Cruise Tips: Five Things to Splurge on During Your Next Voyage

Posted Jan 29th 2013 07:53 AMUpdated Mar 11th 2013 02:25 PM


cruise tips, 150 Central Park on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Sometimes spending a little more during a cruise can buy you a lot in comfort and convenience. Consider these cruise tips.

Splurge one night for a meal in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. Onboard steak houses typically offer the best value: For a $20 to $35 surcharge, you can enjoy a meal that would easily cost twice that ashore, and the quality can be exceptional.

The most popular restaurants often sell out early during cruises, so book your reservations as soon as you can. Also: Some specialty restaurants charge for dinner but offer complimentary dining at lunch. It's something to check out when you board.

Rather than spending a couple of hours hanging out on folding chairs in the cruise terminal, you can avoid long lines and start enjoying your cruise in the comfort of the ship. You might not have access to your cabin right away -- it takes time to clean them all -- but you'll have access to food and a bar or two. Or, you can snag your place in the sun early.

Cruise lines offer priority boarding to those with special needs, suite passengers and members of the line's VIP club. Travel agents can also often arrange for priority boarding. Carnival offers an early boarding option for a fee of approximately $50, which covers all cabin occupants.

Group photos and portraits are often a good deal. Most ships now have several stations around the vessel offering different backgrounds where you can have photographs taken. The quality is often as good or better than you might find in your hometown studio. A color 8x10 print might cost about $20, a great value if you're traveling with your family. And remember, there's no obligation to buy the photos if you don't like them.

Several cruise lines offer prepaid packages for soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. Passengers pay upfront for unlimited sodas or alcoholic drinks, instead of paying for each drink in a lounge. Depending on your personal consumption, a package might make sense.

Do the math before you buy. Packages vary widely on cost and on what they include: alcoholic beverage packages cost about $50 per person per day; soft drink packages about $5 per person per day. Some luxury lines include all beverages, including alcoholic drinks, in the cruise fare.

Some ships have free laundry machines on board, some do not. All have valet laundry services for guests. The system works pretty much like valet service in hotels, but on a ship it's usually much cheaper. However some lines offer laundry service by the bag. Fill a bag and they will do it for one flat fee. This is a great deal for families who don't want to spend valuable vacation time doing laundry.

[Photo of 150 Central Park restaurant on Allure of the Seas/Royal Caribbean]
Filed Under: Cruise, Tips & Tricks

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Cruise Vacation Tips

After spending one full day on board your cruise ship, it will not be difficult to determine whether or not the ship is completely full. Basically, if you are on a 2500 passenger ship and you never experience any lines, have no trouble making dinner or spa reservations and find that there are plenty of free deck chairs available in the middle of a warm sunny day, chances are that the ship is not 100% filled to capacity.

If this is the case, it doesn’t hurt to simply go to the Front Desk and ask about the possibility of obtaining a cabin upgrade. If there are cabins available, cruise lines have no reason to keep them empty. Of course, almost 10 times out of 10, you will find a sign on the Front Desk informing you in bold letters that “The ship is full and there are no available cabins.” But don’t let this turn you off. This is actually a permanent sign that is placed on the Front Desk every single voyage, regardless of whether or not the ship is really full. The idea is to simply reduce the number of passengers making cabin upgrade requests.

Michael Thomas
Longview, WA

October 19 2013 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a single all those cruise specials turn out to be over double what the "special rate" they offer. I get so tired of checking them out, only to find out it's going to be about 2.5 times what their special is, and that doesn't include airfare, drinks, shore excursions, etc..

August 10 2013 at 1:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shihtzu R Us

never been on a cruise. I have always wanted to, but I am an old lady and I would love to take one before I die.
it is on my bucket list

August 09 2013 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex Coupons

You can save money on your next cruise with the great tips at

June 17 2013 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply