7 Ways to Make Your Cruise Even More Special

For a few extra bucks, you can make your cruise even more special.


Everything you need to have a good time is already included in the price of your cruise. You don’t need to spend one extra cent if you don’t want to. But you may want to budget for a few extras once you’re on board. Here are some of the main ways you can upgrade your experience as you sail the seven seas that will make your cruise even more special.

1. Specialty Dining

Every cruise ship has places you can dine for free. There is usually at least one dining room and a buffet. But most ships also offer alternative dining options. For a small fee, you can eat at a sushi bar, steakhouse, teppanyaki house, or pizzeria, for example. Prices usually range between $10 and $30, depending on the restaurant. Many ships also have a full-service cafe, where you can buy specialty coffees and pastries for a few bucks.

make your cruise even more special

2. Beverage Packages

Water, coffee, and tea are always available on typical cruises. Most also offer free juice at breakfast and some sort of water-based beverage, like iced tea or lemonade, throughout the day. But if you’re thirsty for a pop, bottle water, or anything with alcohol, you will need to open your wallet. But there’s a loophole. You can buy a beverage card that lets you drink as much as you desire, and it usually costs much less than you would spend overall buying one drink at a time. You can get either alcoholic or nonalcoholic versions of the card so the entire family can take advantage.

make your cruise even more special

3. Spa Treatments

Ships of all shapes and sizes have an on-site spa. But beware, the prices are typically well above anything your would spend on land. A massage typically costs at least $120 but can be close the $300 if you’re in the mood for a something more specialized, like a seaweed wrap. If you’re really looking to treat yourself, you can even get acupuncture, Botox, and cellulite treatments on many ships. But relax, there are a few affordable ways to pamper yourself on a cruise, such as a scalp massage, haircut, or manicure.

make your cruise even more special

4. Shore Excursions

If you’re not sure what you want to do when your ship docks at each cruise port, fear not. There are plenty of tour options available through the cruise line. They would with the best local tour companies and guides to make sure you have the best experiences on land. Whether you’re into adventure, culture, shopping, or history, they’ll have something for every taste. Parasailing over the open ocean, horseback riding on the beach, a cooking class at a local restaurant, a visit to the outlet malls—you’ll find it all and more at every scheduled stop.

make your cruise even more special

5. Celebrations and Gifts

Are you celebrating a special event during your cruise? For a small fee, you can arrange to have your room decorated with flowers, balloons, special signs, desserts, wine, and more. You can choose from a variety of themes, including birthdays, anniversaries, and bon voyage. Even if you’re not sailing, you can surprise a friend or loved one by contacting the ship in advance. You can also purchase cruise merchandise and other gifts in advance of sailing so that they’re waiting in your room when you get on board. I’ve secretly hoped someone would surprise with a celebration or gift, but alas…maybe they’ll read this post and get the hint.

Pro Tip: If your travel agent lets the ship know about your special day when you book the cruise, you may get a little something special for free. That’s right…I said free. On my last sailing, I got a gift card for a bottle of wine and a free photo of my choice from the photo studio. It was lovely.

make your cruise even more special

6. Photo Packages

Wouldn’t it be great if life were like the movies and every minute of your special getaway was captured on film (or digital thingamabobs)? Well, every cruise ship has a photo studio to do just that. Every time you get on or off the ship, a team of photographers will be on standby, ready to snap a shot of you at each port. At night after you’ve dressed for dinner, they’ll have impromptu portrait studios set up in strategic locations around the ship. You can even hire a photographer to follow you around for the day.

make your cruise even more special

7. Shopping and Sales

If you love to shop, you don’t even need to step off the boat to do it. Designer handbags, fine diamonds, and couture cosmetics are just some of the upscale items you can purchase in the ship’s boutiques. You’ll also find duty-free tobacco and alcohol, candies and chocolates, costume jewelry, cruise merchandise, cheap tees, and knick knacks. You want it, they got it. And they have special sales every evening. One night you might get a deal on scarves and sunglasses, while the next night there may be a special offer on earrings or t-shirts. The deals are often amazing.

make your cruise even more special

Pro Tip: You can purchase just about everything on this list in advance of your sailing by contacting your travel agent or accessing your online itinerary. You can even buy gift cards to make purchases in the ship’s shops. This way, you still don’t have to spend any extra money once you set sail.

These are some of the main ways you can make your cruise even more special. What other ways can you think of? Share them on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

4 Tips for Getting the Best Deal on a Cruise

Cruises are one of the most affordable ways to travel.


It seems every time I check my email there is another message from one of the major cruise lines with a new offer. If you play your cards right, you can go to some pretty amazing places for next to nothing.

Here are four tips to help you get the best possible deal on a cruise vacation.

1. Book with an Agent

I love to take control of my travel, but when it comes to cruising, your agent has access to deals you simply have no way of knowing about. Sometimes agents have access to “bonuses” they can pass along to preferred guests. I once had an agent pay my taxes and port fees, for example. On another occasion, my agent arranged for the cruise line to surprise me with a bottle of wine and a gift card for a free professional photo.

You won’t spend anything extra to have a travel agent book your trip, so it’s worth seeing if there are any hidden deals your agent can pass on to you. Often, I still do all of the cruise planning myself and just pass the information on to my agent to do the actual booking. I know exactly what I’m getting, but I still get to take advantage of any special deals the agent offers.

2. Check Expedia

With more than 10,000 travel partners in more than 60 countries, Expedia is the largest travel agency in the world. This translates to massive buying power and the ability to get awesome deals for clients.

Expedia often purchases blocks of cabins well in advance of a cruise’s departure date—sometimes years before it’s scheduled to set sail. They get a great rate for buying in bulk, and they pass the savings on to you. You simply will not be able to beat the deal you get with Expedia.

3. Go Direct

It’s pretty rare that you’ll get a better rate booking directly with the cruise line, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out its website. Cruise lines are always updating their prices and putting out new offers. If you see something you like, you can ask your agent to check it out.

4. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Just because you’ve got an awesome deal on a cruise doesn’t mean you can’t do better. Check online every now and then to see if the rate has changed for the better. Almost every cruise I have ever been on, I have ended up getting a much lower rate by simply taking a few minutes to check for deals every couple of weeks. Just this past week, I upgraded to a balcony cabin for $70 less than I was going to pay for an inside cabin on an upcoming cruise. It pays—literally—to do a quick check every now and then. Any agent or cruise line worth a lick will honor the lower rate.

So, now that you know how to get a great deal on a cruise, what are you waiting for? Follow Wanderlust Wayfarer on Twitter for more great cruise and vacation advice.

Cheap Spa Treatments on a Cruise Ship

I bet you think every treatment in a cruise ship spa will cost you an arm and a leg. Think again.


It’s true. Most spa treatments on a cruise are extremely pricey. But there are a handful of ways you can pamper yourself without taking out a bank loan. Here are four tips for getting a little spa action on a shoestring budget.

Cheap spa

Tempting Tresses

Treat yourself to a trim and a blowout. It may not seem like much, but it won’t break the bank, and it always feels good to have someone else style your hair. I wouldn’t do anything too crazy, like chopping off your long locks or getting a fringe of bangs. Leave that to your regular stylist. But it doesn’t hurt to get the dead ends cut off. Or maybe even an up do.

Pro Tip: Find out when formal night is, and get your hair done that day. You’ll feel like a princess with your locks perfectly coiffed.

Cheap spa

Feet to Fingers

While manicures and pedicures often cost quite a bit less on land, they are still two of the cheapest things you can do in a cruise ship spa. And they usually come with a bit of a twist, like a fire and ice treatment. If you purchase the mani and pedi as a package, you can usually get a bit of a break on the price, too. Ask nice, and they may even toss in a fun freebie, like painting each nail a different color.

Cheap spa

Sensitive Scalp

Is there anything better than having your head massaged? Well, for a small fee, you can spend 30 minutes of pure bliss doing just that in the spa. It’s one of the cheapest spa rituals you can receive on a cruise ship. If you have a few extra dollars, you can pair it with a special hair treatment for added awesomeness.

Cheap spa

Deal of the Day

I know it’s tempting to pre-book spa sessions before boarding the ship. And it’s hard not to bite when you take that spa tour on Day 1 of the cruise. But trust me when I tell you to hang tight. Each day, the spa offers a new deal. Just check the cruise planner the cabin steward leaves on your bed each night to find out the deal for the next day.

Sometimes, you can choose three rituals for 20 minutes each at rate well lower than you would pay for a massage alone. For example, I once got a mini facial, Swedish massage, and scalp massage for under $120. Other times, you can get 10 percent off your first treatment, 20 percent off the second one, and 30 percent off a third one. It’s a great deal.

Pro Tip: If you really like what you see in the planner but wonder if the next day’s deal will be better, fear not. You don’t have to get the treatment on the same day the deal is offered. You only need to book it that day. So, take a boo at the next day’s planner, and if the deal isn’t as good, you can still book the current offer for later in the trip.

Cheap spa

These are just a few spa treatments you can treat yourself to on a cruise without blowing your budget. Do you have other tips? Share them with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.