Here are five more cruise tips:
1. Pre-pay gratuities
When you book a cruise, you have the option to pre-pay your gratuities. This is a must for me because I want to track my cruise spending down to the penny. Consider pre-paying your cruise tips before you sail so you’ll be financially worry-free. $11 per-person per-day gratuity adds up, so take care of it before you sail.
2. First Aid
As much time as I spend away from home, the odds of me getting norovirus are stacked against me. I recently had a nice three-day bout of norovirus and it was no joke. From the time I first got diagnosed to three days later, it was total hell and I don’t wish it on anyone.
Pack a first aid kit, it could even be a zip lock baggie, with Imodium, Tylenol, cough drops, Benadryl and bandaids. Always expect the unexpected.
3. Pre-book shore excursions
This is a lesson I learned on both my first trips to Alaska and Europe, but it’s applicable to Caribbean ports too. Always pre-book your shore excursion. If you want to save a few dollars, look for third-party shore excursion companies like Shore Excursions Group or Cruising Excursions. By going third party, you’ll avoid the cruise line mark-up and get personalized service with a guarantee.
4. Arrive early
If you’re flying or driving to your cruise port, always plan on arriving early. As I write this I am sitting in the Fort Lauderdale airport waiting on a transfer to Port Miami. My cruise leaves today and I thought Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale is only a 45 minute flight, I’ll be fine cutting it close. Flight delays led to me arrive in Fort Lauderdale late and scrambling to get to the cruise pier.
Consider arriving a day early and booking a pre-cruise hotel. In Fort Lauderdale there are a couple good pre-cruise hotels that provide airport and cruise port transfers like Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale and Hilton Garden Inn.
5. Look for parking alternative
Every cruise port has parking alternatives with shuttle services to the cruise port. In Miami, there’s a park and cruise lot a couple blocks from the cruise pier for $6.99 per day (port parking is $20) or in Jacksonville, there’s Jetway Parking for as low as $5 per day (with an online coupon).
These are just a few cruise lessons I’ve learned in my travels over the past few months. I realize some of them are common sense but sometimes it takes someone reiterating common sense for it to click!