Taking control of your cruise

By Patti Pietschmann Pavlus BlogMaster

Photo by Richard Pietschmann

Head-spinning activities on QM2

Just because there’s a list of activities on your ship doesn’t mean you have to do them. Just because the cruise line sells shore excursions doesn’t mean you can’t go off on your own. If you want to plop in a deck chaise all day, do it. Or read in your stateroom bed or on the balcony. There are a lot of options and they’re all up to you.

And just because there’s a spa on board doesn’t mean you stuck paying high prices for a treatment. Do as this unconventional cruiser does and wait until you’re in port. Then check around for spas. Often services are much less than on a ship.

A Mexican mani/pedi for a few pesos

Photo of Patti by Richard Pietschmann

A  cruise on Oceania’s marvelous Marina from Florida to California I was desperate for a mani/pedi.  But the ship’s salon prices were out of my normal budget. So when the 65,000-ton luxury liner docked in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, I scouted out places to have my nails done for less  than the  $65 price charged by the  CanyonRanch Spa onboard. And ole, right there in the pyramid-designed terminal building, I discovered two enterprising young women,  Idalia Arteaga and Pati Cordova. The young women were  offering  manicures and pedicures for $10 US.

I quickly sat down and had my nails done. Throughout the day, a steady stream of passengers and crew stopped by the make nail appointments. The senoritas knew what they were doing.

Besides saving a few bucks, the experience was enlivened by  mariachis and dancers performing in the terminal. And while I preened, other  passengers shopped or went on shore excursions around this city that was established in the  1880’s by German immigrants. The port was built in 1975 but only became a cruise ship stop in 2006.

Passengers who love to shop, and most do, didn’t need to leave the building which offered chances to spend pesos, dollars or use plastic on souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, coffee and chocolate.

We bought coffee–one of the area’s major products– from  Michael Ghahramani—who owns a plantation and roasts the beans (www.rainforest product@yahoo.com).

Other cruise quirks or how we roll

Richard and I  cruise often. We’ve done some 400 voyages. And we’ve learned a few nautical, unconventional tricks. Some, back when we were very young, to save money. Others just for added convenience.

Photo by Richard Pietschmann

Engin, the butler on Crystal Cruises Serenity serves full meals in your stateroom

One of our quirks, if you will, is to enjoy as many dinners as possible in our stateroom. This is for comfort. We can dress very casually. And it allows us to pack lightly. You don’t need as many outfits when you use room service often. A few times during cruises on luxury ships such as Crystal, Seabourn, Silverea and Regent Seven Seas, we had room service dinner all but once or twice. On all but Seabourn you have a butler to serve your meals. Quite a bonus.  Seabourn does serve full meals in suites and they do it exceptionally well. Also for those of you who prefer not to doll up on formal night, room service is the answer. Just hang in your robes.

We also discovered that doing our own port tours often turned out more fun and cheaper than a shore excursion. We sometimes book a trip with an operator on shore. Or we just walk around the area and/or head for the nearest beach.  It’s good to move your legs when on land. You burn calories consumed on board.

Another money saving trick we use is to unplug our cellphone and communicate only by the Internet. Roaming charges can set you back a pretty penny. And it has for many people.

And our last  eccentricity is always trying to fly back a day or two before the ship arrives at its final destination. This is no always feasible. But when it works, it saves a lot of time when disembarking.

Bon Voyage. Be sure to contact Pavlus.com for all your travel needs.


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