Mistakes I avoid on cruises after spending 73 days on ships this year

I have been on many cruises this year and have learned some valuable lessons.
Lauren Mack

  • I spent over 73 days on cruises this year and there are a few things I won’t be doing next year.
  • I won’t pay for a room with a balcony and I won’t let the cruise lines choose my cabins for me to save money.
  • I will continue to bookmark issues and join loyalty programs to receive onboard credits and upgrades.

I learned a lot of time and money saving travel tips while sailing 73 days on six different cruise lines this year.

I have traveled throughout Asia, the Caribbean, Central America and North America and am excited about my 2024 sailings.

Here are the mistakes I plan to avoid making on cruises next year.

I forgot to check the cost of the cruise before making my final payment

I will usually contact the cruise line if the cruise is cheaper weeks after I have booked it.
Lauren Mack

You usually don’t pay for a cruise in full upfront, and the final payment is often due 60 days or more before departure.

However, I have learned to always check the current sailing rates before making the final payment. If they have gone down, contact your cruise line to request a price adjustment or refund of the difference.

If the price drops significantly after the last payment, you probably won’t get any money back, but you can often negotiate a room upgrade or credit toward a future cruise.

In September, I saw that my November cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line was discounted by more than 40%. I reached out to the cruise line and got a balcony stateroom for free.

Paying full price for a balcony or ocean view stateroom

I never used enough balconies to make them worth the money.
Lauren Mack

Reservation higherroom category on cruises is not paid.

I had a balcony stateroom on three cruises in 2023 and spent only minutes enjoying them. Spending less than an hour on the balcony doesn’t justify the extra cost to me.

Additionally, there are many free or cheaper ways to upgrade to a higher category cabin, such as searching for a price adjustment (as mentioned above) or bidding.

You forgot to pack the essentials for the cruise

Magnetic hooks are great for most cruise rooms.
Lauren Mack

I’ve gotten pretty good at packing for cruises and this year I’ve added more must-haves to my list.

Cruise cabins can be compact (and often have magnetized walls), so I maximize space by packing magnets with hooks. I use them to hang items like my key card lanyard, necklaces, and bag.

For the pool deck, I carry giant clips to keep my towel from flying away.

I also pack special clothes for formal and theme nights. Always check theme nights in advance as you never know what you will need.

Theme nights I’ve seen range from Disney Cruise Line’s Pirate Night to Virgin Voyages’ PJ Party.

I let the cruise line determine my stateroom

I don’t like to leave the placement of my cabin to chance.
Lauren Mack

While you can save money by letting a cruise line choose your stateroom location, I would still pay extra to choose a quiet room.

I usually choose cabins on the middle decks in the middle of the ship, which have cabins directly above and below them.

In these cabins I hear less noise from the ship’s propulsion and feel less motion when we encounter rocky seas.

Loyalty programs do not apply

Loyalty programs are great for earning benefits.
Lauren Mack

Several cruise lines offer loyalty programs that match your loyalty status from other lines—or even hotel chains—so you keep getting benefits.

I have benefited from MSC Status Compliance Programwhich matches my status from dozens of cruise lines, airlines and hotels, providing free benefits that vary by tier.

I once used my Gold status on Disney Cruise Line to reach the second highest status on MSC. I got a one-hour thermal spa pass and a free cocktail.

The Royal Caribbean Group Loyalty Match is also popular and offers shared status between the Celebrity Captain’s Club and the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society.

Purchase a separate insurance plan for each cruise

Sometimes you need to seek medical attention while on a cruise.
Lauren Mack

I purchased a separate insurance plan for each cruise, plane ticket and hotel stay.

It got expensive so I switched to an annual plan that covers various travel delays, interruptions or cancellations. There is even cover available if my companion or I become ill.

As a frequent traveler, this bundle plan has saved me money.

I forgot to deposit money on a future cruise while on the current one

I take advantage of onboard promotions for a deposit for future cruises on my favorite cruise lines.
Lauren Mack

Many cruise lines allow you to book your next sailing during a current one using deposits for future cruises.

I learned to take advantage of special deposits on my favorite lines. By booking my next cruise while I’m on the cruise, I usually get the best savings and onboard credits to use on future trips.

I also don’t have to book a specific sailing right away. I usually have at least a year to decide how to use my deposit.

The biggest risk is losing the deposit if I don’t book a cruise before the credit expires.

Not speaking up when things are wrong

If there is a problem with your cruise, don’t wait until you get home to raise it.
Lindsay Mack

Excursions and spa services are often non-refundable, but it’s worth speaking up if things aren’t right.

The key is to go to onboard guest services as soon as a problem arises. I learned that passengers have more options to arrange things while still on the ship.

I visited guest services several times this year, including when I took a trip with Holland America Line to Cartagena that was not as described. I received a 50% refund on the excursion.

I also visited guest services when I sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line and the air conditioner in my cabin broke. I was able to move to another cabin for one night and received onboard credit.

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