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What’s Included in a Cruise?

What’s Included in Your Cruise (video)

Travel and cruise questions are some of the items that come into the TravelingMamas.com inbox. Recently, I answered this question on air with WAFB, a Baton Rouge area news station. One thing I realized during the interview is that the time was way too short to get all the juicy details mentioned. If you have travel questions you’d like answered on air, be sure to send me an email to Travel at WAFB dot com. If you’re planning your first cruise, these tips may help save you a few dollars.

Q: When travelers book a cruise, what exactly are they paying for?

Every cruise line is different, but most include the same basics – your cabin, meals (at certain restaurants and some cruise lines include room service), taxes, tea and water, some entertainment and limited child care. You can opt to book your shore excursions in advance and pay for gratuities ahead of time. This eliminates the bulk of your cruise costs so your can relax and not have to worry about major expenses.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make when cruising?

Sitting by the pool and ordering drinks can really add up. So can the professional photo ops located around the cruise ship.

Q: Some families bring their kids on a cruise. What about childcare and kid’s activities?

First, be aware that all cruise lines (except Disney) do not change diapers, so if you’re little one isn’t potty trained, you cannot use the childcare onboard. Also, be sure to check with the cruise line before booking, but most do not allow children under 6 months of age to cruise. Kids clubs vary by cruise line, but those most conducive to families are Carnival Cruise Line (Camp Carnival), Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean. On sea days, kids activities are included in your cruise rate, but during the evening hours and port days there will be extra charges for the under 12 age group. Read what my teen and tween had to say about kids cruising on the Carnival Fantasy.

Q: Do you have any advice to help travelers save money or any tips when cruising?

Again, watch the alcohol intake. Check individual cruise line rules, but you ARE allowed to bring aboard a certain amount of soft drinks, bottled water, and limited bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin. Set charging limits for your children (or even yourself if you’re worried about overdoing it). For couples wanting to AVOID kids, choose a cruise line such as Princess (the Love Boat cruise line) for a romantic cruise or cruise when school is in session. A secret term in the industry is Dead Week – the week after Thanksgiving and the week after New Year’s. These are some of the best times to cruise as there are free upgrades, onboard credit specials, and all around deals. Be sure to check out ThemeParkMom’s tips for saving money on a cruise.

Q: What are some other resources for cruise tips?

Besides TravelingMamas.com, my two favorite cruise sites are CruiseDiva.com and CruiseCritic.com. If you’re searching for a way to give back while on your cruise, be sure to check out TogetherforGood.org and Cruise4Haiti.

Be sure to send your travel questions to WAFB.

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  1. We are thinking about going on a cruise next year, and I had no clue about the diaper deal. I hope that our 2 year old will be potty trained by then, but just in case. Thanks for this great information!

  2. For a romantic cruise, without the children, consider an all-inclusive cruise from Regent, Seabourn or Silversea. The price might appear steep at first, but when you factor in that alcohol and tips are included the cost seems more reasonable. Also, many all-inclusive cruises offer 2 for 1’s on crossings and repositionings, free airfare and free excursions. It pays to compare.

  3. These tips are great and very helpful, thanks! I would add that if you’re planning shore excursions or even if you’re cruising to a specific destination to stay for a while, I’d suggest planning your transfer from the port to your final destination well in advance. Not knowing how you’re going to get from the port could cause you to spend a lot on the spot if you end up taking a taxi or cruise liner transfer. Or you may find yourself stuck with huge crowds and lines trying to grab seats on shuttles, buses or trains.

    I usually suggest reserving a private transfer, like through a local car hire or limo company. You can schedule your pick-up in advance and avoid the hassle of fighting through crowds with luggage and family members for seats. It’s also quiet and peaceful after a few days (or longer) on a full cruise ship. It may be a little more expensive than public transportation, but it will help you save in the long run when the mileage isn’t adding up on a cab’s meter.

  4. Good tips to enjoy your cruise without worrying too much about the cost. I’ve never been on a cruise, but funnily eneough it’s my teenage daughter who’s not nagging me to try one as she likes the idea.

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