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Hints & Tips

6 things to know about before going on a cruise


Cruising can be a lot of fun, but there’s a few things you can think about in advance to make the trip a whole lot easier to enjoy. Here’s our list of 6 tips to think about before you go on a cruise, so you have the time on your life on your next cruise.

1. Watch the cost of alcohol
Being on holiday is all about relaxing and having a good time, and for some people that includes a cold beverage during the day or with an evening meal. But those drink costs can quickly add up. If you’re adding drinks upon drinks onto your bill throughout the cruise, you might find yourself being given a hefty bill that you hadn’t budgeted for. Instead of buying your drinks as you go, try and get cheap drinks on your cruise, or buy a drinks package so you know exactly what you’re spending as you go.

2. Bring a reusable water bottle
Filtered water is usually available at water stations throughout the ship, but it pays to have an easily accessible bottle of water on you at all times, especially when you’re on deck, enjoying activities or in your cabin. Bring along a water bottle so you can refill it as you go.

3. Know ATM fees are high on board
Cruises are cashless premises, so you’d be forgiven for just bringing your ATM card and not really expecting to use it. But if you do need to withdrawal cash as you go, just remember you will be hit with a large transaction fee that can often go up to $10 per transaction. Always bring cash with you to avoid this added expense.

4. Spa treatments and the hard sell afterwards
A massage or a manicure is a great way to relax and unwind during a holiday, but be aware of the hard sell that will most likely occur afterwards. A nice bottle of body lotion might just set you back a whole lot more than it would on dry land, so be wary of the prices you’re paying before you get too excited.

5. Cruise cabin cards and cashless charging
Remembering that cruises are cashless areas, the cruise line will have your credit card number on file and will charge your cruise cabin card just like a credit card if you purchase products and services. Be aware of the prices you’re paying before you say yes to anything.

6. Data roaming charges can really hurt
Uh oh, if you forgot to turn off your mobile phone data while you’re on a cruise, then that is going to be one expensive mistake. And if you think uploading a simple photo or making a quick phone call won’t break the budget, think again. Connect to the Wifi instead and don’t get a shock when you get your next phone bill.

Celebrations at Sea: Five Tips on How to Make Milestones Memorable on a Cruise

Every day on a cruise ship is a celebration so it’s no wonder that many travelers are choosing to commemorate life’s greatest moments — from weddings and reunions to retirements and everything in between – on a cruise vacation. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, is sharing the top five tips for celebrating life’s milestones aboard a cruise ship. 

“There is no better way to spend life’s big moments than with a journey at sea and the cruise industry offers a variety of options to make milestones memorable,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “With a completely customizable travel experience, a cruise offers travelers a unique way to celebrate occasions with a trip tailored to every budget and preference.”

From birthdays and graduations to honeymoons, here are Five Tips for Celebrating Milestones on a Cruise: 

1.) Prepared Packages: No matter what the celebration may be, many cruise lines offer group packages for large travel parties and special occasions, including specialty celebration offering fun extras. Travel agents can help travelers find special excursions and discounted cabin rates for many sized groups. Some cruise lines offer a free cabin based upon the number of rooms booked by large groups – a great way for the guests of honor to celebrate.  

2.) Take the Cake & Culture: Some cruise lines offer commemorative sweet treats including celebratory cakes and other baked goods, which can be ordered in advance. As a bonus, crew members will sing “Happy Birthday” to mark the special occasion. Additionally, celebrating cruisers can immerse themselves in the local culture of their destinations to make celebrations even more special. Travelers can check with their travel agent or cruise line to see if there are any special, culturally immersive ceremonies or experiences available like traditional wedding celebrations or birthday customs based on the destination. 

3.) Pack the Party: The majority of cruise lines will also help travelers celebrate any occasion—from birthdays to bar mitzvahs to vow renewals and more—with special surprises including private parties and group excursions. Travelers looking to celebrate onboard a ship should pack accordingly with items like cabin decorations for birthdays, and matching shirts for reunions. Some cruise lines even encourage cruise travelers to decorate cabins and cabin doors with festive décor. 

4.) Celebrate Onboard and Onshore: Book ahead for a celebratory dinner in a specialty restaurant on the ship and alert the staff to the special occasion—some restaurants will provide complimentary dessert or make special accommodations. On land, a pre-planned excursion can create a bonding, exhilarating or educational experience for every celebratory cruise. Celebrating a birthday? Consider checking off a “bucket list” item during a shore excursion, like rock climbing or sightseeing in a storybook European village. 

5.) Alert an Agent: A travel agent can help every traveler create a customized and memorable milestone with added perks and reduced stress over the details. Agents can also help arrange for special amenities, activities and surprises onboard as well as offer special discounts on group cruising. Additionally, agents can help travelers organize group activities to keep the celebration going like onshore excursions or group dinners. 

Top Five Best Practices for Keeping Cruise Ship Passengers Healthy

With winter coming, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) shares the industry’s top five best practices for keeping passengers and crew healthy.

“For cruise lines, keeping passengers healthy is essential to an enjoyable vacation,” said Donnie Brown, vice president of maritime policy, CLIA. “With more than 24 million passengers cruising each year from around the world, we know that prevention is key. That is why cruise lines have committed numerous resources and best practices to maintain a healthy ship environment.”

From cleaning practices to passenger screening and public health inspections, cruise lines adopt several measures for keeping all onboard well, including:

  1. Sanitation: Trained crewmembers regularly clean and sanitize the ship. Cabins are cleaned at least once a day and common areas such as restaurants, snack areas, pools and elevators are cleaned throughout the day. At the end of every cruise, crew clean the ship from top to bottom using designated cleaning supplies and sanitation procedures.  
  2. Screening: The importance of early detection cannot be understated, which is why the cruise industry implements pre-boarding health screenings. These screenings along with a health questionnaire help identify ill passengers or crewmembers prior to boarding by indicating if they or their traveling companions have had recent symptoms of illness. Passengers who may be ill are assessed by medical staff before they interact with other guests.  
  3. Medical Facilities: CLIA Cruise Lines and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) developed and implemented guidelines on cruise ship medical facilities. The ACEP Guidelines (2014), mandatory for all CLIA oceangoing cruise line members, address the facilities, staffing, equipment and procedures for medical infirmaries on cruise ships.
  4. Collaboration: Cruise lines work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in a comprehensive effort to employ preventative practices to achieve the highest standards of public health onboard cruise ships. The VSP provides a level of federal scrutiny and transparency for cruise line sanitation that’s unique in the travel and hospitality industry—there is no similar federal program for hotels, airlines or restaurants.
  5. Training: Onboard staff must be trained in first aid and public health practices. Regardless of a crewmember’s job onboard, they are trained in safety and first aid procedures, such as emergency procedures, signals and alarms; evacuation procedures; and fire prevention and fire safety.

To evaluate the effectiveness of such best practices, public health officers from the CDC make at least two unannounced inspections each year on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. The public can access the inspection score of every ship. During these routine inspections, CLIA Cruise Line Members often earn perfect scores.

In the U.S., the risk of getting Norovirus each year is about 1 in 15; a cruise passenger has about a 1 in 5,500 risk of getting laboratory confirmed Norovirus during a shipboard outbreak.

To learn more about how cruise ships are equipped for health, visit:

About Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – One Industry, One Voice
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, providing a unified voice and leading authority of the global cruise community. The association has 15 offices globally with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. CLIA supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment for the more than 24 million passengers who cruise annually and is dedicated to promote the cruise travel experience. Members are comprised of the world’s most prestigious ocean, river and specialty cruise lines; a highly trained and certified travel agent community; and cruise line suppliers and partners, including ports & destinations, ship development, suppliers and business services. The organization’s mission is to be the unified global organization that helps its members succeed by advocating, educating and promoting for the common interests of the cruise community. For more information, visit or follow Cruise Lines International Association on CLIA Facebook and Twitter pages.

Ten Top Tips

  1. Book through a  Cruise specialist 

It’s easy to be seduced by cheap cruise offers online but if this is your first voyage, it will really pay off to consult a specialist travel agent and make sure you end up on the right ship for you. A list of agents affiliated to the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) is available on the Web site Cruise Experts. Large, chain travel agencies may push certain cruise lines with which they have commission agreements; always ask for a range of recommendations. Agencies that sell nothing but cruising are, by nature, likely to have the greatest knowledge. A good agent will question you extensively about your tastes, age range and the kind of holidays you have taken in the past. questions on the message boards; there’s even a special section for first time cruisers.

  1. Get To Know your fellow passengers

To a first-time cruiser, all cruise lines can look the same. They’re not, of course, and different lines (and ships) attract completely different people. For example, on Hapag-Lloyd, many of the passengers will be German. On Ponant’s ships, more than half will be French. Italians flock to Costa and MSC Cruises, especially in the Mediterranean. P&O Cruises, Thomson Cruises and Fred. Olsen are almost exclusively British. On cruises in Alaska, you’re likely to be a tiny minority among a mainly American crowd. River cruises with Scenic Tours, Emerald Waterways and APT attract a lot of Australians (these are all Australian-owned companies).

Think about the age group you want to travel with, too. A long voyage in winter with Fred. Olsen is likely to attract much older passengers, while Saga caters for the over-50’s. A Royal Caribbean ship sailing out of Southampton in August will be crammed with young families. If you want to avoid children, don’t cruise in school holidays, or choose an adults-only ship. For example, P&O Cruises’ Adonia, Arcadia and Oriana are mostly child-free, whereas lines like Voyages to Antiquity discourage children under the age of 11 or 12. If you’re in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s and like to party, there’s usually a mixed-age crowd on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean ships.

  1. Try a mini-cruise first 

Dip a toe in the water with a short ‘taster’ cruise. Cunard, Royal Caribbean, MSC and P&O Cruises offer these out of Southampton; expect two or three nights onboard – and a short hop across the Channel or the North Sea to ports like Zeebrugge (for Bruges) and Le Havre (for Paris). Some of MSC’s taster cruises go as far south as Lisbon. Fred. Olsen has short breaks from Dover, Southampton, Tilbury, Harwich, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow to France, Belgium, Ireland and The Netherlands, while Cruise & Maritime Voyages sail from Cardiff, Dundee, Greenock, Harwich, Tilbury, Bristol, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle, Poole, Portsmouth and Rosyth to ports including the Faroe Islands, Cobh, Amsterdam and St Peter Port in the Channel Islands.


  1. Get organised 

Have a rough idea of what you want to do on your cruise. If it’s a port-intensive week in the Med, don’t exhaust yourself by booking onto one tour after another. A lot of ports are easy to explore independently, at your own pace — Venice, for example, or Portofino, or St Tropez. Throw in the occasional beach day; cruise lines often provide shuttle buses (for a fee) to nearby beaches, or do your own research and take a taxi or local transport. A lot of cruise lines allow tours and spa treatments to be booked online before departure but keep your options open for part of the cruise, at least. If you already know a port well and it’s unbearably hot, don’t feel guilty if you choose to stay onboard while everybody goes off on tour. The pools and decks will be empty and you can pretend that you’re on a private yacht.

Plan your evenings, too. If there’s a particular show you want to see, don’t make that the evening that you opt for a long dinner in one of the speciality restaurants (which have to be booked in advance). If there’s a restaurant that allows dining on deck, time your booking carefully, perhaps for a night when there’s a late sailaway from a particularly beautiful port. Don’t book a spa treatment that ends ten minutes before the Captain’s cocktail party on formal night.

Some cruise lines offer special tours of the ship on the first day, aimed at newbies. It’s a good idea to join one of these; you’ll get to know the ship and a bit about how it functions.

  1. Play the currency game

All cruise lines operate a cashless system onboard; you register a card when you check in and then charge everything to your cruise account. On any cruise that isn’t all-inclusive (and some that are), you’re likely to spend a fair bit of money during your holiday — extras might include your bar bill, spa treatments, any excursions booked onboard, anything you buy in the shops, speciality restaurant fees and money changed for casino chips.

Although the onboard currency probably won’t be the deciding factor for your cruise, check what it is. On P&O, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Thomson Cruises, Saga and Fred. Olsen, it’s sterling. But on lines like Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Celebrity and Princess, it’s the U.S. dollar. When the pound is strong, spending dollars on holiday suddenly becomes very attractive — but right now, with a weak pound, you’ll spend more onboard unless you opt for a line operating in British pounds. You may be asked when you check in whether you’d like your onboard account converted to sterling but there’s almost always a charge for doing this.

  1. Think About Drinks packages

Some cruise lines offer drinks packages. These may seem attractive but think before you buy; they’re a minefield and there are endless variations; P&O Cruises, for example, offers packages for soft drinks, Costa coffee and wine by four, six, nine or 12 bottles in two package variations.

Some are quite restrictive, only including certain drinks, or drinks up to a certain value. Others mean you have to prop up the bar for a significant chunk of the day to drink your money’s worth. Take your itinerary into consideration before investing. You may, for example, be spending a lot of time in port, enjoying long, boozy lunches ashore, in which case, a drinks package can be wasted.

Many of the American-owned ships, which charge 15 percent service for every drink, also add this 15 percent to the cost of the drinks package.

You can’t have one person in the party sign up for a package and provide drinks for the rest – the cruise lines have got wise to that. A lot of lines won’t let you take your own booze onboard, either, although you can bring soft drinks. Bottled water, for example, is always cheaper ashore than onboard, so stock up as you get back onboard in every port — the heavily chlorinated tap water on cruise ships is drinkable but pretty vile.

  1. Stormy weather

If you’ve never sailed before, you may have concerns about seasickness (for which there is excellent over-the-counter medication, by the way). Nervous sailors might want to minimise the ‘sea days’ (when the ship sails all day and doesn’t stop in port) by flying straight to the sun, so for a Mediterranean cruise, starting in Barcelona, Venice, Athens or Rome, or in the Baltic, picking a voyage that begins in Copenhagen.

Sailing from a British port does have big advantages, not least no flying and an almost unlimited luggage allowance, but if you’re headed south to the Med or the Canaries, you will have at least two days at sea on the way there and again on the way back. Outside the summer months, the Bay of Biscay can be choppy.

Worst case, head straight for the ship’s medical centre, where an injection of Phenergan (for a fee) can put you out of your misery instantly.

  1. Don’t be afraid about complaining  

Brits are notoriously bad at complaining. But if you get onboard and you’re not happy with something, for example, your cabin’s location, or your table arrangement at dinner (if you are on fixed seating dining), don’t suffer in silence. Most things can be fixed. For dining room problems, have a quiet word with the maitre d’. It happens all the time and they’re used to dealing with tricky situations, including people who don’t get on with their dining companions. For anything else, the crew behind the reception desk are there to help. If there’s something missing in your cabin, ask your cabin steward.

. Take your own tea bags

Cruise lines have a tendency to stock Lipton’s Yellow Label tea bags, which are a long way from strong builder’s tea or classy Twinings. There is no shame in taking your own. Either way, don’t expect a decent cuppa on a cruise ship; the hot water dispensed at the buffet is never boiling. Some lines have a kettle in the cabin, Fred. Olsen Cruises and P&O Cruises being two of them. Worth knowing about is the afternoon tea served on some ships (Cunard, Thomson and P&O Cruises, for example); often, the quality tea is brought out for this and served in proper teapots, although sadly, the water is still unlikely to be boiling.

  1. The tipping minefield

The thorny subject of tips on cruise ships seems to be a permanent issue for British cruisers, unenthusiastic tipping culture that we are. To make it more confusing, no two cruise lines have the same tipping policy.

This is how it works. First, there are cruise lines that do not ask for or expect tips; it’s built into the price. These include Thomson Cruises, Saga Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea Cruises. Some of these (Azamara and Crystal, for example) allow you to tip extra in cash if you want to. Some of them charge a gratuity, or service charge, or whatever you want to call it, on extra facilities like spa treatments. This is automatically added to your bill but can be removed if you are unhappy with the service. If you use the services of a private butler, or get someone to organise, say, a private cocktail party in your suite, it is appropriate to tip.

Other cruise lines add an amount per passenger per day to your account for tips, or ‘service’, as some of them now call it. This is a fixed amount and will either appear daily on your onboard account (which can usually be checked on the interactive TV in your cabin) or will be added towards the end of the cruise. If you don’t want to pay it, or want to pay less (or more), see the purser. They should adjust the amount (sometimes rather grudgingly) but might put you on the spot by asking what it is you’re unhappy with. It’s not a good idea to do this on the final day of the voyage, when the purser’s office is at its busiest.

A few cruise lines, Star Clippers, for example, still use the old-fashioned cash-in-envelopes method of tipping. Fred. Olsen also provides envelopes for anybody wanting to reward an individual crew member.

Beware a little trick used by the large American-run cruise lines regarding drinks bills. All of the large lines (Royal Caribbean, NCL, Princess, Holland America, Cunard, Celebrity and Carnival) add a gratuity to every drink you sign for, usually 15 percent or 18 percent. But there’s an empty space on every bill for adding a tip, so if you scribble a couple of dollars here, you’ve effectively tipped twice.


50 Top Tips From the World's Smartest Cruisers

50 Top Tips From the World’s Smartest Cruisers


The art of cruising, like chess and cricket, takes time and expertise to master. That’s why we asked some of the most well-traveled, cruise-savvy folks we know—hundreds of readers and a handful of pros—for their best advice.


1. “Traveling with a large family or a group of friends? Bring along walkie-talkies (such as Motorola’s Talkabouts) to keep everyone connected without cell phone roaming charges.

2. “You’re almost always charged extra for soft drinks, beer, wine, and cocktails at meals. But if you stick to juice, you can drink for free (on most ships)

3. “On every cruise we’ve taken, my wife tapes a balloon to our cabin door. That way, our stateroom stands out in the long hallway.

4. “Many major cruise lines provide free passage to guests qualified to lecture on board. Call the line’s entertainment office to see if you have the necessary skills.

5. “Nearly every cruise line will toss in one free cabin if you travel in a group of 15 or more.

6. “If you book while you’re aboard, some lines offer a discount of $175 and up on the deposit for future trips. More good news: You can usually get a refund on your deposit if you decide to cancel later.

7. “Before booking, check deck plans online to confirm your cabin isn’t beneath a well-traveled area. Many ships have a lido deck buffet, where diners eat poolside. When they drag around chairs, it can make quite the ruckus in rooms right below.

8. “When cruising with our two toddlers, we book a single cabin with twin beds. Pushing them together allows us to sleep sideways, with one parent at the bottom as a guardrail. This only works if you aren’t tall.

9. “To avoid the check-out bottleneck, ask for a printout of your bill the day before disembarking. If there are any discrepancies, you can resolve them early and totally relax on your last day at sea.


10. “Spring for last-minute deals. For those with a flexible schedule, it’s hard to beat short-lead, online sales. Check out consolidators and discount sites as well as the lines’ own e-mail offers.

11. “Make a bid online. Websites that auction cruises have some of the best bargains out there. 

12. “Be an early bird. If you’re planning a trip on a popular route (like the Mediterranean in the summer), you won’t find many last-minute discounts. The early-bird deals—six to nine months out, generally—tend to have the lowest rates.

13. “Hire an agent. Even if you normally book trips on your own, a cruise is a wise moment to call in the experts. Each line employs specialists who can offer discounted fares and provide advice on cabin configurations and buffet selections. Also, agents with membership in a group like Virtuoso can sweeten deals with onboard credits, including everything from free meals at the specialty restaurants to spa credits.

14. “Prices often fluctuate based on kids’ availability. Spring break, for example, is a popular (and pricey) time of year, but the last week in August, when most children return to school, is a bargain.

15. “Sign up for frequent-cruiser programs (similar to frequent-flier programs). On our last cruise, we received chocolate-dipped strawberries in our room just for being members!

16. “On the last day, you’re supposed to leave by 9 a.m.—no exceptions. I’ve knocked on people’s doors at 11 a.m. and found them still in the cabin because they overslept! Cabins don’t have alarm clocks, so make sure you pack one. You don’t want to find yourself rushing to gather your things. Once in a while, people forget their jewelry, credit cards, or watches in the safe.

17. “Find out if your cruise line offers benefits for signing up for its credit card. With Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, you earn points that you can redeem when booking cruises, resort nights, and flights.

18. “Don’t miss the boat! I like to fly into the port city a day or two before the cruise begins, especially in winter, to make sure that flight delays and cancellations don’t wreak havoc.

19. “Comparison shop. Cruise lines try to make things easy by packaging airfare and pre-embarkation hotel stays. But you’ll generally get better rates if you do your own research and arrange your flights and rooms. At the very least, it’s a good idea to comparison shop online.


20. “Go with the flow. Sometimes you can use the spa’s shower and steam rooms even if you don’t get a treatment. After I work out, I forgo the tiny cabin shower for the far more spacious spa experience.

21. “Skip the spa on sea days. I’ve been on many cruises on various lines, and one thing they all have in common is that they offer spa discounts when the ship is in port.

22. “Book your own excursions. You can usually get the best deal on a day trip if you arrange it directly with a tour operator rather than through the cruise line.

23. “BYO wine. Carnival allows you to bring one bottle per person per cruise, so choose well. We recently carried on our favorite bottle of wine, which cost $110 at our local shop. We paid a $10 corkage fee in the restaurant and ultimately saved $180 since they had the same bottle listed for $300.

24. “A rum and Coke made with house rum is the cheapest alcoholic drink we serve ($4.75). The daily drink specials will cost you $6, and something like a piña colada will set you back $6.75


25. “Pack for every port. Before I leave home, I make labeled packets for each port. They contain excursion-specific items: maps, sunscreen, insect repellent, disposable cameras, confirmations…even shampoo to use after swimming.

26. “Avoid a midnight lock-out. Once you’re aboard, have the gift shop make a hole in your plastic room-key card (where it won’t interfere with the magnetic strip), and wear it on a lanyard around your neck. You won’t have to waste time waiting in line for a new card if you lose it.

27. “Baby-proof your cabin. Companies such as Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean are making things easier for families. A sampling of their most useful services: pureeing fruit for custom baby food, and lending toys or Pack ‘n Plays, which can double as cribs.


28. “Apples. When I told a fellow passenger that I was feeling seasick, she suggested I eat a green apple. It was like magic! Now I bring some along whenever I sail.

29. “Ginger. Candied ginger is such a good remedy that some ships offer it with after-dinner mints. We always pack a supply in a plastic bag.

30. “Oranges. If you’re feeling nauseous, peel an orange, hold the rind to your nose, and inhale. A waiter taught me this aboard a ship, and I was soon able to eat again.

31. “Acupressure. I keep Sea-Bands (bracelets that apply pressure to the inside of the wrist) in my purse at all times. They take up such little space and are surprisingly effective.


32. “Have breakfast in bed. The night before an early-morning excursion, order room service. You won’t get stuck in a long buffet line and risk missing your departure.

33. “Dine in, eat better. In destinations not known for their food, I’ll arrange for room service to arrive in my cabin as I reboard the ship from any outings. I end up saving money and avoiding a potentially bad meal in port.

34. “Snag a top table. Forgot to request that coveted table for two? You’d be surprised how easy it is to nab it. Just show up at the dining room before service starts on the first night, and be especially nice to the maître d’

35. “Score prime reservations. Some cruise lines—such as Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean—have started allowing guests to secure table assignments when they book their cabins. In fact, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean even permit you to make the request online, and Carnival lets repeat customers ask for their favorite servers.


36. “If you feel seasick, try these three tricks: Stay midship and as close to the waterline as possible (that area doesn’t rock as much as the front); lie down where you can see the horizon (this places your head in a fixed position); and eat pineapple. Why the last one? It tastes the same going up as it does going down.

37. “Reward good service. I bring thank-you cards. If a staff member is particularly helpful, I leave behind a card. Being positive encourages good service in the days to come.


38. “Go farther ashore. In Ketchikan, Alaska, I grabbed a seat at an Internet café right next to the ship only to find out that another place a few blocks farther away was half the price.

39. “Outsmart onboard Internet. To limit my use of onboard Internet—anywhere from 35¢ to $1 per minute—I type e-mails to friends and family on my laptop in advance. When I’m ready to send them, I log on and simply paste in the completed text.

40. “Roam on your terms. Before boarding, check with your cell provider to learn about the roaming charges you’ll be responsible for. Your plan may already include calls and e-mails throughout the U.S., Caribbean, and even farther afield. We were delighted to find that our flat-rate plan worked on several Caribbean islands—for no extra fee.” —Jana Riess, Winchester, Ky.

41. “Access your e-mail at the library. During a recent Alaska cruise, we found a city library with free Internet service for up to 30 minutes.


42. “Tension rod. Staterooms are notoriously short on closet space. A tension rod provides just the trick for hanging extra clothes, and it takes up very little room in your suitcase.

43. “Shoe organizers. I hang these on the bathroom door to prevent clutter in a tiny cabin. The compartments are perfect for stashing toiletries, documents, keys, and, of course, shoes.

44. “Portable radio. You would be amazed at the stations you can tune in to from your balcony, especially in Caribbean ports. Reggae, salsa, merengue…what comes on is always a surprise, and the news and commercials can be entertaining, too.

45. “Fragrance beads. A safe alternative to candles or incense, these pack neatly in a sealed container. Once you open the lid, the fragrance wafts through the whole room.

46. “Sticky notes. I’m probably known as the Post-it lady on most ships. I leave notes on the cabin mirror asking the steward for more ice, tissues, towels—everything. It works!

47. “Light sticks. I used to pack a night-light but couldn’t always find a convenient outlet. Now I hook a plastic light stick over the bathroom doorknob, where it provides a gentle glow through the night.

48. “Gift bags. Before my trip, I put together a bag of regional specialties from my hometown. Once I’m aboard, I give the present to our attendant, who is usually delighted and rewards us with great service.

49. “Tabletop mirror. If you’d rather sit to apply makeup and style your hair, as I do, you’ll find this a good use of suitcase space.

50. “Power strip. Many cabins have only one outlet, which is hardly enough if you plan to charge your laptop, cell phone, and iPod—and to blow-dry your hair.