6 Easy Tips to Book a Super-Cheap Cruise
A cruise is an awesome way to take a vacation – and it can be incredibly affordable if you don't go overboard.
A cheap cruise is our family’s favorite way to vacation. It takes a little bit of planning, but not nearly as much as a typical vacation. You pretty much sit back and relax for your entire trip after you book your cruise; find a way to get to the port; and plan out what you’re doing in your ports of call. Cruising is a fairly frugal way for my family to vacation, but we’ve seen our fair share of people spending lavishly on cruise ships. But if you’re wondering how to save money on a cruise, we’ve got a few tips. Here are six ways that my wife and I keep our costs low so that we can go on an affordable cruise at least once a year:
1. Stick With a Basic Cabin
I don’t know about you, but when I go on a cruise, I don’t plan to spend all day in my cabin. Instead, we explore the ship, eat at the restaurants, enjoy the entertainment, and relax by soaking in the sun on the top decks. Really, we’re only in our room to sleep at night, occasionally take naps, or to get ready for an activity.
So why pay for a luxurious balcony or suite when we could choose a more affordable interior or ocean-view cabin instead?
We’d rather take the cheaper cabins and be able to sail twice as much, since the ritzier cabins sometimes more than double the cost of some of the cheaper cabins. For instance, we recently booked a ocean-view cabin for five days. It cost us $269 per person. A junior suite, meanwhile, costs $563 per person.
2. Cruise During Non-Peak Season
Cruises are a popular family vacation. Since many of them are family-oriented, you can guess when they’ll be more expensive. That’s right — when kids are out of school. If you book during spring break, summer vacation, or holiday weekends, you can expect to pay much more for the same exact cruise experience as you would have if you took a cruise during the off-season. So our family saves money by taking super-cheap cruises in the fall after kids go back to school or during the months just prior to spring break. Sites such as Travelocity offer a wide search of cruises (and other vacation types) finding you the cheapest results!
3. Skip Buying Soda — Bring Some With You Instead
If you’re a big soda drinker, the prices on cruise ships may change your mind. On Carnival, a glass of soda will set you back $1.95. And often, the glass won’t even hold a whole 12-oz can. But Carnival allows each passenger to bring on one 12-pack of soda. Even if you pay $4.99 for a 12-pack at the store, it will save you almost $22 for every 12 sodas that your family consumes.
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption or Budget Accordingly
If the soda prices scare you, you might be even more intimidated by the prices for alcoholic drinks. Beers start at $4.95 each, frozen beverages at $7.50, and cocktails at $8.75 each. All prices are before the mandatory 15 percent gratuity. Of course, you could opt to purchase an “unlimited” drink package, which allows you 15 drinks per day. Everybody of legal drinking age in your cabin has to purchase the package, which usually costs $49.95 per person, per day. Don’t forget the 15 percent gratuity on this package, either. If drinking is a major part of your vacation, definitely budget ahead of time for this cost. Otherwise, simply skip the drinks on your cruise and enjoy everything else the ship has to offer.
5. Avoid Expensive Purchases — Watches, Jewelry, and So On
Expensive items are very popular in most cruise ships’ gift shops. They’re always advertising “special” sales and duty-free prices. After a few cruises, though, I realized that these sales are always going on, and the pricing isn’t usually anything to write home about. Yes, if you were going to buy a fancy watch anyway, you may save a few bucks. But if you weren’t planning on spending hundreds of dollars on jewelry or a watch to begin with, the cruise ship just conned you into spending more of your hard-earned cash. Skip the expensive gift-shop items unless you were planning a purchase before you got on the ship.
6. Skip the Casino
Gambling is a huge money-maker for cruise ships. The slots are tighter, and many card games have rules that favor the house more than usual. The decreased odds combined with the festive vacation mood often results in you losing more money than you would at a casino on land.
A Final Thought On Affordable Cruises
Cruising is a blast — we love it. We simply skip out on some of the extras and enjoy the free stuff so that we can cruise more often. Even if you don’t want to go on another cruise, you can put your savings toward a different vacation down the road.