regarding the cabin. I only use the cabin to shower and sleep and once the lights go out I could be in any stateroom, since the they all look the same when the lights are out. If there is one thing I would suggest avoiding totally, that would be trying to purchase your photos on the last night of the cruise. Wait till the morning of debarkation since most people are getting ready to get off the ship and the photo shop is usually open. Bon Voyage.

    • If you purchase photos on disembarkation day, you will have to pay local sales tax… Buy them each day – the gallery typically opens around lunch…

  27. We love the buffet for breakfast and lunch. It is the only place you can make a really amazing entree salad.

  28. I love taking cruises is a fun vacation but I totally agree when it comes to excursions in the Islands. I just came back from Jamaica and our tour was a disaster, we ended up going to different places the driver told us it was best n everywhere we had to tip, it looked as they do this all the time just to get more business between friends. We bought beers n between them all argued of whom was getting the empty bottles for sale. We never got to go to the river, it was a disaster even thought our group made the best of it.

  29. We’ve gone on 6 cruises, always get a window….once we got a balcony for our 20 year anniversary, but expensive. Try to book in the mid or back of the ship, just better. You can each bring a case of soda onboard, or get the soda package, not that expensive. The food in the restaurant is way better but takes too damn long!!! I can only get my husband to go on lobster night..=) Buy excursions thru the ship..we did the Mayan ruins tour in Belize and was very late!! But the ship waited.. =) each time you cruise you will gain more experience…Just have fun!!!!! Your on vacation!!!! =)

  30. I absolutely hate inside cabins, it was way too small. If you aren’t claustrophobic now the chances are that you might be after booking an inside cabin! DON’T DO IT. An ocean view room would cost about $50 more per person depending on the location. I do agree that the buffet should only be used to snack, but I always use the buffet for breakfast because I just don’t like what the MDR offers. I love omelettes and get that every morning without fail. From my experience the MDR doesn’t offer omelettes at all.

    • My bedroom at home is the same size as a inside cabin so I’m use to the size. Besides we don’t stay in the room much anyhow. Also they say avoid the buffet but then a bit further down they say avoid eating before getting on the ship. Well on embarkment day the only places really open for lunch is the buffet so what is one to do?

    • Hi Nate, I’m not sure which line you cruise with but I’ve been on 8 Carnival cruises and every one of them offers omelettes. They have two or three choices but if you say you’d like an omelette with this, this and this, that’s what they bring you -so it is to order just like on the Lido deck. I also like the MDR for breakfast because I like to socialize and having breakfast/brunch there allows you to meet more people. Sometimes I end up sitting with people I’ve met throughout the trip either somewhere on the boat or on an excursion.

    • My DH & I tried the “Your time dining” on our trip this past Dec to Hawaii & we will never go back to “Set dining” . I agree with Tammy all you have to do is tell the waiter what kind of omelette you want & you will get it.
      As to how long it takes to get the meal in the MDR–we are on a Cruise and time doesn’t make a diffrence. We really enjoyed meeting All the different persons that we got to talk with,if been on “Set dining” we more & likely wouldn’t have met them.

    • I love the people who think they have to stick to the menu. Omlette station will make you fried eggs. Best time on carnival was getting a sandwich. I went up and the gentleman said Tuna on Rye toasted with a pickle. I said yes of course I was getting one each day. The lady behind me said but that is not on the menu. He had to explain that they had rye for the Rueben but could make the Rueben with white and you could mix and match everything. She was flabbergasted.

  31. While I agree that you have to be careful with vendors on the outside of the ship, it would be wise to book those vendors before the cruise even begins. You just have to do a little detective work to make sure these vendors are reputable. I rarely book with the cruise ship because of the price and because the vendors I book with will guarantee transportation to the next port the ship goes to in case I miss the ship which hasn’t happened in the 7 years I have cruised. The only time I book with the ship is the last port we travel to because I want to make sure I get back on time with that one no matter what outside vendors say because it would be a hassle to get your stuff once the ship docks back at the states. ALWAYS use Trip Advisor or another review site that you trust to see what others. are saying

  32. Some good ideas, though I disagree about never booking an inside cabin. We have travelled many times, in everything from cheapest inside to premium suite and enjoyed each cruise. If you are on a cruise where there are many sea days, the extra money for the view may be somewhat wasted. So book according to price, itinerary, and your own budget. And enjoy. If you do get an inside, you can put a beautiful poster on the wall of an outdoor scene. And who spends much time in their cabin?

    • If you have an inside cabin you can always leave your TV on the channel that has exterior camera views of the ship, the one looking out over the bow is usually best since there aren’t lights in this view. Sort of like having a window as far as being able to tell about the sunrise/sunset or entering port.

    • I like an inside cabin. I sleep better in the cave-like darkness, plus if I want to see what the weather is like outside, I can always turn on the channel that has a video feed of the lido deck.

  33. I have been on 5 cruises and I go to the shopping seminar everytime, I get so much free stuff and have never been talked into buying anything when i go into the stores…I recomend the coupon book!!!!

  34. Great tip about bottled water. If you insist on Dansani or another name brand, pack an empty copy paper box with water, seal it up and put a baggage tag on it. Boom!

    • EXACTLY!! I bring an empty carry on to put my water in to take on! but DO NOT drink the ship water. Many people have iron guts, but many do not and know many that have issues with the ships water. I also bring a britta filter water bottle for the days at the pool to drink their water. Little extra filter never hurts.

  35. I would have to disagree about the tip not to play bingo. On a 7 day cruise to Alaska this past July, our room was on deck 3. My wife went with my sister to the bingo game, to keep her company. While there, she bought a bingo care for $35. The grand prize was an free upgrade to a junior suite up on deck 9. You can probably guess who won. We went back to our room, packed our stuff, and enjoyed the rest of the cruise in a suite. It was such a blessing.

  36. We go to the buffet for breakfast/lunch – the dining room can take 2 hrs to eat…. we have other things to do….

    • I do not know about to many things to do but love breakfast from buffet and go sit on fan tail and eat in morning was one of my favorite things to do. Lunch we ate all over the place on all the ships we have been on. Always lots of options for lunch, for us on Princess having a slice of the best pizza at sea and a drink was enough. On DCL my DW would not pass up the chicken strips and I the wrap sandwiches.

    • I have been on 14 cruises and never took that long to eat. I cruise on Carnival. Princess and Norwegian Line’s. I do believe that is a fib

  37. Sher, I agree with you on number 1…but number 2 I disagree…we always take 50 to 100 for extra tipping…this is for tipping the people that our prepaid tips do not go too…yes bartenders do get a gratuity when they sell you a drink….around 30 cents per drink…the bartenders serve ALOT of people…we find the difference in tipping or not tipping is the service that we receive. Just giving them a dollar they will remember your name and what you drink the whole cruise….also, people forget to tip the photographers….yes I know, you pay for photos, but tipping the photographer a dollar, they will make sure to get that prefect pose, crop out undersirable glares,etc….and last but not least, tipping the waitress in the casino…even if you are getting free drinks…you will get top of the line treatment, and you glass will always be full….

    • I could not agree with you more. tipping a bartender is a guarantee he will remember your name, wait on you first when there is a line waiting for a drink. Best dollar spent.

    • Last cruise, we bought the CD. It’s all I really wanted for a souvenir. You get a copy of every picture they take AND you can request other poses if you have an idea. I wanted a particular pose for my significant other and the young man took it. Afterwards, his coworkers were kidding him about my cleavage showing. My honey and I walked right up to him and I tipped him and thanked him for the perfect anniversary gift and then my honey tipped him too! It was a good picture. For the rest of the cruise, he took scads of pictures of us and my daughter and grandson! We have a treasure trove of pics now.

      Also, I like the shopping talk. Yep, the freebies the shops give out are not that fabulous but I always seem to have an hour or two so I love to go in and collect the freebies. Add a nice chain to a free pendant and you have a great gift! And no one guilt trips me. I go straight in, collect my freebie and leave. NO guilt here. Oh, and I’ve never had to buy a coupon book. Those were free too.

      And here’s a tip that I’ve plied in all the years I’ve been cruising. Always order the cold soup. I have never been disappointed and it is often like a smoothie!

  38. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining room.

    It is much “safer” than the buffets (if you know what i mean).

    I would recommend (actually urge) that you should take some imodium or pepto bismol with you…you can’t find this in the shops. They have it in the infirmary – for a reason. They can’t risk the spread of a norovirus, and would most likely quarantine you, if you show symtoms, such as nausea or diarrhea…

    I apologize for the unpleasentness of this topic, but it ruined my most recent cruise…

    • My last cruise was ruined too! Apparently picked up “the bug” in the buffet the day we boarded. Wound up in the infirmary and then quarantined to my cabin from the 2nd day of the cruise until the last night onboard. NOT a good cruise at all!

  39. Here are a couple more to avoid:
    1) Do NOT order your cocktails in those “fancy glasses” each day… there is an extra charge for a drink in those. If you want one, you’ll find plenty of those littering the deck from people who opted not to take it with them as a souvenir. Pick up one of those discarded ones (take it home and wash it well)
    2) do NOT tip the bartender…. Tips are ALREADY ADDED to the drink fee.. no need to spend more money. Unless the bartender or server is so wonderful, you feel the need.

    • DO tip the bartenders the little amount of tip on the rec is divided Between all waiters and bartenders at the end of the day a personal tip is theirs we tip $1.00 for each drink they are slaves when it comes to hours worked.

    • I find this tip to be very true. Tipped the pool bartender $1.00 on the first day and he remembered every name of our group the whole 7 days. Prince Charles, what a great guy!

    • I agree! WE bought drinks in those fancy glasses as keepers, I can’t even tell you where they are right now! A total ripoff!

    • Do tip at least one bartender. Find a comfortable part of the ship for you, where you might hang out often. Give the bartender a tip and talk him up a little. Each time I do this I usually get a free drink once in a while and when he sees me coming he starts my drinks. No waiting if the bar is crowded. They always seem to remember my name too.

  40. Jon, I have to disagree with you on booking excursions with local vendors. I have done both, and the locals are definitely preferable. If you do your research (cruisecritic.com, cruisemates.com, etc.), you lear about vendors whom many cruisers have used successfully. We have two favorites, one in Grand Cayman and one in Freeport, Bahamas. The cost of each is at least 50% less than the cruise lines, and they don’t cram their boats or their beaches with passengers, like the cruise lines do. And if weather is adverse, or the ship is unable to use the port, you WILL get your money refunded – one of the vendors doesn’t even charge until you arrive. Everyone who cruises should get online and do research… you’d be amazed what is out there!!

    • Who do you use in Freeport? We will be docked in Freeport in May and looking to avoid the Cruiseship excursions…thanks!

  41. The Shore Excursions sold aboard have the following advantages:

    Insurance- They have it and the cruise lines constatntly monitor the Operators.
    Refunds- Cruise Lines Offer it, the locals do not.
    Fun- Don’t get stuck getting scammed onshore. I booked a driver and car in Ocho Rios for 80 dollars for the day. When we were done, he fleeced me for 500, and was going to drop me on the other side of the island, and I would have missed the boat.

    ABSOLUTELY DO attend the shopping seminar. You can soak in the pool anytime. and they offer some very valuable information. DO NOT MISS THIS– BAD Advice not to do so…..

    • Thanks for weighing in. You are right that some people may enjoy the shopping seminar, but I would still highly advise against it unless you want to spend your whole vacation shopping (which some people love to do). The information offered in these seminars is more like an infomercial for the businesses at the ports and the “expert” speaking doesn’t usually give any information that you can’t find out for yourself in 5 minutes of research. The main thing you can learn from these seminars is how to get around the town or island at port, and if you are in the market for a new diamond bracelet or new tech device you might actually benefit from this meeting.

    • I did the on board shopping seminar and bought the book, but never again. You spend your day walking around looking for these stores and the stuff they give out in the stores are junk.

    • This one we found out how bad 10mins In they took a break to collect for coupon books and we exited stage right. Many things here I will say do not apply to DCL and PCL food in Cabanas and Horizons was very good. We did not eat dinner in the Buffet. Think that is big part of cruise to go to dinner and meet people and have people wait on you . Agree this is what you paid for. Had some great servers and table guest that really were great.

  42. “Also, if you are on an excursion that you booked through the ship and are late coming back, the ship will wait for you.”

    • Not 100% true. A cruise line left a Scuba excursion from Costa Maya a few years back. The return vehical broke down and it would have been several hours until a substitute veihical would be able to get them and bring them to the ship

  43. Do NOT assume that the only shore excursions are the ones offered by the cruise company. If you book on board these trips are controlled by the cruise company. You may find more interesting and cheaper attractions onshore if you get off ship and look for yourself. I have seen many interesting FREE activities on shore that are not advertised by the cruise company as they will not get any money from these freebies. So be adventurous and look for other options as well as those offered on board.

    • We waited until we got off the ship one year to book an excursion and boy were we misled. We paid to explore the island and go to their awesome beach. Well after we ended up riding around for an hour and stopped at the beach, the driver told us it would be another $20.00 per person for a ride back to the ship. We informed the driver that we were told by him that the ride back was included, but he said no. So what other option did we have but to pay it. All my excursions are booked on board now.

    • We have never taken an excursion on arriving ashore but there again we have very rarely taken a ships one (only once), we always research each location before we go and if we need an excursion then we find one online who have good reliable reviews. We save $100s by doing this and find planning ahead is the best way. We have booked a helicopter trip on an Alaskan cruise next week and saved over $120 each on the cruise price using the same company they use for the same trip! They also offer a guarantee to get you back on board before sailing or pay all costs to get you to the ship if something happens.

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