Cruise Ship at SeaIf you’ve never been on a cruise there can be many things going through your mind to make it as successful as possible.

What should I pack?  How do I find the best deals?  How do I make the most out of the time I have?

The list goes on forever and whether it be taking a cruise around the Hawaiian islands or going on a tropical cruise to the Bahamas, there could be lots to prepare for.

Take a look at some of these dandy tips I compiled together.

Ranging from money-saving tips to decking out your cabin, they all could help make your first (or last) cruise the best one possible!

Tips for a better cruise ship experience

1) Decorate your Cabin Door

Decorating your cabin door will not only make it easier to find your room after stumbling back from the pool deck, but it will make it easier to invite newfound friends over. Tell them to look for the green bandana, balloons or anything else you can imagine!

2) Jump on last minute deals

If you are on both a budget but flexible schedule, I always recommend booking last minute deals. For example, a few weeks ago I found a 3 day, 2-night cruise to the Bahamas for only $79 USD. I went back an hour later to book the cruise for a couple of friends and me only to find out it was sold out. If you find a sale, book it!

3) Book trips in advance

Going hand-in-hand with jumping on last minute deals, by keeping an eye out for early bird deals you could also save a ton of money and it will ensure you go on a cruise when you want to go on a cruise.

4) Arrange your own excursions

Instead of going the cruise line, go about booking your excursions with the tour operator. In most cases, you’ll find much better rates as you are booking directly through them and not using a “middle man.”

5) Book a future trip while onboard

If you book a future trip while onboard your current (or next) cruise, most companies will offer major discounts, free upgrades, onboard credit & gift certificates.

6) Help Avoid Seasickness

If you’re afraid of getting seasickness, try getting a cabin that’s midship and near the water line. Staying in the middle of the ship will result in less rocking and keep you in a more stable position.

7) Ginger & Crackers to help with Seasickness

If you find yourself getting seasickness, go up to the bartender and ask if they have a cure for it. Most likely you’ll be presented with some ginger ale and crackers.

8) Explore outside the port

By exploring outside of your port of call, you can often find more authentic meals, cultures, and happier people. Not to mention prices are often cut in half as they’re not raised for the tourist industry.

9) Bring Walkie Talkies

This tip is especially useful for large groups/families. Being that you’ll have no cell phone service while at sea, bring walkie talkies to easily keep in touch with them, schedule dinner & meet for drinks.

10) Book an inside cabin

If you don’t plan on spending any of your time in your room, save a few dollars by purchasing an inside cabin. When you get to the ship itself, go up to the customer service counter and ask (very politely) if they’d be willing to change rooms. Having many friends that worked the counter, they tend to always get people yelling at them so if you decide to be one of the few nice ones you could get a fee upgrade to a balcony cabin.

11) Use Zip Loc Bags

To help save money while on an excursion, visit the buffet and fill your Ziploc bags with food then carry it in your backpack onshore.

12) Visit the spa while at port

I know this from working onboard a cruise ship myself, but if you wait to visit the spa until the days that you’re at the port you can often find special discounts of up to 40% OFF.

13) Negotiate prices while onshore

In many international countries, it isn’t rude but often customary to negotiate the price of souvenirs. Just don’t be rude & careful to not undermine the local. Be tactful as most items are already marked up from the typical retail price.

14) Get to know your bartenders/servers

Knowing this from personal experience, by getting to know and treating your bartenders/servers nicely you could get the “hook up” or a free drink.

15) Print your bill the day before disembarking

Printing out your bill the day before disembarking will save you both time & a headache as you’ll be jumping the gun by skipping lines. As an extra bonus, you can relax on your last day of the ship instead of rushing around to get things done.

16) Carry a Power strip

Most cabin rooms only have 1-2 outlets which make it difficult to plug in any form of electronics. Bring a power strip to save time & charge more devices at once.

17) Eat at the bar

Just like going out when back home, eat (and drink) at the bar. You’ll often get a discounted bar menu, you can get to know your bartenders & will ultimately save more money.

18) Book “All Inclusive” Trips

To help save hassle on your part, some cruise lines will have a lot of fine print in the contract. Look for trips that are all inclusive so that you save money, in the long run, being that all of your drinks & food expenses are covered.

19) Bring Your Own Wine & Liquor

As I mentioned in one of my previous articles on how to save money while cruising, bring your own wine & liquor. On most cruise lines, you’re allowed to bring onboard your own wine & liquor as long as they’re unopened. Just pay the $10-$15 corkage fee and you could easily save a good chunk of change. Sometimes upwards of over $150 depending on what you’re drinking.

20) Don’t miss the ship

No matter what cruise line you’re on, don’t miss the departure. Ships are on a set schedule and I’ve seen many people get left behind because they’re not on the boat before the departure time. Plan ahead & you won’t have to purchase a flight to the next port to get back on the ship…unless you’re looking for a one-way ticket to paradise.

The next time you take a Cross-Atlantic cruise, exploring on river cruises or any other cruise, reflect back on these tips and get yourself prepared before departure!

Do you have any tips that you think should be added to this list?