With a little bit of research and planning, it is very possible to enjoy a wonderful cruise at a very affordable price. But you do need to be aware that once you are on the ship, there will be many different items that the cruise lines use to boost their profits to make up for the bargain fares they have offered.
One note on a major rip-off that relates to booking. Many travelers are interested in a solo cruise but are uninterested in sharing a cabin. Cruise lines love this and are more than willing to offer singles a private cabin but at a near double occupancy price. Be sure to do your homework and know what a double occupancy room costs versus the single occupancy rate that the cruise line offers you. Many will give only a 10% to 25% discount. This means that you are still paying for a lot of food, drinks, and service that you will not be using. Shop around for steeply discounted singles rates or travel with a friend to save even more.
Adult beverages on cruise ships are very expensive. And because everything gets put on your final tab, it is easy to lose track of just how much you are spending on drinks. When you have the opportunity to go ashore, take it and enjoy several drinks in town for the cost of just a single drink on the ship. You will also find that many cruise ships charge passengers for soft drinks and water. If this is the case, again, enjoy sodas while on a shore excursion or with your meals.
Snacks and treats are another area that helps cruise ships make up for the bargain cabins that they sell. Most meal plans offer a huge spread of food to choose from including very indulgent desserts. Take your time and enjoy your meal and any treat or dessert that you might like in the dining room rather than paying $5 or even $10 for an ice cream cone later while you are strolling on the deck.
Finally, cruise line souvenirs can look adorable when you are caught up in the moment and enjoying life on the high sea, but they quickly become nothing more than a dust catcher in your spare bedroom once you return home. Invest in activities and create memories rather than buying things that you will never use again. If you need some gifts for family and friends at home, spend an afternoon in a market or town square buying authentic items from local craftsmen for a fraction of the cost of the touristy items on the ship.
Learning to spot the cruise line money makers and avoiding the temptation will help you to keep your cruise on budget without sacrificing any of the fun.