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- Easy to pack and easy to infuse, powdered drink mixes can be a lifesaver for thirsty-and-whiny kids and picky adults. Likewise, if you prefer your beverages to be hot, bring your favorite brand of tea, instant coffee or hot chocolate mix.
- Many will also acquiesce to regular passenger requests for special meals or dishes. Carnival Cruise Line will accommodate a three-course Indian feast -- from soup to curry -- if you contact the maitre d' in advance. Likewise, luxury cruise lines like Seabourn will literally cater to your every whim; if that whim is Champagne and caviar all day every day, or an elaborate Peking duck dinner, so be it.
- Only want a slight splurge? Order off the kids' menu for smaller dessert portions. Don't feel like you're required to order three traditional courses -- customizing is one of the perks of a vacation at sea.
- Cruise ship cafes or bakeries with a specialty coffee menu will likely charge for your cappuccino (unless you are on a luxury line or have an all-inclusive drink package). What they typically won't charge you for are the snacks on offer at the same coffee bar. From paninis to pastries, spots like Princess Cruises' International Cafe or Viking Ocean's Living Room serve up items like orzo salad, fresh fruit, quiche or cake to satisfy your small cravings between meals or any time of day -- gratis.
- Do a little research before you board, study the daily agenda left in your cabin each night or ask on your first day about special offerings like tea service, sea day brunch, lunch at specialty restaurants, Princess' crab shack or Carnival's Seuss-themed Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. Sometimes these pop-ups or one-time dining experiences cost an additional fee; some also have limited space, so set up reservations to be safe. Sea days are the best times to seek out these special dining events.
- Want to eat the same entree for a 2nd night? Try to pre-order it for the following night. If something you try is too good to pass up, see if the chef will accommodate a request to save you some (or prepare it) for the next day. It might not always be possible, but advanced notice helps.
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- If you're in a port that allows you to take food off your ship (mainly U.S. ports, some in the Caribbean), save yourself some money and hunger pains by packing a lunch on the ship before you head out. This can be a quick PB&J the morning before you go ashore or a premade sandwich provided by the cruise line, which Holland America does in Alaska.
- That doesn't mean that every single night of your cruise should require orchestrating three-course meals with four kids. An early buffet meal, a slice from the onboard pizzeria or a room service banquet can mean the gang is fed and on their way to the kids' club in time for you to make a later dinner reservation. Some lines will offer to pick up your children from a family dinner in the main dining room after 45 minutes
- If you end up finding a waiter or waitress you really like you can request them every night. Though if you go at a busy time or that waiter/waitress is very popular you may not be able to get a table with them
- Book a “guaranteed stateroom” to get the absolute lowest price on whichever cabin type you’re interested in (inside, outside, balcony, suite). With a “guaranteed” cabin, you are guaranteed a room within that particular type of stateroom range or higher. You simply do not get to the choose the cabin’s exact location on the ship. The cabin location will be assigned to you prior to your cruise departure.
- With only one or two electrical outlets in your stateroom, it is wise to also pack a travel adapter to allow you to keep all those gadgets charged. Better yet, bring a Universal Adapter like this which you’ll be able to use not only in the cruise ship’s European outlet, but just about anywhere in the world. It’s a essential piece of gear for any international traveler.
- You can find nominal savings on a wifi package if purchasing it before your cruise. Typically you’ll get a 10%-15% discount if you book a wifi package before you get on the ship. You can find these discounted wifi packages by logging in to your online account directly with the cruise line, before your embarkation day. It’s there where you browse the different wifi packages the cruise line offers for your specific itinerary.
- Most cruise lines now have their own app that you can use onboard complimentary. Simply connect your phone to the ship’s wifi network and you’ll be able to use this app without incurring any wifi charges.These cruise apps are free to use for tasks such as checking your onboard account balance, browsing the day’s up-to-date activities, reading up on your next port, checking menus, accessing a ship map, or even making dinner reservations.Be sure to download the app prior to your voyage so that you don’t incur wifi fees or roaming charges that you’ll otherwise get hit with if you wait to download the app while at sea
Communicate using the cruise line’s app. This capability often comes with a fee, but that fee will likely cost less than the price of a pair of walkie-talkies. And the messaging app will work better too.So how much do these cruise messaging services cost? It can vary by ship and even by each individual cruise itinerary. But to give some indication of costs during a recent sailing, Norwegian’s app – Norwegian iConcierge – offered messaging service for a one-time fee of $7.95. This allowed for voice calls and text, through the app, to fellow passengers during the entire 13-night cruise. Coming in at less than a buck per day, we found it to be a surprisingly fair price for this messaging service.
- Before booking a cruise, keep an eye out for promotions that may even include a free wifi package.
- If you’re prone to seasickness, consider booking a lower stateroom, midship. If your cabin is elsewhere, then try to retreat to the most central part of the ship possible. You’ll find the motion is much more subdued on the lower, central areas of the ship. Keep the air on iced-cold which will further help counteract motion sickness.
An unconventional place to retreat to is actually the ship’s pool! Here you’ll get a double-whammy of help.First, the pool water itself will feel refreshing and cool. Secondly, you’ll move with the water in the pool rather than with the ship, which often helps with the disagreement your inner ear is having, causing the sea-sickness in the first place!
We recommend green apples and saltine crackers as natural sea sickness remedies. All the crew members strongly advocate these tried-and-trusted natural remedies. Also try ginger pills or ginger ale. Did you forget to pack medicine or didn’t expect to get sea sick? All ships sell seasickness medication at the gift shops. But instead, ask Guest Services, the clinic, or even your stateroom attendant for some. Even though it’s sold in the gift shops at outrageous prices, all cruises actually provide some sort of sea sickness medicine to you free of charge.
- When booking a cruise, most cruise lines or agencies will offer you something called “trip insurance” or “travel insurance.” It’s very important to have travel insurance on a cruise, but NEVER book travel insurance with the cruise line directly. The cruise hack is to book with a third party travel insurance agency instead.