Many of us look at cruises as being the “ultimate form of travel.” At the same time, cruising can be expensive. So, here are a few cruise tips to help you streamline your vacation planning process and save money along the way.

 

Cruise Tip #1: Read Your Cruise Contract

The most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your cruise vacation is read your entire cruise contract and all related documents so that you understand your cruise line’s terms, conditions and policies.

As you read, you will learn about cancellation procedures, refund percentages, loss and damage liability limits and other key information. Reading the cruise contract will give you the information you need to decide what to pack, which type of travel insurance to buy and whether you should sail on that cruise line or choose a different one.


Cruise Tip 1: Pay close attention to liability limits, itinerary change policies and, if you use a wheelchair or scooter, tender policies and mobility aid weight limits on tenders.


Cruise Tip #2: Buy Travel Insurance – From Someone Else

Travel insurance can protect you against trip delays, cancellation, baggage loss and much more, provided you purchase a policy with these coverages. In addition, a travel medical insurance policy will ensure that you will not be saddled with enormous medical bills if you become ill or get injured during your cruise vacation.

If you are on Medicare, you should purchase a travel medical insurance policy because Medicare will not cover you outside of the U. S., including while you are at sea. Your cruise line will offer you a travel protection plan, but you can save money and improve your coverage options by purchasing your own travel insurance policy elsewhere.


Cruise Tip 2: Check for pre-existing condition coverage before you buy a travel medical insurance policy. Not all insurance underwriters offer it.


Cruise Tip #3: Don’t Pay for Internet Access

Shipboard Internet access is notoriously slow and expensive. Before you spring for an Internet package, ask yourself if you need it badly enough to endure the pain of slow downloads and slower uploads. You may be able to save money and time by finding a WiFi hotspot or Internet café in port. Edit photographs and write emails ahead of time so you can upload them quickly.


Cruise Tip 3: Remember to keep your mobile phone and tablet in airplane mode during your cruise so you don’t rack up expensive international roaming charges.


Cruise Tip #4: Skip a Shore Excursion or Two

Shore excursions are fun, but they aren’t cheap. Save a bit of money without skimping on vacation enjoyment by skipping a shore excursion. Stay on the ship – you’ll probably have the pool to yourself – or disembark and explore on your own.


Cruise Tip 4: Be sure to be back at the pier well before your scheduled departure time, as the ship will not wait for you.


Cruise Tips

Cruise Tip #5: Exercise for Free

You don’t have to take a class to stay fit during your cruise. Nearly every cruise line allows passengers to use the fitness center and exercise equipment for free. You can also walk around the deck or go for a jog when you are in port.


Cruise Tip 5: Pack a jump rope or exercise band and load a few workout podcasts onto your mobile device for more free fitness options.


Cruise Tip #6: Bring a First Aid Kit and Double-Check Your Medications

Leaving first aid items or prescription medications behind could cost you. In 2013, Which? Travel magazine published a report documenting the costs cruise passengers incurred when they visited the ship’s doctor; while some charges were reasonable when compared to private health care fees, others, such as a blood pressure medication prescription that cost £154, were more surprising.

While some trips to the onboard clinic cannot be avoided, you can minimize your medical bills by buying travel medical insurance, bringing a first aid kit with you and packing not only your prescription drugs but also over-the-counter medications you might need.


Cruise Tip 6: During your cruise, you may be able to get your prescription medications and over-the-counter medical supplies at a better price by visiting a local pharmacy when you are in port.


Do you have cruise tips to share? Let us know how you made the most of your cruise vacation by leaving a comment below.

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