31 secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you

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Cruise ship life can be a little mysterious. Your choices aren’t always spelled out in black and white.

The more you cruise, the more you pick up on the unofficial secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you — which give you more options, let you save money and generally allow you to have a better time onboard.

Maybe it’s knowing what your cabin steward is able to bring you or what the off-the-menu items are at the bar or dining room. Or perhaps it’s a tip on getting a good deal on an onboard purchase.

But why wait to figure these things out the hard way — possibly after you’ve missed your chance? We trawled through all the great advice on Cruise Critic’s message boards to bring you some of the worst-kept cruise secrets — at least among readers who love to share. But whether you’re a first-time cruiser or an old sea dog, you might find there’s something here you didn’t already know.

Unlimited main dining: You are not limited to one of each appetizer, entree and dessert in the main dining room. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you choose. You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrees as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you’ll like (escargot, anyone?).

Cheap or free room service: Room service is generally free, except for service charges on certain lines. Celebrity’s late-night orders bear a $4.95 fee, while all orders on Royal Caribbean (excluding continental breakfast) and Norwegian (excluding morning coffee, continental breakfast and orders placed by Haven Suite passengers) cost $7.95. Meanwhile, Carnival and Holland America offer for-fee room service menus in addition to their complimentary menus. It’s recommended you tip your delivery person, but in-room dining is not the splurge it is at a hotel.

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