If you are a first-time cruiser, life on board can be a little mysterious. Your choices and the rules on the ship are sometimes confusing and not always clearly written. The more you are sailing, the more you learn about the secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you that may, however, save you money and get even more out of your cruise trip.
From off-the-menu items in the bar, complementary treats or extras on the first day of the cruise, there are interesting “rules” that you should know about before leaving . So, whether you’re a first-timer or a cruise connoisseur, you may find here an unofficial secret that is new to you.
• In the main dining room, you are not obliged to choose one of each appetizer, entree, and dessert. You can order two entrees or small-sized entrees as starters or a few appetizers for your main meal instead. It’s a great way for curious food lovers that like to try new foods!
• Room service is (generally) free, and even though it is recommended giving a tip to the delivery person, in-room dining is not that expensive as it might be at a hotel.
• At breakfast, you may have more choices than just the buffet and main dining room. Norwegian, for example, offers tasty made-to-order omelets and corned beef hash. Check your daily newsletter to see which alternative breakfast venues are open in the morning.
• The first night of a cruise, most people dine in the main dining room or at the buffet. You might consider, instead, booking a table at the specialty restaurant; because on this first evening, you may get a discount or something extras. Carnival Cruise passengers who dine in the steakhouse on the first night get for example a free bottle of wine!
• A special cup of coffee at the coffee shops onboard comes with an extra fee, but the pastries and sandwiches in these places are often free. All you need to do is just ask!
• Do you love ice cream? Cruise lines will charge for branded “gelatos”, however, there’s always a free version of soft ice cream available. Check it out!
• Right after embarkation, people tend to head straight to the buffet or wait for their cabin to be ready. Many cruise ships do have alternative areas open where you can eat something, like at the mini-buffet in the atrium. If you prefer to eat in more quietness, then check the daily newsletter to find an alternative dining area.
• Do you know for which night you’d like to make a specialty dinner reservation? The menus of the main dining room are planned for the week, and the purser’s desk should have access to them. Ask to see the week menu so you can decide which day you might exchange the main dining room for the specialty dining area.
• You can bring drinks from the bar or the buffet without problem to your cabin or elsewhere on the ship because there doesn’t exist an “open beverage” rule on a cruise vessel.
• If you like to savor a glass of wine, you might better buy a bottle of wine than a few glasses. And if you don’t finish the bottle that night, ask your waiter to put your room number on the bottle and save it for the next evening. (You can even consume it at a dinner in another restaurant)
• On most ships, soda is not free, but iced tea and juices are usually in the dining room, so be selective with your choices.
• With all the electronics, we carry around these days, you may find not enough outlets in your cabin. Remind to bring your own charging station or ask your cabin steward to identify additional outlets in your room; sometimes they are hidden behind the TV or under the bed.
• Interior designers are quite smart in creating storage spaces in the small area of our cabin. Inspect your cabin a bit or ask the steward. You might find some hidden storage areas that you wouldn’t have noticed without a bit of exploring.
• If you’re feeling seasick, ask room service to bring you green apples and bland crackers (crew members swear by the apple remedy), or ask some seasick medicines from the purser’s desk. All for free!
• If you cannot go without the internet, then sign up for an internet package on the first day of the cruise, many lines offer only free minutes if you sign up right from the beginning.
• Are you a spa-goer, then don’t miss to check the cruise ship Spa for their first-day and port-day treatments, that are often discounted. You can also read your daily newsletters to find more about the deals they have planned during your cruise.
• Saunas, steam rooms, and showers that are not located in Deluxe Spa Suites can be used for free. A sauna evening is not only an excellent remedy for colds, when taking the shower afterward you will have also access to fancy toiletries and big shower stalls. So, don’t wait any longer?
• If you want to see one of the Broadway Shows during your cruise but tickets are sold out, don’t worry, there is always a chance that people don’t show up. If you take care to be at the theater before the show time, there is a big chance that the staff will let you in if seats are available.
We may not have uncovered all cruise line secrets but with these tips you will be able to get more out of your cruise day! Enjoy.