Published on March 24, 2017 by Lola Augustine Brown

If you’re a first-time cruiser, you may not realize what is included in the cost of your cruise and what isn’t. There are also some things you can do on a cruise that you don’t realize until you’ve cruised multiple times. With that in mind, here are 10 cruise hacks, tips, and tricks to help you become an instant cruise pro.

  1. Eat at the best restaurants on your first night. Because the more expensive restaurants tend to be less busy at the beginning of any cruise, you’ll find that many cruise lines offer deals or special pricing at these places on the first night.
  2. Use room service. Unlike when you stay at hotels, room service is often free onboard. Want breakfast in bed or a late-night snack? Enjoy! You already paid for it in the cost of your cruise. Bonus tip: Order an early room service breakfast on shore days and you’ll be able to beat the crowds of people getting off the ship.
  3. Take water bottles. You can tell who the cruise novices are because they’re the ones toting teeny-tiny cups around the ship instead of water bottles or Big Gulp-style cups. Having a decent sized drink container means fewer trips to refill your cup on hot days, and ensures you can take water offshore with you.
  4. Shop around for shore excursions. Every port you stop at will have shore excursions, and the fees for these can be exorbitant (especially if you’re traveling as a group or family). You don’t need to book through the cruise ship though – you may well be able to DIY some trips using local operators or transit with a little advance planning and research. There are also companies such as Viator or Shore Excursions Group that offer excursions at many ports.
  5. Bank snacks to take on excursions. You can be in for a surprise when you try to buy snacks or water at certain ports, as the prices are often ridiculously over-inflated. Order extra snacks from room service before you go, and fill that water bottle onboard. Packing some ziplock bags in your luggage is a great idea, as you’ll be able to transport snacks more easily with them.
  6. Bring your own alcohol. If you drink alcohol, cruising can get pretty expensive. However, most cruise lines allow you to take your own booze on board (Norwegian doesn’t). When you check into your stateroom, request that the minibar be emptied so that you can stock the fridge with your own supply of wine, beer, etc.
  7. Take your own tea bags and maybe even soda. It can be shocking to realize how few soft drinks are included in your cruise vacation, and that you may need to buy things like soda, tea, and coffee. Cruise pros take their own drinks to save a few bucks every day. (Check ship regulations beforehand to see what you are allowed to take on board, as rules vary from cruise line to cruise line).
  8. Save onboard shopping for the end of your cruise. Have your eye on a purse or souvenir item in the ship’s mall? Keep your money in your wallet until the end of the cruise when there are often big sales and bargains to be had.
  9. Give yourself more hanging space. Closet space in cabins is often pretty restricted, but you can give yourself more by taking a pack of magnetic hooks onboard with you (available at most hardware stores). Because the ship’s walls are metal, the magnets hold strong and you have extra space to hang your clothes.
  10. Search out the best wifi. It is an unfortunate fact of life that onboard wifi is horribly expensive, and often not that great. If you absolutely have to get online while cruising, ask staff where you’re likely to find the best connection to make the most of those expensive minutes, as wifi strength can vary wildly depending on your location on the ship.

Looking for more tips and hacks for your next cruise? Stay tuned to the Scootaround blog as we have more great cruise vacation tips to come in our next post!