In my opinion, it takes time! With so many different cruise lines and destinations, almost everyone can benefit from the advice of well-traveled cruisers. Here are what I consider to be the top tips for cruising:
- If you book your next cruise while you're aboard, many lines offer a discount on the deposit for future trips. You can usually get a refund on your deposit if you decide to cancel later.
- Before booking, check deck plans online to confirm your stateroom isn't beneath a well-traveled area. Many ships have a lido deck buffet, where diners eat poolside. The rooms under this deck can be quite noisy!
- To avoid long lines on the last day of your cruise, ask for a printout of your bill the day before disembarking. If there are any discrepancies, you can resolve them early and avoid the crowds.
- Be an early bird. If you're planning a trip on a popular sailing (like the Mediterranean in the summer), you won't find many last-minute discounts. The early-bird deals-six to nine months out- usually have the lowest rates. Cruise prices often fluctuate based on kids' availability. Spring break, for example, is a popular (and pricey) time of year, but the last week in August, when most children return to school, is a bargain.
- Skip the spa on sea days because this is the most expensive time to visit. All cruise lines offer spa discounts when the ship is in port.
- Pack for every port. Make labeled packets for each port that contain excursion-specific items- maps, sunscreen, insect repellent, disposable cameras, etc.
- Have breakfast in bed. The night before an early-morning excursion, order room service. You won't get stuck in a long buffet line and risk missing your departure.
- Pack a tension rod. Staterooms are always short on closet space. A tension rod can provide a spot for hanging extra clothes, and it takes up very little room in your suitcase.
- Bring sticky notes. They are handy for sticking on the cabin mirror asking the steward for more ice, tissues, towels, etc.
- Pack a power strip so that you don't have an outlet shortage. Many cabins have only one outlet, which is hardly enough if you plan to charge your laptop, cell phone, and other technology.
Follow these tips and you will be a master at cruising in no time. Bon Voyage!