Travel tips

Never wear those cheap $3 flip-flops around the pool

You know those cheap rubber flip-flops that you can get for just a few bucks? They serve their purpose, but don’t wear them around the pool! These sandals are notoriously slick on the bottom if they have any wear at all. All it takes is one wrong step on a slick ship deck to take a spill. Instead, look for a pair of flip-flops that have decent tread so that you won’t slip even if you step right in a puddle.

Cruise port security is nothing like the airport

No, you don’t have to go through the same hassles that you see in airports. You don’t have to take off belts… or shoes… or carry only 3 ounces of liquids. You’ll just have your bags x-rayed and walk through a metal detector (no full body scanners!). Getting through security usually takes no more than a minute or two.

Too late to get a reservation on the ship? Head to that restaurant anyway

Didn’t realize you needed a reservation or the spot you wanted was already filled? Don’t worry… you might still be able to get in. You can head down to the restaurant and see if there is any room available. Sometimes people make reservations and then forget about them, freeing up space. Your chances are best if you go early or late — instead of during peak hours. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a space, but it does happen.

Avoid ATM fees at the casino with this trick

ATM fees to get cash out can be expensive on the cruise ship. If you want to gamble but don’t have the cash on hand, you can use a little trick to avoid paying exorbitant ATM fees. Cruise lines will let you charge your onboard account to get money for chips or slot machines. Be careful as it’s an easy way to spend a little too much, but it’s also easy to play at the casino without being charged extra to access your own money.

Credit cards are accepted in ports, but call your company first

Yes, credit cards are accepted, especially in the more touristy areas of port cities. It’s still preferable to pay for most things in cash for security purposes. That said, if you do decide to use your card, be sure call your credit card company first. It may alert their system to fraud to see a card used in three different ports in three days, leading them to put a freeze on your account if they don’t know what’s going on.

Older ships are way cheaper to cruise on

If you’re the sort of person who likes a deal, look at sailing on an older ship. Even if an older ship and a newer ship sail the same itinerary, the fares on the older ship will be dramatically lower. Of course, in exchange you won’t get the wild new things like waterslides and ten swimming pools. But if you’re the sort of person who simply wants to be out on the water, you can save hundreds of dollars by sailing on an older ship.

Bring your own power adapter to give you more outlets

Phones, iPads, laptops, curling irons… the list of things you’ll bring that need plugging in seems to grow by the year. However, many cruise ship cabins have limited outlets. The good news is that newer ships are being built with more power outlets. Still, we suggest bringing an adapter or two to increase the number of plugs available. We really like this one from Amazon, which offers three plugs and doesn’t take up much room. Also, make sure your plug doesn’t have a surge protector. They are not allowed onboard.

Your balcony isn’t as private as you think

Thinking of sunbathing “al fresco” on your balcony? Want to get a little risque with your partner in the fresh air? Keep in mind that your balcony isn’t all that private. The dividers between balconies are low to allow wind to pass through. They also are several inches above the floor to allow water to flow. That means anyone in the balcony next to you could easily see what’s going on without much effort.

Those “all you can drink” packages aren’t a good deal, unless

“All you can drink” alcohol packages can really help you budget. For a set amount, you can drink as much as you want without worrying about the bill. But buyer beware, the cost of the packages usually means you have to order between 7-10 drinks per day before you save any money. And since you have to buy the package for every day of your cruise, that means you have to drink that much every single day you are on your ship — even when you are in a port of call. Many people will find that they are better off simply ordering drinks the old-fashioned way. (Read more about all you can drink packages here or use our Drink Package Calculator to see if you’d save money.)

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 (but can still connect to wi-fi). It’s the simplest way to make sure there are no big surprises when you get your next phone bill.

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