Cruise Tip Tuesday | Subscribe to Cruise Line Email Lists

port of costa maya

First, I want to say that I am sorry I disappeared for the past two weeks without a word.  Life has been busy, and I needed a blogging break.  I guess in all honesty I get so few comments and feedback here that I am not sure if I will continue with it.  It can take me hours to put the Friday deals posts together.  If you appreciate this blog or have a question or post idea, please comment! 

My cruise tip today is a very basic one.  Subscribe via email to all of the major cruise lines!  I sometimes get exclusive preview sale information just by being on cruise line email lists as well as regular sale notices.  It is really easy.  Visit each of their websites and look for a link to subscribe.  I have the websites listed on my Links page. You can also request brochures to be mailed to you. I love to look through them to study the deckplans and pictures of the ships for planning.

photo credit: notmargaret

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Arriving To Shows On Time

Radiance of the Seas_Theater

Each evening your cruise ship will offer a show in the main show lounge or theater.  The shows are usually top rate and can include singing (opera, jazz, pop, etc.), dancing, acrobatics, magic, musical theater, comedy, and juggling.

Most cruise lines that have set dining times will provide for enough time for you to arrive to the evening show on time.  During the first seating while dinner is being served, the late seating passengers will be watching the show in the main show lounge.  Then while the 2nd seating is eating, the first seating will be enjoying the show.

If you cruise on a cruise line that offers open dining times, you will want to plan ahead so that you do not miss the shows.  You should allow a minimum of an hour for dinner and should probably shoot for starting dinner about 1.5 hours before the show. 

It is important to get to the theater or show lounge early to get seating as some shows fill up.  This is especially important if you are a large family or desire for end seats if you have small children that might become disruptive.  Arriving 10-15 minutes ahead of time should be adequate. 

photo credit: Josh Friedman Luxury Travel

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Deposits are Refundable

DSC04016
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas

In most cases the deposit you put down on a cruise will be 100% refundable if you cancel by a certain number of days before the cruise starts.  This is great for when a woman gets pregnant and can no longer cruise due to cruise line pregnancy policies.  It is also great if you can not find reasonable airfare to the departure port (European and other foreign cruises especially!) and decide it is not worth that cost to go on the cruise. 

Here are typical cruise cancellation policies stating at what point they are 100% refundable.  Some special cruise rates will not be refundable and concierge level or similar rooms might have stricter policies.  All numbers are for days prior to the cruise start date.

Carnival

100% Refundable:

  • 61+ Days for 2-5 Day Cruises
  • 76+ Days 6+ Day Cruises (including Alaska and Hawaii)
  • 91+ Days Europe, Panama Canal, Transpacific 7, 9, 12, 12, and 17 Day Cruises 

Celebrity

100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 75+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 90+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises

Disney

100% Refundable:

  • 75+ Days for 9 Day or Less Cruises Starting or Ending from a US port
  • 90+ Days for 10 Day or More Cruises and those not starting or ending from a US port

Holland America

100% Refundable:

  • 121+ Days for Grand Voyages (all “Grand” sailings), 15-60 Day Hawaii & Polynesia, Incan, Amazon
  • 91+ Days Holiday and South America/Antarctica Sailings
  • 76+ Days Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Bermuda, Canada & New England, Alaska, and 14-17 Day Hawaii

MSC

100% Refundable:

  • 76+ Days Before Cruise

Norwegian

100% Refundable:

  • 76+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 61+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 91+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises
  • 76+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)

Princess

100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Day Cruises
  • 75+ Days 6-29 Day Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days Holiday Cruises up to 29 Days
  • 120+ Days 30+ Day Cruises

Royal Caribbean

100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 75+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 90+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises

photo credit: Cruise News Weekly

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Free Beverages

Iced Tea Marie Catrib's 7-8-09 3

Most cruise lines offer a limited choice of free beverages.  The free beverages available 24 hours a day are of course tap water, iced tea, hot tea (lots of choices), and plain coffee with a variety of sweeteners.  Hot chocolate packets are usually available as well.  For breakfast you can usually get a few juices such as apple, orange, and cranberry as well as milk.  You can fill your children’s sippy cups or water bottles with juice, and it could last until lunch at the very least. 

For lunch and dinner, iced tea is usually available in both the buffet and dining rooms. There will not be a decaffeinated iced tea option, but you could make your own with hot water, tea bags, and then ice.  You could also make your own iced coffee.  First get your coffee, and sweeten it with sugar or sweetener and cream or milk.  Then fill a cup with ice and dump your coffee in and mix.  Children can usually get juice or milk in the dining rooms for lunch and dinner for free, but it is not easily available at the buffet.

If you or your children “need” some flavor in their water, consider bringing some individual packets of products like Crystal Light or MiO. Lemon slices are also often out at the buffet by the iced tea.

I am personally not a big water drinker at home, except after dinner or while exercising.  On past cruises, I actually got used to drinking water more than I do at home.  At dinner the waiters always filled my glass with water, and I was able to save some of my calories for desserts!  The free “tap” water tasted great to me, but maybe the warm weather simply increased my thirst.

If you need your soda fix, consider getting some soda in port.  Please be very careful and clean the top of cans and bottles and use a straw if you can.  It is best to avoid soda from a bar or restaurant that could be mixed with local water.  You definitely do not want to ruin your cruise by getting sick.

Most cruises also offer some sort of unlimited soda card for the entire cruise.  They are technically for one person or child.  Unless you drink a lot of soda, you will not get your money’s worth compared to regular 2 Liter prices or 12 packs.  For example, Norwegian Cruise Line charges $6.25 per adult per day (must purchase for entire cruise) for unlimited soda and includes a free souvenir mug.  Children are $4.00 per day.  Tax and 15% gratuity are additional.  Disney Cruise Line offers free soda at designated beverage centers, but they are not free in bars and lounges. 

We have never bought a soda card or even a beverage on a cruise, so consider some of the tips above and save your money for the excursions.  If you drink alcohol, take a look at “Alcohol On A Cruise”.  I included a few tips in that post on how to get free alcohol.

photo credit: stevendepolo

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Security In Ports

And that doesn't include the camera

You might see some sort of port security personell once you leave the ship, but this Cruise Tip is about the security procedures when you re-board the ship after spending time in port.

When you exit the ship in port and re-board, your cruise card will be swiped.  This keeps track of the passengers to ensure everyone arrives back on board.  All passengers, including babies, must have their card to exit the ship.  Each time your card is swiped, your picture will show up on the computer screen so that security knows that you are the passenger.

The cruise ship will set up metal detectors and x-ray machines when you re-board the ship after spending time in port.  Cruiselines will tell you to not bring any food off of the ship when you arrive in port, and the ship will also not want any food (especially fruit) coming on board from the foreign port.  This protects everyone from bugs, mold, and such that other countries do not have.  We have safely taken our own packaged snacks as well as boxed cereals from breakfast off and back on to the ship without any problems.

The security personell are also looking for drugs, liquor, and weapons.  If they find liquor, it will most likely be held for you until the end of the cruise.  The walk-thru machines for people do not seem to set off as easily as airport ones.  I try to not wear metal belts or metal hair clips, though.  All bags will be x-rayed.  Usually you can just keep your baby or toddler in their stroller and push them through.  Security will make sure no bags or other items are on the stroller.

You will NOT be asked to take off your shoes or dump your liquids! 

photo credit: dlisbona

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