Great, Little Known Cruise Hacks

Getting Money Off Your Onboard Account

If you have cruised much you have probably experienced onboard credits on your account. They can happen in a number of ways from refunds, advance payments, incentives or gifts. In some cases those credits will evaporate at the end of your cruise if not used. Rather than going on a spending spree there’s a way to quickly turn credits into cash.

Most cruise ships now have digital accounts in the casinos for playing slot machines. No more buckets of coins and no more pulling handles. The usual process now is to use your onboard account to put money on your casino account. To play a slot machine you insert a ticket or your room card and load money onto the machine. When you’re done playing or want to switch machines you cash out and the machine prints out your balance on a ticket.

Even if you aren’t a gambler you should take advantage of this hack. To cash out your onboard credit simply put it on the casino play account. Then to cash out simply take the balance ticket to the casino cashier and take the cash out.

Beating The High Cost Of Phone Service

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Onboard telephone service can cost $6 plus per minute and cell service only slightly cheaper. Talking with family or friends can cost hundreds of dollars while at sea, but there are options. First before you go cruising be sure and check with your cellular service provider and find out what services are available on cruise ships and what the costs are (learn more about cell service at sea HERE). Next, plan ahead and work out options with those you would like to stay in touch with. The best approach is to set up cell phone apps and coordinate using VoIP services. All cruise ships offer internet in various packages or by use that make VoIP service significantly less expensive than cellular. Even ships with slower internet are usually good enough for just voice calling.

Here’s a list of the top apps for making free VoIP calls:

  • WhatsApp – Cost: Free. WhatsApp is popular for messaging, but something most people overlook is that it supports video and voice calls. The service is popular and quality is very good. If you need to call actual phone numbers though, this app might not be the best option.
  • Facebook Messenger – Cost: Free. A great application, Facebook messenger includes support for SMS messages, voice calls, and video calls. It works best for text messages, the voice quality quality depends on how fast your Internet connection is. There is also Facebook Messenger Lite which often provides better voice service but only provides text and calls.
  • Google Duo – Cost: Free. Another video calling application Google Duo supports regular voice calls well. To use Duo everyone needs to be on the app. The voice quality is superior and it’s very simple to use. It’s free and is available on iOS devices and is often pre-installed on some Android devices.
  • Google Hangouts – Cost: Free. If you’re looking for more features like sending pictures, Google Voice number for phone calls, voicemail, and SMS texting this is a good choice but for simply making calls Duo may actually perform better.
  • Magic Jack and MagicApp – Cost: $10 to $15 per year. One of the more popular SIP/VoIP apps around it uses a an actual phone number to make calls. The app includes SMS support, landline support, and cross-platform support.
  • Skype – Cost: Free. It’s one of the most popular VoIP apps in existence with direct support for both Facebook and Microsoft and a massive user base. You can also use this app to send text messages and to make video and voice calls. And for a fee you can call landlines. It’s also available as a desktop application but seems to require more bandwidth for good voice quality than the above choices.

Book Your Next Cruise Onboard

All the cruise ships have future cruising offices onboard ready to help you plan your next sailing with them. Oddly too many people just ignore this option. Maybe they would rather deal with their travel agent or don’t think there’s any real savings to be found. Perhaps they haven’t decided where they want to go on the next cruise. Actually all of those excuses don’t have much merit.

In the world of travel we seem to be bombarded constantly with bargains of the day. Save 20% today only. Book now and get free stuff. We have an exclusive discount with XYZ cruises. It’s hard to take most seriously and the truth is you shouldn’t. Usually the deals are available to everyone regardless who you deal with. There are some exceptions to this and booking a cruise on board is one of these. Common specials only available when booking onboard include reduced deposits, extra onboard credits and stateroom upgrades. Even if you’re not sure what you want often there are future cruise coupons you can buy while onboard.

Next time you cruise go and have a chat with the “future cruise” staff. You might be surprised…

Bring Onboard Your Own Cabin Upgrades

While the newer ships are catching up with the times some older cruise ship staterooms are missing some important features. Get in the habit of packing a few essentials to avoid dealing with stateroom shortcomings.

A Nightlight – Newer ships now usually have a nightlight in the bathroom but you should’n’t expect older ships to have this feature. There are a number of motion activated, battery operated nightlights on the market and they don’t take up much space. Our favorite is one that recharges off a USB power port (at Amazon HERE).

Power Strips – Traveling with cell phones, tablets and laptops requires a lot of charging and older ships are seriously short on power outlets. Adding a power strip to your suitcase can reduce that charging logjam. Our favorite is a compact strip with a small extension cord and a couple of outlets and two USB charging ports (at Amazon HERE). One word of caution – sometimes ships have rules about extension cords and multi outlets and while there are situations where it could be an issue, the voltages involved with charging phones and tablets are low and not a proble. Just in case get in the habit of storing these in a drawer during the day to avoid problems.

Clothespins, Hooks and Laundry Soap – Rinsing out a few things while cruising can help you pack lighter and can save you money too. Packing a couple of travel packets of laundry soap like Sink Suds takes up no room (at Amazon HERE).

Plastic clothespins can help not just with hanging up some rinsed out items but come in handy keeping that beach towel in place on the pool loungers. Another item that can be worth its weight in gold is a wall hook or two. Magnetic hooks will usually stick to cruise ship metal doors and 3M Command hooks can be attached to walls and easily removed.

It’s amazing how important these item can be so make up a small package with these items and add it to your suitcase before your next cruise.

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