Cruising can be an amazing way to see new places and be able to thoroughly enjoy how you get there.  Who doesn’t like waking up in a new destination, rested and ready to explore?  Cruise lines do however have some dirty little secrets they don’t want people to know about.  This post will help you to navigate the world of cruising.

In Port Gift & Jewelry Stores

Almost all the gift and jewelry stores at the ports are owned by the cruise lines.  This is especially true for Caribbean and Alaskan cruises.  They may all look different with different prices but do not be fooled.  I would ask a local or a tour guide if you are interested in supporting a local establishment.  

Onboard Shopping

While ships will do their best to lure you into the many shops on the ships with promises of great deals.  Their duty-free and on board shopping is almost always more expensive than off the ship.  The only exception to this rule is alcohol depending on what you are looking for and your country of origin.  Be smart and skip the onboard shopping.  

Daily Automatic Gratuity charge

Each cruise line will charge you a daily service gratuity amount per person in your cabin.  On our last cruise, that amount was $14 per day per person.  That means for a family of 4 you are tipping the staff just under $60 each and every day.  If you are gone on a 7-day cruise, that is over $ 400 for the week just in tips! This is not the secret, however,  the secret is you can opt to not pay this charge by telling guest services you will be tipping staff yourself. 

18% Automatic Tip

Most cruise lines include an 18% automatic gratuity to all of their bills.  This goes for restaurants, the bars, spa and often creeps up on other bills as well. Just be aware they are getting a very generous tip in my opinion so there is no need to tip more unless you feel so inclined. 

Casino Play for a Free Cruise

Spending a lot of money in the casino can get you a free cruise. The best way to go about doing this is taking a few thousand dollars and playing in the high roller areas.  If that is not your style, playing in the regular casino area can also do the trick, but make sure you get a loyalty/players card so they know what you have spent.  Each cruise has different thresholds but generally a few thousand will do the trick.  Sometimes you can get invited to cruises that are worth more than you have spent at the casino and you will often be the first to get upgraded.  

Do you know any other hidden cruise secrets?  Share them below! Will you use any of these tips on your next cruise?

Can’t get enough?