Insider Tips to Make Your Princess Cruise Even Better

Movies Under the Stars - Diamond Princess 2013

You’ve just booked a Princess cruise – how exciting for you! Any day spent cruising is a fabulous day, in my book. But unless you’ve been on tons of cruises, you might not know all the insider’s secrets that will make your voyage even more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, I’m not really a Princess insider (although I hope to be one day soon)! My husband and I honeymooned on the Crown Princess in Alaska, and had such a marvelous time that we took the kids on another Alaskan cruise this year.

The trip was supposed to be for our 20th anniversary next year, but when I started researching costs, I found an absolutely amazing deal for 2013, so we went this summer. It was a celebration of our 19 year 2 month anniversary!

I’m the type of person that loves to research every trip I take, and a big one like a cruise deserves tons of research. While hanging out on the Cruise Critics forum, I read a few threads – including one that was 88 pages long – that contained lots of great tips that I never knew about.

Don’t worry – this won’t be 88 pages – but I’m sure you’ll pick up a few tricks to make your cruise even more enjoyable (or less expensive, which is always enjoyable to me).

Home Suite Home

How to Make Your Cabin More Comfortable

Princess Cabin Picture
  • The cabin walls are metal. Many passengers like to take small magnets to hang the daily newsletter on so that it is easy to reference.
  • Magnetized clips are useful for keeping tickets and other pieces of paper accessible.
  • There are only two easily accessible electrical outlets in most cabins. Be sure to take an extension cord or power strip with multiple outlets.
  • See if your mattress is comfortable once you’ve gotten into your cabin. There’s a limited number of egg crate mattress pads on each ship; ask your steward for one if you’d like. Or you can try adding it into your cruise personalizer before you go, or ask your travel agent to request a mattress pad for you.
  • Are you really tall? Ask your steward for a bed extender so your feet don’t hang off the end of the bed!
  • If you have an inside cabin, tune the TV on to the ship’s deckboard camera. During daytime, you’ll be able to see what’s going on outside, and you’ll feel like your room has a window.
    Leave it on at night for a little nightlight – you’ll know that it’s time to wake up when the screen shows daylight!
  • Travelling with family or friends in an adjacent balcony cabin? The steward can unlock the balcony divider to create one large balcony for you.
  • There’s usually extra storage (and sometimes extra bedding) underneath your bed – the perfect place to store your suitcases!
  • There is also a power outlet behind the TV. And some cabins also have outlets behind the bed. They’re both a bit awkward to reach, so you might want to use a power bar that has a longer cord.
  • If your party takes up more than one cabin, bring sticky notes or a magnetized dry erase board to put on the outside of the door so you can leave messages to each other about where you are.
  • The beds are outfitted with a bottom sheet and a duvet. If you’d like a top sheet, just request one from your cabin attendant.
    You can also request extra blankets and pillows (some ships have different types of pillows that you can choose from).
  • Hang three or four black metal binder clips to the bottom of your shower curtain. They add just enough weight to keep the shower curtain from swinging in and clinging to you while showering.
  • Bring along an inexpensive plastic shoe holder – the kind that you hang over the door. It’s a great way to keep toiletries and accessories organized.

Little Known Secrets About Princess Dining

Reasons Why The Average Passenger Gains a Pound a Day!

Diamond Princess International Dining Room
  • Most passengers head to the buffet for lunch on embarkation day, which means it can get quite crowded. Generally the main dining room is also open, and is less crowded and more relaxed.
  • Are you a waffle lover? Most likely either the pizzeria or ice cream shop prepares hot waffles at breakfast, and they are absolutely delicious!
  • The kitchen makes an outstanding fettucine alfredo, which is served in a parmesan cheese basket. It’s available as either an appetizer or a main course last night. It’s not mentioned on the menu, but many people ask to have chicken or shrimp added to it for a special treat.
    Some people suggest ordering a Caesar salad and asking that it be served in a parmesan cheese basket
  • The gourmet (extra-charge) restaurants feature desserts that are not on the main dining room menu. Once the restaurants close (around 10 or 10:30) they sometimes move the surplus desserts to the buffet
  • The front desk of each of the restaurants has a copy of the week’s menus. You might want to check them out upon arrival if you’re interested in making alternative dinner plans so that you can choose which meals you don’t want to miss
  • Your cabin attendant will leave a room service breakfast card in your room each day. If you’d like something that’s not on the menu (pineapple juice, for example) just write it in. Most of the times you’ll get it, but not always.
    You can also write an earlier time than the pre-written times for your breakfast to be delivered if you’d like.
  • If you’d like something that’s not on the menu, just ask. The staff will usually do their best to accommodate your request. Some specialty dishes can be prepared if you give the staff 24 hours notice (escargot is an especially popular request).

Hydration Hints

What’s a Cruise without Umbrella Drinks?

Explorers Bar - Our Favorite Venue for Trivia
  • Some people like to bring a big thermal mug aboard with them. It’s great for drinking beverages on deck, and you can put it on your nightstand in case you get thirsty at night.
  • Stop by the martini bar (if your ship has one) for a complementary plate of stuffed olives. People rave about them!
  • No need to bring a corkscrew if you’re bringing your own wine – just ask your cabin steward for one.
  • Want to enjoy your own wine onboard? You can pick up wine glasses at any of the bars or ask your steward to keep some in your room.
  • You can always get a free glass of champagne at the art shows and auctions.
  • You can purchase a coffee card that allows you to get 15 specialty coffees such as lattes and espressos at a discounted cost. It also entitles you to unlimited brewed coffee and hot chocolate.
    If you don’t use all 15 of your coffees, save the card and you can use it on your next Princess cruise.
  • If you’re staying in a Suite or you are an Elite member of the Captain’s Circle club (the frequent cruiser club), you get a complimentary minibar set up in your room. If you’d like, you can exchange this setup for 2 coffee cards (good for gourmet coffee beverages).
  • You can also exchange the alcoholic drinks for all sodas or waters.Call Room Service to arrange this, but be sure not to drink any of the items from the minibar.


Miscellaneous Tips

It’s the Little Things That Matter

Elegant Central Atrium - Diamond Princess
  • Always get 2 copies of the daily newsletter (The Princess Patter). You can make notes in one and carry it around the ship or on excursions with you, while the other can remain pristine for your scrapbook.
    Either ask the steward to leave an extra copy or stop by the purser’s desk to pick up another one.
  • If your camera is full and you forgot to bring an extra SD card, swing by the photography office. They can burn your pictures onto a CD for you (runs about $10-$20) which will free up space on your camera.
  • You’ll need to keep your room key with you whenever you leave your room (it also acts as your cruise ship credit card). Keeping the key on a lanyard is a great way to keep it with you.
    The purser’s desk can punch a hole in the card for you, and you can get a free lanyard at the casino.
  • Unless you’re in a suite, internet access is only available for a fee (not cheap!) The internet is also very slow…try using it in the wee hours of the morning when most people are sleeping.
  • Irons aren’t allowed in the staterooms (fire hazard), but there are irons available in the laundry room. An easy alternative is to use a bottle of Dove wrinkle release.
    Spray it on your clothes while unpacking; after hanging up for a while, minor wrinkles should be gone.
  • There are self-service Laundromats on board. Several people recommend bringing Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets, which include the detergent and the fabric softener. They’re just a bit thicker than regular dryer sheets, so they pack really well.
  • Do you own stock in Carnival Corporation (Princess’ parent company)? If you own at least 100 shares, you can get onboard credit. The amount varies from $50 to $250 depending on the length of your cruise.
    Military members, both current and retired, are also eligible for onboard credit.
  • You can get free disposable headphones at the Spa…just ask at the desk.

Where to Find More Cruise Tips

Little Known Secrets About Princess Dining

One of my favorite sites for reviews and information is the Cruise Critic website. They have professionally written reviews and write-ups on almost every ship, port, and excursion you can imagine.
On their home page, click the “Community” tab to go to the forums. You can ask any question and chances are someone will have an answer for you.
You can also search the forum to see what other questions people have asked. It’s a wonderful site for finding out everything you want to know about your trip!

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