From what to pack to how to book the best cruise, these cruise experts reveal their best cruise tips to ensure you make the most of your time on-board.
Gavin & Luke | Holidays at Sea
Gavin & Luke started cruising in 2014, turning a holiday video hobby into ship tours and vlogs on their popular YouTube channel. Over the years they have clocked over 15 sailings with cruise lines such as P&O Cruises, Cunard and MSC Cruises. To follow them on their adventures head over to www.holidaysatsea.co.uk.
1. Research your port
“We work hard to be able to cruise, so getting the most for our money is always important! This starts before you even book a cruise. Shop around a little and talk to travel agents, they are never more expensive than going direct and can sometimes get you some little extras. Another tip is to research your port, if you are confident, why not book an independent excursion either yourself or through your travel agent as this could save you a small fortune.”
2. Look out for special on-board offers
“If you are on a budget, look out for special offers once onboard. Sometimes on the first night the speciality restaurants are reduced in price or come with a free bottle of wine…. and talking of free drinks, look out for events such as the welcome party or art auctions, usually there will be some free drinks on offer. Cheers, and enjoy your cruise!”
Adam Coulter is the Managing Editor of Cruise Critic UK, the leading cruise reviews and news site, www.cruisecritic.co.uk. He has covered the cruise industry extensively working for both trade and consumer publications as well as writing articles for many national newspapers such as The Times, Daily Mirror and Daily Express. Adam took his first cruise twenty years ago and has explored the world extensively by land and sea. He now travels with his kids in tow, introducing a new generation of cruisers to the thrill of a cruise holiday.
3. Bring tea bags
“If you are not sailing on a UK cruise line, such as P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Line, and you like a nice cup of tea, then I always recommend bringing your own tea bags with you. US lines will almost always serve tea that tastes a little sub-standard to British palates, so being able to have a good cuppa on a two-week cruise or longer every morning and afternoon, will significantly enhance your holiday experience.”
4. Prepare your carry-on bag for your first day
“As you will be handing over your luggage to pierside porters on embarkation and might not see your belongings for a good few hours, remember to bring a roomy carry-on bag with you with anything you might need onboard, before your bags are delivered. This includes medications and cruise documents for sure, but also items that let you start having fun right away, like your swimming costume.”
5. Buy your beverage packages before you board
“If you know you could easily run up a huge bar tab whilst onboard, or have a particular proclivity towards certain branded soft drinks, then it’s certainly worth looking into potentially securing a drinks package. These all-you-can-drink packages allow passengers to pay a set fee up front for unlimited drinks (of a certain type, as outlined by the package’s fine print), rather than pay per drink once onboard the cruise ship. Once you are on-board, many cruise lines then increase the prices of these by up to 40% – so decide with your fellow travellers whether this is something you want to invest in before your departure date.”
6. Book a guaranteed cabin
“When booking a cruise cabin, consider booking a ‘guaranteed’ cabin. Booking a guaranteed cabin means that you don’t get to pick the location of your cabin but are guaranteed to be assigned at least the grade that you have paid for. This is often a much cheaper option than picking your cabins location and you are more likely to receive an upgrade.”
Emrys has been working in the industry since 2004 and even worked on Carnival Cruise Ships for eight years. He founded one of the first mainstream cruise blogs in 2008 at Cruise Hive and has been featured in leading outlets including Fox News, USA Today, Miami Herald, ABC and many more.
7. Wait until the last day to bag some bargains
“As someone who has worked on cruise ships for over eight years, there are plenty of hacks and secrets which cruise lines don’t always tell you about. One thing is the different shopping sales each day on-board. Wait until the final day of the voyage to make huge savings or when the stores put a special event on to say that everything must go. You’ll be disembarking the ship with plenty of full bag – just take note of the customs allowance first depending on your itinerary!”
Kathy Taylor formed Cruise Lowdown with husband John, to celebrate their joint passion for travel and Kathy’s love of writing. They came to cruising quite late and wished they had discovered it earlier. They decided they wanted to encourage as many people as possible to try at least one cruise. The emphasis of their blog is very much on contemporary, stylish cruising, for all ages, with particular emphasis on new ships, which they feel offer so much to meet the needs on the whole family. They hope that their website/blog will inspire others and open the door to a different type of vacation for many.
8. Do your homework on cruise excursions
“Researching excursions pre-cruise pays dividends. Finding out if your cruise fare includes free port transfers and looking up the walking distance from the ship to the town or beach is key. Use the ship excursion programme as a starting point and decide what you’re likely to do, the research local providers and compare prices. Just make sure to leave plenty of time to return to your ship, they won’t wait for you! If you’re not a forward planner, head to the cruise terminal and join a shared tour – I’ve experienced some wonderful sightseeing trips using local taxis shared with fellow passengers.”
What’s your cruising top tip? Let us know in the comments below!