Traveling on a cruise ship can be like stepping into another world, full of people who know just where to be at the right time. Many experienced cruise-ship travelers have figured out a number of little tricks that help them save money and have more fun. Trawling message boards before you leave is a great way to find trip advice, but be sure to also keep the following things in mind:
—Room service is often free. Some cruise lines charge for late-night service, and it’s good etiquette to tip the person who delivers your food, but in general dining in your room is much cheaper on a ship than it is at a hotel.
—You may have more free snack options than you realize. For instance, while name-brand ice cream often carries an extra charge, you can almost always track down free ice cream somewhere on the ship. In addition, even though onboard coffee bars tend to charge for their specialty drinks, their pastries may be gratis.
—You might have more fun on the ship than you would in port. Port excursions can be expensive, crowded, and rushed. However, if you stay on the ship while it’s in port, you’ll have the place mostly to yourself. Many of the onboard attractions will still be open, and you won’t miss a few hours on a tour bus one bit.
—Check out the dance clubs. Even if dancing isn’t your thing, the disco on a ship often beats out other late-night activities. You’ve got nothing to lose by checking it out, and you may have more fun than you expect.
—Bring your own communications tools. If you’re traveling with a group and want to stay in touch during the day, use walkie-talkies so that you don’t incur cell-phone roaming fees.
—Decorate your cabin door. Tying a balloon or other identifying feature to your door will help you find it easily and may make it feel a little more like home.