13 Secrets Only Cruise Ship Staff Know (& Will Make Your Trip 10x Better!)

Whether it’s your first cruise or 100th, no one knows a ship better than the staff.

They practically live onboard so they know the ins-and-outs of everything..

Most cruise members are extremely friendly and want to make sure you have an amazing trip. They’ve got the inside scoop on so many little things, like the best restaurants to try, what shows to book (and which to skip), and so much more.

On your next cruise, make sure you ask about the following to maximize your vacation…

Cruise Staff Tips To Always Inquire About

Icon of the Seas and Wonder oof the Seas at Port
Source: @gugaandrob

Go Early (Or Late!)

When you’re on a cruise, avoiding long lines can make your vacation much more enjoyable. To do this, try visiting popular spots like the buffet or pool during off-peak hours.

Early morning is a great time for a quieter swim or a peaceful breakfast, as most passengers are still asleep or just starting their day.

Late evening also tends to be less crowded, especially during dinner time when many guests are dining in the restaurants.

If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, these times allow you to enjoy the facilities without the hustle and bustle.

You can take your time, enjoy the space, and not feel rushed. Staff members are also more available to assist you during these times, making your experience even better.

What’s A Must (And What You Can Skip)

Cruises have SO many options that it can be overwhelming. Staff knows what’s a must-see and what you might skip can enhance your experience significantly.

Cruise staff are invaluable resources for insider tips on which restaurants deliver truly memorable meals and which shows capture the essence of cruise entertainment.

They often know the hidden gems that offer unique dishes or the best value for your money, as well as which dining experiences might not live up to the hype.

Similarly, while most shows on board are designed to dazzle, some might resonate more with your personal tastes than others.

Staff can advise on the most popular shows that are consistently well-received and suggest skipping those that tend to receive mixed reviews.

This guidance can be particularly useful on shorter cruises where time is limited, and you want to ensure every moment counts.

By relying on staff recommendations, you can prioritize your schedule to include top-notch dining and entertainment, ensuring a fulfilling and enjoyable cruise experience.

Make Reservations As Soon As You Get Onboard

If you’re a foodie, the first thing you should do is make dining reservations, especially for the specialty restaurants.

These restaurants often offer unique menus and a more intimate dining experience compared to the main dining areas, but they have limited seating. Because of their popularity, they can fill up quickly!

Making your reservations early ensures that you get a chance to enjoy these dining experiences at your preferred times.

It’s highly recommended to book ahead for sea days especially. Since everyones on board, these days get filled up QUICK.

Figure out which are the specialty restaurants you really want to check out, and make a reservation as soon as possible to not miss out.

The Suite Deck of Royal Caribbean Ships
Source: @annschroeder

The Best Time For Shows

The onboard shows and entertainment is ne of the main highlights for many! To get the most out of these experiences, it’s a great idea to ask the staff about the best times to attend.

They know when shows are typically less crowded and can advise you on the optimal times to go to secure a good seat without the hassle of a big crowd.

This can be especially useful for popular performances that tend to fill up quickly. Attending during these off-peak times not only means better seating but also a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing you to truly enjoy the performance.

Don’t forget to check if there are multiple showings throughout your cruise and plan accordingly, perhaps choosing a night when others might be dining or attending a different event.

Ask For Upgrades

A closed mouth doesn’t eat!

When you’re checking in for your cruise, don’t miss the chance to ask about room upgrades.

Sometimes, there are last-minute cancellations or unsold premium cabins, and the cruise line might offer these at a discounted rate to fill them. Inquiring right at check-in puts you in a great position to snag one of these deals.

Upgrading your room can significantly enhance your cruise experience. You might get a cabin with a better view, more space, or additional perks that aren’t available in standard rooms.

And because it’s last-minute, the upgrade can often come at a lower cost than if you booked the higher category in advance.

Always be polite and ask if there are any upgrade opportunities available. Remember, the worst they can say is no, but you could end up with a fantastic room at a great price!

Ask About Secret Menus Or The Daily Specials

On your cruise, don’t hesitate to ask about special dining menus that might not be widely advertised. Many ships offer chef’s specials or host themed cuisine nights that celebrate the local flavors of the ports you visit.

These special menus can provide a unique culinary experience that enhances your enjoyment of the cruise.

Checking with the main dining room staff or the concierge can uncover these hidden gems. Whether it’s a one-time special dish prepared by the chef using local ingredients or a full-blown themed evening with decorations and matching cuisine, these special dining events can be a highlight of your trip.

It’s a great way to experience gourmet dishes that go beyond the regular offerings, adding an extra special touch to your dining experience.

This isn’t available on all cruise lines but it’s such a nice perk when it is!

There Are Complimentary Goodies!

On your cruise, keep an eye out for complimentary extras that aren’t always advertised. Many ships offer little perks that can make your trip more enjoyable, such as free access to the sauna on certain ship classes or complimentary chocolates and snacks available at guest services.

These bonuses are often overlooked by passengers simply because they aren’t widely promoted.

To discover these hidden benefits, you might want to have a chat with guest services or carefully read the daily newsletters that are delivered to your cabin.

These publications can be packed with information about complimentary services available each day.

For example, you might find out that there’s free sauna access during specific hours, or you could stumble upon a special reception where snacks are provided at no extra cost.

These little perks not only enhance your overall experience but also give you more value without any additional spending.

Always inquire about any complimentary services or items—you might be pleasantly surprised by what’s offered!

Woman between tw cruise ships
Source: @raeaway

Ask About The BEST Port Shops

When you’re preparing to explore the port cities on your cruise itinerary, don’t overlook the valuable shopping advice that the crew members can offer.

They’ve visited these ports dozens of times and often know which local shops are reputable and which ones to avoid.

Additionally, the cruise line might have partnerships with certain stores, offering discounts exclusively for cruise passengers.

Before you disembark, ask the crew or check the ship’s daily bulletin for recommendations on where to shop.

These recommendations can lead you to trustworthy vendors and help you avoid the common tourist traps that might overcharge or sell inauthentic products.

Crew members can point you to the best places for local handicrafts, jewelry, or even duty-free electronics.

This inside knowledge not only helps you find quality products but enhances your shopping experience by making it safer and more reliable.

Where Is The Best View

When your cruise ship is departing from a port, it’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some stunning views. Crew members, with their experience and insider knowledge, often know the best spots on the ship for watching the sailaway.

These locations can offer panoramic views that make for memorable moments and fantastic photo opportunities.

To find these prime viewing spots, ask a crew member where they recommend going for the sailaway. They might suggest areas that are less crowded and provide a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon and the port receding into the distance.

Typically, these could be on upper decks, at the ship’s stern (back), or even specific lounges that have large windows facing the direction of departure.

Every ship is different and since you haven’t had much time to explore on embarkation day yet, it’s best to get the insider tips from the staff the second you get onboard.

Make sure to get to these spots early, as they can fill up quickly once other passengers discover them.

Spa Deals

If you’re looking to unwind with a spa treatment on your cruise, port days are the prime time to find the best deals.

When the ship is docked and many passengers are exploring ashore, the onboard spa often offers promotions and discounts to encourage those still on board to indulge in some pampering.

To make the most of these deals, check the ship’s daily newsletter or inquire directly at the spa upon boarding.

These newsletters often list daily specials, including substantial discounts on services like massages, facials, and body wraps, particularly on port days.

Booking your spa treatment for a day when you plan to stay onboard can be doubly beneficial. Not only do you get a better rate, but the spa is typically quieter, allowing for a more relaxed and tranquil experience.

Always ask about package deals or last-minute offers, as these can provide significant savings and add a touch of luxury to your cruise experience at a reduced cost.

The Dining Packages May Not Be Worth It

Cruise staff often advise passengers to think about their typical eating habits and dining preferences before purchasing a dining package.

If you plan to spend a lot of time exploring ports and eating off the ship, or if you prefer lighter meals rather than full courses at every meal, a dining package might not offer the best value for you.

If the cruise itinerary is packed with activities that include meals or if you are not a big eater, you might end up paying for more than you actually consume.

A lot of times, the main dining room food options are SO good, you won’t even feel like you missed out on anything.

When and Where To Spot Wildlife

When you’re cruising, especially in regions like Alaska or the Caribbean, spotting wildlife can be a thrilling part of your journey.

Cruise staff have been on these cruises and routes many, many times. They usually know about the types of wildlife you might see and the best times and places to find them.

They can tell you when you’re likely to spot whales, dolphins, or sea birds from the deck of the ship.

Early morning or late afternoon are often ideal times for wildlife spotting, as animals are more active during these cooler parts of the day.

To maximize your chances, ask a staff member where on the ship you should stand during these times. Typically, quieter areas on the lower decks or at the front of the ship are best for seeing marine life.

Additionally, if the cruise has any nature experts on board, attending their talks can provide valuable insights into what wildlife you might encounter during your voyage.

Icon of the Seas at port
Source: @gugaandrob

They Want You To Leave A Comment

Here’s a tip that cruise ship staff members often wish more passengers knew about: Filling out comment cards can significantly impact crew members’ careers.

At the end of your cruise, you’ll typically find comment cards either in your cabin or available at guest services.

These aren’t just formalities; they’re a crucial way for passengers to provide feedback about their experience.

More importantly, when you mention a crew member by name and praise their exceptional service, this feedback doesn’t just boost morale—it can also play a pivotal role in their evaluations.

Many supervisors might not see firsthand every instance of a crew member going above and beyond, so your comments help highlight their efforts.

This acknowledgment can be especially valuable when crew members are being considered for promotions or raises.

It takes a few moments of your day and can make a major difference in someones life.

If someone went above and beyond for you, or was just always kind and friendly, leaving you better than they found you, please let their supervisor know!

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