As we have moved through the first 5 of my "crazy" cruise tips we have developed a few "battle cries" to shout while we live the vacation experience we always longed for:
It's right to stay to the right!
Stand Your Ground!
and the ever popular...
Don't Spend Your Life in Line!
Well, today I am going to ask each and every one of you to add another battle cry to your vocabulary. This "call to arms" may be the most important "crazy" advice I have offered yet in my Top 10 tips.
As we go about our mundane daily lives we have a tendency to accept what is given to us. We are usually so busy and so caught up in the rat race that we forget how much life there really is for the taking out there.
When we go to the store to shop, we pick up our groceries, throw them in a cart, wheel them to the counter and pay for them without ever blinking an eye.
When we stop at the barbershop to get a trim we walk in and wait for a chair to open up. When it's our turn, we sheepishly jump into the chair and ask the stylist to make us look good. When were done they dust us off, hand us a mirror to check out the back of or heads, shuffle us to the counter to pay and send us on our way.
We go out to a restaurant, wait to be seated and when we are finally seated it's next to the family with 3 screaming kids. We order when the waitress comes by and we get our food when she has a chance to bring it to us. If there is nothing blatantly wrong (like a finger in our macaroni and cheese) we eat, pay our bill and get shuffled to the front door to make room for the rest of the lemmings waiting to eat.
We seldom think if there could be more to these experiences. Could we have gotten more "bang for our buck?" Could we have created a deeper more meaningful experience? Could we have done something to make it more memorable?
I say unquestionably "YES."
When grocery shopping, do you ever ask for samples at the deli or produce area? Have you ever asked for a discount at the checkout?
When getting a haircut have you ever asked for a completely new style? Maybe have the barber trim your eyebrows or do some cleanup on your ear hair while they are working on your coiffure? At the very least, how about the opportunity for a touch up trim in a couple of weeks?
Have you ever asked for a sample taste at a restaurant? How about asking for a meal cooked a little different? Maybe you like fried onions on your meatloaf. Who knows?
Guess what? You'll never know until you ask. Here's where this sensibility becomes our battle cry. Is there something more? Can you get a little extra? What can I do to make this a truly memorable experience?
"What can I have for FREE?."
When you are on vacation and especially on a cruise it's time to let your hair down, put aside all conventional ways of thinking and break out of your shell. It's time to get something for FREE.
CRAZY CRUISE TIP #5
Get Everything You Can For Free
Ok, let's start with the basics. Have you ever heard of "Room Service?" Well, it's offered on cruise ships, most times it's absolutely free and on some cruise lines it's available 24/7. Why not sleep in one morning and have breakfast brought to you? Maybe a little "afternoon delight" is more to your liking. Why not order in a little a little snack afterward and some fruit juices to mix with all of that vodka you have stashed in your cabin?
Staying in to relax one night? How about some popcorn and wine to watch your favorite movie on TV? What could be more convenient?
Virtually, anything that is available on board can be brought to your cabin door with just a just a phone call. I'm not a lazy man but I can become one on vacation. How about you?
Let's take this attitude out into public. Let's say you are standing at one of the deck bars to order a fruity adult beverage. Why not ask the bartender to pack a little extra "punch" into your drink? A few stiff pours can go a long way toward a making an afternoon at the pool a lot sunnier.
Feeling a little peckish and want to grab a sandwich for lunch at one of the food bars? What's the harm in asking the chef to add a little extra meat to beef up your hoagie? Maybe you would prefer brown mustard and cheddar cheese rather than mayonnaise... Why not ask? The ship's crew are there to make your cruise as enjoyable as possible. I have yet to have one say no.
Speaking of eating, have you ever sat at the Captain's Table for dinner. All you have to do is ask (make sure to request this once you board the ship to give yourself a better chance).
There is nothing that makes you feel more like "English Aristocracy" than sitting with the ship's Captain and crew talking about all of the interesting places they have been and exciting experiences they have had on the high seas.
Several times, we have received little "gifts" after these meals from the cruise ship as tokens of appreciation to remember our experience (and obviously share with our friends back home who were thinking of taking a cruise).
These meals often lead to one of my favorite "FREE" extras -- a complementary tour of the ship including the bridge and the Captain's quarters. It's amazing what you don't see when you are a typical cruise ship passenger.
Did you ever want to expand your intellectual horizons? Most cruise lines offer an extensive lineup of "FREE" classes during the day. You can get expert training in interactive workshops on subjects including art appreciation, learning a language, personal finance, history, photography and even social media interaction.
If you are looking for more physical pursuits, you can learn golf, piano, cooking and stress management.
One of the coolest classes is the nighttime astronomy class. Held on the upper, upper deck with powerful telescopes the views of the universe from a pitch-black sea are beyond the imagination of a typical city dweller.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to dance? Almost every night there is "Free" instruction on a different style of dancing. For left footed klutzes like me this opportunity to improve my social skills is priceless.
There are many more "FREE" shipboard amenities you might not know about. Here's a short list of little bonuses that can be had for just asking in a nice way:
- Onboard credit when booking your cruise
- Extra "Bonus" play at the Casinos
- Drinks at the Casinos
- Food and drinks at the ship sponsored events like the art shows, jewelry sales and wine tastings.
- Towels, robes and slippers at the pools
- Daycare and activities for your kids -- vital for your "personal" time
- Saunas and Spa Amenities
- Coupons for shore excursions
- Small items from the purser's desk you have forgotten to pack, such as a toothbrush, pain relievers, sewing kit, playing cards, postcards or special ship stationary.
And don't forget to "celebrate" something on your cruise.
Whether you are newlyweds, reaching an anniversary, graduating from college or having a birthday let the crew know. It's amazing what niceties will show up in your cabin or at your dinner table to help you pay tribute to your milestone.
So, are you ready to get "FREE" while on your cruise? All it really takes is a little imagination, a well-timed smile and asking the right questions to the right people.
It doesn't hurt to spread a few well-placed tips among the staff either. That's one of the first things I do when I board ship. Talk with your servers, drink toters and cabin masters and get to know them personally. They are your best resource for learning how to cruise on the cheap.
If you found today's blog helpful, interesting, or even funny, I bet your friends would too.
It's easy to tell them about it.
The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world!!!