10 Ways to Get Freebies on Your Cruise

by John Roberts

10 Ways to Get Freebies on Your Cruise

by John Roberts

Everybody loves scoring free goodies, and cruise lines offer lots of ways to add a little value to your vacation. Sure, you may have to attend an event to score some swag, or embarrass yourself in front of a deck full of passengers. But that's a small price to pay for free stuff, right? Here are few ways to finagle freebies on board, whether it be bottles of bubbly or a mini-spa treatment. Follow our lead, and prepare to reap the rewards ...

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Oceania veranda with Champagne / Oceania Cruises
Captain's Welcome on AmaPrima
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1. Embrace the warm welcome.

While "Welcome Aboard" cocktail hours and other related events aren't common on mega ships, some cruises kick off a sailing with a captain's toast or a welcome-aboard cocktail hour. They’re a great way to get in a festive mood for your cruise — thanks to the complimentary Champagne and appetizers some lines offer.

While "Welcome Aboard" cocktail hours and other related events aren't common on mega ships, some cruises kick off a sailing with a captain's toast or a welcome-aboard cocktail hour. They’re a great way to get in a festive mood for your cruise — thanks to the complimentary Champagne and appetizers some lines offer.

Canapés
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2. Cruise often.

As is the case with airlines, loyalty pays. Guests who join frequent cruiser programs can come by perks such as members-only cocktail parties, bottles of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and afternoon canapés delivered to their staterooms, and even private bridge tours.

As is the case with airlines, loyalty pays. Guests who join frequent cruiser programs can come by perks such as members-only cocktail parties, bottles of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and afternoon canapés delivered to their staterooms, and even private bridge tours.

Newlywed trivia on Carnival Glory
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3. Cash in on trivia contests.

There’s nothing like using your noggin to get a gratis gift. Your knowledge of movie quotes or sports stats could earn you key chains, hats, bags, pens, and even trophies. It pays to know a lot about your spouse, too: win the newlywed contests on Carnival ships and you'll walk away with a bottle of Champagne.

There’s nothing like using your noggin to get a gratis gift. Your knowledge of movie quotes or sports stats could earn you key chains, hats, bags, pens, and even trophies. It pays to know a lot about your spouse, too: win the newlywed contests on Carnival ships and you'll walk away with a bottle of Champagne.

Carnival Glory deck party
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4. Play games.

Competing in the poolside Olympics or entering belly-flop contests aren’t just ways to show off your athletic prowess — they’re also means to score everything from free drinks to dinners at specialty restaurants. There are games for the decidedly un-athletic among us as well, from hairy chest contests to singing competitions and even ship-wide scavenger hunts. On some Carnival ships, you can still compete to see how many ping pong balls you can stuff in your bathing suit! 

Competing in the poolside Olympics or entering belly-flop contests aren’t just ways to show off your athletic prowess — they’re also means to score everything from free drinks to dinners at specialty restaurants. There are games for the decidedly un-athletic among us as well, from hairy chest contests to singing competitions and even ship-wide scavenger hunts. On some Carnival ships, you can still compete to see how many ping pong balls you can stuff in your bathing suit! 

Art auction on Ruby Princess
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5. Check out the arts scene. 

Traditional art auctions are common on ships, complete with an auctioneer, paddles, and multiple paintings up for bidding. Even if you are in the market for some new decor, we're not suggesting you do your shopping there, but it may be worth popping in for a little while to watch the festivities and enjoy a glass of bubbly — on the house.

Traditional art auctions are common on ships, complete with an auctioneer, paddles, and multiple paintings up for bidding. Even if you are in the market for some new decor, we're not suggesting you do your shopping there, but it may be worth popping in for a little while to watch the festivities and enjoy a glass of bubbly — on the house.

Duty-free shopping on Norwegian Escape
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6. Drop by duty free.

Just like the duty-free stores you'll find in port, shipboard shops will try to entice you with free booze tastings and samples of rum-soaked butter cakes, chocolate-dipped coconut candy, and other treats. It's a free way to find out if that coconut-flavored rum is really something you want to bring home, and there's no obligation to make a purchase.

Just like the duty-free stores you'll find in port, shipboard shops will try to entice you with free booze tastings and samples of rum-soaked butter cakes, chocolate-dipped coconut candy, and other treats. It's a free way to find out if that coconut-flavored rum is really something you want to bring home, and there's no obligation to make a purchase.

AmaLotus' Reception
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7. Request customer service.

Realized that you forgot to pack your toothbrush, or need Band-aids to cover the blisters those new shoes you bought for your vacation are giving you? Don't assume you have to hunt basic items down at a shop in port. Instead, head to the front desk to see what they have in stock. You might br surprised by their stash, which could include shaving supplies as well as seasickness medication and antibacterial gel for cuts. 

Realized that you forgot to pack your toothbrush, or need Band-aids to cover the blisters those new shoes you bought for your vacation are giving you? Don't assume you have to hunt basic items down at a shop in port. Instead, head to the front desk to see what they have in stock. You might br surprised by their stash, which could include shaving supplies as well as seasickness medication and antibacterial gel for cuts. 

Talk on Norwegian Pearl
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8. Rock the raffles. 

You will likely have to attend a port-shopping talk or other event to actually enter the raffles on board — but it could also be your chance to snag anything from a bottle of rum to a water bottle or tote bag that could come in handy, especially if you end up with more souvenirs than can fit in your suitcase.

You will likely have to attend a port-shopping talk or other event to actually enter the raffles on board — but it could also be your chance to snag anything from a bottle of rum to a water bottle or tote bag that could come in handy, especially if you end up with more souvenirs than can fit in your suitcase.

Mini-massage on Seabourn
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9. Sample the goods.

Upgrading your cruise with some spa treatments sounds lovely, but those massages can really add up. On the first couple of days of the cruise, the spa’s massage therapists often offer mini-treatments — typically near the pool area — to entice you to spring for a full treatment. Other lines (including Disney Cruise Line and Seabourn) hold a raffle in the spa on the first day or the cruise, and the winners receive free treatments.

Upgrading your cruise with some spa treatments sounds lovely, but those massages can really add up. On the first couple of days of the cruise, the spa’s massage therapists often offer mini-treatments — typically near the pool area — to entice you to spring for a full treatment. Other lines (including Disney Cruise Line and Seabourn) hold a raffle in the spa on the first day or the cruise, and the winners receive free treatments.

Dance lessons on Fathom's Adonia
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10. Look for lessons. 

It really pays to keep an eye on the ship's activity roster. Though there may be an extra charge for wine tastings or hands-on cooking classes, you'll likely find a range of free courses, from computer skills and scrapbooking to ballroom dance and group exercise sessions. These are especially great "freebies" to take advantage of on sea days.

It really pays to keep an eye on the ship's activity roster. Though there may be an extra charge for wine tastings or hands-on cooking classes, you'll likely find a range of free courses, from computer skills and scrapbooking to ballroom dance and group exercise sessions. These are especially great "freebies" to take advantage of on sea days.

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