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How to Get Free Things on Your Next Cruise Ship Vacation

As an experienced cruiser, I've got tons of tips to make your next cruise vacation a breeze.


I think we are all aware that cruising can be a little expensive if you are not careful, but I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most enjoyable types of vacation out there.

There are a surprising number of ways to get free stuff and keep costs down on your cruise holiday, but you have to be savvy. Here are a few ways to get the most bang for your buck during your next cruise!

Be Kind to the Crew

The crew is there to help you enjoy your experience. They want to leave you with only positive memories, and this often translates into free goodies for you! You’ll likely find yourself thoroughly surprised by the generosity of some of the entertainment crew.

They will always be willing to offer an extra glass of champagne (at the very least) to their little helper. You might even find a little treat back in your room—for us, it was a plate of delicious chocolate-dipped strawberries. I have heard some crew members will even arrange for some bubbly to be sent to your room as a thank you. You might also get a few free tickets in the art raffle or a free meal at one of the ship's speciality restaurants.

Participate in Events and Activities

My first tip is for those who are ready to have fun and have a willingness to stand up and participate in events throughout the ship. Taking part in these events and activities gives you the opportunity not only to have fun but also to win prizes and gain opportunities for discounts. Be willing to volunteer for a few events during your cruise, even if it is just something small.

Enter Competitions to Win Prizes

Another way to get free stuff is to take part in competitions throughout the ship. Keep an eye out for competitions that can take place anywhere on board. For instance, one cruise line runs a game show that is called Love and Marriage, which can be a real laugh as well as a way to win prizes.

There is also the World Biggest Belly Flop competition, which is exactly as named (ouch!). You will likely see some unique folks taking part, but if belly flops are your hidden skill, you can come out of it with not only a red belly but a little prize, usually a plaque or trophy and maybe a free drink.

If all else fails, there is the always trusty game of Bingo. It's not free, but the prizes are really good and it is heaps of fun.

Be sure to Volunteer at Art Exhibitions and Auctions, Too!

If you are at one of the art exhibition events held on the ship and they are seeking a volunteer, be sure to put your hand up and have a go.

You’ll likely end up with something for free that will tickle your fancy. It is pretty standard for the auctions to supply you with some free champagne and usually some free art prints too, or even a free piece of art or a ticket in a raffle.

Check Out the Captain's Cocktail Party

The next option, if your ship offers the chance, is to check out the Captain’s Cocktail Party. Those who attend get a great chance to meet the person who commands the ship that you are travelling upon. You will also get the opportunity to meet some of the other officers who work on the ship.

Once in attendance at this event, you will be able to get yourself some free drinks and anything else that is on offer.

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Shop Till You Drop

Another cool option to get yourself something for free is to shop at the "preferred stores" in the ports that your ship pulls up at. These stores will usually throw in a free necklace, charm or some sort of keepsake. These puppies will make for a decent reminder of your trip, I’m sure.

Take Part in Liquor Tastings

Liquor tasting is another opportunity to get something for free on the ship. Yeah, I know what you're thinking . . . I should probably rename this article "How to Get Free Booze on Your Next Cruise," but that is pretty typical of this kind of travel opportunity.

Tastings often happen on the first night of the cruise (depending on when you reach international waters), and they usually take place around the store section, where the booze shop is.


Attend the Sales Pitches on the Ship

The next option for getting free stuff is to sit in on the sales pitches and forums that they offer on board. This will give you the opportunity to get some free samples, but be mindful that they are there to sell you something, so they may try a few sales techniques on you—and if you're not careful, they might sign you up for something that you didn’t really want to be signed up for!

Keep an Eye Out for Random Freebies

For example, you might spot the occasional sample session for massages, which is a great opportunity to get a bit of a free massage (though you might be left wanting more after they stop!). This is a great way to get to know some of the different massage techniques out there.

Always Read the Daily Cruise Planner

The main thing to remember when on a cruise is to make sure you read your daily cruise planner so that you have an idea of where the bargains and freebies are on your cruise.

Additionally, you should always complete comment cards, etc. when they hand them out. This can give you the chance to win a free cruise, and who can say no to that?

Enroll in Your Cruise Line's Loyalty Program

This is the big one. I personally find that the best free stuff comes around after you have cruised with the same cruise line a couple of times. Once you have been on at least one cruise with the same cruise line, you will usually be enrolled in a loyalty program. Make sure that you take this opportunity!

Once enrolled, you will have the chance to get not only free drinks but also free bottles of water or even little treats in your stateroom. These free things are there to ensure that you stay loyal to that cruise line. They might even give you the opportunity to dine at one of their specialty restaurants at a discounted fee.

In Addition to Freebies, You'll Also Get Other Benefits

The other benefit of loyalty programs is that once you have cruised with them once or twice, you get access to things like priority boarding, which is great if you want to take some of the fuss out of embarkation day.

Happy cruising!

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Paddy Michelson

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