Cruise Hacks

Category Cruise Line Experience Other info
Introduction   These are tips and tricks, but "tips" brings to mind gratuities. None of these will be suggestions to defraud or cheat the cruise lines - rather, legitimate ideas to improve the experience somehow. These tips will bypass the most common ones, and often will just give you enough info to "look it up" yourself to find out details on items that may interest you.  
Balcony table top Princess, or any similar On most balconies on Princess, the tables are a decent size and height for eating.  Then we encountered one that was small, and lower.  It was fine for a cup of coffee, but not comfortable as an eating-height table.  That led to the contraption illustrated here.  It was a total success on our recent 19 day cruise.  Many meals survived this table.

CLICK here for more pics and "how to"

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TRAVEL CLOCK any This item is posted because I am so pleased with myself for coming up with this - not because it is so original.  It just worked great.  I wanted a clock that I could see in the dark, and that my wife could also see without having to raise way up in the bed.

The first attempt was OK. It was a very small clock to which I attached a nylon fishing line to hang the clock from the ceiling.  Drilling holes in the side of the clock was "iffy" but allowed me to tie the fishing line firmly.

A variation of that original idea was the same clock perched on the top of the bedside lamp.  I removed the battery cover on the bottom (if the power goes off, the light does not stay lit anyhow) and wedged a block of wood in the battery space, drilled a hole in the block of wood, and made a V shaped wedge out of a plastic coat hanger. That slid over the lamp shade.  I used a clip to hold the cord in place since the clock wanted to shift and spin around.  It could be seen by anyone on either side of the bed, but was not very stable.   I felt I HAD to put this away each morning to not freak out our cabin steward.


3 different attempts at clocks

BETTER CLOCK any On our recent Medallion cruise, I needed my Apple Iphone6+ (the jumbo sized screen) for my techie stuff, so I got a clock app for it.  I then fashioned a grabber to hold the phone, and hung the phone off the ceiling with one of my strong magnet hooks.  I positioned the phone so that it stayed on charge all night since the clock will apparently run down the battery.

There are lots of free clock apps, but this one seems good, is fairly compact and has two important features - one, it has a button to LOCK the screen (otherwise it goes off when the phone wants to go black) and the other is a dimmer slider - the picture shows the screen bright, but at night, very dim is plenty bright enough. The app is called NIGHTCLOCK

I took the phone down each morning but left the magnet on the ceiling.  It took about 5 seconds to put it back in service at night.   The grabber that I made should have been available at a store, but this phone was too big so I made my own from a long bolt and some scrap metal in my garage.

The bottom grabber was squeezed by the nut (along with a gob of glue) since both it and the top grabber wanted to spin around and not stay lined up.  With the bottom one in a fixed position, the upper one could be stretched and lowered in place easily.  We had a 5 foot or so charging cord so we had options on where to place the clock.





Shareholder benefit Princess and other Carnival fleet ships Here, on the right is a link to the FAX cover sheet that have used successfully as of 12/2018.  In this case, I grabbed two benefits on one form for two back-to-back shorter cruises. The link will download a WORD document.  Princess has a form also, and anything should work as long as all the info is there.  The template here was re-worked for a single cruise and used successfully in 6/2019. Same fax #.


Night light any A favorite. Bought for 25 cents after Halloween, this 2 inch square is a pumpkin light. It runs on batteries and is a small, white LED to light up your pumpkin's innards, or your bathroom.

Additionally, the goopy thing on the left side is where I glued on an old rubber washer thing to make it harder for the push button to accidentally turn on in my shaving kit.

I also mark the date when I replace the batteries (a piece of masking tape inside the battery door) - they should last for months, but I like to refresh them when I think it has been a while.

Price of cruise Carnival, Princess Holland America, others Stockholder benefit. If you own (or buy) 100 shares or more of Carnival stock, you can request a stockholder benefit - an on-board credit. Must be requested for each cruise, value depends on cruise length. - Google it for details.

Royal Caribbean SAYS they offer the same benefit, but they do not - in their case, you lose the discount if other discounts are awarded, which is in most cases. --

Princess has a veteran's discount in the form of an on-board credit. Once they have your "proof of service" - the credit appears on each new booking. Don't know of other cruise  lines offering this on all cruises. On board credit (OBC) varies with cruise length.


Redneck mini-suite

Probably any

I am actually quite proud of this one. My wife likes to sleep in - I am often up before dawn and the desk light, TV or open curtain shines right in. The magnet hooks came from Lowes and are quite strong. The clips are old hanger type clothespins that are in my kit, but had never been used. For my next trip, I got 6 small black springy clips from an office supply store. They are smaller, but strong enough to hold the blanket. The blanket is from the Movies Under the Stars on-deck on the Princess.  I plan to try some black plastic and see if it cuts more light - and see how large an item it is when folded.

I left the magnets on the ceiling, and the blanket took about 10 seconds to mount, de-mount and store in the closet.

A third magnet and clip would be needed to use two blankets for the full-suite experience!

Update:  First, I swapped the clothes pin part for some of those springy black clips with the fold down handles - they are more compact (those office clips come in several sizes) and quite strong to pinch the towels or movie blankets..

Second update. I saw on Cruise Critic where someone took blackout curtains (the kind with the big holes at top to thread through a curtain rod) - and hung one of those, using 3 or 4 strong magnets.  While that means bringing your own curtain (or two panels or more) you might then be able to create a full two room suite!  I feel like the package we once got was pretty light weight, but the curtains (claimed to be blackout) worked well.

click them for a decent sized view

Travel Mugs all These travel mugs are great if you are a coffee drinker. Two hints - be sure to get one that does not leak. Some press-on lids are iffy - a good screw-on lid and seal on the mouth-door will keep sloshing coffee off your tummy.  The open bottom handle allows the mug(s) to hook on your pants or belt.

Wearing them as shown in the picture tends to amuse the staff no end - both one one side may be less "western".

This is great for being able to carry a plate of food AND open the cabin door at the same time.

Things to pack all Magnet clips - walls (and ceiling) are magnetic. Hang your tour tickets, daily schedule of events, etc.

Wine opener. Pack it in main luggage, be careful of ones that have a blade attached. They are considered lethal weapons. Yours truly, the Beermaster, also carries a bottle opener on his lanyard along with his cabin card.

Holy punch If you use a lanyard (cord around your neck, or even a Casino clip-on coily cord) go to the Customer Service desk on your ship and they will be glad to punch a hole in your card so you can hang it on the cord. - Clip can be opened to remove card if needed. Clip came from a Dollar Store lanyard.

Power strip.  A little one-footer (or so) is handy for all the desktop items. Available at your local Walmart type store.  Mine has a switch and a light, so I know power is flowing, but that is not necessary.

Click for Larger View
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Red item is an emergency
bottle opener!

Loyalty Programs different rules

Royal Caribbean and its fellow lines (Celebrity, Azamara Cruises) will upgrade your loyalty "level" to match the highest one you have reached on any of their family.  However, your new cruise only adds points to the line you took.  Example: I had several Celebrity cruises, "Select" category BUT on my first Royal Caribbean trip, I was Platinum level with 0 trips.  After that trip, I am no closer to moving up on the Celebrity ladder, but now have 1 trip on Royal Caribbean - still Platinum level - and I got the upgraded perks of Platinum level on RC.

Carnival is less generous with their reciprocal loyalty. On a recent trip, we were told that because Carnival was so large, they were hampered by anti-trust rules regarding reciprocal loyalty. Must be true, right?

Special ideas for your ship. Any, but here is one I made. Compile your own hack list (or Cliff notes, cheat sheet)  Here is one that I used in Sept. 2016 for Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. I added follow up notes after the trip. Make your own, search the web, and compile them for your trip.  Share them with me at if you wish.

Feel free to add to my list -  use it like any other resource - just one set of ideas to build on. (Note, watch the dates of your web finds - old info is on there, but sometimes out of date.)

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas hacks.