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AARP Rewards Online Community Cruise Contest 2024

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AARP Rewards Online Community Cruise Contest 2024

Whether you're a seasoned cruiser or a first-time explorer, we want to hear from you!   

 

The contest runs from April 8 through May 5, 2024. We will choose four (4) winners to receive a $300 AARP Rewards Cruise Line Gift Card! 

 

To enter, reply to this post before May 5, 2024, with your top tips, tricks, and hacks for leveraging AARP Rewards to elevate your excursion experiences.

 

Official Rules for the contest are posted here -  https://community.aarp.org/t5/AARP-Rewards-Connect/AARP-Rewards-Online-Community-Cruise-Contest-2024...

 

Share your top tips, tricks, and hacks for leveraging AARP Rewards to elevate your excursion experiences.  From booking strategies to excursion recommendations, every insight counts! Share now in AARP Rewards Online forum for a chance to win!

 

Example Post:

I went on my first cruise after winning a sweepstakes and have enjoyed cruising ever since that was 15 years ago! I love meeting new people on cruises and excursions.

AARPTeri
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It has been a long time since we have gone on a cruise!  But we did enjoy them.  We always purchased the drink package and took some excursions.  I really like reading all the tips on this thread and hope we can have access to it well after the contest so that when i book our next cruise i can gather all these tips!

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Before the night shows, check the nearby bars-there is usually a special drink(couple bucks)- order and take into show(there will cost

$7-$10 each 

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Would that matter if you bought the drink "package"?

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Try to arrive the day before your cruise departs, especially if your embarkation port is overseas.  Flight delays could cause you to miss the ship if you fly in on day of departure.

 

Join CruiseCritic which is full of help and information from seasoned cruisers about cruising in general and cruise lines and ships in particular.  Also look for a roll call for your cruise.  You can plan sharing of private shore excursions with fellow cruisers, letting you travel in a smaller group at a better price than ship excursions might be.  A great way to make new friends.

 

If you do book shore excursions through the ship, don't wait too long to sign up or the excursions you want may be filled up.

 

If you are going on a destination intensive cruise, do some research on the ports so you know where you can DIY and where an excursion is the best option.   For some ports you can find great walking tour information online.

 

Check with your cruise to see if you need to pre-book any activities or dining.  Some cruise lines let you book reservations for specialty dining restaurants and may have a time frame for doing so, sometimes based on your booked stateroom class.

 

If you plan to charge up multiple electronic devices don't pack a power strip with a surge protector built in to it - they can't be used on cruise ships.  

 

Pack anything you want to have with you in a carryon or tote that you will keep with you when boarding (meds, swimsuit, etc.) or you may be waiting for some time for your luggage to arrive at your stateroom.

 

Bring magnetic hooks which usually will work on the walls.   Bring a hanging collapsible shoe bag (the kind that has pockets) or something similar - this works great for holding things like sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.  and keeps that stuff off the shelves where you might have limited space.  

 

Want to travel light or carry on only? Bring a collapsible water bottle.  And a collapsible backpack that folds into its own pouch.   Lightweight rain jackets that fold into their own pocket pouch.   Packable puffer jackets for colder weather that also pack into their own pocket pouch.  A foldup shopping tote as well.  

 

Color coordinate your clothes to pack fewer items.  Women can accessorize with jewelry (leave the expensive stuff home) to change up their looks.

 

Traveling with a spouse who has large feet?  Ladies, you may be able to slip your sandals inside their shoes (I have actually done this!).  

 

If you can wear clothes that have some spandex/poly in them, you can find lots of clothes that can be literally rolled up and will unroll without wrinkles.  I have been able to pack a half dozen tops/skirts/slacks to wear to dinner in a small packing cube.

 

Get some inflatable hangers (I have a set my mom gave me back in 1970!!!).  These are great for hand wash and gym clothes.  If you hang a wet shirt on them, the inflation keeps the front and back from sticking together so they dry faster. (these work great for any kind of travel, not just cruising).

 

If your ship has self service laundry, bring a cloth laundry bag and a collapsible laundry basket - this will make carrying your dirty laundry and clean folded laundry a breeze.

 

Use a packing list - there are lots out there, many specifically for cruisers - which will help you make sure that you don't forget something you need.    And after your cruise,  look at what you did and didn't use on your cruise - that will help you with packing for the next one.

 

Consider travel insurance very carefully and seriously.  Friends have broken bones while on excursions, and I have seen people disembarked with medical issues mid-cruise.  Personally, I have broken a bone tripping onboard a ship once.  I also developed a severe respiratory infection bordering on pneumonia that required medical attention onboard and payment upfront, but travel insurance reimbursed the very substantial bill (over $2K - lots more than what I would be billed at home).  While it is not cheap, it can be invaluable if you require medical attention.  AARP members can also take advantage of the discount for Medjet Assist medical evacuation insurance (not the same as travel insurance).

 

If you are traveling to foreign countries, research the currency needed and plan for how you will get it.  Even in the Caribbean, some ports like Martinique use the Euro- some shops won't accept dollars and small vendors don't always take credit cards.  

 

Go with an open mind and heart and enjoy yourself!

 

 

 

 

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I have been on many cruises marib117, and I still learned a lot from your tips. Thank you very much.

Diana

Contributor

Great advice.  Can't stress enough that you should always, always, always fly into the port at least 1 day ahead of time!

Contributor

Spot on!  I had friends that tried to fly from Detroit the same day our cruise from Miami was to set sail.  They had 3 hours of flight delays, and almost didn't make it.  Despite getting on the ship with only 20 minutes to spare, they lost out on the early boarding perk they paid for and they were so stressed out it ruined everyone first night on the ship.  Not fun when 2 of the 5 people in your cruise party are fighting.  The 1 night hotel stay before your cruise is cheap insurance in helping protect your cruise/vacation, nerves, and maybe your marriage.  

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Since I travel almost every week, it can sometimes be tough to remember your room/cabin number.  To give me an easy way to quickly access this info, I take a close-up picture of my cabin room number and make it the screen saver on my smart phone for the duration of my cruise.  It has helped me on more than one occasion.

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I havne't been on a cruise yet, but have been told many times to get the drink package!

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Periodic Contributor

Each person has to decide how many drinks you will drink daily, then decide if you would get your money's worth. Also, everyone in the same cabin has to purchase the drink package, at least with Carnival. Do the math before deciding.

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Periodic Contributor

My first suggestion is to always buy the AARP cruise gift cards to save 10% on your cruise! You can buy extra gift cards to take onboard to add to your Sail and Sign account to save 10% on onboard purchases, too! We don't buy drink packages unless we use OBC to cover the cost because we don't drink enough to justify it. We buy the 6-packs of soda on the Carnival website ahead of our cruise--they are in our cabin when we arrive! We only get our free VIFP water now since the water packages cost so much. We ask for our ice bucket to be filled every day. When the ice melts, you have cold water! Before the ice melts you can add it to the faucet water to have cold water to drink. On Carnival, there are several included options for lunch besides the Lido buffet. Breakfast in the MDR is served on port days, and Seaday Brunch on sea days--both of these options are included. Bring your own water container to fill to take ashore--when it is allowed--so you don't have to buy bottled water. There is a lot of information on the Carnival website, and we watch YouTube videos about cruising and follow cruise content creators on social media. Research as much as you can to make sure you get the most out of your cruise!

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Bring a reusable water bottle or cup with straw for your fill up of free juice, water or iced tea. Eat in the dining room to try a different food. Attend an art show to get a free art and a glass of champagne. Bring a small night light for the room it helps at night. Always purchase the AARP cruise gift cards and apply to your sail & sign account once on board the ship.

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I like to make sure that I bookmark all types of information regarding my upcoming trip, in one place. Then when the time comes, I can refer to everything I’ve saved, including tips, suggestions, etc. 

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best advice I could give is to purchase your cruise with the AARP cruise line gift cards.  I have done this once last year and plan 2 more trips this year.  I also purchase Southwest AARP gift cards to pay for my tickets.  

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Do not overpack. In fact, stay as close to a carry on as you can. You don’t really need a lot of clothes for a cruise. Purchase a small downy wrinkle release for those clothes that get more wrinkles. No one is judging you for wearing something twice. We are all having fun. Even better, you have more perks than most with AARP!

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I've been cruising since 2006. I always take magnets and put them on the outside of my cabin door,  all the cabins start looking the same but now you can find your room easier! Download the cruise line's app, you'll find the daily activities listed there. I try to preplan a few things for the next day (don't over plan, relax!!!). I also pay the small fee for the chat feature, so that I can keep up with the family as we spread out for our activities. Stay on the ship on port days (or come back early!)...they have great drink specials while everyone is off the ship.  Don't overpack, don't worry to much and get the balcony room, it's worth it!

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Visit the on-board liquor store for great bargains! They will hold your purchases until you disembark at the end of the cruise.

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Info Seeker

I start my cruise with a thin pocket folder for all related documents, flight information and passport so I don’t forget to pack. Two items to include is one small roll of postage tape. Great for rough seas. Tape bathroom door and bureau draws from opening and closing. A tiny flashlight helps in finding dropped items.  These are two items not common in other type trips. Very helpful in many ways. Looking forward to my next cruise this summer.

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Love the “tape” suggestion!

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I have been on a couple of cruises and love them.  I believe getting the drink package is well worth it if you plan on drinking.  Also, not going on excursions gives you a lot more room in the pool.  Look over the itinerary every night so that you don’t miss anything.  Enjoy!

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Regular Contributor

I have been a couponer for over 10 years and I will say I am at the expert level. With that being said, I use coupon strategies in my every day life to save money. So when it comes to planning vacations, including cruises, I continue to use these tips, tricks and hacks.
Begin by planning early. Yes, planning a cruise 1-2 years ahead of time gives you lots of time to save money and plan. Planning early gives you better options and planning well in advance gives you opportunities to hit the sales on cruises and excursions. Black Friday and Presidents day are typically the couponers dream days to shop because of deep discounts and cruise lines have sales too! The time of year you want to set sail, will also dictate cost. You will pay more during the summer and winter holiday times. The lower prices seem to be in the months of January and September. Another tip is using price drop alerts. Another strategy, is last minute cruise deals. If you are not a planner, you might strike a deal using the last minute cruise options. These deals are there to insure cruises are full. The choice of rooms may not be optimal, but there are some deals to be had. The next step would be choosing the right cruise line, this is essential. There are cruise lines that are cheap to luxurious. There are kid friendly, adult only, and so on. Different cruise lines have different destination options as well. Once you have chosen the cruise line you would like, your destination and time of year, its time to purchase your gift cards. Using gift cards can save you up to 10% on your cruise. Currently, you can purchase Princess, Holland, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises gift cards directly from the AARP website under AARP Rewards. Keep in mind you should buy the gift cards BEFORE you book your cruise, because some cruise lines only allow you to pay with gift card for a new cruise booking and not for an existing cruise. Paying for the gift cards should be done on a credit card that gives you some type of benefit. Some give you 2% back on all purchases.and up to 5% on travel. If you are not receiving perks from your credit card then it’s time to look into getting a new credit card! Using these couponing strategies and AARP gift cards to lower your out of pocket expense and cash back on your travel purchases will have you saying “Bon Voyage!”

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Newbie

cruise onward>>>>>

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Community Concierge

Hi Nick! Check out this link for cruises: https://aarp.info/43OZqJg -Sue J

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Periodic Contributor

I've been looking into cruises and I see there are so many ways to save using my AARP member benefits. I see that i can use my AARP rewards points to purchase discounted gift cards for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Holland America Cruise lines with 10% savings, or Princess cruise gift cards with 8% savings.

 

Clicking the "Travel" tab brings me to articles with tips on ways to save money on vacation, especially https://www.aarp.org/travel/vacation-ideas/cruises/, which has a bunch of articles related specifically to cruising. There's also the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia with awesome deals on cruises, as well as flights, cars, and packages.

 

May 2020 was supposed to be my first cruise ever to celebrate my 50th bday and 25th wedding anniversary, but of course it was canceled, so i don't have a lot of tips to share about actual cruising, but i know how to save money and AARP can help me do that when the time finally arrives to take my first cruise (trying to get my first mate "onboard" again). Winning a gift card could sway the odds in my favor. 😅

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I need a cruise!!

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Periodic Contributor

I went on my first cruise after winning a lottery.and have enjoyed cruising ever since 

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I have cruised many times and greatly enjoy it! One tidbit of advice is to plan your days to coincide with your sleep time and you will enjoy your vacation a lot more! Example: if tomorrow morning you and your husband are going on an 8AM journey to look at waterfalls, DO NOT stay up the night before until 3AM singing Karaoke in the martini bar. Save that for a night you plan to sleep in the next morning and maybe have breakfast delivered to your room to enjoy on your balcony. This ensures you won't need a "vacation from your vacation". I have not been an AARP member for my past cruises, but this time my hubby and I are taking advantage of all the AARP perks planning our 2025 cruise. So excited!!!

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Periodic Contributor

I use AARP carnival cards to buy cruise cash at a discount for on board purchases 

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Community Concierge

@Rhodonite  That's a great tip! We love hearing about how our benefits are being used. Thank you!  Jodee R.   

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Bring clothes pins.  Your shower has a small pull across clothes line to hang your bathing suits, etc.  It’s very helpful for handwashing your clothes.  

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