10 Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

Published on April 12, 2013 By Lauren

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  • Everyone knows that cruises have a very rich and luxurious look and feel, butt there are still ways to save money on a cruise. The truth is there are many ways to enjoy a cruise with all of the bells and whistles, even if you are on a shoes string budget! If you have wanted to learn how to save on a cruise, you have come to the right place. Below, you will find ten tips savvy travelers know and use when it comes to cruising.

    Saving on a cruise is simple, and does not require a great deal of work or research. It just requires making a few informed choices when booking and participating on your cruise. Take a peek at how easy it is to enjoy a cruise for less.

    Ten Tips for How to Save on a Cruise:

    1. Know what you are paying for.

    This is key since most cruises are all inclusive, meaning the price includes meals and some activities. Always read the fine print or talk to customer service so you know exactly what is included in the cost of your boarding ticket. You will want to know if extra cash will be required for additional meals, snacks, excursions, etc.

    2. Insure your trip.

    Most people don’t worry about travel insurance these days, but cruises are a bit different and it should be considered. An unexpected storm or hurricane can drastically affect the quality of your trip. So therefore, insurance of some sort is wise. Your personal life/home/auto insurance agent can help you with this and combined with the insurance you already have, you can usually get away paying a very minimal fee for this.

    3. Take advantage of the off season.

    Hurricane season is the cheapest time to cruise. No worries, hurricanes are watched for carefully by staff and well avoided. May, September, January, and February are the least busiest times for cruise ships and will assure you get the best values. Cruise lines run specials at these times to fill their ships, so check them out when planning.

    4. Research your excursions.

    Excursions can run anywhere from $20.00 per person to $200.00 per person. A simple trip to the beach is easy enough for any tourist to do on their own and you should not pay the cruise line extra to take you on these excursions. For something more complex, consider a ship sponsored excursion. Again, watch the fine print to be sure you know what it is costing you.

    5.  Tip in cash,

    A big part of cruising is tipping the employees who will be assisting you all week. Most cruise lines make it easy by automatically adding it on to your shipboard account each day. But instead, ask to tip in cash. This will keep you abreast of what you are spending each day on tips.

    6.  Budget on board spending.

    Bring along an envelope for each day of the cruise, each with the amount of cash you have allowed yourself to spend each day. Use what you have budgeted yourself when shopping each day, otherwise your spending can really add up and become out of control. Massages, bingo, excursions, and snacks can add up, so this system helps.

    7. Don’t package your cruise and airfare together.

    It might be tempting to book your flights with the cruise line, but book your own flights. You will be able to find a better deal using Orbitz and the other money saving booking sites. You are given lowest price guarantees and price matches which help you score the best deals.

    8. Skip the soda.

    Now a days, cruise lines will offer you a wrist band that gets you unlimited soda on your trip. These can run as high as $75 for the week. Multiply this by a family of 4 and your are spending a load of cash on soda. Say no to wristbands and pay cash for drinks or opt for the free options instead.

    9. Unplug!

    Don’t pay big bucks for modern day conveniences like cell phone or computers. Using a cell phone or internet on the ship will cost you extra fees and usage charges, as much as $10.00 a minute. If there is an emergency, you will have a room phone. Otherwise, be prepared to unplug and save.

    10. Opt for a smaller stateroom.

    You are going to be so busy having fun in the sun, at the onboard shows, and enjoying the grand buffets that you will hardly be in your room. Opt for a smaller less fancy stateroom. A larger one or one with extra bathroom or verandah can cost you big. Scale down, use your room for sleeping and dressing only, and save.

     As you can see, there is a variety of ways to still set sail without throwing your budget to the wind! Just remember to be prepared, read the fine print, budget carefully, and then you will be able to peacefully set sail with more cash in your pocket!

     For more travel ideas – check out my articles on how to save on travel.


  • The envelope system won’t work on a cruise ship. The bartenders can’t take cash, that’s why you have your sign and sail card. You can check your account frequently on board, but cash is a no no.

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