My Top Cruise Hacks, Tricks and Tips

Cruise Hacks, Tips and Tricks

My Top Cruise Hacks, Tricks and Tips

I’m going to share with you my favourite cruise hacks, tricks and tips and hacks that I use to get better fares, a better cruising experience, better excursions and overall just a better time cruising.

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Sign up for the Cruise Line newsletters. This might sound a really simple and basic one, however if there are cruise lines that you are fans of, I recommend you sign up for those newsletters. That’s
where they push out if they’re doing any special deals, free upgrades or free drinks packages or gratuities thrown in, or solo traveller deals. You get alerted when there’s any special promotions.

I always make sure that I’m signed up to any of the cruise lines who I think I may want to cruise with, or I’ve enjoyed cruising with, so I am alerted when there are great deals and offers.

Cruise Agent

My second tip is to use a cruise agent. Even if you’ve sign up for the newsletters, it doesn’t necessarily mean to book direct. Not only can their help guide you and make sure that you’re going on the right Cruise Line, or you’ve got the right cabin, or the right deal at that time.

They will always be able to match and often you’ll find they can beat those incredible offers. Even if you’ve seen a great offer on the email newsletters that you signed up for, often the cruise agent will be able to improve on that or it may be as simple as they have an inside track to get you an even better cabin for the same price, which has happened to me.

Cruise agents are really important to the Cruise Lines. It’s where most of their business comes from, so they work really closely with travel agents and cruise agents to make sure that they have incentives and offers that will be an extra plus for travellers.

Even though I have done 67 cruises at the time of doing this, I still use a cruise agent when I go cruising.


How do you get a great cabin? There’s two ways of approaching it. First of all, if you want to get the best deal go for a “guaranteed cabin”. However, you have no say on where that cabin is going to be, as a guaranteed fare basically means that you choose whether you want an inside, ocean view, balcony or a suite, and it’s normally a lower price and the cruise line decides exactly which cabin you’re going to have, and you normally only know that really close to the cruise and
you have no say.

The second thing, which is what I prefer, and recommend, is to go for a fare where you pay a slight premium and you choose a specific cabin. A couple of key things: first of all, focus midships, that’s where you going to have the least amount of movement, then absolutely critical when you look at the deck plan and choose a cabin, make sure you’re surrounded on all sides by other cabins. A cabin above you, below you, to the left and to the right of you and ideally opposite you as well That makes sure that you’re away from any of those things that could be creating a lot of noise.

Also make sure, unless you need it, that you don’t have an interconnecting door to the next cabin because that can also be where a lot of noise and sound and disruption comes.

Travel Insurance

My next tip may not sound very exciting, and it may sound like you’re just spending more money, and that is you should really get travel insurance – and when you get travel insurance make sure that it also covers
cruises. A lot of travel insurance companies have specific insurance policies for cruising, because there are
lots of costs if you have to be medevacked off a ship.

If you do fall ill you obviously have the onboard cost as it’s quite expensive to use the medical centre onboard, and if you have something more significant the cruise line will offload you in a port and pretty much leave you to your own devices. So, you have to think about how to get home and those medical costs which could be many thousands of dollars.

Don’t take it out just before you go on the cruise, take it out at the time of booking your cruise. That’s important because then if you have to cancel your cruise, you’re not going to lose your deposit. When you
pay a deposit on a cruise on pretty much every Cruise Line it’s non-refundable, so if you cancel your cruise before you go you lose your deposit. Travel insurance should cover you for that.


My next tip is make sure that you get to the port where you’re joining a cruise the day before the cruise. Don’t aim to arrive the day that your cruise departs as anything could disrupt your travel. If you miss the cruise leaving it’s going to be at your own costs, and stress and hassle, to join the ship later on.


If you go on excursions through the Cruise Line, it could add a huge amount of money onto your cruise fare. What I like to do is look at alternatives.

Most cruise lines will have Port guides, they might have a library which has travel guides in, a lot of them will give talks which often, while trying to sell excursions, will give you a lot of tips and advice around the port themselves. Many Cruise Lines bring on board representatives from the port and when you get off a ship most ports nowadays will have a representative from the tourist board, or even just different tour guides offering alternatives. One thing I really recommend you do is take a look at these and plan to do self touring

Hop on Hop off

One of the great things is hop- on hop-off buses. These are very popular with cruise passengers. I love them and they are a really inexpensive way of seeing a place and getting around, because you’ll have commentary on board, and you will find that many of those hop-on hop-off buses will start and end at the port, so you’re right by the ship. It’s a really inexpensive way of seeing a particular port.

If you are one of those people that does prefer to go on a more organised excursions, obviously look at the cruise line excursions, but then compare them to independent providers. There’s lots of companies have set up and offer excursions in every port. You’ll normally find they’re similar to the ones the cruise line is doing but with small groups and cheaper.

Cruise line excursions

The reason that most passengers like to do the cruise line excursion is the cruise line guarantees that if any of their excursions are running late, or there’s problems, the ship will wait until all of their excursions are back on board before they depart. If you’re an independent traveller or going with one of those independent providers, they do not have that guarantee – so a lot of people do prefer to go with the cruise line.

So, if you’re kind of a or nervous traveller and you want that reassurance then stick with the cruise line excursions because it’s going to give you that reassurance – but seriously do take a look at some of those alternatives as it could save you a lot of money and you could actually see more and different things.


First of all, look at the dress code and what you have to wear to meals, particularly dinner, and make sure
you bring those. You don’t want to find that you can’t go to the dining room because you don’t have the right dress code. Linked to that, also have a look if there’s any themed parties, like White Nights, Scarlet Nights, 70s Nights etc, that you want to bring some gear with so you can get into the whole spirit of those.

Think about the excursions you’re going on and if you are going to need any specific equipment, for example if you’re going cycling or hiking.

When you’re packing, put anything that’s valuable and anything that you’d hate to lose in your carry-on. Obviously also things like passport, money and credit cards and if you’ve got expensive cameras. Also, medications, make sure that those are in your carry-on.

First-aid kit

Another really important thing that I recommend you pack is your own little personalised first-aid kit and in here put all the little treatments that you use around the home to deal with anything from headache and stomach upsets. Take a look in your bathroom cabinet and bring a little personalised kit, because it can be very expensive if you have to go to the medical centre on board to get it or it can be quite difficult to navigate the pharmacy in ports with different brand names, products and language.

Also, in that kit make sure you bring a tooth repair kit. Cruise ships do not have dentists and so bring a tooth repair kit so if you have a filling fall out or crown come off, you can deal with that – either hold you over to the next port or even for the whole cruise.

The last thing on packing is make sure you bring the right adapters and all the charges for all your gear. Luckily, most cruise ships now have USB charges, but not all of them, some of them have USA-style plugs and some have Euro-style plugs, so check what your cruise ship has and make sure you bring the right adapters.

Saving Money

First of all, check what allowance you have for bringing on board alcohol, soft drinks and whatever and consider bringing that on board, because that’s going to save you money when it comes to drink.

Secondly, when you embark the ship there will be loads of offers going (the spa, drinks packages, dining packages excursions) and you’ll find there are loads of offers. You’ll find incredible packages,
particularly on Wi-Fi as well.

If you are planning to do shopping on board at their shops, wait till the very end of the cruise before you do that because you’ll find that there’s often discounts or special promotions, particularly based on how cruise lines are hitting or not hitting their targets for that particular cruise. Always shop towards the end of the cruise onboard.

If you want to use the spa, use it on port days as you’ll find the cheapest time to use the spa is on port days.


If you want to avoid putting on a lot of weight on a cruise, there’s a couple things you can do that will mean that you still can party have a great time.

First of all, use the stairs not the lifts or elevators. It also means you’re not waiting around. All of the ships are really huge, and you’ll burn a lot of calories just walking around the ship and using the stairs.

Secondly, most cruise lines will have a spa menu and take a look at the spa menu because you’ll often find starter, main course and dessert and you could have great food but it’s not going to have huge amounts of calories.

The third thing is look at are for excursions which have perhaps more exercise involved, even if it’s walking, hiking or cycling. With those activities you’re going to see the sights, have a great time but you are again going to be burning calories.

Consider really carefully if you want to take the drinks package. Drinks packages are relatively expensive, and they enable you to have a lot of drink and of course there’s a lot of calories packed in
drinks particularly cocktails.

You’ll find if you do the couple of these things, you’ll come back from your cruise not only having had a great time but also not having to go on that post vacation diet to try and shift all those pounds. I hope you found this helpful.

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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