Wisdom, it is said, comes with age and experience.

So don’t be surprised that the more you cruise, the more you pick up on the unofficial hidden secrets that cruise lines do not reveal. Ask any seasoned cruiser and they will know a thing or two about how to save money, how to get more options and generally have a merrier time on board.

Do you know there are off-the-menu options available in the main dining room or that you can order three desserts if you fancy being over-indulgent?

So here are some tips that will help make cruising a fun adventure.

Lunch on embarkation day

Embarkation day is often a hectic day and most passengers head straight for the buffet to have lunch which can be quite chaotic. Before you do that, check out whether other venues are open where you can enjoy a less frenetic meal. Often the poolside café serving burgers and fish and chips is open. On Princess Cruises, the international café and Pizzeria are open which are less crowded and more congenial.

Unlimited number of choices in main dining room

You are not confined to one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert when having your meal at the main dining room. You can choose to have two appetizers and two desserts, if that takes your fancy. You can also order appetizer-sized portions if you want to savour different flavours – it’s a great way of trying new dishes.

First night dining at specialty restaurants

Most passengers tend to head to the buffet or main dining room on their first night for their evening meal. Here’s a little tip, head to a specialty restaurant and some lines such as Celebrity Cruises will also give you a discount. Carnival Cruise Line even offers a free bottle of wine if you dine at the steakhouse on your first night. Also, it is often much easier to get a table reservation at a popular speciality restaurant on the first night of the cruise.

Free small bites

If you are paying for your gourmet coffee, do ask if there are complimentary small bites of sandwiches or pastry to go with your coffee. Viking Cruises offer not only free specialty coffee but also complimentary pastry and sandwiches at their coffee shop.

Free ice cream

While you have to pay for specialty ice cream like Ben & Jerry or New Zealand yoghurt gelato, there’s always a free, soft-serve ice cream available on the pool deck or buffet.

Store Your Wine

It is always cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than to order several glasses. If you are not a heavy drinker and can’t finish a bottle, you can ask the waiter to mark the half-drunk bottle with your cabin number and save it for another evening.

Spa discounts

Most spas on cruise ships offer attractive discounts if you go for a massage on the first day of the sailing or when the ship is in port. If you enjoy spa treatments, just pop by the spa salon or check the daily newsletter for special deals.

Free Spa saunas and steam rooms

Do you know that you can use the spa’s steam rooms even if you do not book a treatment on some lines? This means you can access clean towels, fancy toiletries when you take a shower after you have been to the steam room. On Viking Ocean Cruises, you have complimentary access to the spa facilities including the dry sauna, steam room, whirlpool and the Snow Grotto.