Happy Monday, friends!
Today is a travel home day for us (just in time for our full-day coaching session tomorrow!) as we head back to the desert from our beach vacation. We can’t wait to share more about our week cruising and exploring all things Disney with you very soon, but now that we’re off the ship, we thought we’d share five essential tips for what to do (or not to do) for anyone who is thinking of cruising in the future! When we went to Europe two summers ago for our five year wedding anniversary, we shared a lot of what we learned along the way in hopes to help any fellow travel bugs (or aspiring travel bugs!) which you can find at the end of this post. Now that we’ve cruised three times with three different cruise lines, we thought we’d offer our five best tips once you get on the ship! If you’re planning a cruise in the near future, we hope these tips will get you the most out of your time (and money) on the high seas!
1. Eat in the Main Dining Hall
There are a few free dining options on cruise ships: room service, the food courts, or the main dining rooms. We always eat almost all of our meals in the main dining rooms. Why? Because it’s so much fun! The dining rooms remind us of Titanic. Multiple courses. A nice ambiance. Excellent five-star service. It’s really a blast! Plus, it gives a chance to slow down a bit and take in a nice meal and conversation without the hustle and bustle of some of the main concourses of the ship. If you’re looking to escape the busyness and enjoy a quiet meal, the main dining room is the place for you! Plus, the food is awesome and – even though it’s all you can eat – it’s served plated and in portions, which helps keep the overeating under control! Lastly, even though the menu looks set, you can totally swap things in and out and order really whatever you want. So, if you want a couple of appetizers, try a few! If you’d rather have mashed potatoes with your steak instead of a baked one, just say so! If the servers can accommodate something (as long as it’s not too outrageous) they will!
2. Take the Stairs
This one is HUGE! The average person gains something like 5-7 pounds while cruising, or about one pound per day. Yikes! Some friends who are really, really, really seasoned and experienced cruising veterans encouraged us to take the stairs everywhere instead of the elevator – and it totally paid off! We probably walked an average of 100 flights of stairs (easily) per day on our cruises, which helps with the daily calorie count!
3. Excursions Are Worth It
If there’s something really cool that you want to do or see, like swim with dolphins, definitely do it, but we recommend doing it through the cruise line. Yes, it’s totally true that you can do excursions through local vendors unaffiliated with the cruise line when you get off the ship, and sometimes it’s even cheaper and everything goes great. But here’s the thing: it can also go very wrong. If you do an excursion through one of the cruise line’s associated/affiliated partners (meaning you book it through the cruise line), if for some reason the excursion doesn’t get you back to the ship on time, the captain will hold the ship as long as it takes until you return. In the Caribbean a few summers ago, we swam with dolphins, which required us to take a one-hour small boat ride from the cruise ship to a separate part of the island. After swimming with the dolphins, we boarded the small boat to head back to the cruise ship… and the engine wouldn’t start. We actually had a wait a few hours for them to send another small boat to pick us up, so we were about two hours late for the captain’s all-aboard call. Fortunately, since we did our excursion through the cruise line, they called the captain as soon as they realized we’d be late getting back, and he held the ship until we did. If we hadn’t done that, we would’ve had to pay for a REALLY expensive last-minute flight to the next island to catch up with our cruise ship. You pay a premium for excursions through the cruise line, but we think it’s worth it, because it’s got a nice little insurance policy within it just in case something goes wrong!
4. Buy Wine by the Bottle
We love a good glass of wine with our meals. Amy’s a white drinker and Jordan loves all things red, so that’s the only place we spend extra money once we’re on the cruise ship, to have one glass each with our dinner, because if you’re having a great steak or a nice piece of fish, having the perfect wine to pair it with makes the whole meal complete! But what we learned is this: it’s cheaper to buy wine by the bottle than by the glass. An average glass of house wine will cost about $7, where a bottle costs about $28, but here’s the thing: each bottle gets you about 5 glass of wine. So, for the same price, you get a free glass by purchasing a bottle. Our hesitation with buying an entire bottle (at first) was this: we didn’t want to drink an entire bottle with one dinner! But the cool things about cruise ships is that they’ll cork and store your bottle of wine for you from night to night, so you can spread it out over the course of a few meals. Even on our Disney cruise, where we ate in a different restaurant every night, the wine bottle still followed!
5. Order Room Service at Least Once
It’s not the best food in the world, but it’s really fun! Plus, when other food options are closed, room service is still available 24 hours a day, and it’s completely complimentary! This can be especially fun on a Disney ship, where they have an amazing line-up of Disney movies running in the rooms all day (and night long!)
Well, friends, this concludes our travel series! We hope we were able to help you with a few travel hacks that’ll make your next trip or vacation just a little bit cheaper, smoother, and more fun! In case you missed any of our earlier posts, you can catch up with all of them here!
Looking for more travel tips? We’ve got ’em here!
Part 1: 5 Gear Essentials for the Traveling Photographer
Part 2: 5 Tips for Photographing your Vacation
Part 3: 8 Things to Consider When Packing for Europe
Part 4: 4 Tips for Eating Well in Europe (Without Breaking the Bank)
Part 5: 5 Money Must-Knows When Traveling Abroad
Part 6: 9 Tips Before You Board a Cruise Ship
Part 7: 5 Tips Once You’re on a Cruise Ship
Wanna catch up on our traveling adventures? You can see them ALL at a glance by clicking here!