Cruise Tips & Secrets

Independence of the Seas in Labadee
Independence of the Seas in Labadee

Cruising is sometimes a daunting experience and if you are a new cruiser you will be want to be prepared. We share some of our cruise tips, tricks and secrets to make your cruise vacation better. 

Our top Cruise Tips and Secrets

1. Research

The Waterfront on Norwegian Bliss
The Waterfront (c)Cruise with Ben & David

We can’t stress this enough – research the cruise company and the specific ship you are interested in! We like to watch YouTube reviews and look at cruise websites. You can find cruise forums such as Cruise Critic where you can ask specific questions!

We have made the mistake of picking a ship that really wasn’t suited to us. You don’t want to end up on a party ship when you are wanting a relaxing trip or vice versa.

Find out about the most Popular Cruise Destinations.

2. Pick The correct cabin for you

Independence of the Seas Inside Cabin

There are so many cabins to choose from. Inside, Oceanview, Balcony or a suite. Choose a cabin that suits you, your vacation style and most importantly your budget.

Not sure which cabin is best for you? Read our guide to Choosing The Right Cabin.

3. Be Prepared for Ports

Research the ports you will be visiting. You don’t want to miss out on the important sights and make sure you are aware of customs and the safety of each port.

Tours booked on the cruise guarantee you will not miss the ship departing even if your tour is delayed. Booking 3rd party tours may sometimes be cheaper but make sure they are a reputable company and that the tour will arrive back with plenty of time to spare – if you were late you will miss the ship departing.

Unfortunately, some ports are not as safe as others so make sure you do your homework but don’t be afraid to do it alone – just be prepared  and we can’t stress it enough to be back in plenty of time.

If you don’t fancy visiting a certain port the ship is usually a ghost town on port days – it’s a great time to chill on the boat and enjoy the ship’s features with much fewer people around.

4. Eat as much as you like.

Norwegian Bliss Food Republic
(c)Cruise With Ben & David

In the main dining rooms, you can order as much as you want! If you can’t pick between two desserts or main dishes why not order them both? You are on holiday – go on and treat yourself!

Read our top Cruise Dining Tips.

4. Worried about gaining weight on a cruise?

Most ships have an extensive gym on board. We also recommend you always take the stairs as this is an excellent workout. The outdoor promenade decks are a good place for walking. There are always healthy options on the menu too, but go on and spoil yourself you are on holiday after all!

6. Be aware of the extra costs

Money Saving Cruise Tips

Speciality dining, excursions, gratuities and drinks can all add up on a cruise! Make sure you keep track of what you are spending. It’s really easy to forget how much you are spending when no cash is involved! Cruising is a cashless system and your room card acts as a credit card.

You can get a printout of what you have spent at the guest services desk and on some liners you can check your balance on the TV.  You can also choose to pay your gratuities, add on a drinks package and book excursions before you get on the ship.

7. Arrive the night before

One of the cruise tips we always stress it to arrive at the port the night before. Not only does it extend your holiday another night but it ensures you don’t miss the boat in the event of cancelled flights, gridlocked roads or unforeseen weather.

8. Baby, It’s cold inside!

Fjord Cruising
Leaving Geiranger – (c)Cruise with Ben & David

Make sure you take a sweater or hoodie. It may be hot outside but inside the air con is in full swing so it can be chilly. It can get a little chilly at night on deck if there is a breeze, even in the Caribbean, we like to go for a stroll outside after dinner and watch the stars.

9. Know what time it is

My top cruise tip is to take a low cost waterproof watch with you. There are very few clocks around the ship and with many cruises crossing different time zones it’s nice to know you have the right time. Phones are good but not waterproof, and may change to match the time zone you are in which is sometimes different to the ship’s time.

This is especially important when at port as a ship won’t wait for you if you are late coming back.  Be aware also that you have your watch on the ship’s time. This may be different to port time.

A cheap waterproof watch is the best then you don’t have to worry about damaging it when you’re in the pool or on the beach.

10. Decorate your door

Bring something to decorate your cabin door, they are usually metal so magnets are great. Not only does this make your door look pretty but with corridor after corridor or doors it makes it much easier to identify your cabin, especially if you have had a few too many drinks! This is one of our favourite cruise tips and its fun too as you can make your own magnets or door hangers. 

11. Cruise Ship Laundry

Some cruise lines such as P&O and Disney have onboard self service laundries. Remember to bring laundry detergent. We also recommend wrinkle release spray – yes this is a really a thing! Many liners offer special laundry offers where you can fill a bag of clothes and it comes back nicely washed and ironed. Most ships offer a full dry cleaning, laundry and pressing service but these can be pricey. Hanging up clothes in the bathroom after a shower helps unwrinkle your clothes too.

12. When To Book A Cruise

Norwegian Bliss Launch in Soutampton
(c)Cruise With Ben & David

One of the most common cruise tips we get asked to provide is information on when to book. While there is not really a solid answer to this we notice a trend when we are booking our cruises.

Book early to get the best deals especially with free drinks packages and onboard credit as this can save you a fortune. If you can’t book early we recommend you book last minute for the best savings. While you probably won’t get a free drinks package or free onboard credit, you will find some bargains that are worth more than the freebies.

If you do book early keep an eye on the price if it goes down and you are based in the US with most liners you can call and they will usually give you the difference back in onboard credit. If you are in the U.K or a different country it’s a different story. You would need to cancel and rebook but with deposits being low it can sometimes still work out cheaper to lose your deposit and rebook at the new price.

You can also save a lot of money by booking another cruise while onboard at the onboard future cruise desk – you usually get a percentage off along with extras such as drinks packages or onboard credit you can also transfer the booking to your own travel agent to receive their benefits as well.

13. Power Outlets on a Cruise

When we were thinking about our cruise tip we were thinking of things that we have forgotten in the past and forgetting to bring adaptors is one of them. 

Check what type of electrical outlet your cabin will have, this information can usually be found on the cruise lines website. Make sure you have the correct electric adapter and bring along a power strip so you have enough outlets to charge all of you electric belongings. Some liners are becoming more strict with power strips so check beforehand if you can take one on board.

Battery powered tea lights or mini led light are great for the bathroom trips during the night, it’s usually very dark especially if you are in an inside cabin. We used the led light up ice cubes we were had in one of our drinks – left it on all night in the bathroom it was perfect.

14. Check what you are allowed to bring onboard

Breakfast on Cruise Balcony
Enjoy breakfast on your balcony – ©Cruise with Ben & David

Check what you can and can’t bring on board, irons and travel kettles are big no no. If you do prefer your own hairdryer it’s fine to bring those on along with hair straighteners.

If there is a certain electrical item or medical equipment that you must bring on board please contact your cruise line beforehand. They may allow you to bring it if it has been safety checked.

Likewise, if you want to bring a bike check with your cruise line, some allow this but you usually need permission.

You are usually allowed to bring on two bottles of wine per stateroom but check the individual policy of the cruise line. If you drink it in your cabin there is no corkage fee . Screw tops are usually best but your stateroom host will happily bring you a corkscrew. Obviously weapons or anything that resembles a weapon along with things such as pocket knives is strictly prohibited.

Full lists of what you can and can’t bring on board can be found on each cruise lines website!