50 Top Tips From the World's Smartest Cruisers

The art of cruising, like chess and cricket, takes time and expertise to master. That's why we asked some of the most well-traveled, cruise-savvy folks we know—hundreds of readers and a handful of pros—for their best advice.

17. Get carded Find out if your line offers benefits for signing up for its credit card. With Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, you earn points that you can redeem when booking cruises, resort nights, and flights. Paula Prindle, Orient, Ohio

18. Don't miss the boat! I like to fly into the port city a day or two before the cruise begins, especially in winter, to make sure that flight delays and cancellations don't wreak havoc. Anne Schweisguth, Swiftwater, Pa.

19. Editors' advice: Comparison shop Cruise lines try to make things easy by packaging airfare and pre-embarkation hotel stays. But you'll generally get better rates if you do your own research and arrange your flights and rooms. At the very least, it's a good idea to comparison shop online.

MONEY-SAVING TIPS

20. Go with the flow Sometimes you can use the spa's shower and steam rooms even if you don't get a treatment. After I work out, I forgo the tiny cabin shower for the far more spacious spa experience. April Icsman, Medina, Ohio

21. Skip the spa on sea days I've been on many cruises on various lines, and one thing they all have in common is that they offer spa discounts when the ship is in port. Rhonda Grabov, Philadelphia, Pa.

22. Book your own excursions You can usually get the best deal on a day trip if you arrange it directly with a tour operator rather than through the cruise line. Cindy Rucker, Cary, N.C.

23. BYO wine Carnival allows you to bring one bottle per person per cruise, so choose well. We recently carried on our favorite bottle of wine, which cost $110 at our local shop. We paid a $10 corkage fee in the restaurant and ultimately saved $180 since they had the same bottle listed for $300. Cheri Flores, Fort Worth, Tex.

24. From the pros: The Bartender "A rum and Coke made with house rum is the cheapest alcoholic drink we serve ($4.75). The daily drink specials will cost you $6, and something like a piña colada will set you back $6.75." Steve Martin (Jamaica)

TIME-SAVING TIPS

25. Pack for every port Before I leave home, I make labeled packets for each port. They contain excursion-specific items: maps, sunscreen, insect repellent, disposable cameras, confirmations...even shampoo to use after swimming. Deborah Plumb, St. Petersburg, Fla.

26. Avoid a midnight lock-out Once you're aboard, have the gift shop make a hole in your plastic room-key card (where it won'tinterfere with the magnetic strip), and wear it on a lanyard around your neck. You won't have to waste time waiting in line for a new card if you lose it. Sallie Clinard, Las Vegas, Nev.

27 Editors' advice: Baby-proof your cabin Companies such as Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean are making things easier for families. A sampling of their most useful services: pureeing fruit for custom baby food, and lending toys or Pack 'n Plays, which can double as cribs.

2831 Keep Your Sea Legs Four reader-endorsed seasickness cures

Apples When I told a fellow passenger that I was feeling seasick, she suggested I eat a green apple. It was like magic! Now I bring some along whenever I sail. Angie Evans, Bremerton, Wash.

Ginger Candied ginger is such a good remedy that some ships offer it with after-dinner mints. We always pack a supply in a plastic bag. Weyman Lew, San Francisco, Calif.

Oranges If you're feeling nauseous, peel an orange, hold the rind to your nose, and inhale. A waiter taught me this aboard a ship, and I was soon able to eat again. Rita McGuigan, Monroe, N.C.

Acupressure I keep Sea-Bands (bracelets that apply pressure to the inside of the wrist) in my purse at all times. They take up such little space and are surprisingly effective. Lisa Lowe Stauffer, Roswell, Ga.

DINING TIPS

32. Have breakfast in bed The night before an early-morning excursion, order room service. You won't get stuck in a long buffet line and risk missing your departure. Mirvet Sidhom, Quebec, Canada

33. Dine in, eat better In destinations not known for their food, I'll arrange for room service to arrive in my cabin as I reboard the ship from any outings. I end up saving money and avoiding a potentially bad meal in port. Deanna Chappell, Downingtown, Pa.

34. Snag a top table Forgot to request that coveted table for two? You'd be surprised how easy it is to nab it. Just show up at the dining room before service starts on the first night, and be especially nice to the maître d'. Christopher Wershoven, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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