questionsany tips for a wootizen taking her first cruise?

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The last cruise I went on we were allowed to bring one bottle of wine so I bought the cheapest bottle of wine I could find, poured it out and filled it with Vodka. It saved me so much! Although there are tons of things to do on a cruise, my favorite part of the cruise was being able to catch up on a ton of sleep. Since my phone did not work on the ship I was truly able to disconnect and just relax.

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On my first cruise, an experienced cruiser told us "don't try to do everything" and that was good advice - there are typically tons of things to do. Book excursions early - the good ones tend to fill up quickly. Take lots of small bills for use on-shore. As a first timer, attend the port talks (where the crew tells you about visiting a particular port of call) - there's typically lots of good info. While there are restrictions to bringing alcohol on board, there are not for other drinks. We always put a couple of cases of diet coke in a carry-on and wheeled it on board - saved a ton of money.

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If you want to smuggle alcohol on board and avoid the ridiculous prices they charge you could always do this:

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Don't bother with the "get out of jail free" trip insurance. It's insanely expensive and supposedly covers the entire cost of the trip for any reason...supposedly. My wife and I were scheduled for a cruise of the baltic when she was pregnant. She developed pre-eclampsia and we were advised to cancel the trip. After much wrestling with Travel Guard they ended up refunding half the cost and pointing us to some subclause in the fine print that said pre-eclampsia was not considered a pregnancy complication, despite my wife having a BP of 160/120...

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@zuiquan and @conanthelibrarian: Who says you can't learn anything on the internet? Y'all are awesome, thanks for sharing!

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Great suggestions! (I'm having flashbacks to sneaking booze into college football games.)

Any suggestions on the best shore excursions to book? We want to go on at least one tour of ruins. Many of the others seem to be beach excursions. I have to admit that we live so close to the Gulf Coast that we do beach trips a couple of times a year, so I can happily skip those, unless it's something we just really have to do. There are cooking excursions, shopping excursions, and so much more. Pretty overwhelming.

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If you decide to do an excursion, read the fine print. You could be on an un-air conditioned bus and ride for an hour to get to the beginning of you excursion. Also, spend a few extra bucks and do the fine dining restaurant one night. Your cruise line does have good food but the steak house has great food. The balcony room is the best. Have them deliver coffee, muffins, etc to your room in the morning. It's free. Sit outside and enjoy. So much better than the breakfast buffet on the Lido deck and the dining room..

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@zuiquan: I have heard that they can still figure out that it is alcohol when it is in a water bottle, even if you do this trick. They will shake the bottle, and the alcohol will fizz. It wouldn't if it was water. The trick I have heard is to dump and rinse out a bottle of mouthwash, then refill it with vodka or some other clear alcohol. Either use a bottle of clear mouthwash, or add appropriate food coloring to disguise it. The fizzing trick would not work on mouthwash, since mouthwash also fizzes.

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LOL! Just saw a Facebook post from a friend who is on a cruise right now. Apparently he got caught sneaking his own booze aboard. Not sure what happened, but he referred to taking the "walk of shame" when he got caught.

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@belyndag: different cruiselines handle the prohibited liquids using a wide range of answers. disneys answer to me of "what can you carry" when I asked about beer, to carnivals personal allowance of soft drinks, 1 bottle of wine or champagne, and no beer or liqour, to royal caribbean saying they have the right to kick you off for trying to bring anything on board, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

we usually do carnival, and I buy 2 12 packs of diet coke, remove the pop and repack the 12pack with budlight.
congrats, my next cruise in feb wasn't free.

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@zuiquan: thanks alot. this will save me a ton of money

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@luke975: I obviously need to do some research to see what Norwegian does and does not allow. One of my BILs says the best deal he has found is to just buy a bottle of their vodka for $100 and don't fight the carry on thing. The other BIL takes lots of cruises and somehow manages to get an entire bar aboard (at least that's the way he tells the story).

Personally, I'm not much of a drinker these days, but I have an image in my mind of lounging in a deck chair sipping something cold and tasty with a silly umbrella sticking out of it. Sneaking in a fifth of Makers Mark won't do ME much good. I understand that some of the cruise lines offer packages for drinks, soft drinks and even ice cream. I've already shot the pre-cruise diet to heck, so I might just give up and go for ALL of those.

BTW, when I say the cruise is "free," please note that a lot of casino "donations" probably paid for it. Urgh.