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Thirteen Free Things to Do on Any Cruise Holiday

Welcome to Tightarse Tuesday, on a Thursday (or whatever day you’re reading this on) my Lovelies,

Cruising is not only fun and relaxing, but a very affordable way to see the world. What makes it affordable is the plethora of free activities available to you at every turn.

No one wants to be constantly shelling out to stay entertained either out at sea or on shore days.  With a little forethought and planning, you can enjoy your holiday at no extra cost after paying your cruise fare.  At sea and on land, you will never be stuck for something to do that won’t have you swiping your card.

  1. Free spa treatments.
    Quite often at the beginning of your cruise there will be free spa treatments announced in the daily flyer delivered to your cabin. Keep your eye out for any freebies lurking amid the embarkation day edition of your daily newsletter. Be careful though, you will generally be asked to buy further spa treatments afterwards. Stay strong and walk away.
  2. Champagne Events
    Sure, like free spa events, these are set up to get you to spend money. More so even. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a lovely free glass of bubbly while perusing some beautiful art or having a cheeky window-shop amongst some shiny, sparkly jewellery. Leave your cruise card with your partner if you are worried about being tempted.
  3. Eat
    Seriously, you could eat almost all day on a cruise. You shouldn’t. But you can. In fact, it is so common for first time cruisers to overindulge, the P&O crew once did a stage musical number about it. Eating small, frequent meals is a great way to help keep sea sickness at bay and there is always food laid on. Have a good book to read? Grab a plate of cookies and sit out on deck nibbling while you get lost between the pages. Need to work? Grab your laptop and find a table by the window for afternoon tea at the buffet restaurant. Have the post grown-up-snuggling tummy grumbles? Order room service from between the sheets.
  4. Get Active
    After eating everything in sight as all new cruiselings do, you may be feeling the need to get a little active. The great big floating hotel you are on is designed to keep you amused for days on end without getting cabin fever. Look around, you will find activities like rock climbing, mini golf, ice skating, surfing, table tennis, water slides, flying foxes, basketball and more. Many of the activities on offer you would pay a small fortune to participate in back home, but on your cruise ship they are free to use time and time again.
  5. Work out
    Rock climbing isn’t enough activity for you? Pack your gym clothes; your workout just got a better view. How this happens for you will depend on your ship’s facilities. Some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have fully equipped gyms free from extra charge, charging only for classes. If your cruise line is not so generous, you could go for a walk or a jog around the deck. You will usually find a designated track for out on deck. Also, check the gym or daily flyer for free classes. Royal Caribbean offers certain classes like early morning yoga free of charge.
  6. Join In
    Grab the daily cruise flyer left in your room and find out what is on for the day. Depending on what is on offer you may be able to learn a new skill by taking a language or dance class. Brush up on your knowledge by attending an art seminar. Take a tour of the galley or watch a cooking demonstration from the head chef. Get a group together and participate in trivia competitions. Can you sing? Look for karaoke nights or join the ship choir. Like a little adult focussed fun? Go to a late night scavenger hunt hosted by Graham Seymore on RCCL and take some spare underpants.
  7. Get Your Game Face On
    From volley ball competitions to the ship’s sexiest man (the term sexiest is used very loosely in this context I feel), go out there and win. Beat them all at trivia or show them how you strut your stuff in an air guitar comp. Whatever you are good at, go out there and be the best. Or listen to your dear old Mum and go out there to have fun, it’s not about who wins or loses. But really, we all know it is about winning.
  8. Swimming
    Finding a cruise line not boasting about the number of pools and spas on board is no mean feat these days. There are pools for children, pools for the whole family, swim up pool bars for the over 18’s (or over 21’s if you’re leaving from the US), lap pools for exercising and pools in secluded areas for adults only. The list goes on. And then there’s the swimming off the boat. Last time we cruised to tropical islands, we made the decision that we were not going to book any tours and it was a brilliant thing to do. We swam at beaches near the cruise terminal, caught free shuttles to beaches further afield and had a decadently relaxing time. Many of the places we had visited we had been before but had never stopped in one place long enough to enjoy what was right in front of us. On our first shore day, my 17-year-old daughter was thrilled with just swimming, sunbathing, reading on the beach and soaking up the beautiful sounds of French being spoken all around her.
  9. Listen to Live Music or Take in a Show
    Aside from swimming pools, the other thing cruise ships are never short on is live music. There is a lot of publicity around the Broadway style shows on board cruise ships, but there is so much more in the way of live music and entertainment. Pianists performing in the atrium, guitarists at the English Pub, vocalists at the wine bar, jazz music served over ice late in the evening. I once even saw an accordion player advertised on a cruise I went on. Stand-up comedians, ice-skating shows, magicians, cirque troupes and more are likely to be found performing on the big stage or hanging from the ceiling.
  10. Watch a movie
    From big screens out under the stars to small screens in your state room, immersing yourself in a fictional world is a wonderful way to relax and while away the time while out at sea. Before you leave, load movies you love watching or have been dying to see on to your laptop to take with you. Now that Netflix lets you download movies to watch later, you can binge watch your favourites offline in bed at night. If you’re lucky there will be a free port on the TV in your stateroom to hook up to, so take an HDMI cable with you just in case.
  11. Snorkeling
    If you are heading to the islands, buy yourself a snorkel and flippers before you leave home. The abundance of underwater life in the Pacific Islands is staggering for any first time snorkeler. Kaleidoscopic fish of every shape and size glide in between intensely hued coral in every direction. If you have never been before, you will wait for your next shore day with anticipation after your first glimpse under the waves.
  12. Choose Your Own Adventure.
    It is tempting to book a tour everywhere you go, wanting to make the most of every moment you have on shore. But doing that can mean that you miss out of what is right in front of you. Do some research before you go and find out what you can do for free right off the boat. Auckland and Sydney are among the many cruise ports that offer free walking tours. Let the locals tell you stories about the places you are visiting and learn some of the history from the people who care about it the most. You will often find art galleries and museums free of charge not far from where you dock. Take advantage of your coastal location and go for a walk along the beach. Docking in Mount Maunganui for our Tauranga stop, we decided to explore the peninsula on which we had landed and it was a blissful day adventuring.
  13. City Circle Buses
    Again, do some research. If you are stopping at a capital city such as Auckland or Melbourne you will often find free city circle buses and trams that will take you for a ride around the city. They are a great, free means of getting to the galleries and parks you want to see.

Make sure you keep your eye out for special deals that include on-board credit. Last time we cruised our family got $300 per head to spend on board. For the six of us, that topped out at $1800 for us to spend on board. We were all checked in on what we were spending each day and it lasted us the whole ten day trip. Our free on-board credit paid for all our drinks, last minute snorkelling supplies for the children who had insisted they wouldn’t want to snorkel, internet access, photos and a spot of indulgent shopping for fresh water pearls and duty-free alcohol to take home.

Looking to save even more money?  If you are in a destination where you do not need to venture very far fom the ship to enjoy yourself, head back to board for lunch.

Now head on out there are enjoy the world!

As always,

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Hey there fellow Hobo - have some thoughts to share?