When in ports we see shop and stallholders perceive passengers with their cruise cards swinging from their lanyard as an easy sale, because it is assumed cruisers have lots of money. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth, for most of us. It’s no secret, we budget and save hard to afford the cruises we have been on, and most of us already know how to do that. So we are not going to tell you how you can afford a cruise. What we want to share with you are a few tips to save money once you’re onboard.
You see cruising can in fact be a very cost effective way for high class travel at around $66-$150 per day. For the money, you will get a place where you pack and unpack once, that includes all visas, mode of transport, supreme accommodation, all meals and drinks (except alcohol and specialty coffee) complete with a different view from your window each day.
Although sold as an all inclusive trip, once onboard the high sales pitch begins for specialty coffee cards, specialty restaurants, shore excursions, spa and salon treatments, souvenir photos, you can even pay for a tour of the ship. So beware! That card is not only used to ‘beep’ you on and off the ship and unlock your cabin door, it is also linked to your credit card and every time you make a request for something that is not included, ker-ching, it adds it to the tab. This is why when fixed to a lanyard your cruise card becomes easy money.
There is absolutely no need to spend any extra money onboard, should you choose not to. What is included is more than enough to enjoy and have a memorable holiday. You may want to purchase some of the optional extras, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, keep reading.
Starting with the booking, you will save if you travel at the end of a season or book a repositioning cruise. If you book either well in advance or at the last minute you will get the very best deals. Keep an eye on the prices after you book too; if the cruise price is reduced you can request they pass on the reduction. Shop around and look for specials, our last cruise we got a balcony cheaper than the regular price of an internal cabin. Also look at all the factors of location, weather and itinerary before deciding if you really need a balcony. If you are going to be at sea for 5 or 6 days straight, are very social onboard and rarely in your cabin, you can save if you get an obstructed view or even an internal cabin, though these are not for everyone. As we found too, a heavy port intensive itinerary means disembarking early each day leaving little time in the cabin, so again a cheaper, internal cabin or obstructed view could suit. Check where else you can save. You may be entitled to a group discount, an age discount or even discount for shareholders or military personnel. Another way of cutting costs on a cruise is to book and pay for future cruise deposit once onboard. $100 will secure a heavily discounted deposit on a future cruise for up to 2 years and includes onboard credit.
As I said previously keep an eye on the traps of non-included items as these out of pocket items can quickly run up your tab if you don’t keep an eye on them.
Limit yourself to one nice photo or ask a fellow passenger to take a photo of you. There is more than enough variety of good quality food choices, from casual dining to fine dining and decadent desserts that you can eliminate the extra expense of the speciality restaurants and not feel you are missing out. Choices include 24 hour buffet, fixed or anytime dining in the main dining rooms, silver service high tea, pub lunch or just a Hot dog or hamburger by the pool. The choices are unlimited, the staff very attentive, offering top notch personal service whether room service, by the pool or in the main dining room from your allocated waiter who knows you by name. This is all included in the price.
Spa and salon treatments are usually discounted on port days. If you are in a port that has a lot of sights close to the port you can disembark early, see some sights and return to the ship for a late lunch followed by a spa or salon treatment. After all, you’ve already paid for the lunch in the cost of the cruise. Other charges easy to avoid are the laundry and internet charges. Instead of sending your clothing to the laundry, use the self service laundry for around $2-$4 per load to wash and dry and use free Wi-Fi in ports for Facebook check-ins and to send pre-drafted emails. This will not only save money, but also patience as the ship internet is not only very expensive starting at 2 hours for $69.00, but extremely slow.
Use any free onboard credits for your bar tab. You can even reduce you bar tab with free drinks by checking for champagne art auctions and captains cocktail party where they freely pass around champagne. Purchase a bottle of wine and limit to one glass per night and they will keep your bottle to consume with your next meal, which is much cheaper than buying by the glass. Look in the daily newsletter for advertised ‘drink of the day’ or ‘happy hour’ specials. Often the pool bar will offer a ‘bucket of beer’ special, buy 4 get 1 free. Cruise lines will allow you to bring one bottle of wine onboard with no corkage charge and you can order a bottle of spirits for your room which works out a lot cheaper than purchasing by the glass at the bar. Keep an eye on the menu in the dining room too. Cocktail soups and drunken desserts are a saving. You can usually see a Pina Colada soup or similar at least once per voyage.
Avoid purchasing shore excursions onboard too. The ship has port lectures running which give useful facts on how to get around, what to see, etc so take advantage of the free information. You will be advised of free shuttle buses to get to the main tourist area where you can purchase hop on/hop off bus tickets and see all the free sights or for next to no cost. It will work out cheaper and quicker to pre-purchase skip the line tickets for the major attractions.
Another cost you can avoid is the Ultimate Ship’s Tour. I must tell you, it is amazing and we did purchase a ship tour as a memento of our first cruise, our honeymoon. Or you keep an eye on the daily newspaper advertising the Executive Chef and Maitre D’s culinary demonstrations which is followed by a galley tour. There you will be informed, educated and entertained about life in the galley and shown the secrets of the Chef’s uniform food presentation, his galley bible. Oh and more free champagne!
Onboard you have a variety of free entertainment to choose from including production shows, live music and comedy shows, cooking demos, pool and trivia games and educational lectures ranging from visiting ports to astronomy. You can watch the latest release movies either in your room, by the pool or under stars on the big screen which even includes popcorn. Whilst cruising you can relax by the pool, reading a book and be served milk and cookies or you might prefer a piece of pizza by the slice. Instead of getting the milkshakes and gelato that are not included go and get a soft serve that is free. Don’t forget when booking to advise of any celebrations whilst onboard and you will receive a complimentary celebration cake.
Now if all this has enticed you to save and book a cruise and you decide to cruise subsequent times, you have even more savings, as part of the Loyalty rewards for returning passengers. The loyalty rewards include members’ only events with, you guessed it, free champagne, preferred check in, disembarkation lounge, internet discounts, priority ship to shore tender, shoe polishing and free laundry, based on applicable number of sailing days or cruises sailed.
With a staff ratio of 2.2 passengers per staff member, you can rest assured. Not only will you have have fresh fruit in your room each day, your towels will be refreshed and your bed made every time you walk out the room. Each evening your bed will be turned down with a free chocolate on your pillow each night. And you can have this first class cruising experience without any added extra charges.
If I have missed anything, or you have further questions about cutting costs on a cruise please leave a comment below. Is a cruise on your buckets list? Did I entice you to want to try a cruise? If so, contact Princess Cruises
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