Cruising On The Cheap

Oh, I hesitate to actually let this piece see the light of day … but, it’s funny.  I wrote it years ago and have always been afraid to actually post it again, but I’m old and can plead senility, so here goes … really deep, dark, inside secrets …

1. Book the cheapest closet, I mean stateroom, you can find, preferably near the end of the season on a ship sailing on a “challenging” itinerary in what might be a generally thought of as an unstable area of the world, preferably for less than $78 per person per day. You’ll recognize these sailings by looking carefully at the tour options; look for tours like “Incoming Rocket Tour” and “Minefield Walking Tour”.

2. Come with the expectations that you are going to be treated like the Queen of England on the now decommissioned Royal Yacht BRITANNIA. Let the crew know right away that your royal highness is unhappy with everyone and everything and that nothing is as good as on your private yacht.

3. Always email the home office, or better yet call the cruise line president, who of course is your golfing buddy. If all else fails ask for a supervisor to whom you will always complain loudly about the incompetence of everyone.

4. Eat everything in sight all the while complaining that the seats are too small in the dining room (i.e. your bum is too big for the seats) and the service is not up to the royal standards you are used to at home.

5. Immediately upon boarding go to the front desk and remove the automatic hotel charge/gratuity stating emphatically that tipping is a crime against nature, or if you are some other nationality that you prefer to tip yourself on the basis of the service rendered, ignoring all the behind-the-scenes guys like the guys laundering your dirty sheets and towels, and then complain that the service is not up to your royal standards, so in the end you disembark without tipping anyone.

6. Bring your own wine on board (if you can find the rare cruise line that still allows this) but in order to avoid the corkage charge for using your own wine in public areas fill your glass in your room and then carry it around the ship. Always fill your glass before carrying your full glass of wine into the dining room.

7. Sneak in the back door of any shipboard reception so you can go twice and get free drinks twice. And of course manage to down 3 free drinks at each cocktail party.

8. Since most cruise lines don’t allow you to bring hard liquor on board, empty out your water bottle and refill with gin or vodka while ashore before coming back on board since security will never check what clear liquid is in your water bottle. [Believe it or not, I have actually watched folks do this!]

9. If all else fails you can always stock up on plums and prunes and sugar from the buffet and mix it in a plastic bag in your garbage can and make y our own prison-hootch.

10. Loudly and continually disparage all ships services and the prices and announce to the world that you can get everything much cheaper in your home town of Skunk Hollow.

11. Avoid ship tours like the plague. Always organize your own tours in advance or if you are going independently just sally up next to a ship tour so you can enjoy the guide commentary for free, letting the other guests pay for the service.

12. If you do happen to have to take a ship tour, when you return complain incessantly in the hope of getting at least a partial refund. It’s a good idea to find something, anything, that’s missing in the tour description.  For example: on a tour of the rain forest, the tour description didn’t warn that it might rain.  Actually watched a passenger want a refund on a rain forest tour because the tour ticket didn’t tell him to take an umbrella.  The Shore Ex Manager said that in fact the description did say “be prepared for rain” and that the Port Lecturer, i.e. me, had clearly stated, “It WILL rain.”  The man’s response: “I’m a doctor!  I’m on vacation!  You don’t expect ME to read or go to lectures!”  This gentleman clearly falls into the “Special Guest” category.

13. If you are on a tour tip the guide with whatever change you happen to have from a previous port. Bills from previous ports, where a 10 zillion bauble note is worth about 20 cents US, work well since guides never actually look at the kind of currency they are receiving until later.

14. If you work hard enough and are creative enough your can always find something that is wrong with your cheap cabin and complain often and loud enough that you get an upgrade.

15. Always share with everyone at your table how you beat the system, i.e. paid for a dumpy cabin and got the royal suite, took the same tour as the ship offered for a tenth of the price, etc. Letting everyone know how shrewd and knowledgeable and wise and cheap you are and what suckers others are always makes everyone feel better.

16. Take along spare olive pits to stick into dishes containing olives and then complain that an olive pit broke your dental work and insist that the cruise line provide new dental work. Anyone with half a brain can figure dozens of ways to terrorize and bully the cruise line legal staff. This works best if you actually live near the cruise line’s home office because then you can harass with small claims actions. Rarely will a cruise line spend $2,000 on lawyers to settle a $1,000 claim.

17. Whatever disclosures a cruise line makes, claim you didn’t read or are too dense to understand the disclosure. Trust me, cruise lines are used to working with folks who don’t have a clue.

18. Rarely does anyone get a free cruise, well, unless the ship sinks, but that doesn’t happen much and if it does you may not be around for the free cruise because the staff will have departed in the life boats without you. But if you’ve been cruising enough and eating enough and drop your butt hard enough on a chair to actually break it so that you fall to the floor and create a big enough scene you may at least earn an upgrade and a free meal or two at the specialty restaurant on your next cruise.

19. Although you choose to travel off the ship “independently”, a fact which you repeatedly emphasize, never-the-less rant and rave that he cruise line does not have people throwing rose petals in your path when you are “independently” off the ship and that there are not ship staff standing on every corner to bow down as you make your way around town.

20. Although the cruise line sells transfers and tours which you choose not to take advantage of by purchasing, never-the-less expect that the ship should arrange your transfers and tours just because you are you and have graced the cruise line and crew with your noble presence.

OK, it’s been one of those days. The poor people who walked away sulking and giving me dirty looks because I wouldn’t recommend traveling from Port Said to Giza in a 12 passenger mini-bus with 30 Egyptians not wearing deodorant, and that I had the audacity not to be able to direct them to the “mini-bus station” and know the times of mini-bus-departures [In Egypt???] or know the price [Trust me I was almost rolling on the floor by this point], or the lady who said she’d just take a bus and walk behind a ship tour to hear the guide . . . it was all too much!

Not to be snobbish, but there was a day on ships . . .

3 thoughts on “Cruising On The Cheap

  1. So sorry you had such a bad day/week. Hoping the next will be much better. Glad you ranted……good for your BP….and your descriptions gave me a good laugh….., which is good for mine :=) Thanks.

  2. This was hysterical! Thanks for the laugh!

    Also–I wanted to say how much I’m enjoying this blog as a whole (I’ve already read all of the posts on your current home page.) I found you by googling ‘Panama Canal Cruise’ and I think I’ve seen you on Cruise Critic. If I am fortunate enough to be able to arrange a Panama Canal cruise sometime in the next five months, I will be ordering both of your books (in Kindle format, for ease of transport!)

    Thanks for all of the great information on here!

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