Upgrade your cruise for barely anything!
You’ve snagged the perfect cruise for a great price. But now it’s time for the upgrades. Most cruises charge extra for just about everything, from the soda package to the window in your room to the Internet. Still, there are a few secret ways to get a free (or low-cost upgrade) that aren’t advertised. We discovered these little tricks by cruising on just about every cruise line.
Top Picks for You
On Seabourn cruises, black caviar isn’t typically on any menus, but that doesn’t mean it’s unavailable. Caviar is free for passengers sailing Seabourn: You just need to request it. You may order it at any meal, via room service–or even get it delivered whenever, wherever you are, totally free. My daughter ordered it poolside daily and even got seconds without anyone batting an eye.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Cruises aren’t exactly known for their mattresses, but you can request an egg crate pre-cruise or during the cruise gratis. This has been a perk on every cruise we’ve tried, and they totally make a difference to the mattress. Your room steward will deliver it, add it to your bed and remake the bed at no extra charge.
Traveling with a CPAP machine, a.k.a. a snoring machine? Don’t bother dragging your distilled water with you on the plane and onto the cruise. Contact your cruise ahead of time, and they’ll deliver distilled water to your room gratis. Forgot to tell them? Just alert your room steward, who will handle the distilled water stat.
This may be the best upgrade we have ever discovered. On all Princess ships, self-serve laundry is free. Even the laundry detergent is free. The washers? The dryers? The ironing station? All free, and any time we’ve gone to their laundry rooms (there’s one on each stateroom floor), we’ve snagged a washer and dryer without a wait. Do as many loads of laundry as you want. It may not sound too tempting to do laundry on your vacay, but when you run out of socks or want to run a load before you fly home, it’s an amazing option to have.
You didn’t expect to feel queasy on the ship, but then it started rocking. Head to the medical station to pick up free seasickness medicine. While all other medicine and medical advice will cost you, most ships provide seasickness meds and bands for free when requested.
Most ships today have specialty restaurants with a surcharge for dining. Want to go to a specialty restaurant without paying extra for it? Some, like Johnny Rockets on Royal Caribbean, offer it free as long as you go for breakfast, though they charge for lunch and dinner. Others charge significantly less for lunch, such as Pinnacle Grill on Holland America or Giovanni’s Table on Royal Caribbean. If you want a specialty restaurant for dinner but are looking for a deal, try booking on the first night of your sailing, as many cruise lines offer a discount for this. Carnival provides a bottle of house wine on the house at the Steakhouse, for example.
Skip the Buffet Line
Those buffet lines can get very long, especially during lunch on your first day. So, skip them. On Princess, you can order complimentary room service to wherever you want on the ship via your medallion, so there’s no need to wait in line at a buffet or get up from your spot when you’re playing a trivia game.
The cruises offer fancy spas and treatments for a hefty sum. What they don’t advertise, however, is that you’re usually welcome to use their saunas and fancy showers for free—even if you don’t have a spa appointment. You may use the steam rooms and saunas on Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, MSC, Oceania, Regent, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea. On Princess and Holland America, you may use the spa shower.
If you didn’t get the alcohol package but still want to drink on a budget, go to every single art auction. These auctions, which occur throughout the week on nearly every cruise line, offer free champagne as long as you watch the auction. There’s no pressure to bid, buy, or spend a penny, so sit, grab a glass, and read a book.
Going on a super cold cruise, such as Antarctica? Before you stuff your luggage with winter coats and boots, contact your cruise line to ask what’s provided. In nearly all cases, your winter coat and boots will be waiting for you in your room, as the cruise line wants to make sure you’re warm enough (and they know which coats and boots will provide you with enough warmth to actually enjoy your cold-weather trip).