Whether you’re a cruising veteran or a newbie without sea legs, you want to get the biggest bang for your cruising buck. The best tip is to be aware of all the extras charged to your room and don’t go over budget. Many people do not realize that all-inclusive does not usually include alcoholic beverages, which can be pricey. Many Internet forums discuss ways to smuggle a bottle of their favorite in their luggage but there are much easier ways to stretch a dollar.
This is the fourth and last in the series of tips for first-time cruisers. In the third article we looked at favorite trips for seniors. And here are seven tips to help you save money on your cruise.
1. Off-Season: You can’t really write about saving money without mentioning that booking during the off-season or shoulder period can save you and your family a bundle. Do your research and choose your dates wisely.
2. Last minute: Very often there are last-minute vacancies – due to either cancellations on unsold rooms. These are great bargains, as ships would like to sail with full occupancy. Check websites of the cruise lines and also the major agents for such bargains.
3. Cellular: Bring your cellular phone; you may need it at the airport, but don’t use it on the ship. Unless your cellular plan is very lenient, a phone call here and there could cost you more than the cruise itself. Call your provider for details before you leave dry land.
4. Laundry: Generally, your ship has a full-service laundry and dry cleaning service to take care of all their passengers’ needs. Convenient, but with a price tag attached. You can avoid this expense buy bringing your favorite detergent, encased in a zip top bag, as well as a dryer sheet or two. Find the coin laundry on board and get out of the sun for an hour or two.
5. Excursions: Do your research. You can save a ton of money on many cruise-sponsored shore excursions by booking them yourself. It’s not complicated; in fact, if you can handle booking a cruise, then you can handle booking an excursion.
6. Drinks: Just like on land, drinks on board – whether alcoholic or otherwise – can be expensive. If you want to treat yourself while on vacation, some cruises offer a “drinks package” or “coffee card” for a reduced, set price that can bring your expense down considerably. Ask for this information before your board your cruise.
7. Upgrades: When you check in and get your room keycard, ask to be upgraded. If there are available rooms (and if you smile nicely), the staff is usually happy to move you to a bigger and better room at no additional charge. Good luck.
Enjoy your first cruise but remember to keep your eyes open for deals as well as for overpriced items. Nothing ruins a trip faster than an empty wallet or having a huge bill to pay when you get home.