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13 Tips for Honeymoon Cruisers



Booking a honeymoon cruise is a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming when planning on top of a wedding. With these 13 tips, however, you can maximize your honeymoon cruise vacation and take advantage of some perks that you might not have otherwise known were offered.

1. Let the cruise line know

The first thing you should do when you book your honeymoon cruise is inform the cruise line (or have your travel agent do so) that it’s your honeymoon. In many cases, cruise lines will offer perks to honeymooners like discounted spa sessions, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne delivered to your room, a special treat from your waiters at dinner, and more. You certainly don’t want to miss out on these bonuses.

2. Request a private table

On your honeymoon, you want to dine alone for a more intimate, romantic dining experience, not have to force small talk with some strangers you got seated with. However, there are ways around this. You can request a private table in advance before your cruise through your cruise line or travel agent, but if you can’t get one then you can always speak to the maître d’ about your dining arrangements once onboard.

3. Take advantage of specialty dining perks

If your cruise line offers you specialty dining discounts as a honeymooner, be sure to take advantage of them. Otherwise, there are other discounts that are actually available to all cruisers but that honeymooners may overlook. For example, Carnival’s steakhouses offer a free bottle of wine if you book the steakhouse on the first night of the cruise. Try to do your research ahead of time, because every ship and line is different.

4. Use room service

Room service is not to be skipped on your honeymoon. Why fight the lido breakfast buffet crowds when you can sleep in with your new bride or groom and have breakfast delivered to your door? Just be careful with any fees – room service is free on most cruise lines, but there are a few exceptions as well as a few items on some menus that are à la carte.

5. Find the adults-only deck

Almost every ship these days has an adults-only deck. Find this deck, because it will likely be your go-to hangout spot. It beats laying out by the main pool where there are kids running around and making noise. For many honeymooners, there will be plenty of that in the years to come, and for others, that’s waiting for them when they return home!

6. Plan excursions in advance

Don’t get overwhelmed by your options once you’re already on-board. Chances are you’ve done your research on your itinerary anyway, so go ahead and figure out what you want to do in each port as well – including deciding whether you’ll book a tour through the cruise line, through a third party company, or whether you plan to explore on your own.

7. Don’t be afraid of alone time

It can be overwhelming for some couples to suddenly be attached at the hip immediately after saying “I do.” But here’s a secret no one tells you: it’s okay to want some alone time on your honeymoon! The gym and spa offer a perfect place to be “together” yet apart. Maybe he’s working out while you’re getting a facial. Or maybe she’s in the sauna while you’re getting a massage. This is your vacation after all, so make time to relax.

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8. Grab a map of the ship

It might seem like a no-brainer, but so many of us are just determined to be perpetually lost because we won’t pick up a ship map. Save yourself some time and trouble and pick up a ship map while you’re onboard so you always know where you are and what else is close to you around the ship.

9. Don’t forget the robes

I have been on several cruises where I’m packing up on the last night before disembarking and I finally see it – the bathrobe that was hanging there all along but was never used. Perhaps I always forget about it because in the closet it is out of sight, out of mind. But honeymooners would do well to remember to take full advantage of the comfort of these luxurious robes while they have the chance.

10. Book a balcony (or better)

I’m always one for saving money, but if this is your honeymoon cruise, I will throw out all arguments for an interior or even ocean view stateroom in favor of a balcony. This is your honeymoon, and you deserve to cruise in luxury. And if you want to spring for a higher-category balcony or even a suite, by all means do so. As a recent honeymooner who sailed in a premium vista balcony on Carnival Freedom, I fully recommend indulging when it comes to your stateroom.

11. Purchase the drink package

If even one of you is somewhat of a drinker, then trust me on this one. The onboard budget soars when every question of “Should I get this?” is followed by “Heck, it’s my honeymoon. Let’s go for it!” And by all means, I support this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity spending attitude. It is your honeymoon, after all. But purchasing a drink package is one way you can soften the blow of your final statement, because that way you at least know you won’t pay any more or less than the cost of the package. That being said, the value in these packages is usually well worth it, so I’d suggest getting one anyway.

12. Budget extra for pictures

Speaking of your budget, plan ahead of time to budget extra dough toward pictures. Some cruise lines even offer photo packages, which might be a great bargain as honeymooners to be able to purchase all your favorite memories without losing control of your spending.

13. Don’t sweat the small stuff

And by the way, it’s all small stuff. Don’t let things like long embarkation day lines, lido deck chair hogs, or the clueless guy that cuts you in the buffet line ruin your cruise attitude. You are on your honeymoon! Enjoy it with your new spouse – for better or for worse, as long as you both shall cruise.

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Travel Tips

5 Cruise Disembarkation Tips




cruise disembarkation tips The very last morning of your cruise is typically the dreaded one – it’s back to reality. While I don’t have any tips for extending your vacation (unless you are doing a back-to-back cruise), I can tell you how to get off the ship a little bit faster.

If you haven’t been on a cruise before, when it comes to disembarkation the cruise line will give you a luggage tag with a color or zone number on it, this tells you when you can get off the cruise ship and when your bags will be ready to pick up pier-side. 

Here are 5 cruise disembarkation tips:

1. Self-Assist

If you’re wanting to get off the ship early, do self-assist, this allows you to do walk off the ship with your own luggage. It usually starts around 7 am and 20-30 minutes later you’re on the pier. Keep in mind that you are responsible for all your belongings and the cruise line will not assist you.

2. Early Flights

If you have an early flight out, just register when the paperwork comes to your room and you’ll be allowed to get off the ship earlier. Once on a cruise that ended in Venice they were starting airport transfers at 4 am.

3. Talk to guest relations.

If you don’t have a flight and don’t want to do self-assist and lug your bags around, contact guest relations (usually in person) and tell them that you’d love to disembark the ship a little earlier. Guest relations will usually give you the luggage tag you need to get off the cruise ship earlier.

4. Luggage Valet Program

A couple days before you disembark you’ll have the option to do luggage valet from the cruise ship to the airport, where for a nominal fee (plus checked baggage cost) you’ll be able to forward the bags to the airport and check them to your destination. This generally works in US ports of call and Vancouver, Canada. The cost of this varies per cruise line but I’ve seen it for around $20 per person.

5. Have customs documentation.

You know when you’re in the airport and waiting for someone to get their stuff together to go through security? Well, it’s the same thing when you’re approaching the customs line. Have your documentation in hand and ready to go. It will make the line go a lot quicker for you and everyone behind you.

With these tips you should be able to slide off the ship a little bit earlier the next time you take a cruise vacation. Keep in mind that the early bird gets the worm, so as much as it may stink, plan your disembarkation before you get to the pier.

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7 Quiet Places on a Cruise Ship



Cruises are full of fun and adventure, including epic excursions like ziplining through a Jamaican jungle or parasailing over the open ocean. But sometimes vacation calls for some simple rest and relaxation, too. There are plenty of places on a ship to find peace and quiet.

1. Spa

On any ship, the spa is the pinnacle of calm and quiet. While almost every ship comes equipped with a sauna and steam room free of charge, you can also unwind even further by booking a spa appointment like a massage, acupuncture session, or facial.

norwegian escape spa cruise

Norwegian Escape spa

2. Library

Often overlooked, the ship’s library is a great room for escaping the hustle and bustle. Full of books and board games, it’s the perfect place for a quiet retreat. And if you’re lucky enough that your ship’s library has windows, you can enjoy the ocean views during your downtime.

Photo credit: Carnival

3. Inside on a port day

If you’ve ever stayed on the ship on a port day, you know that it can look like a ghost town. With everyone off and exploring the port of call, there’s no better time to take advantage of a quiet and nearly empty ship. Plus, you’ll get incredibly fast service at the bar!

4. Your room

While many say to get out and enjoy the ship, that argument could depend on what type of room you’ve booked. Balcony rooms, especially unique ones like aft balconies or cove balconies, offer the perfect excuse to stay in, bask in the sun on your own private piece of deck, and enjoy the serenity.

5. Adults-only deck

Carefree and quiet, the adults-only deck on a ship usually comes with extra comfy lounge chairs, a private bar, and a hot tub or two. If you’re looking to skip the sounds of the live steel drum band or the crowds from the hairy chest contest, this is easily one of the best places to enjoy the sun on the ship.

6. Secret decks

Believe it or not, you can always find a “secret” deck on any cruise ship. These are decks that are tucked away or rather difficult to get to, meaning almost no one uses them. For example, on many of Carnival’s ships, cruisers rarely take advantage of the solitude and open air on deck 3, which is directly under the lifeboats. Though you may not get the sun, you can enjoy plenty of peace and quiet – accompanied of course by the calming sounds of the ocean passing beneath. Many ships also have “secret” decks toward the front of the ship which many people don’t think you can access, so study your deck plans before you go to find out how to get to these.

7. Private lounges

Some ships have private lounges for certain stateroom categories, such as the Havana Lounge on Carnival Vista or The Haven on some Norwegian ships, to elevate your private, customized cruise experience. Also, some cruise lines reserve private lounges and even private restaurants on their ships for their most loyal cruisers, but you’ll have to have rewards with them already to get those benefits.

Where is your quiet place on a cruise ship?

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Travel Tips

My Cruise is Paid Off – Now What?



Congrats, you’ve completed the most difficult (and least fun) part of a cruise: paying for it. But, there’s still time until your sail date. Here’s what you should be doing in the meantime.

1. Print Out Cruise Documents

Cruise Terminal 1 Embarkation Area – photo: Port Canaveral

As soon as your payment has been made in full, you can go online and print out your boarding passes and luggage tags. It’s never a bad idea to print extra copies, either. (Somehow there’s always an extra bag at the last minute that needs a tag too.) Keep these documents in a folder for safekeeping until departure day.

2. Find Your Sailing Online


Online cruise groups are really popular, with several different sites hosting platforms for specific sailings. The site Cruise Critic has had forums called “roll calls” for years where people can search by their cruise line to find their specific ship and sail date. The same concept has transferred over to the ShipMate app as well as to Facebook. In these forums or online groups, members can chat about their upcoming cruise and plan a group meetup, which often happens at a popular bar on the ship right after the muster drill. On some Carnival sailings, John Heald, brand ambassador and senior cruise director, has even been known to send small gifts and prizes to the groups.

3. Start Your Packing List

photo credit: flickr/Nicole Hanusek

From swimsuits and sun hats to slacks and button-downs, packing for a cruise can get overwhelming. Making a list will make it a lot simpler. It will also ensure you don’t forget miscellaneous items like a reusable water bottle for those hot days on the lido deck.

4. Set A Cruise Price Drop


Setting a cruise price drop means that if the price of your cruise decreases from what you originally paid, you can get the difference back – usually in onboard credit. One of the best alerts is through the app ShipMate or, which will send you an alert when the price of your cruise, set to your specific stateroom category, increases or decreases. However, there are several other price drop alerts besides ShipMate, and you can always check yourself or have your travel agent do so.

5. Book Your Excursions 


If you haven’t looked at excursions yet, now is the time to do so. It’s better to book them before you board the ship because often the best and most popular excursions will sell out beforehand. If you’re booking an excursion through a third-party company, booking ahead of time is typically a must.

Browse 1,000’s of shore excursions here.

6. Explore Dining

Manhattan Dining Room aboard Breakaway.

As part of your pre-cruise planning, research all the dining venues on your ship. Make a list of the ones you want to go to and whether or not they have a surcharge. If they do, plan that into your onboard budget for guilt-free grubbing once onboard.

7. Prepay Everything You Can

These days, you can prepay almost everything for your cruise: gratuities, excursions, drink packages, specialty dining packages, and even wifi packages. The more you prepay, the lower your bill will be at the end of the cruise. Plus, by prepaying you can pay in installments rather than paying in one large lump sum at the end of your cruise.

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Make Reservations

With ships carrying more and more people now, making advanced reservations is becoming more popular. That includes reservations for spa treatments, theater shows, dining venues, and more. If there’s something you have your heart set on, make a reservation. There’s no harm in canceling it once you’re onboard if you change your mind. (The Chef’s Table is an exception to this and usually comes with a fee if you don’t cancel within a certain time frame.)

8. Double Check Travel Insurance

Carnival Horizon

Seriously, don’t leave home without travel insurance. There are countless horror stories from cruisers of innocent accidents or a simple illness that resulted in bills worth thousands of dollars from the ship’s medical center. You never know what may happen. That small price for insurance could save you tens of thousands down the line.

Read More: Why You Should Book Travel Insurance

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