If you're new to cruising, you might be wondering how to allocate your time during your cruise. After all, there are so many things to do on the ship and on land that the days can quickly slip away.
Based on my experience of cruising for more than a decade on many different cruise lines, I have five tips to help you make the most of your time on board. (See articles below for more tips.)
Set a daily budget and track your spending
Fares are set at levels to ensure that ships sail full. Once they have passengers on board, the cruise lines work hard to entice them to spend money since it's an essential part of their income. So it's important to set a budget before your trip and carefully stick to it, especially as everything you buy is charged directly to your account via your cruise card, and it's easy for charges to mount up. I recommend you ask reception for a printout of your bill every few days and track it against your budget. Alternatively, you may be able to view it on the in-room television.
The major items of additional costs to budget for are gratuities, excursions and touring, drinks, Internet access and shopping for souvenirs.
Use the daily program to plan your day
Cruise lines will offer a multitude of things to do throughout the entire day and evening, many of them happening at the same time. To make the most of your time on board, you should spend time reviewing the next day’s daily program before bedtime to plan your day.
Build downtime into your trip
Cruises tend to be port intensive, as this is what most passengers prefer. If you are out touring every day, you may find your vacation tiring. Remember that the ship is a destination, too, and schedule time to relax and enjoy the facilities. Most guests will go on excursions and you will find the facilities less crowded. There are likely to be special offers and discounts in areas like the spa, which means you can treat yourself for less.
Wait until the end of the cruise before shopping
Resist the temptation to buy from the onboard shops at the start of your cruise, and wait for the promotions to begin. As the trip progresses, there will be promotional events with large discounts on different types of merchandise each day. When in port, especially in the Caribbean, it’s easy to get carried away with the promise of duty- and tax-free shopping. You will be offered incentives, such as free earrings and charms for bracelets, to get you into the stores. Staff are highly trained and experienced in making sales of luxury goods, diamonds and watches to cruise passengers.
Plan for and use self-disembarkation
If you are able to carry all your luggage, you can apply to self-disembark the ship at the end of your cruise. This enables you to get off the ship within an hour of docking, as soon as the port authorities and immigration officials have cleared the ship to disembark passengers. If you cannot manage all of your bags, book a transfer to the airport or back home through the cruise, as these will usually depart the ship early, too.
What are your tips for making the most out of your cruise? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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