Are you planning on taking a Princess cruise? It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Princess. Learning the ins and outs of any cruise line takes a lot of experience and research – but you don’t have to do that. I’ve done the hard work for you! From how to earn extra on board credit to what you should wear for formal nights, I’m giving you my 21 top Princess cruise tips to make the most of your vacation at sea.

Disclaimer: I may receive a small commission when you make a purchase from a link on this site, at no added charge to you. I was not sponsored by Princess or any other companies I mention in this article. I paid for and personally used all products and services I recommend, and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

1. Read the Princess Patter

If you’re a seasoned Princess cruiser, you’ll know that the arrival of the Princess Patter in your stateroom mailbox each evening is a highly-anticipated event! But if you’re new to Princess or new to cruising in general, you may be wondering what is the Princess Patter, and why is it important?

The Patter is a daily newsletter that shares tons of important information for the next day. It gives a detailed list of all the day’s activities, along with a weather report, scheduled arrival and departure times on port days, and notifications of any changes to the itinerary. It also specifies the dress code for the following evening (smart casual or formal), along with opening and closing times for restaurants, bars, and shops.

Reading the Princess Patter thoroughly is important to keep you in the know – things can change on a cruise!

On a Panama Canal cruise, we were surprised by the Captain’s announcement that due to weather, our scheduled stop at Princess Cays was being replaced by a stop at Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Understandably, not everyone heard the announcement. However, it was also posted prominently on the front page of the Patter, and lots of people still missed the change!

You’ve probably seen news articles (or YouTube videos) about passengers who get left behind in port. A common reason why this happens? The departure time was changed, and the cruisers missed the announcement in the newsletter.

Definitely take a few minutes each evening to read the Princess Patter. Any really important announcements and changes will be on the front page, so read at least that to avoid missing important information for the next day.

2. Use up those old coffee cards! There’s a new coffee package…

For years, Princess sold the New Grounds Coffee Card that allowed you 15 specialty coffee drinks, along with unlimited brewed coffee and tea. The cards were transferable and could be used on multiple cruises. Many people hacked the system by saving one punch spot on their coffee card, enabling them to get free brewed coffee and tea…forever!

Recently, Princess transitioned to an onboard account based specialty coffee package, much like how their other beverage packages function.

This new program isn’t entirely transferable like the paper cards were, but they do allow some flexibility. The specialty coffees can be given to another passenger, but the brewed coffee and tea may only be consumed by the person who has the package on their account.

coffee drink
Can’t function without your morning latte? The coffee package may be for you! (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

The biggest change with this program is that if you don’t use all of your specialty coffees during your cruise, you forfeit the rest.

Another change to the program is that the amount of specialty coffees you can order is based on the length of your cruise.

Make sure you order your coffee package online at least four days prior to your cruise – it won’t be available after that.

Can you still use the old Princess coffee cards?

So what happens if you have one of the old cards, and it has no expiration date (some do and some don’t)? When Princess transitioned to the new coffee program, they announced they would continue to accept the cards through August 31, 2019.

If you have an old card without an expiration, I’d still take the card and try to use it. The worst that can happen is they say no!

3. Everyone can request a bathrobe

One of the perks that Princess lists for suite passengers is plush bathrobes. If you’re not in a suite, you might think that you can’t have a bathrobe…but you can! Just ask your cabin steward when he comes to introduce himself on embarkation day. Plus, he’ll deliver them on hangers, which there are never enough of in cruise staterooms (you can also ask for extra hangers while you’re at it).

You’ll be glad you did, because stateroom bathrooms are tiny and steamy. There’s no ventilation! It’s nice to cool off after a shower in your robe before you get dressed.

Wondering what else your cabin steward can (and can’t) do for you? Read Eight Things That Will Surprise New Cruisers to find out.

4. Try the afternoon tea

A white-gloved waiter serves afternoon tea (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Princess offers a free British-style afternoon tea each day. Finger sandwiches, cookies, biscuits and cakes are served by white-gloved waiters. This is a rarity among cruise lines these days, and it’s a nice mid-afternoon treat for a sea day, or if you decide to head back to the ship early from port.

Check the Patter for locations and times.

5. The Shopping Talk – should you go?

You may notice an announcement in the Patter about a shopping talk, hosted by the ship’s Shopping Host. Shopping hosts are cruise line employees who are paid commission by specific stores on land that they have a relationship with.

Your shopping host will encourage you to visit these specific shops, will give out coupons, and will sometimes even be in a shop (usually a high-end jewelry store) when you visit ports.

Don’t be fooled – the shopping hosts work on commission, and may not be pointing you to the best stores, just the ones that will make them money.

However, before you decide to skip the shopping talk altogether, the shopping guides are a wealth of information. They’ll often tell you the best way to get around the ports, and other information about what’s going on when you’ll be visiting. Just take their advice about the “approved” shops with a grain of salt.

If you go, make sure to sit near the front, because they often throw prizes during the talk, and I’ve never seen them reach the back rows!

6. Enter some prize drawings

Many of the shops have drawings to win merchandise. Prizes that I’ve seen include a piece of art, a spa voucher, and even a piece of diamond jewelry! I’m not very lucky with winning anything in general, but I’ve won a pair of earrings and a necklace onboard (neither was of the diamond variety).

Check the Patter for the drawing times – you have to be present at the drawing to collect your prize. Lots of people don’t show up, and they will continue to pull names until they pick someone who’s there.

7. Ultimate Balcony Dining is a great value – but only for dinner

If you’re thinking of splurging on a dinner or two at a specialty restaurant, and you have a balcony, doing the Ultimate Balcony Dining is a fantastic alternative. At $100 per couple for dinner (you can book this for two or four people), you’ll get a vase of fresh flowers delivered to your room, hors d’oeuvres, a cocktail each (or a half-bottle of Champagne), an amazing multi-course dinner featuring lobster and steak served by two dedicated servers, dessert, and an 8×10 photograph.

Feel like royalty with the Ultimate Balcony dinner (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

We did the Ultimate Balcony Dining on our last Princess cruise, and it was fantastic. It lasted about two hours, and the servers didn’t hover over us (or wait inside our stateroom as I had feared). Although they couldn’t see us from wherever they were hiding between courses, our servers seemed to have an uncanny sense of when to clear our plates and bring the next ones.

An Ultimate Balcony Breakfast is also available, for $45, but it doesn’t come with the dedicated service, flowers, or a photo. They just set up your table and deliver the meal – it’s pretty much room service with elevated breakfast food. Although it’s half the price, my advice is to skip this one.

8. All about food and drinks on Princess Cays

Cabanas are available to rent on Princess Cays (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

If your itinerary includes a stop at Princess Cays, Princess’ private resort on Eleuthera, Bahamas you’ll be glad to know that food is included. Plus, if you have a beverage package, you’re able to use it on the island as well!

(Princess Cruises owns Princess Cays, but they allow Carnival cruises to visit as well. If you happen to be visiting Princess Cays on a Carnival Cruise, the CHEERS! Beverage Package doesn’t work – only Princess cruise passengers’ beverage packages are accepted here.)

The crew brings over food from the ship and cooks it on the island. It’s pretty basic beach food like burgers and hot dogs, side dishes, and cookies. The cookout is only available during specific hours. Be aware of this if you take a shore excursion – the food might not be still available when you return.

Tap water, iced tea and lemonade are available at no charge. There aren’t any soda fountains on the beach, and the canned soft drinks aren’t covered in any beverage packages.

Bonus Princess Cays tip: Bring water shoes and bug spray. The shore is a bit rocky, and the sand fleas can be annoying!

9. Bartenders make great friends

Make friends with your bartenders. This may be my number-one tip for cruising in general, but especially on Princess! I’m not saying this so you can get stiffer drinks or faster service (but you might…). I’m saying this because the bartenders know everything.

If you want to know where to find free WiFi in port, where to find a cheap but delicious meal at your next stop, or what’s going on onboard that you absolutely can’t miss, your bartender friends will know the answer. Not only do they live on the ship, but they chat with passengers all day long! They’ll know if the comedian performing that night gets rave reviews or is a dud.

Make friends with this guy – he’ll have the inside scoop! (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

One secret rule that I never knew about until recently (that I had to drag out of a Princess bartender) is that if a passenger is still sitting at the bar, the head bartender can’t close the bar service down and leave for the night. Unlike bars on land, cruise ship bars don’t kick patrons out – you can sit in a lounge all night if you want, even if the bar isn’t serving drinks. So keep on their good side by moving to a nearby chair when bar service is scheduled to close.

10. Get extra perks with Captain’s Circle

You can join the free Captain’s Circle loyalty program at any time after completing your first cruise. Unlike many other loyalty programs in the travel industry, you don’t lose your loyalty level if you don’t cruise for a while.

You can reach the next level by hitting either a certain number of completed cruises, or by total number of cruise days sailed. This way, those who tend to book longer sailings aren’t penalized.

Note that if you sail in a full suite or you’re traveling solo, you’ll get double cruise credit for that sailing! Just remember that if you’ll reach the next level due to days sailed, you won’t change levels in the middle of the cruise. Your new level will be effective on your next sailing.

What perks do you receive at each Captain’s Circle level?

GOLD

After your first completed cruise, you’re Gold level. You’ll be at this level from your second through third cruises. What does Gold Captain’s Circle status get you?

  • An additional discount off your cruise fare (for the first 2 guests in the stateroom) when you book early
  • Members Only Onboard Events
  • Access to a Circle Host Onboard
  • Every three months, you’ll receive Circle Magazine, featuring advance notification of promotions, itineraries, and ships, as well as behind the scenes information.
  • Access to Captain’s Circle Online, for extra benefits including the Refer-a-Friend program

RUBY

On your fourth through sixth cruises, or after completing 31-50 cruise days, you’re Ruby level. What does Ruby Captain’s Circle status get you?

  • All Gold benefits plus:
  • Free travel insurance upgrade: when you purchase Princess Vacation Protection, you’ll be automatically upgraded to Princess Platinum Vacation Protection.
  • Priority customer service phone number
  • 10% discount on the Reflections DVD. This is filmed live during your cruise, and is sold onboard in the Photo/Video Department.

PLATINUM

Platinum is where it starts to get good! On your 7th through 16th cruises, or after completing 51-150 cruise days, you’re Platinum level. What does Platinum Captain’s Circle status get you?

  • All Ruby benefits plus:
  • Priority check-in at embarkation: don’t wait in line! Platinum members plus anyone traveling with you in the same stateroom can go right to the Priority Check-In desk.
  • Platinum Members, along with everyone in the same stateroom, can use the Platinum Disembarkation Lounge, with light refreshments and a less-crowded atmosphere.
  • Each Platinum member receives a complimentary Internet package that can be used in the Internet Café or on your own device. (Voyages 7 days or less, 150 minutes; Voyages 8-20 days, 250 minutes; Voyages 21+ days, 500 minutes.)

ELITE

You’ve hit the big time! From your 17th cruise on, or after completing 151 cruise days, you’re Elite level, forever! Unless Princess changes its loyalty program, you can keep this level regardless of how often you cruise. What does Elite Captain’s Circle status get you?

  • All Platinum benefits plus:
  • Elite members can preview and book cruises before the general public
  • Priority tender embarkation: Elite members don’t have to wait in line to get on a tender to or from the ship. This applies to everyone in your stateroom, even if they’re not all Elite!
  • Priority disembarkation – you can let the Circle Host know what time you’d like to disembark.
  • Complimentary shoe polishing service, upon request.
  • Free laundry and professional cleaning services: just let your steward know!
  • Complimentary mini bar set up: you’ll receive a selection of liquors, soft drinks, beer, still and sparkling water in your stateroom.
  • Upon request, a complimentary selection of canapés will be delivered to your stateroom on formal nights. (This can be ordered by completing the card in your stateroom and hanging it on your door the night prior.)
  • Complimentary afternoon tea may be served in your stateroom. (Request this via room service at least six hours prior.)
  • No matter what kind of stateroom you’re in, the bathroom will be stocked with the upgraded amenities normally reserved only for Suite guests.
  • 10% discount in the onboard shops
  • Complimentary Grapevine Wine Tasting: this popular event usually costs $25 per person, and is not covered by any drink packages.
Swapping out your mini-bar setup

If you’ve reached the coveted Elite Captain’s Circle level, you’re not stuck with the selection of beverages they provide. You can call room service and have them swap the standard grouping for drinks that you prefer! They do have a limited selection, so your best bet is to ask for more of what you like from what they initially give you. They’ll replace the items you don’t care for with more of what you’ll actually drink.

If you’d prefer specialty coffees over liquor, beer, and soda, you can swap the mini bar setup for a coffee package. I’ve even heard of people switching out their mini bar for wine or bottled water. Just call room service and they’ll take care of the switch.

11. Princess has self-service laundry rooms

If you’re a fanatic about clean, pressed clothing like I am, you’ll be happy to know that Princess has a self-service laundry room on each floor. You can pay for detergent and the washers and dryers with your cruise card, and there are irons and ironing boards set up as well.

I like to take along a ziploc bag of powdered detergent and some fabric softener sheets – it saves a little money and I’m not stuck using whatever brand they have in the vending machine.

Don’t want to waste precious vacation time in the laundry room on your cruise? Read How to Prevent Wrinkled Clothes on a Cruise.

12. The adults-only pool is free

Get away from the noisy main pool area and visit the adults-only pool! (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

For some reason, many Princess cruisers think that the adults-only Lotus and Retreat Pools require a fee to enter. This is not true! These pools are free for all passengers 18 and over.

Maybe people confuse them with the (also adults-only) Sanctuary, which is fee-based?

If you want a quieter, less crowded pool experience, definitely check out the adults-only Princess pools. If you’re on a Royal Class ship, you can even rent a cabana at the Retreat Pool for a little added luxury.

13. How to get extra onboard credit

Onboard credit can be stacked on Princess, so don’t worry if you’ve already received some from a Princess promotion or from your travel agent – you can get even more if you’re eligible.

Not sure how onboard credit works? It’s loaded onto your account when you embark, and you can use it at the shops, specialty restaurants, and bars on board. You can also use it to purchase shore excursions, spa treatments, and photos on the ship.

Note that if you pre-pay for any of these things before your cruise, you won’t be refunded. OBC is only good for purchases made on the ship. Also, if you don’t use all of it by the end of your sailing, you forfeit whatever’s left.

Future cruise deposits

If you’re even considering another cruise in the next two years, it’s crazy not to get a future cruise deposit while you’re on board. This costs $100 per person and entitles you to OBC on your next cruise, up to $300.

Your $100 is held by Princess, and you can use it for your deposit for your next cruise. If you don’t use the deposit in two years, the money you paid is automatically refunded to your original form of payment. You can also request to have the money refunded before the two years are up, in case you completely change your mind.

Future Cruise Deposit on board credit by cruise length

  • 17 – 44 day cruises: $150 Balcony, Mini-Suite & Suite; $125 Interior & Oceanview
  • 11 – 16 day cruises: $100 Balcony, Mini-Suite & Suite; $75 Interior & Oceanview
  • 7 – 10 day cruises: $50 Balcony, Mini-Suite & Suite; $25 Interior & Oceanview
  • 3 – 6 day cruises: $25 Balcony, Mini-Suite & Suite; $15 Interior & Oceanview

I usually don’t like the idea of making a deposit on something I’m not sure I’ll be doing (I like to keep my money in my savings account where it earns interest). But this deal is too good to pass up.

For example, Mr. SBC and I both bought Future Cruise Deposits on our last Princess cruise. We used them to pay our entire deposit for our 11-day Scandinavia cruise this summer. Since we have a balcony, we’re each getting $100 in OBC. That’s a 100% return on our investment. I don’t know if you’ve checked savings account interest rates recently, but let me know if you find one that offers that kind of return!

Use a travel agent

We always use a travel agent when we book a cruise, especially because we often get extra discounts, reduced deposits, and on board credit. My pro tip? Look at various travel agencies to see what OBC they’re offering for your particular cruise.

When booking our upcoming cruise, I noticed that another travel agency was advertising OBC offered through a credit card issuer. We have that card, so I mentioned it to our travel agent. She made a few phone calls, and we got an extra $200 in on board credit.

Check out my Travel Resources page to see what companies I trust when booking our travel.

Refer a Friend Program

If you’re a member of Captain’s Circle, you can refer a friend who has never sailed with Princess and you’ll both get $25 OBC when they complete their first cruise.

If you haven’t yet made your first booking for a Princess cruise, reach out to a friend who has previously sailed. The application is quick and easy, and you’ll both receive the on board credit. More details and the application page are on Princess’ website.

Carnival shareholders

Princess is owned by the Carnival Corporation, so Carnival shareholders are eligible for OBC. You have to own at least 100 shares, but you’ll get OBC for each cruise that you take ($50 for sailings less than 6 days, $100 for 7-13 days, and $250 for 14 days or longer).

Carnival Corp. has a Shareholder Benefit PDF with more details (and how to apply).

Veterans

US and Canadian military veterans as well as active, retired or disabled military personnel are also eligible for OBC ($50 for sailings less than 6 days, $100 for 7-13 days, and $250 for 14 days or longer).

More details (and how to apply) are listed on Princess’ website.

14. Upgrade to Club Class

If you’re planning on booking a mini-suite, be sure to check out the Club Class mini-suites. Princess began offering this level in 2016 on select ships, and it’s now rolled out to the entire fleet.

On our Panama Canal cruise, we had a mini-suite, but Club Class was sadly sold out when we booked. I was surprised that the cost wasn’t much more than our stateroom’s cost, but it would have given us so many perks! I’m not surprised that they sold out so quickly.

Here’s what you’ll get with a Club Class mini-suite:

Premium location: The best locations among the mini-suites are reserved for Club Class, typically the mid-ship or aft spots that used to sell out quickly.

Exclusive Club Class dining: Formerly reserved for only full-suite passengers, the Club Class dining room is available for breakfast and dinner, as well as for lunch on sea days. There’s no wait for a table, and the upgraded menu options include tableside preparation.

An example of a Club Class dinner being prepared tableside. (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Priority embarkation and disembarkation: You can skip the long line to check in on embarkation day and head right to Priority Check-In. On the last morning, join the full suite and Elite passengers in the priority disembarkation lounge.

Complimentary wine: A half-bottle of red wine plus a half-bottle of white wine will be waiting in your stateroom on embarkation day.

Priority specialty dining reservations: If you’d like to make a reservation for specialty dining, you’ll have VIP priority.

Evening canapés: Upon request, canapés will be delivered to your stateroom each evening.

Upgraded bathrobes: You’ll receive the same extra-plush bathrobes normally reserved for full suites.

15. You can make reservations with Anytime Dining

If you’ve read my article about food and drink on a cruise, you’ll know that you can choose between a traditional set dining time and “Anytime Dining”.

We like to choose Anytime Dining because we’re not always hungry at the same time. But what about if you know that you’ll need to have dinner at a certain hour – like if you want to be sure that you get a seat for a show and you want to eat first?

You can make reservations for the main dining rooms, even if you have Anytime Dining. If you’ve noticed that there’s always a line for the dining room at 6:30 save time by making a reservation. Just call the Dine Line on your stateroom phone.

16. How to eat at any time…even 3 AM!

International Café

If you’re a night owl or a super-early riser, you may be wondering where to get food (or a coffee) outside of “normal” dining times. You have options!


The International Café on board Majestic Princess. (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Most Princess ships have the International Café in the Piazza, and it’s open round-the-clock! Food is complimentary, although there is a charge for coffee and tea. In addition to fantastic pastries and cookies, International Café also serves breakfast parfaits, panini and salads.

If you’re starving after a night of dancing or losing track of time in the casino, this is the place to go to refuel in the wee hours. If they have the curry chicken salad when you visit, give it a try – it’s my favorite!

Complimentary room service 24/7

While other cruise lines are moving away from free 24-hour room service, Princess still offers this with a limited menu. You can call room service from your stateroom phone, or place a breakfast order hang tag on the outside of your door the night before.

Tip: Do you want something that’s not listed on the breakfast hangtag? I’ve had success with writing extra requests on it, like non-dairy milk or a sandwich to save for later.

Do you have other questions about food and drinks on a cruise? I have answers. Read What New Cruisers Don’t Know About Cruise Food & Drinks.

17. Movies under the Stars

Complimentary popcorn service during Movies Under The Stars. (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Many Princess ships offer Movies Under the Stars, where they play recent films on the big screen. While you relax on your lounger, attendants will come around with fleece blankets, popcorn, or milk and cookies, for free!

18. How to plan for formal nights

Although Princess’ dress code in general is “smart casual”, your cruise will most likely have a formal night or two. All Princess cruises of five days or more will have at least one formal night.

What is Princess’ formal night?

On Princess sailings with a formal night, the dress code is elevated in the Main Dining Rooms during the dinner service. Most people who participate remain in their formal attire for the evening. Formal night almost always is in effect the same night as the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party (with a Champagne waterfall), which is a great opportunity for photos!

When is formal night?

The exact dates of formal nights are never announced before a cruise, but your embarkation day Patter should tell you when they’ll be happening.

But what if you want to book reservations based on when the formal nights will be? There are a few ways to narrow down which nights will be chosen.

  • Formal Nights are (usually) never on the first or last night of a cruise.
  • Formal nights (almost) always take place on a sea day.
  • Formal nights are (usually) not held two nights in a row.

We like to make an educated guess, and then make our specialty restaurant reservations for evenings that most likely won’t be formal. Why? The food in the main dining rooms is slightly elevated on formal nights. Also, the specialty restaurants can be busier on formal nights, because they don’t have a formal dress code. If lots of people on a cruise are avoiding dressing up, the specialty restaurant reservations can fill up fast.

On the first Formal Night, be sure to get in line for your photo with the Champagne waterfall! (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

What do I wear on Formal Night on a Princess cruise?

Do you detest formal clothing? You can opt out – the buffet never has a formal dress code. You can also order room service. If you plan on checking out a specialty restaurant (a cover charge applies) their dress code is always smart casual.

If you want to take part in formal night, you don’t have to wear an evening gown or a tuxedo, although many do, and that’s fine! I’ve had lots of friends and readers ask me what to wear for formal night (I spent 20 years in the fashion industry, in addition to being a cruise fanatic). I always tell them to dress as you would if you were a guest at a wedding.

Ladies, this is a great opportunity to re-wear those bridesmaid’s dresses you have hanging in the closet! (I can’t do this – the last time I was a bridesmaid was in the 90s. And I was six months pregnant). Recent bridesmaid’s dresses, I should say.

I always wear a knee-length cocktail dress and heels. Mr. SBC always wears a dark suit (I recommend a summerweight wool). We both feel comfortable in these kinds of outfits – we’re never the most dressed up passengers, and never the most casual.

For the guys on Princess’ formal nights, anything from a dress shirt and chinos with a blazer, to a suit or a tux is fine. If you really hate the idea of wearing a jacket, I’ve never seen anyone turned away from the dining room for not having one. Ties are also not a requirement.

For women, a dressy pants outfit can work, as can a less-formal dress (a dark color and some accessories can always make a casual dress look more dressy). Cocktail dresses and longer gowns are always a good choice.

Tip: To keep your formal night outfits looking good, my article How to Prevent Wrinkled Clothes on a Cruise shares all my secrets!

19. Try the Pub Lunch

I didn’t try the free Pub Lunch until my second Princess cruise, when my fave bartender talked us into it. It’s always held on sea days, sometimes in the Wheelhouse Bar, but often in the Crown Grill, normally a fee-based specialty restaurant.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the UK, and even lived there for a while, so I’m very familiar with traditional pub food. I usually don’t like going to faux British pubs, for the same reason I don’t go to “American-style” restaurants overseas.

Obviously, a cruise line isn’t going to be able to replicate the feeling of a village pub on a cruise ship full of tourists. But, what they did amazingly well was the food. I had the steak-and-kidney pie, and Mr. SBC had the bangers and mash. Of course we sampled each other’s dishes, and they were both amazing.

If you’re an Anglophile, a homesick Brit, or just in need of some comfort food, definitely try the Pub Lunch.

Read more: Princess Cruises Pub Lunch Review (With Menu)

20. How to get a bargain at the Effy jewelry store

If you’ve been on a Princess cruise before, you’ve definitely noticed the Effy jewelry shop on board (or your other half has!) They have beautiful pieces of fine jewelry in many price ranges – but none of it is cheap.

Haggling in Effy

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that my vacation tradition is to choose a piece of jewelry on most of my trips. It doesn’t have to be expensive; just something that I love. When I wear it I’m reminded of time spent with family and friends.

I’m also always looking for a good deal, and I despise paying full price for anything. In my travels, I always haggle if I know it’s part of the culture, or if I feel like the shopkeeper wants to play the game.

But on a cruise ship? Buying jewelry? You most certainly can, and you should.

I’ve had very good luck negotiating the price down in the Effy shops on Princess. Try on a few pieces you like, and check the price tags. That sticker price is just the starting point. If you like something and it’s a bit more than you’d want to pay, let the sales associate know. I can almost guarantee they’ll whip out a calculator and give you a better offer. Push back again, and the manager will be called over, with yet again a better offer. You can save a significant amount over the marked price if you do this!

The Final Call sale

Not into haggling? I get it, especially if you’re American like me. We’re more used to saving money with clearance sales and coupons.

Near the end of each Princess cruise, the Effy shop will have a Final Call sale, with clearance prices on certain pieces.

What’s in the sale? Older pieces, things they only have a few of. But the discounts are significant. Don’t try to haggle unless you’re braver than I am – from what I’ve seen, these are pretty rock-bottom prices. Also don’t expect top-notch service if you’re looking at these pieces. Margins are miniscule, so it’s likely you’ll have to flag someone down to try something on.

21. How to get free drinks on Princess

Alcoholic drinks are rarely free on Princess cruises, but if you’re looking to save on your alcohol budget, I have a couple of tips.

You might also like What Beverages Can I Bring On My Cruise?

Book during the Sip & Sail promotion

For the last several summers, Princess has offered a Sip & Sail promotion where the first two passengers in a stateroom receive a complimentary Premier Beverage Package (for select sailings and stateroom categories). You still need to pay for gratuities (18% of the total cost of the package will be charged to your account), but this is a savings of about $60 per day compared to if you purchased the package yourself.

Along with unlimited soda, juice, specialty coffees and more, you can get up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day. Drinks must have a menu price of $12.00 or less to be eligible, but that includes most of what they have on offer.

Check the Princess website beginning in June (or ask your travel agent to remind you) to see if this promotion will return.

Missed the Sip & Sail and you’re thinking about buying a beverage package? Read Is a Cruise Beverage Package a Good Value?

Attend events for free Champagne

If you didn’t get the Sip & Sail deal and you’re looking to maximize your free alcohol on Princess, I hope you like Champagne! Here’s a list of some of the events where you’ll often be served a complimentary glass. Occasionally another drink will be served, but it’s usually just bubbly.

  • Art Raffle
  • Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party
  • Captain’s Circle (past passenger) Party
  • Art Auction
  • Morning Mimosas at Effy
  • Lightning Fast Art Auction
  • Pink Party at Effy

Check the Patter for times and locations of these events.

Looking for more cruise tips? I have plenty! Take a peek at my tips page for even more insider cruise information.

Have you been on a Princess cruise? What’s your favorite Princess cruise tip? Let me know in the comments below!


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Looking for more tips for new cruisers? Check out our New Cruisers section!

About the Author

Carrie Ann is the founder of Should Be Cruising and a lifelong travel fanatic. A former flight attendant, she now prefers cruise ships over airplanes and spends several months each year cruising and exploring cruise ports. Facebook | Instagram

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