Taking a cruise is such a relaxing way to see the world, as all your transportation, food and entertainment are all arranged for you. One thing to keep in mind when booking your cruise is all the additional fees. If you aren’t careful all the extra fees for shore excursions, or alcoholic beverages can quickly add up and cost way more than the cruise itself. After taking a few cruises, I’ve learned a few useful tips that will help you save tons of money on your next cruise.
How To Save Money On Your Cruise
Skip The All-Inclusive Drink Package
Consider how much you plan on drinking each day. Depending on the cost of the acholic beverage plan, it might not be worth the additional price, which can sometimes be nearly as much as the cruise.
For example for a cruise line like Carnival, the fee for the all-inclusive drink package is around $60 a day, meaning you would need to drink at least eight drinks per day to breakeven. As for me, there is no way I could drink that much per day, which is why the package would never be worth it.
Look For Drink Specials
Throughout your cruise, there will be events where you can either get drinks for free or for a much lower cost. For example on the first night of the journey, there is often a party where you can meet the captain where you can get a free glass of champagne. Many cruises often also host events like art auctions or shopping events, where if you attend you can get a complimentary glass of champagne or a cocktail.
If you don’t want to attend an event to get free alcohol, make sure to take note of the drink of the day or happy hour. For example, most bar and the casino will offer a particular time when a certain drink is extra affordable.
On my last cruise, I was able to walk through the casino to order a $3 mimosa or visit during happy hour at another bar to get a cocktail for only $5 instead of the regular $9 price. Alcoholic drinks are also typically much cheaper in the bars around the ports too. While it might not seem like much, the savings can quickly add up.
Most cruises allow you to bring a certain amount of alcohol with you on board which you can drink within your room. If you have a room with a balcony, it can be especially lovely as you can enjoy your bottle of wine outdoors and enjoy the stunning view.
Cork The Bottle Of Wine
It is often much cheaper to order a bottle of wine than by the glass. At the end of the meal, you can ask your waiter to cork the bottle wine, and you can save it for the next night.
Don’t Over Tip
Your cruise will have gratuity fees already included in the bill that goes to the dining staff and cabin stewards. Plus each of your drinks will also have a tip included in the price to go to the bartender.
If you feel someone did an extraordinary job and you want to give them an additional tip that is up to you. But many will automatically give an extra 15% tip to all service staff when ordering drinks, or by filling the envelopes left in the room for tips without realizing they already prepaid gratuity fees.
Skip The Wifi Package
Going on a vacation is a wonderful opportunity to unplug and relax. Skip paying the daily wifi fee, and post all your photos and check your email once you return home.
If you really need wifi, most ports also offer complimentary wifi right near where you dock. If you do connect here just remember to stay safe and use a VPN, many offer free trials that can be perfect for your short cruise. Hubs like this tend to attract people looking to rip off naive tourists, so this extra step could save you a lot of hassle later on. Once connected, you can always quickly check in with family and friends here.
Do Your Own Shore Excursions
The shore excursions on cruise lines are often incredible, but they are expensive too. One way to save money is once you dock there will always be a variety of different tour operators selling tours for way less than the ones on the cruise.
The only thing to note is the tours offered by external companies vary dramatically in quality, and if they run late, you could miss your ship. So make sure the tour arrives back to port way before your scheduled departure time.
Another option is to wander around where the boat docks and see what there is to do in the area. Not only is this free, but there is often plenty to see and do right next to where you dock.
Wait For Last-Minute Deals
You can save big if you are willing to wait for a sale. Cruises, like Royal Caribbean that have a multi-day meal plan which lets you dine at the premium restaurants for a reduced price. On the first day of my Royal Caribbean cruise, these meal plans where on a huge sale, so I was able to save tons of money.
Also if you are willing to wait, shore excursions sometimes go on sale the night before if not enough people joined the activity. If you are flexible on what tour you want to do, you can save big.
Book A Guaranteed Stateroom
Instead of picking the exact floor and room of your stateroom, you can allow the cruise to pick for you, and save more money. You’ll still get a room no matter what, so it is a simple way to save more money on your cruise.
Pick An Inside Cabin
Sure the rooms with a balcony are fantastic if you want to spend a romantic evening enjoying the view. But, to save more pick an interior cabin and head to one of the exterior decks to enjoy the view for free.
Make Sure You Pack A First Aid Kit
Aloe, band-aids, anti-nausea medication or pain relievers are all much more expensive on the cruise ship. So make sure to pack your mini first aid kit just in case.
Take Your Own Photographs
Throughout your cruise, there will be photographers offering to take your photos. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars at the end of the cruise for the digital copies, take your own photos. Chances are there is always someone around that can help you take a photo if you need a group picture.
Wait For A Sale
Sign up for the cruise’s email alerts on deals to save more. Deals on additional perks such as free drink packages, or 50% off an extra person in the room are reasonably common. You can often find prices much lower on cruises in the offseason.
Take Advantage Of A Free Lunch
Many cruise lines have cafes or buffet locations where you can pick up a sandwich or a prepacked salad to bring with you when you exit the ship. Instead of buying your lunch while you are on your tour spend a few extra minutes and get a free lunch to bring with you.
Another option is if you are near the ship at lunchtime, you can board the ship to have a free lunch, then exit to continue exploring.