Straight From the Mouth of Poseidon
What is included in your cruise purchase price? Because cruising is so different from other forms of travel, most new cruisers are surprised with how much is included. Each cruise line is slightly different, but there are some things that are always free on every cruise line.
Most important, most food is free. At the very least there will be a formal dining room that is completely free for all three meals, a buffet that serves all three meals and usually some snacks, and usually some sort of free food that's available twenty-four hours a day, but is probably not as good as the other food. Some ships, especially larger ones, will have additional free options like pizzerias and poolside burger restaurants. Most ships will also have specialty restaurants that you pay a fixed cover charge for, ranging from $10-40 or so. These are 100% optional and many cruisers never eat at them. Room service is also free but sometimes has a small flat delivery fee, which is usually waived for basic breakfasts.
The dining room will have a selection of 4-5 entrees that rotate every day, a similar number of appetizers, at least one soup and salad, as well as standards that are always available (salmon, chicken, steak, etc). You can order as many things from the menu as you like. It's not uncommon for people to have 2-3 appetizers as well as 2 entrees. The buffet will have a huge variety of options, usually including some Indian food as well as Chinese food. You do not tip at any of these restaraunts — service is included in the daily $10-13 flat gratuity that covers your cabin steward as well.
Beverages such as water, tea, coffee, and juice are free. Alcohol and soda cost extra and can be purchased individually or in packages, and are tipped either per-drink or flat rate if you buy a package.
In short, you will have access to more high-quality free food than you could possibly eat, but can also spend more money on food if you want to splurge.
Use of most facilities and entertainment is also included. This includes pools, decks, shows in the theater, the library, many events like karaoke and musical performances, dancing, the gym, and a lot more. Most ships have other activities that come with an upcharge like special fitness classes, go-karts, or spa services. Activities like rock climbing, ice skating, and mini golf tend to be free, but it varies from ship to ship. In general Royal Caribbean and Carnival don't charge for these activities as often as other cruise lines. All shows, including high-quality broadway shows are free.
Internet always costs money, but is fast and available for (relatively high) flat rates as well as per minute. Alcohol almost always costs money, but some Norwegian cruises include it for free. Shore excursions always cost money, though you can find your own fun on shore for free.
Most new cruisers are surprised at just how much is included on a cruise ship. If you don't drink or pay for shore excursions, it's quite possible to cruise for weeks without paying anything other than the flat-rate tips.
One question I get a lot is: "When is the best time to book a cruise?". Luckily I have the historic pricing data handy, so I don't have to guess.
But before we get into that, let's talk about cancellation fees.
Unlike flights, there is a big window of time where you can cancel a cruise and get your entire deposit back. For most cruises, this window is about three or four months before the cruise departs.
Many cruise agencies charge an additional cancellation fee. We think that's unfair and gets in the way of you maximizing your cruise budget, so we never charge any fees.
If you know which cruise you want to go on, take a look at its price graph on CruiseSheet. If it's at or near its minimum, and you're within the 100% cancellation period, book immediately. If the price goes down, just send me an email and we will rebook you at the lower price. That way you'll lock in the lowest price the cruise hits before the cancellation fees start.
On the other hand, cruises trend towards two points as the sailing date approaches: either very inexpensive or very expensive. If there's excess capacity on the ship, the line would rather sell a room for cost and hope to upsell you once you're aboard, but if there are few cabins left, they go for a premium price.
You can use this to your advantage if you don't care which ship you go on. For example, many ships make the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the United States in the fall. If you wait until the October to book, some of those ships will be sold out, but a few will have fares below $40 a day, including taxes.
So when should you book a cruise? If there's a specific cruise you have your heart set on, book it as soon as you can, and monitor the price. You can easily set a price alert with CruiseSheet to get notifications when the price drops. If you're less particular about the ship and itinerary, check out the last minute deals from your area. You may find the deal of a lifetime.
If you're still not sure when to book your cruise, email me and let me know what you're looking for. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people find their perfect cruise, and I'd love for you to be the next success story.
I initially created CruiseSheet as a tool for my own use—I wanted to find the best cruises at the best prices. Since then it's evolved into the easiest to use cruise search engine, used by thousands of people every week. I recently asked a few customers how their experience was using CruiseSheet, and here's what they said:
"I used CruiseSheet to book a cruise for a group of 8 friends. We found a repositioning trip from New York to Puerto Rico that I would NEVER have found using any other website. It was easy to know all the prices involved, too (no hidden fees). We signed up and it was a great trip. The funny thing is that I was telling everyone about the site the whole time on the cruise!!"
—Nick Gray, Founder at MuseumHack.com
"I've used CruiseSheet for my travel planning and recommended it to friends and family alike. I like that the site doesn't hide taxes or fees— it's all upfront in the pricing— and that it's intuitive to use for searching by price or by destination."
—Jodi Ettenburg, Author at LegalNomads.com
"If you wanna cruise but don't want to fall for the cruise ship pricing tricks or spend hours researching, just use CruiseSheet.
There's no other way to book a cruise as easily as CruiseSheet."
—Amit Gupta, Founder at PhotoJojo.com
"Before CruiseSheet, there were two fundamental truths about the world: 1. Taking a cruise is like heaven on earth, and 2. Booking a cruise is like the seventh circle of hell.
I still remember the first time I tried to book a cruise. I must have called ten different agents, gone to twenty different websites, and filled out my personal information three-hundred and sixty-two times. The trouble is - just everyone out there is trying to screw you over, hiding taxes and fees until the last moment, obscuring the price per day, trying to upgrade you when you don't need an upgrade...the list goes on.
CruiseSheet's turned that all on its head. I can finally find a cruise exactly the way I want - by destination and price. I just choose where I want to go, and boom: immediately the best deals pop out at me. CruiseSheet sorts them all however I want (personally, I prefer 'cheapest by day'), and I know instantly that the prices are both the best I'll ever find and all-inclusive of taxes and fees."
—Benjamin Yu, Founder at Sprayable.co
We get a lot of skepticism at CruiseSheet, mainly because our prices are so low. And I don't blame people— there are a lot of fly-by-night cruise agencies that are run as part-time hobby businesses. CruiseSheet is different. We work every day both to help people find and book their dream cruises, and to create a better platform for finding those cruises.
I went on my first cruise when I was around twenty years old. A girl I had a crush on found a good cruise deal and asked if I wanted to go. All I really knew about cruises were that they were a prize on the back of Cornflakes boxes, and that the idea of being stuck on one with this girl sounded like a pretty good idea.
On that cruise I fell in love... with cruising. Since then I've been on dozens of cruises all around the world. I've traveled by plane, train, automobile, horse, camel, foot, and bicycle, but cruise ship is my favorite method.
As someone in his mid-thirties, people often find it surprising that I go on cruises. Even when I'm on the ship, people assume that I'm crew. I've helped folks in the computer lab who assumed I must be the tech there, and I've been complimented many times for my role in the production shows.
Confusion aside, cruising has a lot to offer the younger passenger. It's sometimes an uphill battle convincing my friends to come on cruises with me, but once they do they're almost always hooked. And I love meeting other young cruisers on the ship, because we all feel like we've discovered a big secret.
So what makes cruising so great for young people? Here are a few of my favorite things:
1. The old people. I don't really interact with older people very frequently in my normal life. I spend time with olders generations of my family, but that's not the same. I love meeting seniors, especially the ones who are adventurous enough to spend weeks at sea traveling the world. From them I hear stories I don't hear anywhere else, and I get to immerse myself in a perspective steeped in experience.
2. Most of the things we like to do aren't crowded. Bingo may be packed, but the attractions that appeal to a younger crowd are often abandoned. On my last cruise with Royal Caribbean I got to spend ninety minutes on the Flowrider surf wave with just my friend I was cruising with. That would have cost hundreds or tohusands of dollars back in my home of Las Vegas, but it was totally free on the cruise.
3. It's a great opportunity to get away. I'll reluctantly admit that having limited internet access is one of my favorite parts of cruising. I'm on the internet for my work and social life all day, but I love to decompress and not have internet during sea days. It's especially great during the long five-course dinners I have with my friends. No one is checking their phones.
4. Food and the gym. Lots of us younger folks like to work out and eat healthy, which can be difficult during travel. But a gym is never more convenient than it is on a cruise ship. Just ride the elevator up a few floors and you're in the gym. Need post-workout protein? Walk across the deck and have a steak (or five).
5. You get to see a lot of places. While my favorite days are the sea days, mainly because I love working while at sea, the format of port days are also amazing. Although there are sometimes immigrations and a shuttle to downtown, very often you just step off the boat right into the downtown area. You can wake up, have a big breakfast, and immediately be in a foreign country with no hassle. Fill the day exploring a new place and then return back to the ship for dinner and a good night's sleep.
Even though you're only in any place for a day or two, having no overhead or hassles means that you can really make the most of that day. Some cities can be seen in a day, but for the others you can decide whether or not it's a place you'd like to come back for more time in the future.
6. The cost. Where else can you get unlimited food, accomodations with twice-daily housekeeping, transportation to several countries, and all sorts of activities for $45-100 per day? Whether you're a backpacker or someone who prefers a bit more luxury, cruising can be an excellent value.
Don't be scared away from cruises just because your grandparents love them too. While they're definitely designed for an older crowd, younger people are routinely surprised when cruising becomes their favorite way to travel. If you're new to cruising, take a look at Royal Caribbean ships. They tend to have things like mini-golf, rock climbing, and flowrider surf waves.
For years I tried to gain muscle. I weighed 145 pounds and no workout plan I tried, even when I stuck to it perfectly, seemed to work. That all changed when my friend and coach, Dick Talens, put me on his diet and workout plan. The missing component was an enormous quantity of food. I always thought I ate a lot, but while following his program to the gram I realized that I ate inconsistently. One big meal here, then a small meal for the next one.
Following his program I gained about 15 pounds, getting up to 160 total with the same body fat percentage.
But then I began to travel, which made it hard for me to keep up the program. Gyms aren't always easy to find and protein is expensive when you buy it all at restaurants.
When I booked a 24 day cruise from Sydney to Seattle, however, I came up with a plan. I would try to gain as much lean mass as possible, taking advantage of the convenient gym on the ship as well as the unlimited quantity of well-prepared food.
Over twenty-four days I gained 10 pounds of muscle and 2 of fat. Since then I have cut all of the fat as well as a three pounds of muscle, giving myself a noticeable seven pounds of muscle gained.
First, the gym schedule. I decided, since weekdays are irrelevant on cruises, to work out every other day, for a total of twelve workouts. Each workout was only 35-40 minutes.
Workout A - 8-10 reps deadlift, x2; max pullups x3; cable rows 8-12 x2
Workout B - 8-12 dumbell bench press x3; 8-12 dumbell incline press x2; dumbbell curl 8-12 x2
Workout C - 8-12 leg press x3; 4-6 straight leg deadlift x2; crunch machine 20 x2
This was a workout similar to the one Dick prescribed to me, modified to use dumbbells. The deadlifts were much lighter than I'd usually do, since the ship only had 70lb dumbbells and no olympic bar, so I increased reps a bit.
For breakfast I ate either 3x 2 egg omelets with veggies, bacon, and cheese, or 8-10 eggs over easy. On workout days I also ate some muesli and pastries or potatoes.
For lunch I typically went to the buffet and made huge plates of vegetables and meat. This was my smallest meal, but would usually consist of a very large salad full of vegetables as well as a pound to a pound and a half of meat. On workout days I would also sometimes eat dessert or carbs like bread.
For dinner I ate whatever I wanted in as large quantities as I could handle. That would consist of 4 to 9 appetizers, one or two salads and soups, and three or four entrees. On workout days I would eat some rolls as well as some of the potatoes that came with the meals. On rest days I might eat one roll and one dessert, but would skip all of the potatoes served with the entrees.
I didn't count my macros, but rather tried to eat as much as I possibly could at all times, focusing on protein first and then on vegetables.
The weight came on very quickly, as I averaged just under a pound a day for the first ten days. At that point I found my appetite decreasing and really had to force myself to keep up the same level of consumption. Over the final two weeks I gained only four pounds.
Eating that much food did feel like a bit of a chore sometimes, but it's only so much of a burden to eat free steaks, fish, and chicken every day. The workouts were sometimes intense, but short enough that they didn't really take a big chunk out of my day. I particularly liked that I could just take the elevator upstairs and be working out immediately, rather than having to interrupt my day for the gym.
If you are looking to make some gains in a short focused time, consider using a cruise to do it. It's a perfect combination of free time, easy access to a gym, and unlimited free food. The larger ships tend to have much better gyms with enough headroom for pullups and heavier dumbbells. In my experience Costa has the most crowded gyms by far, suggesting that maybe Europeans are more diligent about going to the gym.
Hi! My Name is Tynan and I love cruises. I started CruiseSheet in 2014 because I found other cruise sites frustrating to use. Good deals turned into mediocre deals once the hidden fees got tacked on at the end, and I had to search through pages and pages of cruises to find some that were a reasonable price per day.
At first CruiseSheet was just a simple single page that showed the best twenty deals. One by one I added features to it until I had to turn it into a business to justify the amount of time I was spending on it. Fast forward a couple years and we have thousands of people using CruiseSheet every week to find their dream cruises.
CruiseSheet exists for one reason, and that's to help you find the best values on the best cruises. Maybe that's an interior room on a short cruise through the Caribbean, or maybe it's a deluxe suite on a twenty day transoceanic cruise. No matter what you're looking for, we want to make it easy to find and we want you to know that you're getting the best possible price.
To that end, we charge no booking fees, no change fees, and add no markup. We charge the bare minumum that cruise lines allow.
It's important to me that you have a great experience with CruiseSheet. If I can answer any questions about cruising, or if you'd like some help choosing a great cruise, don't hesitate to email me at available. You can also call us at 1-888-44-SHEET.
And if you aren't on our excellent mailing list, make sure to sign up below. Every week you'll get a fully customized list of the best cruises from your area.
One of the dangers of advertising amazing cruise deals is that people often don't believe that they're legitimate. People have posted on our Facebook page trying to warn others of our "fake" prices, and I've answered dozens of emails from customers who are convinced that there must be fees we're hiding from them.
The truth is that we are the only cruise agency I'm aware of that shows the actual price in the same way that all airlines do. Every other cruise agency shows the pre-tax price, and then tacks on the port fees and taxes at the end.
The prices you see on CruiseSheet are always the entire price, no gimmicks or tricks. The reason our prices seem so low is because we show you the best deals we have, and we order searches by the cost per day. It could be argued that that's not the best idea for our business, but we figure that we'll build loyalty by finding people the best cruise for them and treating them fairly, not by hustling them into a more expensive cruise.
While there are no mandatory charges once you're onboard, tipping is just about mandatory. You'll be charged a flat fee of somewhere between $10 and $14 per day, which covers tips for all of the stateroom attendants, buffet attendants, and dining room waiters. You could opt out of paying those tips, but it's highly discouraged as it's how those employees make the bulk of their money.
On board all meals are free, both in the buffet and the main dining room. Room service is usually free as well, but sometimes carries a small delivery charge. Access to the pools, gym, library, nightclubs, music venues, theater, and other facilities is also free.
Most alcoholic beverages cost money, as do some optional dinners at specialty restaurants, coffee at coffeeshops, photos, shore excursions and internet access.
Cruisers generally love cruising because so much is included. You can easily go without spending any money besides tips, or you can indulge and take advantage of the premium services offered on modern ships.
To sum it up, our prices are all authentic and include all taxes and fees. We don't include tips or discretionary spending. If you've never cruised before, you'll probably be amazed at what a great value cruising is, and even if you're an experienced cruiser, you might be surprised at just how inexpensively we can book you on an incredible voyage.
Despite the amazing amenities provided by today's cruise ships, there's always something to spend onboard credit on. Maybe it's dinner at a specialty restaurant, drinks, or internet to make your friends and family back home jealous.
If you don't know what onboard credit is, it's free money in your onboard account that will cover discretionary expenses.
The good news is that there's a really easy way to get onboard credit on every cruise you go on, and it works every time. Many hardcore cruisers already know this trick, but some passengers who have gone on dozens of cruises haven't stumbled upon it yet.
As your go-to destination for the best cruise deals on the internet, I feel like it's my duty to share the trick with you. I want to sell you a cruise, but I want to make sure that you get a great value on it and get as much as possible out of your vacation.
Every major cruise line has what's called a Shareholder Benefit Program. If you're a shareholder of the parent company's stock, you get on board credit on every single sailing you go on. There are only three major cruise lines (Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival), and they own all of the other ones like Cunard, Costa, and Princess.
You need to buy 100 shares, so with share prices running between $35 and $95, that means that you'd have to invest $3500 to $7000 (of course, prices change frequently so double check this).
The amount of credit you receive is based on how many days you sail for. Each line gives a minimum of $50 for a short cruise and up to $250 for cruises around two weeks or longer.
Only one person per cabin can do this, but you can do it for as many cruises as you want. I personally do it for every single cruise I go on and have received thousands of dollars of free on board credit.
To redeem the credit you e-mail or fax proof of ownership to the cruise line. They almost never write back to confirm that you have the credit, but it always shows up when you get in the ship. If there's a problem, they'll let you know about it.
The one catch is that you can only get one promotional onboard credit per cruise. So if the line is offering $50 OBC and you also do this, it will replace the $50, not add to it (even though they say that, it does sometimes add to it).
You're also supposed to do this a few weeks in advance, but I've done it as late as a few days before the cruise and still gotten the credit.
Technically you could buy 100 shares of the stock, send proof, and then sell it immediately, or right after your cruise. They have no way of knowing how long you hold the stock for. If you cruise a lot like I do, you may want to just hang on to the stock-- after all, cruises are the fastest growing travel segment (which is one of a few reasons I'm in the business).
If you book a cruise through CruiseSheet and need help with this, just shoot me an e-mail. I'll walk you through the whole process and make sure that you get your credit.
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