So if you follow me on social media you’ve seen me posting pics about going on an 11-day cruise to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Antigua, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas on Carnival’s new ship The Vista with my 20 year old son. I’ve been on a Norwegian 7-day cruise with my kids but this really felt like a vacation.
I want to share with you my money saving tips so when you’re ready to take a cruise you will still have money left when you return.
TIP NUMBER 1:
I am so grateful that cruises leave from New York which saves me so much money on airfare. If you live in New York take advantage of the cruises and you’ll see just how much extra money you will have. I only spent $20 to take a cab from my apartment to the port.
TIP NUMBER 2:
You do not want to be disappointed or embarrassed when you check in and they tell you birth certificates are not allowed to travel. Have a passport or get what my son and I have: An enhanced license (permit, or non-driver ID) is a New York State DMV issued document that you can use instead of a passport to return to the US by land or sea from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean.
TIP NUMBER 3:
The first picture that the cruise member takes before you board the ship is the best picture. Even if you think you don’t want it let them take it, then look at it on your he app andi guarantee you will want it. I also allowed cruise members to take one picture of us at each destination. I don’t care what kind of camera you have their pictures always come out perfect. I also took home one in black and white which I didn’t know they could do. They are not expensive at all.
TIP NUMBER 4:
Eat, eat and eat. It’s all included. Why would you not want to eat? Food is available all day. Some of the restaurants charge you to eat but you don’t have to eat there if you don’t want to. Also there were times when we didn’t want to get up early to go eat so I would order free room service for basic stuff like croissants, bagels, muffins, coffee, tea, fruit, cereal, etc.. After that if we wanted the hot breakfast we had till 11am to get it. So take advantage of free room service for breakfast only. On port days it would take longer so my advice get up and go eat before leaving the ship. Also don’t forget to tip for room service!!
TIP NUMBER 5:
Excursion: a going out or forth : expedition, a usually brief pleasure trip, a trip at special reduced rates.
For some people these excursions are planned in advance and can cost quite a bit depending how many people you are traveling with and what exactly it is you want to do. There’s lots of things to do from snorkeling, horseback riding, party boats, beaches with access to spas, scuba diving, and shopping trips. You name it they’ve got it. There was one port we couldn’t stop at because of flooding so refunds were given.
For others they just want to stay on the boat no matter what. Then you have some who want to hop on a free trolley like we did and do your own sightseeing and shop and just be a tourist with the people you’re traveling with. All the money I could have spent on an excursion we used to shop and unless we wanted to try the local cuisine we were nearby the ship where we could go back on have lunch, drop off our bags and head back out again or stay on the boat and enjoy the pool and other rides while the ship was empty. Remember there are things going on in the ship for those that don’t want to leave. At certain ports there are roundtrip boats that take you to the beach for $7 per person and you could also do shopping there as well.
TIP NUMBER 6:
Never leave the ship without your coupons.
I had so many coupons to take with me during our port stops that I collected so much free jewelry and gifts I didn’t have to spend a penny. Even on the cruise there are events where you can win raffles for jewelry, pairings and even a free cruise. Make sure you always check your mail, redeem your coupons and attend the seminars to get even more coupon books and freebies. Some of the coupons can even be used when you come back so don’t throw them away. It was great to walk into a retailer and get a free gift without having to purchase anything even though they will try to get you to look at the expensive jewelry. It’s still cheaper to purchase souvenirs off the ship if you’re taking gifts home. Coupons are also good on the ship too.
TIP NUMBER 7:
Your room key (sail and sign card) is your identification card on and off the ship, your money card and your card to turn on your lights in your room so don’t lose it. I purchased a sparkly necklace or neck rope to attach it to. If you don’t want to spend any money download the ship’s app which you’re gonna need anyway and show it to the shops and they will give you a free necklace to attach your room key to. The first day you board you can link a credit or debit card to your room card and it can be split between you and your family or you can have control of all the purchases. A minimum of $200 is what you should start with. I had mine linked with my son so he could make his own purchases.
Drinks can be purchased at the bars, games can be played, snacks from other shops, etc.. I didn’t purchase a soda plan in advance because we don’t drink soda and it was too expensive. There is free coffee, tea, juices, cold lemonade, iced tea and water so we were fine. You must be 21 to drink alcoholic beverages . There is also a liquor package which I didn’t purchase. It was cheaper to buy a drink here and there.
Here’s another great TIP. When you order room service ask for a pitcher of water then keep that pitcher for your entire trip and keep refilling with water to keep at the table or bring back to the room so you don’t have to make double trips carrying cups of water. Make sure you keep the pitcher in the fridge so housekeeping doesn’t take it. We stayed hydrated for 11-days. Also guests used sports bottles.
TIP NUMBER 8:
Some people pay for tips and gratuity during the booking of their trip. You don’t have to. You can do it 2 days before the trip ends. You can let the cruise add it on to your bill which they will do anyway. If you feel you need to dispute the price let them know in person and they will remove it and you can ask for envelopes and leave what you feel is right for each employee like housekeeping, bartenders, room service, etc.. I feel like I made personal connections with everyone so I handed enevelopes to individuals.
TIP NUMBER 9:
If you see the prices of the spa on the cruise you might want to think again. I’m not saying don’t do it just me personally I got a better deal by bringing my own facial treatments with me. I spent less than $5 at Target and had the best peel off facials ever! I got to relax in my Carnival robe and meditate or watch tv, listen to music or just take in the ocean and didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars. Now if you want a massage or botox or something else then I suggest you hit the spa. The hot tub is free too.
TIP NUMBER 10:
Be sure the person you take is someone you will get along with. Believe it or not there were people arguing on vacation.
My 20 year old son was the perfect choice. I love all my kids and it was hard to not have all of them there but I knew my son really needed this as much as I did. He’s a hard working young man and I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. He doesn’t ask for much and he’s just the sweetest, funniest, polite, mellow person. Everyone complimented him on his manners and how he was the best dressed person they ever saw. They also asked him about how he does his hair. He really enjoyed himself and took great pictures, got on a ride with me on board and took advantage of rest and relaxation. We laughed, shopped, explored, ate our bellies full and just enjoyed every moment. He enjoyed Guy’s Burgers the most. I treated him to milkshakes, candy and video games and we also enjoyed a comedy show on board. We liked the fancy dining rooms as well. THANK YOU FOR BEING THE SON THAT YOU ARE AND HANGING WITH YOUR MOM!
TIP NUMBER 11:
To dress or not to dress that is the question.
There are evenings when you can choose to dress up and dine or have dinner with the Captain or just wear casual clothes and eat casually. Some people really dressed up with sparkly evening gowns, tuxedos, high heels, etc.. I knew I didn’t want to dress up so I just came with regular sundresses and opted for casual dining. There were also themed nights like where you wear all white, or 90’s party, etc.. Those were fun. You can get the scoop of that online ahead of time so you know what to pack.
TIP NUMBER 12:
Our room was great. We had two twin beds, two bathrooms and lots of storage space, a couch and tables and tv. We also had a window view of the ocean. Didn’t need a balcony and the bottom level we were on we didn’t feel the motion of the ocean as much as other people. We were on Deck 1 , Starboard 1417 AFT-S.
TIP NUMBER 13:
I do not like checking my luggage. I don’t like the fact that my luggage sits in front of my door while I’m not in my room. There were luggage missing from rooms days later that were never found that had wallets, medicine or electronics in. I rather we take our own luggage to our room. Nothing missing, nothing to worry about. If it’s not a hassle take your luggage yourself and don’t have your wallet, medicine, purse or electronics in it. Keep that in your carry-on.
TIP NUMBER 14:
Carry a small umbrella whether you think you need it or not. It felt like 100 degrees and I was so thankful I had that extra protection from the sun along with my sunscreen, hats and shades. We also got some rain at a few ports. Umbrellas are your friend. Never leave home without it.
TIP NUMBER 15:
Don’t forget your portable chargers. As a blogger I never leave home without it. You don’t want to miss that great shot or miss talking to loved ones when you dock because you didn’t fully charge your phone.
Depending where you go on your cruise you might not get Wifi when you dock so don’t get mad unless you’re willing to pay for it or sit somewhere where there’s free Wifi which is at a restaurant.
On board the ship Wifi plans vary. There’spackages to choose from like social media packages or internetand email packages, etc.. When using Carnival’s app on board you will not be charged. It’s free. This app really comes in handy when you want to know what’s going on daily on board and to order your pictures, etc. We were too busy enjoying ourselves to worry about using our phones so when we did get a signal then that was a good time to speak to family and send pictures.
TIP NUMBER 16:
Magnets, coffee mugs and postcards make great souvenirs. Inexpensive and you can find them anywhere. Also don’t forget the clothing factories like Polo Ralph Lauren which was my favorite. Amazing deals.
TIP NUMBER 17:
There’s so much to do on board you will always be busy unless you just want to relax. There’s drive in movies, bingo, casino, comedy, seminars, spa, exercise classes, gym, pools, saunas, rides, water slides, dancing, karaoke, scavenger hunts and that’s just some of the things you can do.
TIP NUMBER 19:
Double check before leaving for your cruise to make sure you have everything and double check before leaving the ship as well. You’d be surprised how many things get left behind.
TIP NUMBER 20:
Always listen for announcements from the cruise director or Captain. The television also have announcements so pay attention and you can follow the map on the tv to see where your next destination is.
HAVE FUN ON YOUR NEXT VACATION!! WE CANT WAIT FOR OUR NEXT CRUUSE!!!
Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. Opinions are mine 100% as always.