Why Isnt Your Cruise Fare All
Cruise liners have to decide how they are going to earn their money from you being aboard their ship. Considering that they have an incredible number of staff, a huge amount of food as well as other huge costs, the profit margins arent enormous.
Due to that, a cruise liner will often sell tickets at a loss in terms of covering all their operating costs. Most of them make their profit from what passengers spend on board and this is why they have the additional costs.
The other way to do it would be to increase the ticket prices and then have almost everything as all-inclusive. Cruise liners though most feel as though passengers wouldnt be willing to pay for these higher ticket prices.
Bring Along Your Own Drinks
We would never recommend you do anything to violate the cruise contract. Almost all major cruise lines prohibit you from bringing bottles of liquor and beer onboard. However, you can save money on cruise drinks by packing your own bottles of wine. Most cruise lines allow two bottles of wine that can be consumed at dinner or in your stateroom . This puts a little less stress on your wallet, and lets you spend your funds on those frozen cocktails poolside.
How Much Money Should You Save For A Cruise
This will depend on what you plan to do and how much your booking costs. You should save up at least the amount needed to book the cruise. There is nothing worse after a fun vacation than having to pay off a hefty credit card bill when you get home.
Its also a good idea to save some extra money to spend on your cruise. If you decide to get pampered at the spa, go to a special dinner, or book an excursion, you will have the money set aside to do so. Just make sure that you keep track of your spending.
When you buy things on a cruise, whether it is booking a service or paying for a cocktail, it will be charged to your room. If you are not careful, these costs can really add up.
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Expert Tips: How To Save Money On A Cruise
The cost of a cruise can add up quickly if you are not careful. That’s why we’ve put together these expert tips on How to Save Money on a Cruise.
Taking a cruise is one of the best ways to travel to new places, experience different cultures, and visit remote areas of the world. Cruises can be one of the most affordable vacations too as most of the amenities onboard are included in your fare. Even still, costs for cruises can add up quickly if you are not careful. Thats why weve put together these expert tips on How to Save Money on a Cruise.
Get Free Room Service On A Cruise
Room service is often associated with high fees in hotels. Yet unbeknownst to some passengers is that many cruises offer room service complimentary to guests.
As of 2020, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, and Disney all still offer a nice room service menu that is free. After briefly disappearing in 2019, even Carnival has brought back free room service to passengers now in 2020. Throughout each of these cruise lines, some premium items may have a small charge. But menu items like sandwiches, salads, burgers, pizza, etc are often available free of charge. Desserts too!
Personally, we like ordering a cheese plate to snack on while getting ready. Celebritys grilled chicken skewers with yogurt sauce is a particular favorite for a tasty snack. How about late-night cookies & milk? Yes, please!
Do check to confirm if your cruise has complimentary room service. Or just look for the menu in your stateroom. Note that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian do not offer free room service on their cruises. Yet even those two cruise lines still offer some limited cold breakfast offerings and coffee as a complimentary room service options in the morning hours.
|$9.95 per order|
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No Need For The Gym When You Can Use Stairs
Youre on vacation. Theres no need to spend it at the gym unless you really love a good workout.
Instead, simply hold firm on always using the stairs. Most large cruise ships have a minimum of 10 passenger floors . Set a firm rule to never use the elevator and youll end up burning lots of calories simply by trying to get from one place to another on these megaships. Often, youll get there faster too. That holds particularly true if your cruise ship has many aging passengers who must use elevators or kids who like to press elevator buttons.
If your cabin happens to be on a lower level, simply taking the stairs up to the upper deck for lunch and back down will burn approximately 100 calories, based on the estimate of 5 calories burned per flight of stairs. Considering that youll likely be making multiple trips up and down the ships stairs throughout the day, you can realistically burn several hundred calories just by going about your normal day aboard the ship. Do so. Then dont feel bad about getting the chocolate lava cake later in the night.
Take your FitBit or bring along an inexpensive pedometer like this which will track all your steps and calories burned too. You may be surprised at just how much walking you can inadvertently do on a big ship!
Shore Excursion Cruise Hacks
Shore excursions can be tricky beasts, particularly if youre new to cruising and dont want to pay for the often exorbitant fees charged by the cruise lines. Booking excursions through the cruise line can be very convenient and offers a hassle-free experience, but youll pay a hefty premium to do so. These cruise tips should help get you on shore with some spare cash to spend while youre there.
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Bring Your Own Water On Board
As Gary pointed out, another cost-cutter if you drink bottled water is to bring your own or buy some during port stops. Unless a cruise is all-inclusive such as on Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and other luxury lines, expect to shell out $4 or more for your water plus a tip. The same goes for wine and booze, if you imbibe. However, some companies have limits and/or taboos about BYO alcohol so check with them first. But if they let you carry it on you will save a bundle.
Bonus tip: Speaking of drinking, avoid those fancy cocktails that come with the glass. You wont want to pack the glass to carry home. They’re pricy. And the drinks are loaded with calories splurge on the food and desserts on board instead.
Bonus: Cruise Packing Hacks & Checklist To Save
Besides your usual clothing and toiletries, heres a checklist of cruise specific items to remember to pack:
- Waterproof Your Phone If you dont have a waterproof phone, youll want to make sure your phone doesnt become victim to pool splashes or ocean sprays. You also may not be comfortable leaving your phone unattended on a lounge chair. So with this Phone Dry Pouch, you can bring it in the pool with you and even dunk it in the water or bring snorkeling when ashore! Its also a convenient place to keep your cruise keycard. Its usually priced under $10 too, so its a great buy. Check colors available and prices here.
- Bottle of wine Most cruise lines allow you to bring aboard 1 bottle of wine per person. Be sure to take advantage of that. You must pack it in your carryon luggage and you must open it in your stateroom to avoid a corkage fee in the dining room.
- Use an over-the-door organizer for the bathroom It seems theres never enough space in cruise cabin bathrooms. We love this skinny and compact travel organizer that conveniently hangs from the back of the bathroom door to hold everything we need.
- Water bottle Stay hydrated onshore excursions without buying expensive bottled water. Pack a refillable lightweight water bottle like this CamelBack.
- Pop-up Beach Tent If youre taking a beach-heavy cruise like a Caribbean itinerary, this compact foldable pop-up beach shade tent can be a great accessory to bring with you.
- Passport Very important, dont forget!
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Save Money On Cruise Shore Excursions
Shore excursions can really add up and increase the cost of an otherwise affordable vacation. While I wouldnt say to never do shore excursions, you may want to pick and choose. You certainly dont need excursions in every cruise port.
One of the best ways to save money on cruise excursions is to do a bit of research ahead of time. Read cruise blogs, check YouTube videos, or where people will chat about what activities theyre planning in each port of call.
I like to pick and choose where Ill opt for an island tour or special activity, and where our family will head over to a local beach and enjoy a more relaxed day in port.
If you are planning an excursion, you may want to book with a local tour operator or with the cruise line. There are pros and cons to this, which I go into in more detail in this post .
New information as cruises resume
Cruise lines are subject to new safety and health protocols as cruises resume following the pause in cruising. While these changes are not permanent and will change with time, cruise excursions will need to be booked with the cruise line in the early days.
Be Flexible About When You Travel
It can be easy to pinpoint an exact date that you want to travel, but without even knowing it, you may be putting yourself on a higher cost cruise. If you are flexible with your dates of travel, you may hit a cruise that is low on passengers.
Good to Know: Cruise lines may be wanting to fill up that ship, and with a little flexibility on your part, you can pay less for a cruise. Having a range of dates that you want to travel can make it easier for you to book a lower cost cruise that goes to the destination you are looking for. Certain dates are more popular like holidays, long weekends, and spring break.
Stay away from these travel times and look for dates that work for you but yield a lower rate. The more flexibility you have combined with off-season travel can produce quite a savings on your cruise.
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Focus On Free Food And Activities
You can spend a lot or a little onboard, depending on whether you take advantage of every extra-fee activity onboard or if you show some restraint. Spa treatments and date-night dining are definitely worth a splurge, but if your budget is tight, you can have plenty of fun without them.
You can buy coffee at JavaBlue, milkshakes at Shake Shack, dinner at numerous specialty restaurants, and snacks at Cherry on Top or you can satisfy yourself with free food and drink at the buffet, main dining room, and food counters onboard. If you want to spend less, make it a priority to take advantage of the included offerings, rather than handing over your Sail & Sign card and racking up that onboard bill.
When it comes to entertainment, skip the IMAX movie and enjoy free flicks on the pool deck instead. Avoid spending money in the casino or spa by taking advantage of the free pool, fitness center, and entertainment staff-led programming. Dancing under the stars with your sweetheart is always free of charge and can be just as memorable as that couples massage.
Bring Your Own Drinks On The Cruise Ship
It can never be advised to sneak alcohol onto your cruise as this is almost always against their terms but a lot of companies will allow you to bring some alcohol onboard, usually a bottle of wine, which is a good offer to take up.
Also, its important to check their soft drink policies too as this can save money. Carnival allows 12 cans on non-alcoholic drinks to be taken onboard prior at boarding and also at each port. Having such drink readily available in your room can save a lot of money.
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Dont Book A Cruise If Its Not Right For You
First and foremost, only book a cruise if its worth it for your family.
Before we booked our 10-year anniversary cruise, my husband and I spent several days figuring out how to get the most bang for our buck. When all the costs were considered travel , lodging, food, entertainment, amount of work involved we realized that taking a cruise was truly the best deal for us.
But this may not be the case for everyone.
Before you start looking at cruises, consider how much a normal vacation would cost first. This helps to put the cost of a cruise in perspective, and will help you know whether the cruise you found is truly a good deal or not.
Steer Clear Of Photo Galleries
A well-timed selfie can come out better than a cheesy, staged photo in a gallery. – Photo by michaeljung / Thinkstock
Many ships employ their own onboard photographers and, for $20 to $30 per 8-by-10-inch image, you can purchase official pictures of your family embarking, eating, playing, dancing, and all dressed up for formal night. Instead of splurging for the official cruise line photos, nominate one member of your party to play photojournalist each day so you can save on this expense without missing a moment.
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Look At Shore Excursions Outside Of The Cruise Line
Booking shore excursions through the cruise line is SUPER easy, but you can often book directly with the company thats providing the excursion and save money!
Search online to see what excursions are available for your cruise. Then search your port for excursions. Read descriptions and reviews carefully to see if any of them are the same. Then compare prices to see which is the better deal.
On most cruise lines, youre guaranteed that the boat wont leave without you if you book your excursion through them. BUT, if you book the same excursion that the cruise line is using, but book directly through them instead of through the cruise line, youll still make it back to the boat on time .
Drive To The Port Of Call
One of the easiest ways to save money on a cruise is to drive to the port of call. This can save you on airfare, especially is you live in a departing city.
While you may have to plan an extra day of travel to drive, you can save a bundle by using your own car.
- Your gas mileage will certainly cost less that taking a flight there and back.
- Youll also be in control of your travels as you can leave when you want to or even stop at some sights along the way.
- You wont have to worry about delayed or canceled flights as you drive your way to the port to hop aboard that ship.
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Tips For Saving Money On Your Next Cruise Booking
Cruising is one of the best vacation values out there, with your room, several free restaurant choices and oodles of daytime and evening entertainment included in the cruise fares. But that doesn’t mean the per-person ticket price is always cheap. If you’re a bargain hunter, there’s always room to knock a few extra bucks off the cost of your cruise vacation.
So, how exactly do you save on a cruise? Cruise Critic’s crew of expert cruisers has a few suggestions, from carefully picking your cruising date to departing from a port close to home and taking advantage of onboard booking perks.
Here are our five top tips for saving money when booking your next cruise:
Bring Snacks With You On Boarding
You know the rules about bringing alcohol on a cruise ship. But did you know that you CAN bring snacks with you on the ship? The rules say they need to be pre-packaged but apart from that, you can bring almost anything. If you have a favorite item that you love to munch on, bring it from home instead of having to pay to get it once you get on the ship.
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Purchase A Beverage Package
Drinks can quickly add up on vacation. Fortunately, savvy cruisers can save money on alcohol by purchasing a beverage package. You get unlimited beverages throughout your entire cruise. Cocktails, wine, draft beer, soda, juice, and more are included. A drink package like this can save you up to $178 per day on your cruise.
Book Early But Monitor Prices
It can be a safe bet to book a cruise as early as possible to lock in a low rate. Booking a cruise more than a year or two in advance of the sailing often yields attractive prices. But when booking early, its extremely worthwhile to continue monitoring fares.
If the price of a cruise changes, then you can usually change your booking to take advantage of the new pricing. Unlike when booking airfare, most cruise fares are cancelable and changeable up until a month or so before the sailing date. So after booking a cruise, keep a watchful eye on those prices. If you find a more attractive offer to the cruise youve booked, call your booking agent immediately to have them either change your reservation or to cancel the old reservation and rebook the better deal.
But dont only monitor cruise price itself. Although you may see prices are remaining the same, there could be attractive promotions making it worthwhile to alter a cruise reservation. It could make sense to rebook your cruise if you later notice valuable promos being offered. Cruise lines love to entice passengers with offers such as complimentary beverage packages, onboard credit, or free cruise wifi minutes.
Be diligent to check the price often or consider paying for a service to alert you of price drops. Whenever we book a cruise, we simply bookmark the cruise listing and check it regularly for price changes. If you have a really good travel agent, thats something they can keep an eye on for you.
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