6 Top-Secret Hacks for Planning the Ultimate Cruise Vacation

From booking to boarding to scoring free cash, a few simple tricks can take your cruise to the next level. Whether you’re a veteran cruiser or just getting your sea legs, we’ve got six can’t-miss hacks for your upcoming adventure. Give them a whirl on your next cruise, and you’ll be in for some very smooth sailing.

1) Seal a Steal of a Deal.

When you’re planning your trip, remember — air travel and cruise travel are two totally different beasts. Air travelers are accustomed to hefty fees for even the smallest itinerary changes. Typically, cruise lines impose no such fees. So here’s what you do — book early. Waaaay early. Booking a year or more in advance can net you seriously attractive discounts. But wait, there’s more! As your cruise approaches, monitor incentives and price changes like a hawk. If you spot a better deal on the same cruise — or incentives like cabin upgrades, beverage packages or onboard credits — you can cancel your existing trip and re-book to score a better deal. Since there are no punishing fees, you can save big or earn some awesome incentives. When it comes to booking, vigilance counts!

2) Toss Your Cookies.

So, you’re not paranoid about cruise lines tracking your online shopping behavior? It’s time to break out the tinfoil hat, friend. Travel companies absolutely track your online activity using cookies, tracking pixels and account logins. And when you look ripe for the booking, they go into price optimization mode. When you’re shopping for a cruise online, do the following: 1) Log out of Google and Facebook. 2) Delete your search history and cookies between browser sessions. 3) Install free tracking pixel blockers like Ghostery. Never heard of tracking pixels? Trust us on this one. You want those things GONE. Finally, book from your phone, preferably an Android model. Cruisers who book from a Mac or Safari browser can expect to pay more for everything from cruises to flights to hotel rooms. Seriously. We couldn’t make this stuff up.

3) Lowcation, Lowcation, Lowcation.

If you’re even remotely prone to seasickness, book a cabin on the lowest deck possible — preferably toward the middle of the ship. This area experiences minimal pitch and roll, even in inclement weather. To minimize your risk of queasiness, avoid the forward section of the ship at all costs. (And bring some Dramamine!) But don’t stop your location planning there. Thoroughly review the ship’s layout during your cabin search. Are you a light sleeper? Stay away from clubs, bars and gyms. Have limited mobility? Book near an elevator. And try to get a cabin nearest your favorite amenities. With a little foresight, you can scan, plan… and work on that tan!

4) Kick Things Off… With a Smart Carry-On.

Six hours. Or more. That’s how long it’ll take for your luggage to get delivered to your room. Why wait to enjoy the luxurious amenities available on your cruise? Pools, ziplines, and rope courses beckon from the moment you step on board. So come prepared. Pack a carry-on with your swimsuit, flip-flops and some sunscreen. Headed for the zipline? Pack a D-ring and some sneakers. And on a more serious note: bring a small, extra supply of important medications in your carry-on. If there are any delays with your luggage, you’ll have an emergency supply stashed just in case. Remember: Step on. Party on. With your carry-on.

5) Get Slots of Free Cash.

Got some onboard credit, but you’re not the gambling type? Here’s a hack that’ll have you printing free cash. (Well, almost.) Simply insert your cruise card into any slot machine. Load your loot onto the machine, and then… cash it out. Now, instead of wasting your credits on useless games and trinkets, you’ll be flush with cash for whatever you want to spend it on. Here’s a hint: Load that extra moolah into your wallet and use it to buy souvenirs in port. There, you can haggle for lower prices and get deals on genuine local merchandise. For cruisers who aren’t crazy about the one-armed bandit, this hack is right on the money.

6) Turn Your Shore Tour… Into a Tour de Force.

When you’re sailing the high seas, the last thing you need are logistical headaches. So when you board that floating pleasure fortress, have your shore excursions thoroughly mapped out. Do your research to find excursions that fit your travel style. Research pricing. And find a tour operator you can trust.

Independent excursion companies like Shore Excursions Group offer prices WAY lower than the cruise lines. With more than 3,700 excursions in over 300 ports worldwide, you’re sure to find something to your taste. Plus, you have two easy-peasy ways to book:

  1. Call an excursion expert at 1-866-558-9938. Tell them all about your interests and desires, then let them do the shopping for you. Excursion experts have their fingers on the pulse of the latest and greatest tour options. They’ll find you the best deals and connect you with the highest-rated excursions on your itinerary. Think of them as your excursion travel agent — with absolutely zero cost to you!
  2. You can also book amazing excursions online. At ShoreExcursionsGroup.com, enter your itinerary to discover incredible tours that align with your trip. Unlike other companies, their cutting-edge search engine matches you with tours departing and returning during your exact time in port. So you never have to worry about missing the ship — EVER. It’s frustration-free booking at its finest.

Ready to rock and roll?

Cruise over to ShoreExcursionsGroup.com or give your excursion expert a buzz at 1-866-999-6590. With the world’s best shore tours at your fingertips, you’ll be ready to chart a course for awesomeness on your next cruise!

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