Cruises can be a great way to relax and see different parts of the world, and are especially good options for those on a tighter budget. After all, with the all-inclusive pricing that cruising offers, you can get your transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment with one upfront cost. Sometimes, traveling to these same destinations on your own can end up costing a lot more. If you aren’t careful, however, cruising can be just as expensive—if not more so. The following are some ways you can cut down on your cruise costs:
A limited amount of beverages are included with your cruise ticket—usually just filtered water, and possibly juice or tea. If you’re content with the selection that’s included, you won’t have to worry about paying extra. But if you want soft drinks, juices, or alcohol, you’ll usually need to pay an additional fee per drink—and those costs can add up quickly. Decide early on (or even before your cruise) if you’ll be sipping more than what’s included for free, and take advantage of a beverage package. Offered by most cruise lines, these packages require an upfront cost, but will offer an unlimited (or a certain number) of other beverages throughout your trip. It may seem pricy, but if you’ll be buying the drinks anyway and separately, it will save you a lot of money. Finally, you’ll also want to ask the cruise line you’re traveling with about their outside beverage policy. While some cruise lines won’t allow passengers to bring any outside beverages aboard, others will allow it—up to a certain amount. If you’re traveling with a cruise line that does allow you to bring your own drinks, be sure to take advantage of it.
Excursions can easily add a lot of money to your cruise, especially if your trip is long and/or you’re a larger group. When you book your cruise, look out for incentives, such as excursion credit. Booking with one party, as opposed to another, might offer a lot more enticing promotions that can help you cut down on your costs overall. You should also consider booking activities on your own, rather than the cruise line. If they are places that are easy to get to, for example, you can usually just take a taxi for a fraction of the cost. Assuming they are close enough to the ship and you give yourself ample time, there is little risk of missing the ship when it’s time to leave for the next port of call. If you can plan most or all of your excursions on your own, you’ll likely save a lot of money on your cruise.
If you have plans to go to the spa during your at-sea days, you’re not alone: this is when most passengers plan on going, and not only will you have to worry about limited availability, but you’ll pay top dollar. Instead, consider taking a short break during one of your in-port days to relax at the spa, and you’ll usually be able to take advantage of a nice discount. You can also visit a spa at one of your port cities, which could cost a lot less than what the cruise ship charges for similar services.
Internet on cruise ships is very slow and very expensive. Don’t bother with the high fees when you won’t get much done anyway. Instead, wait until you’re docked and go to an Internet café. You won’t spend as much and the connection will usually be a lot stronger. If you have a tablet or smartphone with you, you might not even need to go to an Internet café. A lot of public places offer free Wi-Fi for paying customers, so whether you’re having lunch at a restaurant or visiting a local museum, you’re bound to find a place to get online at no extra cost.
Whether they’re planned photoshoots on board, or candid shots taken when you’re disembarking the ship, you’re bound to get your photo taken at least once by the cruise line’s on-board photographer. These pricey photos can just make your trip cost go up even more, but that doesn’t mean you have to go home without mementos of your vacation, either. Instead, just opt for taking your own photos with your digital camera, even if it means asking another passenger to get a photo of everyone in your party. Be sure to also take advantage of some of the beautiful scenery you’ll have when you’re in port, which can create some of the best photo backdrops of all.
Your next cruise
If you’re having an amazing time on your cruise and you’re already thinking about your next one, you can usually save money by booking your next trip on-board. Whether it’s exclusive booking prices or other promotions (such as on-board credit or free excursions), you can often take advantage of some great deals. You may only need to leave a deposit, or you may be required to pay for the trip upfront. If it’s far enough in advance, your trip will usually be refundable, too. So if you need to cancel for whatever reason, it usually won’t be an issue, as long as you do so within the specified timeframe. And if you find a lower price for the same cruise later on, you can usually receive a refund and rebook, or get your cruise price-matched and receive a refund for the difference.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.