CELL PHONE/COMPUTER USE
Just suck it up and skip it. I’ve researched this with lots of very experienced cruisers and they all agree. Just don’t do it. Put your phone in airplane mode and leave it in your pocket. Even if you don’t make a single phone call or send a text, just your apps updating will generate a big bill through Cellular at Sea. You won’t even know it until you get home and get your next cell bill. It does feel weird for the first few days, but it is nice to be fully present and actually TALK to people for a change instead of having everyone’s face stuck into their phones.
And the Internet on board is deliberately SLOW because they charge per minute. I would buy like 20 minutes of on board time to just skim my messages every couple of days and answer any important ones. When the time went off, I shut it off, but boy that was HARD for a social media addict like me! When you get ashore, you can find an internet cafe or a restaurant with WiFi but be CAREFUL of your passwords in a foreign country.
The word of the day is just SKIP IT. Yes, gambling is fun and I like to play the slots and roulette as much as anybody, BUT there is one huge difference between a typical casino and a shipboard casino – a regular casino has to keep their odds to a reasonable level because you can walk out the door and another casino is right next door. However, on a ship, you are a captive audience and they KNOW IT. You will never find worse odds than on board a ship.
I’ve never tried gambling in a port, but they probably have it in most countries. Ask a crew member where a safe casino is with good odds. They know, believe me.
And bingo – Hmmmm. $25 bucks a card and there’s like a 100 people playing at once? Yep, that sounds like GREAT odds to me – NOT! There’s so much else to do. Bring a good book or a deck of cards or play some solitare on your tablet (in airplane mode!).
Every ship has a gorgeous spa and a gym and they offer everything you can imagine to do – for a PRICE. Probably about double what you would spend at home. This is a very profitable operation for the cruise line. Take a walk (or a run) around the deck for free and there are tons of beauty salons in the ports where you can actually get a good deal on that mani/pedi or massage.
There’s a reason every ship has one or even two formal nights – it’s a big money maker! They make money on the spa for manicures and hair, they make a lot of money on the photos, and they make even more money on tux rental.
That’s OK, let them make money off everyone else. You can opt to skip the formal scene altogether (although it IS usually lobster night!) or you can do your own hair and makeup and bring some semi-dressy clothes from home. We found a local tux shop and rented a tux for the week or less than the onboard shop charged for one night’s rental (and had a better selection!). Captive audience = can you say Ca-ching!
Most ships (maybe ALL ships now) have specialty restaurants, like a steakhouse, sushi place, and/or Asian fusion options – sometimes with a famous chef in tow. Personally, I’m not a foodie, so this was completely baffling to me. All the food you could possibly want comes with the price of admission, so WHY would you want to pay extra for more food?
But if you ARE a foodie and would really enjoy something like this, or if its a special occasion, then I’d say go for it. You’re on vacation after all. Just be aware of the additional expense and plan accordingly.
Next up – let’s talk my favorite part – excursions