8 Insider Tips for Saving Money on Your Cruise

You’re almost ready to take that cruise you’ve been talking about, and you have already booked a place on a cruise ship, or you’re about to do that. You’ve looked at the many options, and you managed to find a really good cruise deal that fits the days you had in mind and your planned itinerary. Lucky for you, the total fare for the cruise is within budget.

You shouldn’t get too excited, however, because the cruise fare is just the tip of the iceberg. There are extra fees for drinks and food that may not be included in the cruise package, tours, and excursions on shore, rewards, and other on-board purchases you have to consider.

If you choose the perfect cruise line for your tastes, you will get a lot more alternatives and get value for your money. Fortunately, you can still save your money on the whole cruise plus the extra on-board perks. 

1 Search for money-saving deals when signing up for your trip


When booking your next cruise, you should compare different deals to get a larger cabin on the ship. Sometimes you’ll get additional benefits such as onboard credit, and freebies. But, you need to make sure you’re not paying much more than you would have paid for a regular room, and those extra perks added to your total charge, which is why you need to compare as many as possible.

2 Think twice before getting a drink package


You’ve probably heard about the drink packages some cruise ships offer that lets you drink as much as you want during the trip for a flat fee of around $100 daily. These deals sound good, so without thinking, people rush them. After all, they wouldn’t have to think about the price of a drink once they pay for this package.

But, if you stop to think, are you really going to drink anything worth $100 in one day? The chances of you getting your money’s worth out of such packages are rather slim. Let’s assume an average drink or cocktail is $10, and the drink package costs $100, this means you and your partner need to drink at least 10 drinks daily to get your value back –which is not easy, even on a cruise.

3 Carry your own drinks along


Depending on the cruise line, you may be allowed to carry a controlled amount of drinks like wine and champagne along as long as you keep them in your stateroom. Royal Caribbean is an example of such cruise lines, and some other ships allow you to get served with your own drink if you give it to the staff beforehand. This rule helps you save money because it is cheaper, and you also get to choose what you will drink while you’re onboard.

4 Book tours outside the cruise


When your ship stops at any port, and you decide that you want a tour, don’t be obligated to join the one that comes with your cruise. Several local excursions charge less than the cruise’s, and you get a similar experience. Also, because you aren’t stuck to the ship’s tour, you get to choose from a bigger pool of choices.

Keep in mind that whatever tour you go with, you have to be back at the ship when it’s time to leave. You should check the time that the tour ends and ensure you have ample time to get back to your cruise.

Sometimes you don’t want a tour, and that’s fine. There are different activities you can partake in that cost a lot less than an excursion and are fun for you. Take the time to find some nearby, and you may see some things that you’d rather do than what is available on board, that you can do at your own time.

5 Look for special offers and deals


You can find good deals and sales on board your cruise ship if you search in the right places. The best time to look for exclusive offers and discounts is on port days where passengers go off-board in search of tourist attractions. The fewer people on board, the more deals will be available for you to grab. You can sacrifice a day of strolling around the shops on the shore for the chance of saving more money.

To start your hunt, you can ask around the spas and gyms. You can also find some good discounts in their bars and restaurants. They typically offer good food and drink packages, so if you didn’t get one earlier, this is an excellent time to get one.

Also, carry your travel credit cards along in case you can get deals on them too. Some travel credit cards without annual fees will let you transfer your points so that you can use them eventually. Make sure you look for packages whenever you buy something, and if you don’t find many, in any case, you would be earning more points to use next time.

6 Pass over the souvenir glass


Cruise ships usually offer you a souvenir glass with your drink at an added cost of $4-$5. For someone who is trying to save money, this should not be something you consider. Sure, they can be gorgeous in pictures, but you need to focus on your goal. Order your drink in a regular glass and save that extra money. After all, you get the same taste when you use a plain glass.

7 Hold back before booking dining and drink packages


When you have found the perfect drink or food package for your cruise, wait a few more days before you book it. A lot of times, you may schedule an attractive package that looks good at first glance and then regret it later on when you see a better and more premium deal. Holding out from paying for a package can save you money eventually.

8 Become a loyalty member


Joining a loyalty program gives you a lot of benefits you may not be open to as a regular traveler. If you join a lot of cruises or you plan on joining more in the future, the smart thing for you to do is to pick your best cruise line and join their loyalty program. Members often have access to mouth-watering bonuses and offers for onboard payments, free upgrades, and discounts. Some cruise lines also give you the chance to earn points you can exchange for credit and reward credit cards you can use to purchase things on-board.