Whether you’re an avid cruiser or thinking about taking your first cruise, there are things the cruise lines don’t always openly advertise.
To help you make the most of your shipboard experience and get greater value from your cruise dollar, take note of the following:
Room service is free. Norwegian Cruise Line charges for pizza delivery, but it only takes a few minutes to go pick one up for free. Royal Caribbean charges for late-night service and some of the others may have a nominal fee. However, what would a hotel charge for in-room dining?
Specialty restaurants/shops onboard charge for premium coffees, ice cream and some pastries. But most items are widely available for free in the buffet or lido deck, or bring your own favorite creamers.
Planning on dining in a specialty restaurant (steakhouse, Italian, etc.)? Check to see if a discount or bonus is available for booking the first night aboard.
There’s no limit to the number of appetizers, entrees or desserts you can have in the main dining room. This is also a great opportunity to experiment with dishes you haven’t tried before.
It is often better to buy a bottle of wine rather than order a glass nightly. The sommelier will put your name on the bottle and bring it to your table nightly until it is empty.
Drinks purchased on-board are not restricted to a particular venue. You can take them anywhere on the ship. So if you wish to take your bar drink into the dining room or purchase a bucket of beer and take it to your stateroom, no problem.
Save on non-alcoholic drinks and bring your own aboard. Some lines also allow you to bring one bottle of wine aboard. Save the corkage fee by bringing your own bottle opener or ask your cabin steward to open it.
To obtain more comfort in your stateroom bed, request mattress toppers and extra pillows when you pre-register for your cruise.
If you’re planning on using the Internet while aboard, visit the Internet café the first day to take advantage of any specials.
Most ships have a free sauna, steam room and shower area in the spa changing area, so you can use these services without booking a thermal spa package.
Book spa appointments on-board and on port days. You can often get services at half their normal price by taking advantage of special offers announced on board.
Compare value versus price when choosing a cruise. Some lines that charge a higher per diem rate are now including free shore excursions, alcoholic beverages and gratuities in their prices. When you add these in, you’ll end up spending the same amount if you booked a less expensive cruise and purchased these items as you go.
There are a number of other extras or freebies available from the cruise lines and from a savvy travel consultant that knows how the companies work. So don’t miss them. Seek out the cruising secrets before you sail and while on board. Ask, ask, ask and you can save big.
Rose Alston is a certified travel consultant and an Elite Cruise Counselor. She can be reached at 277-4922 or by email at email@example.com.