Even though many cruise lines advertise as all-inclusive, you will quickly learn that there are many extras that you will encounter on most cruises. These can range from drinks throughout the ship to activities onboard as well as in the ports of call. But employing a few frugal tips can help you to stay on budget while still having a great time on your next cruise.
When you are booking your cruise, be sure to search for discounts from both cruise lines and travel agents. In some cases, booking on a less popular cruise through a travel agent is actually cheaper than booking with the cruise line. Travel agents get steep discounts on blocks of cabins but they must pre-purchase, so if they are having trouble reselling they will often drop the price substantially. Some senior associations such as AARP also offer discounts on cruises and other types of travel if you are a member.
If you would like to enjoy a few upgraded meals on your next cruise, check to see if the cruise line offers pre-booked dinner packages at a discounted rate. This would require that you commit to certain meals or restaurants prior to the cruise, but it can offer a nice savings. The ship restaurants also tend to offer special pricing when the ship is docked in a port over meal time. Check to see if that is an option and cut your excursion short to enjoy that five-star chef you have been waiting to try.
Much like the fine dining on cruise ships, the spa services are also somewhat pricey. But you can use some of the same tips to enjoy the spa that you used to sample the restaurant fare. Port days are often good for discounted spa treatments as many guests are off on shore excursions. You can also often get a discount with a pre-book spa treatment or a spa package purchased with your cruise booking.
When it comes to drinks of any kind, the price adds up very quickly. A drink package could be a very good deal if you or other family members are used to drinking a lot of water, soda or adult beverages. If you are not interested in the packages, then drinking water is going to be the most affordable option. Carrying a refillable water bottle is the best way to have a drink available throughout the day. If children don’t want plain water, you can also take single serving sized packets of flavored drink mix to add to water bottles to add a little variety.
The best tip for an affordable cruise is to carefully review all of the packages that the ship offers and then carefully plan and book what best suits your needs.