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From planning to packing, and enjoying all that a ship has to offer, Cruise Passengers love to exchange great cruising tips.

In the last instalment of the series, we tell you where you can find extra perks and discounts on board so you can have fun without blowing your budget.

We have also inevitably reached everyone’s least favourite part: the disembarkation. But every holiday has to come to an end and we have some tips to help you do it on a high note – by avoiding last minute hassles and surprises.

Thanks for sharing your tips with us and look forward to the grand list of 100 best cruise tips of all time next week!

1. Put a future cruise deposit down for free onboard credits

Cruise lines do what they can to entice repeat cruisers on board and this is also a favourite tip from seasoned cruisers. Head to the booking desk while you are on your cruise to put down a deposit for a future cruise and get free on board credits for your next cruise. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers US$100 onboard credit to spend instantly on the cruise you are currently on and up to US$500 if you make a deposit of US$1000 on a future cruise.

2. Set a budget

Budget for your cruise at the start by putting a set amount of cash at reception on day one. Some cruisers find this helpful with making sure they did not spend more than they intended. You may even find that you didn’t use it all and even have a couple of hundred dollars to bring home at the end.

3. Visit the spa when in port

The spa often offers discounts on massages and treatments when the ship is in port. This works out perfect if you want take a break from exploring ports and relax and unwind on board instead.

4. Find out which are the free spa facilities

Most cruise lines allow guests to use the spa shower facilities, which is often shared with the gym. The spa showers are often larger and nicer than the ones in the cabins and they are also perfect for taking long hot showers with having to worry about steaming up your cabin. Some lines also provide free access to the sauna aboard.

5. Take advantage of free laundry or laundrettes

Many cruise lines offer their most loyal cruises complimentary or discounted laundry services. But if you haven’t earned your stripes, there are also laundrettes available in the self-service laundry rooms on many lines. You can even bring your own laundry detergent and softeners so you don’t have to buy them from the vending machines.

6. Be your own cameraman

The camera on your smartphones can take quality pictures these days. Taking your own holiday photos onboard can save you from having to pay for the photos snapped by the professional photographer.

7. Share rides with fellow passengers

Taxi rides into the city from the ports can quickly add up. If you are travelling as a pair, team up with fellow passengers and halve the cost of the transfer.

8. Mention a special occasion

Drop a mention to any crew member that you are on board to celebrate a special occasion. You might be surprised with complimentary treats during your cruise, like returning to your cabin to find chocolates or even a bottle of champagne and strawberries to go with!

9. Take everything out of the mini-bar

Your cabin may come with a fully stocked mini-bar. If you want to keep temptation at bay, you can take everything out and fill it with your own food and drinks. Voila, a DIY mini-bar that you can enjoy at the fraction of the cost. You can even ask your room steward to empty it. Just be sure to put everything back at the end so you don’t get charged for whatever is missing.

10. Scope out the loyalty programs

It pays to be loyal. Every cruise line has their own loyalty programs which reward their most loyal cruisers with perks. This could range from priority boarding, reservations, on board discounts to complimentary dinners at specialty restaurants, laundry and Internet minutes. Climbing the ranks of the loyalty program with the right perks for you can save you some money.

11. Become a shareholder

Shareholders with a minimum of 100 shares in the company usually qualify for onboard credit offers. For instance, P&O offers $100 onboard credit per cabin if you book a seven-night cruise while Norwegian Cruise Line has an offer of US$100 onboard credit per cabin for shareholders cruising seven days or more and US$50 per cabin for cruises six days or less.

12. Cheap drinks, free drinks

The ‘drink of the day’ often comes in a souvenir glass. Bring that glass back to the bar and get a refill that is cheaper than the original drink. Some cruisers have also suggested that you can ask for the drink of the day in a regular glass for an even cheaper price.

There are plenty of events on board that offers free drinks to guests. This includes the art auction, Captain’s welcome aboard party, martini demonstration and more!

Disembarkation

13. Pack your essentials in a carry on for the last day

This includes setting aside clothes for the final day of the cruise. You’ll be leaving your luggage out the night before for them to be off loaded. You don’t want to be left wearing your pyjamas to get off the ship!

14. Visit to Guest Services during the quiet hours

The line at Guest Services always gets inevitably long at the beginning and end of the cruise. If you have a few things to straighten out at Guests Services, plan to visit it later in the evening or early in the morning. It is open 24 hours a day, so get creative and don’t waste the precious last moments of your holiday in a queue!

15. You can opt to disembark first if you can handle your own luggage

If you need to disembark quickly to catch your flight, cruise lines often have a self-assist group that disembarks early. However, you’d need to be able to bring your own luggage off the ship.

16. Take the lift up to go down

The lift on the last day of the cruise is frequently packed as most passengers have their carry-on bags with them. A trick to get into the lift without waiting around in a game of chance is to head up before heading down.

17. Check your cabins

Make sure and then make sure again that you didn’t leave anything behind in your cabin. Check the safe, cupboards, drawers and under the bed. You don’t want to head home without everything, including your souvenirs from the trip! Guests have also shared that recovering things from the lost and found is not easy.

18. Gather the receipts of your large purchases

Going through customs is the final step. Be aware of the allowances in your home country for alcohol, cigarettes and large purchases. Gather the relevant receipts the night before.  Australian residents returning to Australia are allowed a duty-free exemption of AU$900 per adult and AU$450 for people under 18 years of age, which includes the cost of 2250ml of alcoholic beverages for each guest 18 years of age or older.

19. Book a flight no earlier than five hours after scheduled arrival

Disembarkation begins around 30 minutes after your cruise arrives in port, but the whole process of getting everyone of the ship is normally takes three hours to complete. If you need to catch a flight after the cruise, book one that is no earlier than five hours after scheduled arrival.

20. Fill out a staff appreciation card

Take a minute to highlight the outstanding service of your favourite crew member. It is one of the biggest thanks you can give them. The small gesture does not cost anything but makes a huge difference to the crew’s performance evaluation.

Read other parts here:

Part 1: Before your cruise

Part 2: How to pack and things to do when you first embark

Part 3: Cabins and activities

Part 4: food and shore excursions

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