Book mark. Your best freebies are before you book. While you’re exploring cruises, ask your travel agent, “Are you offering cruise credits or benefits with this trip?” If the travel agent wants your business, you’ll most likely be offered cruise credits that you can use for just about anything on board. Or, your travel agent may offer you a meal in a specialty restaurant, drink package or to pay for your insurance. For more, see this earlier posting.
If you’re booking directly with a cruise line, keep your eye on their promos. They often throw in freebies like a drink package or restaurant meal.
Booze your way. The mass market ships all allow you to bring some wine on board, but not a lot. Royal Caribbean allows two per stateroom and Princess is okay with one per person. While you can’t bring it out of your room without paying a fee, it’s still nice to have for sipping on the balcony under a brilliantly setting sun.
|Welcoming you onboard Princess with Love.|
They also often offer tours of the theater backstage, galley and engine room—rare treats that give you both a peek behind-the-scenes, as well as some small talk starters. (Did you know that some production show dancers look at empty hangers dangling in their closets to see how rough the seas are?)
A toast and some Love. Don’t be tempted to skip the Captain’s Welcome event, because it usually comes with a free glass of wine or champagne and on Princess these days, also melt-in-your-mouth Michael Love chocolate truffles.
|Go Concierge on Celebrity and champagne awaits.|
Share your secrets or bare your legs. The game shows and contests on the ship often give prizes to those who bare their souls in the Newlywed Game takeoffs or their lower limbs in the hairy leg contests. Gifts can range from bottles of champagne to logo items.
And while they cost to play, the Bingo games sometimes offer great prizes, like a huge room upgrade to the ship's best suite for the rest of the cruise.
|Play for prizes or watch for laughs.|
Meet and Mingle to munch and more. The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle events vary greatly, from morning gatherings in a lounge to “cabin crawls,” where you can see a sampling of the different stateroom categories. Sometimes, they provide a small gift to everyone and there can be random drawings for bigger ones.
So, despite the cruise lines’ frequent pitches and enticements to get you to spend more than you’ve already paid out to get on the ship, you can still score a few treats while keeping your money in your wallet, safely reserved for your next cruise.