Insider Tips for Your Next Cruise Adventure

By Nora Campbell | Published on  

Embarking on a cruise adventure is a thrill, a rush of excitement from the moment you decide on your destination until the final toast on the ship’s deck. But, like any journey, it requires careful planning and smart decisions. Let’s break down everything you need to know before setting sail on your next cruise.

The allure of a shiny new cruise ship can be tempting - they often boast the latest amenities and technology. However, according to Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of, older ships offer a fantastic vacation option at a lower price point. These vessels might not have the “bells and whistles” of newly launched megaships, but their smaller size often lends them a charming intimacy. Be cautious of maiden voyages, as the crew is likely still working out the ship’s kinks.

When reaching your cruise port, both flying and driving have their pros and cons. Flying may be faster, but it’s certainly not the cheapest option, especially when you consider baggage fees and ground transportation. On the other hand, driving can be more economical and presents opportunities for additional adventures along the way. Pro tip: conduct a little research to find affordable long-term parking near the port or a hotel where you can leave your vehicle.

One of the best ways to keep costs low is to do your homework. Check what’s included in the price and what isn’t. Stuart Chiron of warns that cruise lines often use special offers to deflect attention from higher prices. While ship credits and beverage packages may seem enticing, never let them distract you from the final cost.

Taking the entire family on a week-long cruise can be expensive. However, some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises, offer discounted or free rates for children. In 2023, Royal Caribbean launched their kids’ sale free promotion for children 12 and under. Be sure to note, though, that every passenger must still pay the applicable taxes and fees, and free riders typically won’t be given their own cabin. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful way to save money while having fun with the whole family.

Excursions can be an exciting and cost-effective way to enhance your cruise experience. However, booking through the cruise line can often be pricier than making arrangements with a local on land. Embarking on your own adventure can lead you to less crowded and cheaper tours. Just remember to double-check your itinerary to ensure the ship doesn’t leave without you.

It can be tempting to indulge in onboard restaurants, especially when they’re led by renowned chefs or offer unique cuisine. However, these establishments are rarely included in the price and can quickly inflate your costs. Hence, we recommend sticking to the buffet. It’s open for longer hours, offers a wide variety, and is already paid for. This option is especially appealing if you have kids with particular tastes.

Guaranteed cabins offer an affordable alternative to picking a specific location on the ship. This type of booking ensures you’ll have a cabin that fits your specifications, like having a balcony, without specifying its location. You might even receive an upgrade if you’re willing to stay in less popular parts of the ship.

If you’re not opting for a guaranteed cabin, consider booking one in

the middle of the ship. Centrally located cabins keep you near the action, with pools, restaurants, and other amenities just a short walk away. Plus, the middle of the ship experiences less rocking during travel, so if you’re prone to seasickness, this location is worth a few extra dollars.

Did you know most cruise lines automatically add per day, per person gratuities to your account? These charges can range anywhere from $5 to $23 per day and add up quickly. However, you can adjust these payments. Simply approach the customer service desk and ask them to change or remove as much or as little as you like from your tipping policy. If you prefer to tip your servers and stewards directly, you can ask for envelopes to discreetly thank them for their service at the end of the trip.

Setting sail on a cruise is more than just a vacation. It’s an adventure, a journey of discovery and relaxation. With these expert insights and practical advice, you’ll be well-equipped to plan your next cruise. Here’s to smooth sailing and unforgettable moments!

As the sun sets on our comprehensive exploration of cruising tips, it’s clear that voyages on the open sea encapsulate a unique blend of exhilaration, relaxation, and immersive experiences. Planning such an adventure, however, is no small task. It demands foresight, careful consideration, and a touch of wisdom to navigate the myriad choices, from the age of the ship to the location of your cabin, from dining options to the grandeur of excursions.

Older ships, with their quaint charm and lower price points, often offer an unparalleled intimacy and a delightful escape from the cacophony of modern life. When the time comes to embark, the journey to the port itself can turn into a cost-effective adventure if you opt to drive rather than fly. Moreover, understanding the fine print and the real cost behind the cruise’s flashy amenities will ensure you stay on budget without sacrificing the joys of your journey.

Family cruises that offer discounted or free fares for children turn the vacation into a cost-effective, fun-filled family retreat. The thrill of independent excursions, contrasting with the comfort of the ship’s buffet, adds a dynamic layer to your adventure. Booking a guaranteed cabin can be a game-changer, offering you the amenities you cherish while keeping costs low.

Undoubtedly, the location of your cabin plays a significant role in shaping your cruise experience. A centrally located cabin not only places you in the heart of the ship’s activities but also offers a smoother ride for those prone to seasickness. Lastly, being aware of the automatic tips policy allows you to manage your budget more effectively, giving you the freedom to express gratitude to the staff in a way that feels most authentic to you.

In essence, a cruise is more than just a vacation. It’s a journey that promises unforgettable moments, heartwarming experiences, and stories that last a lifetime. With the right planning, savvy decision-making, and a spirit of adventure, your cruise can become a treasure trove of cherished memories. So, as you set sail on your next cruise, may the horizon ahead be filled with the promise of wonderful adventures, serene moments, and a voyage that truly embodies the spirit of travel.

When choosing between an older and a newer cruise ship, consider factors such as cost, amenities, size, and overall atmosphere. Older ships often have a charming, intimate feel and are generally more affordable, while newer ships boast the latest amenities and technology. However, maiden voyages on new ships can have teething problems, and the larger size can feel overwhelming to some.

Driving to the cruise port, instead of flying, can be a more cost-effective choice. Besides saving on flight costs, baggage fees, and ground transportation, driving can also allow for additional adventures along the way. Don’t forget to research affordable long-term parking near the port or hotels where you can leave your vehicle during your cruise.

While special offers and add-ons can seem enticing, they are not always worth the additional cost. Cruise lines often use these perks to divert attention from the overall price. Always check what is included in your cruise package and what isn’t. Understand the final cost before getting dazzled by the add-ons.

Excursions can significantly enhance your cruise experience, but booking them through the cruise line can be expensive. An alternative is to book with local tour operators on land. This approach often results in less crowded and cheaper tours, adding an element of adventure to your trip. However, be mindful of the ship’s departure time to ensure it doesn’t leave without you.

Booking a guaranteed cabin ensures you get a cabin fitting your specifications, like having a balcony, without specifying its exact location. This can result in significant savings and sometimes even an upgrade. However, be aware that your cabin could be located in a less than ideal spot on the ship, such as below a noisy area or above the buffet.

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