Archive for the ‘Cruise Travel Tips’ Category
Onboard expenses can quickly mount up when you’re at sea. So unless you want a nasty surprise before you disembark at the end of your cruise, here’s how to reduce your costs without reducing the quality of your vacation.
If you want to go a la carte, it’s possible to spend vast amounts of money dining at the alternative onboard restaurants. But with a dining room and various buffets as part of your fare, you can eat virtually round the clock at no extra expense. If you want to experience the delights of alternative dining, why not treat yourself to it every three or four days instead of daily.
Likewise, it’s possible to spend a small fortune in select cafes and coffee bars. But most ships provide complimentary tea and coffee 24 hours a day.
Onboard tipping is rather a thorny issue. A number of cruise lines include tips and gratuities as part of the fare. Other companies don’t include tips, but strongly advise that you reward good service. And on many ships, the management suggest a daily gratuity level which may or may not be automatically added to your onboard account. If you don’t agree with this, take the matter up at the Purser’s Office.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. But I will say one thing; the staff on most cruise ships are low paid. Most of them rely on tips to supplement their income. If passengers don’t provide tips, many of the staff may leave and seek work elsewhere. And in many cases that will lead to a drop in the quality of service, or a rise in ticket prices (if the cruise lines have to pay higher wages to attract workers).
Internet access from ship to shore is normally expensive. It’s not unusual to see charges of up to $10 per minute. So if you have to use the internet make sure that you keep your eye on the clock. Alternatively, some ships provide each person with a set amount of minutes online as part of your overall fare.
If you want to keep in touch with people while at sea, email is cheaper then telephone, but the connection speed on some ships can be rather slow. So if possible, wait until you arrive in port. Either the price of the onboard connection will be cheaper or you can use one of the onshore internet cafes which are much faster and much cheaper.
Oh, and one final word on email. Most ships will provide you with an onboard email address. Don’t use this as it will be slow and expensive. Before you leave, set up a free web based email account. There are plenty to choose from, such as Yahoo, or Google’s Gmail, and they’re all free. They can be accessed from anywhere in the world and are generally much faster that your onboard email account.
Most laundry services will be charged per item, at rates commonly applied in land based hotels, so your costs can rise quickly. However certain cruise ships provide a complimentary laundry service in the top rooms. But I guess if you can afford those rooms you won’t be too worried about a few onboard expenses.
So if you think you’ll need to do laundry while onboard, look for a cruise line that provides a low cost self service laundry facility. Alternatively, pack a bottle of washing liquid and hand wash essential items in your bathroom.
Injury or illness can happen to anyone at anytime, so it’s best to prepare for all possible eventualities. First check out the position from the point of view of your home country. For citizens of the US, medicare does not apply when they’re out of the country. Next, look at the medical insurance position. If you already have medical insurance, make sure it will cover you when at sea. If not, consider buying medical travel insurance to provide you with adequate cover. Even the cost of a simple visit to the ship doctor will account for the whole cost of a simple travel insurance policy.
Most ships will have a photographer who is willing to take a portrait photo of you and your travelling companions…for a price. So save money by taking your own camera and asking one of your fellow passengers to take a few photos.
Onboard ships stock many exquisite items that will remind you of your days at sea forever. Everything from jewelry and ornaments to cigarettes and alcohol is available, but it will cost you dearly. So try to limit yourself to things that are necessary. And if you forget to pack anything, it can often be cheaper buying them at the next port of call rather than paying the inflated prices at the shops onboard.
Cruise travel is one of the best vacations you can take. During your cruise vacation you will visit several different ports of call. Your cruise ship will dock at exotic islands or new countries almost on a daily basis. Check out the cruise reviews on line for cruise tips before you visit your destinations to find out what fantastic experience each port has to offer.
During your cruise vacation you will visit ports to shop, explore, beach, sightsee or hike. There are a wide variety of activities in each cruise destination. Or you could just depart the ship for a chance to walk around for a change of pace. Although this is a great cruise adventure, you should realize that you will only get a small sample of what each port of call has to offer. And be forewarned, as you step of your majestic cruise ship there will be hordes of natives trying to sell you a trinket or a tour around the city.
If you take the advice above and search the cruise reviews, you should have a pretty good idea what each destination has to offer. Choose the one that has the most encompassing tour of your port. In exotic ports they have full day tours, including lunch, that will take you to the highlights of the place you are visiting. This is an ideal way to sample the city or island getting ideas for what you may want to come back for at a later date. On island tours you may want to take an organized tour in the morning, go back to the ship for lunch, then light out on your own to explore more fully, shop or just go to the beach.
If you are more adventuresome, skip the lunch on board and dine in the city. You get to experience the local cuisine and soak up the native culture. This is your vacation, learn new and different things. If you chose to do this check with the cruise director for the best places to dine and make sure you know the exchange rate. On of the cruise tips is to put your meal on a charge card so you will be charged the exchange rate on the day the bill hits the credit card company.
A cruise tip that is very useful is to use the brochure that the ship gives you for their organized tour and follow it on your own. Only do this if you are comfortable with the country you are visiting. If it is your first time overseas to a port of call, it is best to stick with the organized tour for safety and convenience. Other cruise tips can be found online about some of the wonderful things to see and do in various ports of call. Be conscious of one thing, if you chose to explore on your own, know what time the ship leaves and how long it will take you to get back on board. If you are not on an organized tour it is your responsibility to get back on time or the ship will leave without you. You then have to meet the ship at the next port of call at your own expense.
If you opt for an organized tour sponsored by the cruise ship, it should cost you anywhere from $20.00 to over $200.00 depending on what you choose to do. It could be just a simple bus ride around town for two hours or a two day trip from St. Petersburg, Russia to Moscow. The options are endless.
Most cruise lines will let you book in advance on their websites. This is very convenient and helpful with tours that sell out quickly. For instances, in the Cayman Islands the Stingray City tour is very popular and will sell out. If you book it in advance you guarantee your spot. The more inexpensive tours also tend to sell out because of some cruisers watching their budgets. So, don’t miss out, check out the cruise lines website to see if you can book your ticket in advance.
It is good to know the game plan that the tour offers. Things you should be aware of is how much the guide will be with you and do they speak English clearly. Mostly the cruise lines have very competent tour guides, but better safe than sorry. Will have any time on your like for shopping or stopping in a café? It is very important to find out how much physical activity is required before you sign on for any tour. If you have limited mobility you don’t want to go on a tour that climbs the Acropolis in Athens or Dunns River Falls in Jamaica. Find out if a snack or lunch is provided, so if it isn’t you can bring along adequate funds to get your own.
There are private touring companies that you can contact on your own if you wish to tour in a more private fashion. Another alternative is to buddy up with some fellow cruisers and share taxi tours to cut your expense in half. Many times you will meet people on a cruise that have similar interests and you will spend a lot of time together on the cruise ship, why not touring also? It’s a way to save money and enjoy other passengers company.
Only hire licensed taxi drivers. Their credentials should be prominently displayed in the front of the cab. With a licensed driver you are ensured a safe trip and a guide who is knowledgeable about the islands or cities background, where to shop, eat or gamble. And of course they will know the best beaches available. Negotiate the price of your tour up front. If you chose to go to a destination where you will be dropped off for a couple of hours, negotiate with the driver to come back and pick you up. Settle on a price and pay half up front and half on the way back. If the driver has been helpful and friendly, please tip him or her.
Some cruisers like to rent cars in their ports of call. It is recommended that you only do this in destinations that you are familiar with and have a good knowledge of where you are going. Be careful when renting a car. Be sure to check out the entire car for any damages that may already be there and note them on your rental contract. If you fail to do this you may be charged for damage that was already done.
Lastly, use common sense when touring. Don’t travel in dark tight alleys, put your money under your clothes, don’t wear expensive jewelry and don’t let yourself be surrounded, especially by children. Always carry identification and the name of the cruise lines agents in the port of call in case you get in trouble.
You are on a cruise vacation make the best of it. Get off the ship at all of your ports of call whether you are touring or are just poking around. Be sure to take lots of pictures so you will have years of beautiful cruise travel memories.