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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.

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 Emails real quick.  Boy that was HARD for a social media addict like me!  But I survived it. 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.  #hackeralert

A cruise can be fun, but you can WASTE a lot of money and gain a lot of weight. Helpful tips for both issues.


The word of the day is just SKIP IT.  Yes, gambling is fun and I like to play the slots 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 of the competition.  You can walk out 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 just meet some new people.


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.

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Next up – let’s talk my favorite part – excursions


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28 Comments on Enjoy a Cruise Without Going Broke or Getting FAT

  1. We are planning a cruise for next year, my first one ever! I haven’t read about choosing the cabin location above or below the dining room! I’ve written that down and plan to go through the other cruise posts for golden eggs like that one. I don’t like being unprepared for travel so I appreciate the helpful tips!

    • I’m so happy I could help. That’s why I love writing these posts – to help first-time cruiser like you. Hope you have a LOVELY time!

  2. I’ve been on one cruise and it was with a group and we had a great time. The only thing that bugged me was having to ask for water at breakfast and lunch. I don’t drink soda and it seemed like they were bothered when the “may I have some water? ” request was made.
    Other than that, it was a fun experience that we’d like to repeat.

    • That’s awesome. Cruises are so much fun. I’m dying to go on another one, but we needed a new fridge this year – ours was older than my oldest son, so it was time!

  3. Adrain, I got so much help reading your cruise helpful hints. I am getting ready to go on my very first cruise ever. “sister cruise” with quite a few women in our family. I am so looking forward to it. I thought I would let you know something I found out by talking to the man that is setting it all up for us. He informed me that they no longer let you take your own water bottles on board. Too many people were exchanging the water for clear booze. So they will throw the water away. This is what he told me on 1/18/2016. But the price for a case of water that can be delivered to your room is $2.99. That is not bad at all, really. Well, just wanted to give the heads up about the water.

    • That sounds SO fun! I bought the case of water last time I was on board and I found it very helpful, especially as I’ve recently given up soda and I’m not much of a drinker, so feeling like I needed to use it all up gave me good encouragement to stay hydrated.

  4. Adrian, I have never been on a cruise, but you give a ton of amazing information here. I don’t think I could ever do an interior room because I’m claustrophobic. The balcony sounds right up my alley. I also don’t like the concept of being nickeled and dimed for everything. Does it feel that way?
    I do love the picture of you underwater. I would definitely buy one of those. And no wi-fi on the ship? Is that true? I think that would be difficult for a travel writer. Any wi-fi alternatives you can think of?
    I’m still on the edge about taking a cruise. I really like to control my own itinerary and I don’t know if I could be on someone else’s schedule (yes, I’m completely type A, LOL).
    Great post, stopping by from SITS!

    • Hi Kirsten – Yes on the balcony. You would feel very crowded in an inside room. If you follow my tips, I don’t think you will feel nickeled and dimed. It is nice to not have to be tipping people all the time like you do at a resort or elsewhere. There is WiFi on the ship, but it’s very pricey. What I usually do is visit the ships Internet cafe a couple of times during the trip. You can buy a package of so many minutes, so I set a timer on my phone and only allow so much time. It’s not cheap, but what you can do is create your post on a tablet or something and then just upload it. I would say go ahead and give it a try. You are never required to stick to any particular schedule – there are always different choices, and a cruise is just so wonderful!

    • Prepare your posts and have them ready. When you are in ports, use their wifi. Ask crew where they go to use wifi. If you must use wifi on the ships, use it very late, or when others are off the ship. It can be very slow, which makes it more expensive during prime usage times.

  5. We are considering our first cruise in 2016. My husband is very leery about the whole thing, but I’m looking forward to it. Noise is always my biggest problem when i travel, but I’ve learned to bring my Bose earphones along and that helps. Thanks for all of these tips. Maybe I’ll check back in as we get closer:)

    • I hope you really enjoy your cruise – they are SO wonderful. I did notice a bit of a problem with noise because I was right by a metal plate in the hallway and I would hear people dragging their wheeled bags across it sometimes, but I could always have asked to be moved to another stateroom and they probably would have moved me. If there’s anything I can help with, by all means, let me know. There are also chatboards with the cruiseline where you can ask any kind of cruise-related question and the really experienced cruisers will help you.

  6. I’ve never been on a cruise, they scare me a little. All of the things you listed sound like a good idea to me. I would’ve never thought to use my flier miles.

    • Awww, don’t be scared – all that stuff you hear about on the news is like one out of a thousand cruises. They are perfectly wonderful most of the time.

  7. I love cruising! You included some great tips. Sometimes I like to organize my own excursions before the trip. It is often much cheaper, and I can have more flexibility with my time. But I also love the convenience of not having to worry about that. Just set it up and let the ship organizers deal with it. Either way, splurge on the ports of call. Best advice!

    • I agree. I do about 50/50 and I’ve never gone wrong, but I think for first-time cruisers they will feel more comfortable going through the Excursion Desk. But yes, defintely enjoy the ports – there are so many wonderful experiences waiting!

  8. I’ve never ever been on a cruise, and don’t know if I’ll ever make it onto one, but if I did go, I know that having the coolest experience for a not-insane amount of money would be really important to me. The idea of having a balcony room sounds amazing!

    • Rachel – I hope you and Angel can make it onto a cruise one of these days. They are so much fun and they really can be pretty affordable if you’re smart about it. I would love to take one of the Chinese cruises that goes around to all the major seaports – that would be marvelous.

  9. This is such a complete, and useful post. We’ve never been on a cruise. (well since I was on one with my parents as a little girl) Now that our kids are older, we started considering them. I love how you broke down your room choices, the restaurants, and excursions.Great post! Saying hi from Sharefest. XOXO, Elif

    • Thank you Elif – I’m so glad you visited. And I’m pleased that you enjoyed my post. I hope you will have a chance to make use of these tips.

  10. Great post, Adrian. Good reminder as we’re taking the kids (now adults) on a family cruise next January. You’re right about the food – I think you have to go into training to eat the amounts they set in front of you.

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