Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cruisin' for a Deal- Part Two

Yesterday I covered ground transportation to/from the ship, luggage, and food. Today I'm back with more tips.

This can easily be the most expensive part of your cruise. On most cruiselines the only included beverages are tea, coffee, tap water, lemonade, iced tea, and some juices. However, the minute you get on the ship you might be offered fun, fruity, tropical drinks while reggae music plays and they welcome you aboard. Do not be fooled as we were on our first cruise. Once you take a drink they will ask for your newly minted room key/debit card and will charge you $9! If you purchase a bottle of wine at dinner, your waiter will re-cork it and then bring it out the next night for you to have again, a good option. Any alcoholic drink is going to be expensive. We have noticed that certain liquors look just like water when they are brought aboard in a water bottle....

Anyway, another way they try to get you to spend more money is by having tubs of cold, bottled water next to the door when you leave for shore excursions. Bring your own water bottles and fill them up at the buffet or in your room. If you are a big soda drinker, many cruiselines offer an unlimited soda card or sticker for a set price. It's a good deal, as otherwise they charge you per glass.

Shore Excursions
These can be hit or miss. I always do a lot of research on each port before I decide whether or not to buy a shore excursion package. Just by entering the port name and the word "review" into google you can find pages and pages of reviews and information.  If the port is near public transportation such as train or subway, that is often the best way to get where you want to go. When we were in Athens, we left the ship, walked to the train, and were at the Parthenon before most of the bus tour groups from the ship had even left! The same with the Bahamas, we got our own taxi for just a few dollars intead of paying $20 ahead of time for a shuttle. However, in areas where the sights are spread out or not near the port, official excursions are the way to go. Also, if a cruiseline-sponsored excursion runs late, they will hold the ship for you. Otherwise you might see the ship pull away before you get back.

Plan ahead for tipping. You're expected to tip a whole host of people on the last night/day of the cruise. If you didn't plan ahead to have your tips added to your overall bill, you will need cash. And of course, the on-ship ATM's charge huge fees.

Have Fun!
Our cruises have been some of our most memorable vacations. Every morning you wake up in a new place. There are activities of every kind on board, from rock climbing and dodgeball to lounging in a hot tub or next to the pool, or even learning about art history or playing competitive sudoku. I'm looking forward to our next cruise, hopefully it will be soon.


  1. What happens if you don't tip on the last day of the cruise? Do they throw you overboard? Just kidding. How much is a reasonalbe tip.

  2. No, they don't throw you overboard! :) However, it's bad form not to. The employees of most cruiseships aren't under US employment law and work really long hours for little pay. The cruiseline provides a guide to how much to tip. I usually round up for our main waiter and cabin steward if they are good. Here's a link to Royal Caribbean's guidelines:;jsessionid=0000hvyJSSfgnMWDCGWKpS_Dvsj:12hdhubrs?pagename=frequently_asked_questions&pnav=5&pnav=2&faqSubjectName=Life+Onboard&faqId=263&faqSubjectId=334&faqType=faq


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