Planning a first-time cruise on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian soon?  Check out our cruise hacks and tips that show how to save money, optimize alcohol and dining prices, and ideas for packing organizational tools to make your cruise vacation easy and fun!

1. Find the right room for you

Picking the kind of cabin you’ll need is totally a personal preference. If you don’t think you’ll be in the room a lot, go inside cabin. No need to pay for a window/balcony if you won’t use it! If you’re claustrophobic (or just want a view of the water) but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for your room, consider an ocean view.

2. Tip your cabin steward on day 1 and explain what you like

You will learn to love your cabin steward. This is the person that’s in charge of making sure all things stateroom are taken care of for the week. Not only do they clean your room, but they make sure you have all of your convenience items. You can also request things like ice, towel animals, or even a fan for the room.

3. Tip your maitre de on day 1 and explain what you like

If you have any particular requests for the dining room, one of the first things we do is find the maitre de in the dining room, give them a small tip (remember, they’ll get their full tip automatically taken out of your cruise account after the cruise), and request any tables or food. We’ve been able to get private tables anytime we need them with the one.

4. Check to see if a tip has been automatically applied before you tip on purchases

There are times, your tip is included (or will be taken out of your account later) on a cruise.

5.  Turn on airplane mode as soon as you board

This can be a SUPER expensive mistake if you don’t know to do it! As soon as the boat starts moving, turn on Airplane mode, even if you’re planning on using an internet package on your devices. You’re going to be paying super high data rates.

6. Check with cell phone company if international roaming is free

Make sure your phone stays on Airplane mode even while you’re in port. If you do need access to the internet in port, try to find a Starbucks or a place guaranteed to have free Wifi.

7. Book your spa events on port days

You’ll usually find the cheapest rates on spa services (massages, manicure/pedicures, facials, etc.) when you’re in port. Check with your ship to see if there are any specials available

8. Go to the pool on port days

If there is a port you’re not that interested in, choose to go to the pool on that port day! It is empty and you’ll get choice of pretty much any chair/pool you’d like.

9. Buy your drink/dinner packages before you cruise

You’re typically going to pay more for upgraded drink/dining packages once you get on board. If you think this is something you’re going to want, check your cruise account often for specials. By doing this, you can save about $30/day off of your drink package. Also upgrade your dining on board

10. Join your cruise’s rewards program

Most cruise lines have a rewards program for past guests. This includes little perks on the boat (a cocktail hour, an appetizer, etc.) and usually pretty good discounts for future trips.

11. Look for art auctions for free champagne/appetizers

There are always art auctions that involve free champagne and/or appetizers. You don’t have to bid on anything to attend these auctions!

12. Order more than one dish at the restaurants

Don’t be afraid to try more than one thing when you eat at one of the on-board restaurants! Some of the upgraded restaurants won’t allow this, but just the basic dining room allows for unlimited appetizers, main course dishes, or desserts.