Some money saving tips for cruises

My wife and I just returned from a 10 day Caribbean cruise. It was only our third cruise but it was the first time that we booked an inside cabin. Not only did we save money but the darken cabin made our sleep time more restful. We didn’t miss having a baloney as there were plenty of places on the ship to sit and enjoy the view. (Pack a night-light for your night-time bathroom visits)

Avoid specialty restaurants

Most cruise lines have expensive cover charges for fine dining at their Italian, seafood and steakhouses. It doesn’t make economic sense to book a package but look for deals on embarkation nights. You may get a 2 for 1 deal or a free bottle of wine if the restaurants are not busy.

Don’t automatically buy a beverage package

Most people won’t keep up the drinking pace needed to break even on these packages. These packages range in price from $8.00 per day for sodas to $55 per day for alcohol. Read the fine print, there could be some surprising restrictions such as per-meal or per-day caps and most are not transferable.

It’s often cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than a few glasses but what do you do if you don’t finish the bottle? Cruise ship waiters can mark the bottle with your room number and save it for another night or you can bring it back to cabin.

Go on your own on shore

Many people save money by booking independent shore excursions and sightseeing tours. It is important to have cell service at the port of call in case of problems like traffic jams or vehicle breakdowns which could cause you to miss the ship’s departure time. The main advantage to booking the cruise line’s own tours is that, ideally, the ship will stand behind its quality, and if the tour runs late, the ship will wait.

Seek spa deals by choosing your time wisely

Most of the time prices for onboard spa treatments rival what you would pay at luxury resorts on land. There are exceptional deals that could save you as much as 30% by booking your treatment on embarkation and port days. Plus sometimes, the spa will offer a discount near the end of your cruise.

Steer clear of photo galleries

Many ships employ their own onboard photographers. You can purchase official pictures of your family embarking, eating, dancing and all dressed up for formal night for $20 to $30 per 8-by-10 inch image. Ask your fellow passengers to take some pictures for you using your own camera or cell phone.

Avoid onboard internet

Internet access and Wi-Fi are the more expensive amenities at sea and prices range from 55 to 75 cents per minute. Satellite internet onboard is very slow and it could cost you as much as $7.00 just to read and respond to one email. Can’t live without internet, many ships will offer extra-minute specials if you sign up on day one. (Our cruise line offered 40 free minutes)

Laundry, pressing & dry cleaning

Cruise lines will gladly do laundry for you with prices starting at around $2.50 per item. Instead use the self-service laundry facilities which will only cost you around $5.00 per load. They usually feature an iron and ironing board in addition to washer and dryer. You could also pack a steamer to get rid of wrinkles or hang them in the bathroom when you have a shower.

Tips to enhance your dining experience

We always pick opening seating for our main dining room. It allows us the flexibility to spend more time in port, catch an onboard show or activity. We usually go for shared seating which allows for more interesting dinner conversations and the opportunity to make new friends.

In addition, you are not limited to one appetizer, entrée and desert in the main dining room. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you choose. You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrees as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you’ll like (escargot, anyone?).

Don’t miss the last formal night which offers some specialty dishes like Lobster or Beef Wellington. You don’t need a tuxedo or fancy evening gown to enjoy formal night. However, men do need to pack a jacket & tie and for women a skirt & blouse or cocktail dress will do just fine.

3 thoughts on “Some money saving tips for cruises

  1. Ahhhh, I’m so jealous. The only cruise my husband and I have gone on together (his first) was a 10 day Tahitian cruise. It was waaaaaaay too short!!!! I didn’t want to go home. We seriously lucked out (maybe cuz our folder said Honeymoon?) because a few days before our cruise, we were offered to upgrade from the Inside to a Concierge Balcony for not very much! (I think maybe $500?)

    We got a lot of valuable perks with it (including free internet, shipboard credit, etc.) but my husband ended up getting sick and was quarantined – he wasn’t allowed to leave the room for 24 hours! Poor guy. Thankfully, we had the balcony so he could still see what was outside!

    Agreed with the beverage package – one night, the Captain had open bar, so of course we went for a few before dinner. But alcohol + moving ship = BAD COMBO. I felt so sick throughout our specialty dinner (which was included) so I totally regret having any alcohol whatsoever.

    We spent a bucket load on excursions, which we opted to do through the cruise line. We probably could have saved ourselves some money if we had done research and found private excursions, but I was so afraid of potentially missing the boat on the way back and having the ship depart before us! Some of the French Polynesian islands were pretty remote and didn’t even have scheduled excursions, even through the ship as they weren’t very touristy areas (but you got a real taste of French Polynesian life and culture!)

    The only thing we did on our own was book an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, which was the experience of a lifetime! However, having done it on our own, it was a bit stressful as it was on its own private island, but we needed to be back at the ship for 8 am but the resort’s water shuttles didn’t start until then! We had to get special accommodations for a boat to come pick us up at 6:30 am so we could take a taxi and be back at the pier. Definitely wouldn’t have been an issue had we booked through the cruiseline, but even then, it was $775 for the bungalow (at 40% off!!!!) for the one night!


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