Cruises Tips

When it comes to Cruises, we've been there, done that, now serving 101 tips in 9 categories ranging from Choosing a Cruise Destination to Special Interest Cruises.

The Art of Asking and Appreciation

We live in a wonderfully diverse world and one of the greatest benefits of travel is the opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles. No one likes to be stereotyped as a “Tacky Tourist” or an “Ugly American.” Yet, people who are polite, patient, and pleasant at home sometimes behave in ways that are inappropriate, rude and offensive during travel. Try these tips to make sure travel etiquette on ship and shore is up to par:

  • Don't expect everything to be the same way it is at home. Embrace the concept that because something is different, it is not funny or wrong. Be receptive to new experiences and new ideas. The more you experience your destination, the more you gain from your travel experience.
  • Learn a few words in the language of your destination. Even if your pronunciation is not perfect, words like good morning, please, and thank you are appreciated. It's easy to find common phrases at
  • Actions do speak louder than words. Gestures and non-verbal communication differ from culture to culture. A positive gesture in the U.S. may be offensive in another culture. For instance, making a circle with thumb and index finger to say okay symbolizes something is worthless or obscene in some countries. In many cultures pointing or beckoning with the index finger is insulting. The Internet puts customs of world at your fingertips or read The Simple Guide to Customs & Etiquette, published for many countries worldwide.
  • Be a considerate smoker. Smoking on most cruise ships is only permitted in designated areas, even on deck. Never throw cigarette or cigar butts overboard. They may be blown back into a lower deck on the ship and start a fire. Avoid dropping cigarette butts or any type of trash on the street in port. Littering is illegal in many countries and may incur a stiff fine.
  • Practice good cruise photo etiquette. Flash photography and videography are not allowed at cruise production shows. Flash photography and video are restricted at many museums. Photography of some private corporate or government locations may violate the law. Photographing people without asking their permission violates personal rights. Ask before aiming the camera.
  • Build relationships. A cruise ship is a unique environment in many ways. Although you will probably never see cruise ship employees again after the cruise, make an effort to get to know those who serve you. Remember their names and chat with them about their life when time permits. When a cruise ship employee goes the extra mile, show appreciation. Write note to the ship's Captain commending their professionalism. Commendations have a significant impact on cruise employee records. When appropriate, tactfully tip a little extra or bring them a small memento from a shopping trip in port.
  • Finally, be generous with “pleases and praise.” Be polite, pleasant and patient when there is a problem or you have a special request. A request accompanied by eye contact and a warm smile and “please” encourages the person to want to help. Demanding and demeaning behavior makes it a secret pleasure to say no. Never threaten. Security on cruise ships, airlines and even on the street is tight and a perceived threat can create problems for a traveler.


(62) Additional Cruise Money Smarts

The well-prepared traveler doesn't depend on any one method of travel funds. A combination of all four travel funds offer the peace of mind of knowing that your travel needs for pleasure and in an emergency are covered. Here are some additional money smarts for handling cruise travel funds:

  • When traveling with a companion, each person should take a different credit card. If one card is lost and must be cancelled, you still have a back-up card.
  • Make a copy of both sides of your ATM and credits cards before you leave and keep the copy separate from your cards. Leave a copy of all credit cards at home with friends or family. In the event of loss or theft, a copy expedites cancellation.
  • When traveling outside of your home country, notify credit card companies in advance what countries you are visiting. Most companies have security procedures that call for automatically canceling a credit card if “strange” international purchases begin posting to your account.


(61) Credit Cards Offer Buyer Benefits and Protection

Credit or charge cards are a fourth important source of cruise travel funds. The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover. Using a credit card also offers the benefit of a wholesale bank exchange rate and many credit cards offer perks like cash rebates or airline mileage.

Most importantly, when you use a credit card for purchases, you get some form of purchase protection. Never pay for a purchase to be shipped without using a credit card. Pay cash and fail to receive the goods…you are out of luck. Use a credit card for purchase and you have some “insurance.” Check with your card company before leaving to determine what travel benefits and protection are offered.

Even if you are opposed to using credit cards on a daily basis, cruise travel experts strongly recommend that you take at least one major credit card with a high available balance for travel. If you have a medical emergency or another type of emergency, a credit card is a must-have.


(60) Use ATM/Debit Card for Best Exchange Rate

Whether you are cruising close to home or across the world, an ATM is a convenient and easily accessible source of cash. Even with the usage fee; you typically get a best rate of exchange since cash withdrawals from an ATM are at the wholesale bank rate. There are literally thousands of automatic teller machines linked through systems like Cirrus, Star, Honor and Visa. (Learn what systems an ATM card is valid with before leaving on your cruise.)

Most ATM cards also function as debit cards when making purchases. A debit card does just what it says. It debits your checking account for the amount of the transaction. Since most debit cards are processed through the Visa or Mastercard system, it is as easy to use them for purchases. That said, they do not offer the purchase protection or benefits of major credit cards. They are the same as paying cash.

Finally, do not depend on just an ATM card for your travel dollars. ATM systems can be “down” or a card's magnetic strip can be damaged and access to cash is cut off.


(59) Travelers Checks Are Good Back-Up Funds

Travelers check usage has declined since the introduction of ATM/debit cards. However, many travelers still choose to get some “emergency” cruise travel funds in the form of American Express Travelers Checks. If you use travelers checks as your primary travel funds, you will get the best exchange rate at an American Express office, bank or post offices. Avoid the exchange bureaus on every corner in port shopping areas. They have the poorest rate of exchange and there are extra handling fees or per item fees for exchange transactions.

Heads Up: Do not keep your receipt with the traveler's checks. Have your travel companion carry the receipt for your checks and vice versa. If you are traveling alone, keep the receipt in a separate bag.)


(58) What Kind of Cruise Travel Funds Should You Take?

Whether you are cruising in the U.S. or abroad, travel dollar options are very similar. Travel funds may be in the form of cash, travelers checks, ATM/debit cards and credit cards. Take a combination of all four, especially for extended travel or on international cruises.

Always plan to carry a cushion of cash. That said, carrying too much cash is dangerous. Never flash your cash. Purchase a good money belt or neck pouch before you travel and never carry more cash than you can afford to lose.

Travel experts recommend taking $20 in $1 bills. Regardless of the local currency, $1 bills are usually welcomed. Also when traveling with cash, ask for crisp, undamaged bills. Old and worn paper currency or bills that have been defaced with words or drawings are illegal or may not be accepted in some international locations.

Some travelers get foreign currency before leaving on their cruise. However, most local banks do not keep foreign currencies in stock. It must be ordered in advance for a fee. Most international cruise ships have an automatic teller machine (ATM) onboard with currency for each port of call and there are plenty of ATMs in ports around the world.

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Christina Chan