So, you're going cruising. You snagged a great rate of fewer than $100 per night, and you're excited about this all-inclusive experience. In no time at all, you'll be ordering drinks from your balcony while uploading selfies to social media. However, before that day comes, there are a few things you can consider to ensure your cruise price remains the bargain it started as.
While onboard the ship, keeping your mobile phone in airplane mode is a simple way to make sure you aren't unintentionally using cellular data. When in airplane mode, your cell phone will only operate via Wi-Fi, which will help you to avoid any surprise charges on your next bill. If your cruise line doesn't offer free Wi-Fi, buy an Internet Package from your cruise line. You can usually purchase plans before your cruise at a discount. Various options may be available, so you only need to pay for what you intend to use.
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP
You are likely already paying a daily service charge. Typically a daily tip is added onto your bill and split among the crew to ensure they are well compensated and to make things as seamless as possible. Usually, each cruiser is assessed a daily rate that varies based on what cabin you stay in. Additionally, a service charge is added to food and beverage packages and individual food items purchased throughout the ship. Search your cruise line's website to see the rate you are being charged. If you feel the service you've received warrants additional compensation, you can tip extra directly to a staff member.
DO THE MATH—DRINK PACKAGES
When it comes to drink packages, you just have to do some simple math. Divide the package price, to which a service fee will likely be applied, by the total number of drinks you think you'll have per day. Does the number you come up with sound about right for the type of drink you usually buy? If your little math problem results in a number equal to or less than your average drink price, the drink package is probably for you. When calculating, note that you typically have to buy the package for every day of your cruise, not just for specific days you plan on drinking a lot. Also, while depending on the cruise line, all persons in a cabin must usually buy the package to prevent sharing. If you decide against a package, but still want to save some money, you can generally bring onboard two of your own bottles of champagne or wine.
RESEARCH SHORE EXCURSIONS
If you decide to leave the ship in each port, you can buy tour packages from your cruise line. You'll meet a guide at the port who will take you in a group to view ancient ruins, taste some rum, or just go to the beach. While this is a seamless experience, you may have other options depending on what port you've docked in. For example, if you visit a big city like San Juan, Puerto Rico, consider just seeing the city at your own pace. Most of the time, this will be cheaper and perhaps more fun since you won't be on a motorcoach bus with 50 strangers. You can also research experiences and book them on your own via websites like Viator, or explore what experiences the cruise line has vetted and offers to passengers.