It might seem impossible to save money when you’re booking a cruise, but our experts live by the loopholes.
And a question frequently asked about cruising is that as it’s a ‘captive environment’, are you stuck paying what the cruise lines charge no matter what?
Well it’s a fierce debate and the answer isn’t always crystal clear – nevertheless we endeavoured to discover and pin down the very best ways to save money when you’re on your cruise.
Here are just a handful of the best and easiest tips from the knowledgeable minds of our online cruise community…
1. Buy Bottled Water In Port
We’ll start by saying that ‘every little helps’ is a notion to live by when booking your cruise! This tip comes from deedee9, who believes the charges for water aboard some cruise lines are “horrendous”.
To add to the savings, yesrock recommends that you keep the bottle and refill it either from the bathroom taps in your cabin or take a glass of water or two from your meal and fill it upon returning to your cabin. Every little helps!
2. Book Your Own Excursions
Malcolm is confident in his advice as he proclaims; “One word: Excursions. Much cheaper to DIY when practical.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go off by yourself in a foreign country!
Make sure you know what time to be back at your ship and you know your way around – no good doing your own excursions if you’re going to get lost miles from home!
3. Pick Your Line Carefully & Be Aware Of Charges
Experienced cruisers are more than wise to this advice but Norfolkboy feels it should be said. “Choose your cruise line sensibly before you book and check the small print.”
Many can get caught out by service charges that they weren’t keeping on top of, including gratuities and shuttle bus costs. Be sure you know what you will be paying for and what is a freebie before agreeing to anything!
4. Forget The Room Service!
The life of luxury is one everyone wishes to live, but if you’re on a budget, it’s best to forget about it! Room service is just one of those little luxuries you will have to miss out on if you want to cruise while watching the nickels and dimes!
Hawkinsmg puts this advice ever so eloquently: “Get off your bum and go and get a soft drink rather than paying to have it delivered to you.”
ROSEBASKETS from Yorkshire suggests slightly different: ‘If you order room service at breakfast order 4 juices and keep them in the fridge for later.’ Make the most of the room service!
5. Taxis May Be Cheaper Than Shuttle Bus
One that few would consider but Taffy recommends grabbing a partner and taking a taxi.
Some cruise lines offer free shuttle buses to and from popular tourist attractions whilst on excursions but the lines that charge to use a shuttle bus may find themselves being undercut by local taxis, especially when the price is halved with a partner! “Look at the price of a taxi rather than the shuttle. In some places even for two of you it works out cheaper – check out your tourist map to see if it has discount vouchers on it!”
6. Think Deep Into Your Port
Master from Alfreton knows how important booking excursions in advance are: ‘Research what to do in each of your ports of call in advance. I often start with looking at the excursions the ship offers to see the main sights in each port and then look to do them independently. This often saves you money, especially if you can join up with others to share the transport costs.
As an added bonus, you get to spend however much time you want at the place you choose to visit and never have to wait for stragglers to come back to the coach.’
Sometimes handing everything over to the cruise line seems like the easiest thing to do but if your priority is saving money, think about booking in advance and taking charge yourself!
7. Cruise Off-Season
Sometimes the obvious advice can be the best. Topdeck simply recommends; “Cruise unpopular routes off season” which is great advice.
Many cruise lines discount sailings to fill cabins on the off-seasons and planning ahead for this just might be the best way to get a nice discount on your cruise!
8. Cut Out The Unessentials
Now this all depends on what you consider to be essential.
Our forum member jc says “a safe, room service or even a cabin number are not essentials to me.” Now this all depends on the cruiser; if you’re the type to keep valuables on yourself at all times, a safe is probably unnecessary. Also it should be noted that many cruise lines offer use of the safe for free – the exceptions are lines such as Thomson.
Likewise, room service is hardly a necessity and a cabin number is immaterial if you spend little to no time actually in your cabin – but as smtcan points out, a cabin below the buffet, for example, may result in some unwarranted awakenings from the busy crew working away above.
9. Spending Cash Onboard
Cymru cruiser pointed out that ‘Some cruise lines will allow you to take 2 bottles of wine on board for consumption in your cabin’ -this is a sure way to save your cash if you’re impartial to a drink or two onboard!
Another tip cymru has is to ‘Wait until the end of the cruise for your purchases in the on board ships as there is often reductions’- and there’s nothing like a bargain…
10. Phoning Home
We all love using the internet abroad; just because we’re on holiday doesn’t mean we don’t like to upload an envy-inducing new profile photo or phone home to give the relatives an update so ilovesunshine suggests: ‘If you are a frequent cruiser or traveller abroad it is worth getting a phone with 3. I have just got a message from them saying I have saved £497.04 using my phone for calls text and internet on my trip to the USA.
Lots of countries are included in the 3 feel at home and more are being added all the time. I obviously wouldn’t have been using my phone and incurring high costs if it hadn’t been free but I certainly have had my money’s worth on this trip.’
Smtcan from Scarborough adds: ‘You should be aware that some cruise lines automatically route phone calls and internet through their system, so you could run up some huge charges unknowingly. Roaming deals can be very good value on land, but check before using your phone at sea.’
11. Discount Drinks
1fifthavenue had their say on drinking onboard: ‘On ships which offer drinks packages, booking these in advance works out cheaper, and you save on the service charge which would be added if you purchased onboard.’
And who doesn’t like a discount at mealtime too...’Speciality dining is often cheaper onboard as the cruise lines put offers in the daily programme to give a ‘discount’ to fill up the restaurants – but – beware that this is not a guarantee.’
Every little helps when saving your cash on holiday, but which was your favourite tip? How do you like to save money onboard your cruise? What’s the best tip you live by abroad? Leave us your thoughts and read more of the conversation between our cruise community here!
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