51. Cruise prices are the same on every website
Think you have to search site after site to get the best cruise deal? Think again. We’ve discovered that the cruise prices are actually the same across all websites.
That’s not to say that prices won’t change (they will), but when a price moves, you’ll see it reflected everywhere. Just pick your favorite spot to search and stop worrying if another website has it cheaper. (Hint: Costco usually has great incentives.)
Here’s a roundup of prices that we recently found:
52. Want to wear a thong bikini? Have fun!
Are you the type that likes to show a little more with your swimsuit? Then you’ll be happy to know there are no rules on wearing thong bikinis on a cruise.
While you can wear a thong on a cruise, we would suggest having a little discretion. If you plan to wear one, then keep around the adults-only pools. Some people may not enjoy having you showing your bum around families and children that will be around the regular pools.
53. Head to the back of the ship (and lower decks) if you want more privacy
With 4,000 people on a typical cruise ship, you’ll find that there can be crowds everywhere. If you want to find a quiet, out of the way place, head to the back of the ship. For some reason these spots are often forgotten. We’ve gone to the back of the ship after dinner and been literally the only people there.
Want even more privacy? Head to the back of the ship on the lower decks. As a general rule of thumb, the lower you go on the deck of a ship, the fewer people are around.
54. Walkie-talkies can help you keep in touch aboard the ship
It can be tough to keep in touch with the rest of your traveling party. For instance, if you let your teenage kids have the run of the ship for the day, how do you tell them it’s time for dinner?
A simple set of walkie-talkies from Amazon can make keeping connected much easier.
They aren’t the perfect solution — the signal can have trouble getting through the steel of the ship if you are separated by several decks. That said, it’s a pretty simple solution to communicate both on the ship and on shore.
55. The room thermostats may not control anything
Every cabin comes with a thermostat. In our experience, they are just there for looks. It would make sense that the thermostats wouldn’t work. Having 2,000 different cabins with different A/C temperatures would be a nightmare. Don’t be surprised if you crank down the air but don’t feel much relief. That’s why we suggest bringing a portable fan.
56. Leave the hair dryer at home
Hair dryers are standard equipment in all cabins, just like in a hotel room. That means you can leave yours at home and save some space in your bags. The only time you’ll need to bring your own is if you have a special type of hair dryer that you just have to use. The in-cabin hair dryer is one of those small ones that isn’t terribly powerful.
57. Don’t be shy about asking for anything to make yourself more comfy
The cruise lines want you to be comfy and enjoy your vacation. If there is anything that would make your trip more pleasant, don’t hesitate to ask. This goes for blankets, pillows, fresh towels, and anything else you can think of. Just like a five-star hotel, the cruise ship has all the amenities that you can think of just a request away.
58. Free room service is becoming a thing of the past
Want a hamburger at 3 a.m.? It used to be free on a cruise ship, but the lines are quickly moving toward a charge for room service. While many lines have some things for free like continental breakfast, they like to charge per item or a flat fee (order all you want for one price). Even though room service isn’t always free, don’t forget to tip $3-5 to the waiter who brings your food.
59. Pack a nightlight for the cabin
Staying in an interior room? That means you have no windows… and no natural light. Once you shut the door and turn out the lights, it’s pitch black. Bring along a nightlight to plug in to provide some light for the room.
Your shins will appreciate the extra light when you have to stumble into an unfamiliar bathroom in the middle of the night.
60. Always use your cabin safe. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing
Unfortunately, we live in a world where you have to be cautious with your valuables. Theft does happen, even on a cruise. Every cabin will come with an in-room safe, which you should use whenever you leave the room. It’s perfect for storing extra cash, electronics, passports and more.
It’s by no means perfect (some members of the security crew could open it if needed), but the safe helps protect you from any crimes of “convenience” where someone snags an item just because it’s left out in the open.
61. Even if you don’t show up at your time for dinner, you will still be seated
Having a set time to eat in the main dining room can be a pain. Say you want to go to an early show but it conflicts with your set dinner time. Or what if you lay down for a nap and don’t wake up until your dinner time has passed? The good news is that it’s no big deal.
Just head down to the dining room whenever you’re ready to eat and they will find you a place to sit. It likely won’t be with your same waiter, but you’ll definitely get fed.
62. If traveling fewer than three floors, take the stairs. It’s faster
Who wants to take the stairs on vacation? That sounds like work! Well, the stairs can often be much faster. Realize that with thousands of people on a cruise ship, the banks of elevators can get overwhelmed, making stops on every deck going both up and down. That means it can take a while for the elevator to reach your floor.
Instead, if you are only going up or down a few decks, it’s definitely easier and faster to just hoof it with the stairs.
63. Dry bags are always a good idea if you plan to hit the beach
While you can use ziploc bags, we like the idea of having a watertight pouch or bag when you head to the beach. They are the perfect size for a phone, cash, and keycards. Best of all, they can snap onto your waistband so that you can carry your things with you in the water while taking a dip — and not leave them vulnerable on the beach. Read our review of our favorite dry bag here.
64. Take a photo each morning of the ship’s daily planner
Like Las Vegas, you’ll find you that you actually spend less time in the room than you anticipated. If you’re out and about and wondering what activities are coming up next, you don’t want to have to carry around the full daily newsletter that contains that day’s schedule.
Instead, an easy thing to do is take a picture of the daily planner on your phone or camera. This way you have a copy of the schedule with you without having to carry the newsletter or go back to the cabin to see what’s going on.
You can also download the cruise line’s app, such as the Carnival Hub app, which lists everything going on that day and much more.
65. Early debarkation doesn’t save a lot of time
Cruise lines offer early debarkation to passengers that want to carry all their bags with them. This seems like a great idea as it allows you to get off the ship first and get back home quickly after your cruise. The problem is that everyone else has the same idea.
Lines for early embarkation can stretch around the ship and take an hour or more to get through. Thankfully many cruise lines are getting better at the process, which is speeding things up somewhat.
It can also be faster if you use a passport to sail instead of a birth certificate. Facial recognition at some ports matches with your passport can get you through quickly.
66. Be careful, the sun is way more powerful in the tropics
It’s easy to underestimate just how quickly you can burn from the Caribbean sun. Whereas it might take 20-30 minutes to start getting burned back home, the more direct rays closer to the equator can do the same damage in just half the time.
The bad thing is that if you get sunburned, it can put you out of commission for several days, putting a damper on your cruise. Instead, the best thing to do is prevent getting burned. Wear wide-brimmed hats and put on plenty of sunscreen.
67. Take a photo of your home and email address
Lose your camera? Good luck getting it back. To increase your options, write your home address and email address on a piece of paper and take a photo of it. This way if someone finds your phone and looks through your pictures, they can see where to return your camera. It’s no guarantee that you’ll get it returned, but it’s an easy way to improve the odds.
68. Wait until later in the cruise to do the newest attractions
Cruise ships continue to get grander with every new ship. That means crazier attractions like waterslides, go-karts, robot bartenders and whatever else the cruise lines can imagine.
If you want to experience these attractions, wait until later in your cruise. The first day or two will have everyone waiting in line to get in. Instead, if you just wait until the initial rush has died down, you can join the fun without having to wait in a line.
69. There is free booze at the art auctions
If you want to snag a cheap glass of champagne, head down to the art auctions that are held on the ship. These auctions serve up flutes of the bubbly to set the mood and entice you to spend a little dough. While the art costs money, the booze is free.
70. You can get free drinks in the casino, but you have to spend major money
We all know that if you are gambling in a Las Vegas casino, you can expect the drinks to flow no matter how much you spend. On a cruise ship, that’s not the case. If you’re a nickel and dime gambler, you’re going to have to pay for drinks in the casino. If you’re betting big, however, then you will get some attention and some free drinks.
Be sure to use your card every time you play to get your spending tracked so that the cruise lines know how good of a customer you are.
71. Always pack a wad of $1 bills for tipping
The cruise industry relies on your generosity to help pay their service employees. That’s why you shouldn’t skimp when it comes to tipping. From baggage handlers to room service waiters to casino waitresses, you’ll want to slip them each a few bucks whenever they give you good service.
We’d suggest bringing about $20 in ones and carrying a few with you anywhere you go. This way you always have a few singles with you to tip with instead of having an awkward “I’ll tip you later” conversation.
72. Turn your phone on airplane mode the second you board the ship
There are way too many horror stories of cruise passengers forgetting to turn off their phone’s data and then coming home to huge bills for international roaming.
That’s why you should either turn your phone completely off or turn it on airplane mode to where it doesn’t use up data or connect to wireless service. It’s the simplest way to make sure there are no bad surprises when you get your next phone bill.
73. You’ll pay for premium brands, but not generics
If you want that special gelato or the Starbucks coffee, then it will likely cost you a few bucks on the ship. What many people don’t realize, however, is that you can get the generic versions of these foods elsewhere on the ship (and sometimes even at the same location) for free.
For instance, if your ship sells Starbucks for a fee, just ask if they have any free coffee. If they don’t at that location, they will point you to where you can get it for no charge.
74. Pack a handful of Ziploc bags. They have a million uses
Ziploc bags have to be the most useful item you can pack. Want to keep things dry while at the pool? Put it in a Ziploc. Want to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones? Put them in a Ziploc. Have a bunch of small baubles that you’re packing and would like to keep together? Or maybe you want to snag a snack for later from the buffet? Put it all in a Ziploc.
Always pack a few baggies with you on your trip and you’ll be sure to find a use for them.
75. Topless sunbathing? It’s not around anymore
A few years back, it was common for cruise lines to have private areas of the ship where you could get some sun… without worrying about tan lines. These areas were usually at the very top of the ship and included a sign designating it as a topless area.
But over the years (and without much press), those signs began to come down. There are now no cruise lines that allow topless sunbathing that we know of. This includes the “adults-only” pools. The upcoming Virgin Voyages, however, will allow it.
(Note: This applies only to North American cruises. Topless sunbathing is common in Europe.)