Cruising on a Budget! By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
Going on a fabulous cruise doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank or take out a loan to pay for your vacation. You can go on a cruise without having a $2,000 or more room bill. We will give you some super basic tips on how to cruise on a limited budget. These tips will help you save money and make it more affordable for your family to go on a cruise.
When you book your cruise, look for a deal that includes room credit. Many times going through a travel agent instead of booking it yourself online is the way to go because they can work this room credit into the deal. Also, take advantage of the specials that are offered such as “kids sail free”. Keep in mind that the summer and around holidays are the most expensive time to go on a cruise since kids are out of school. The fall and first 2 months of the year often offer the best deals, 50-75% less than you would pay for the same cruise in the summer.
Book far in advance so you can afford it! A special program we have through Escape Destinations Travel offers you the opportunity to layaway your vacation. With a small deposit down per person (this amount depends on the cruise line, length of your cruise and any specials they may be offering) you can then afford to make payments throughout the remaining days to pay for your trip before you cruise. Typically the cruise lines require final payment within 90 days before you set sail.
The easiest way to save money on a cruise is to book an inside cabin. I recently spoke to some veteran cruisers who only book inside rooms. They said that since they are only in their room to sleep, why spend the extra money on a room with a port hole or a balcony. If you find yourself not in your room much besides sleeping, you may want to consider this cheaper alternative. You can also save lots of money by booking the lowest class of your room category. Not all balcony, window, or inside rooms are priced the same. Floors that are less convenient to get to and away from elevators tend to be cheaper.
The cruise lines make the most money in 2 areas, the casino and in alcohol. If they are making the most money on it that means it is costing the passengers the most money. Also be careful of bingo and other “games” they offer while you sit and wait for a show to start. You have to pay for your bingo card, etc. Some cruise lines even allow a bottle or 2 of wine to be brought on board in your carry on, which will save you money on purchasing drinks onboard.
Bring what you need onboard! The gift shops on the ships offer just about anything you need or forgot because you didn’t create a packing checklist. However, you will not be getting any sale prices on the ship, you will probably pay double what you pay at your local Kroger/Walmart, etc. Before you leave, create a packing check list and make sure that you have everything you need packed for your trip. We have packing lists on our website, for you to print prior to departure! Paying $9 for deodorant or $12 for Advil can really add up quick and be wasted money.
When you are in port, go back to the ship if possible for lunch. Why pay for lunch on land when you already paid for it on the ship? This will save you a ton of money!!
If you want to do an excursion, try to find a reputable company that offers the excursion and book it on your own or through the travel agent. Booking through the ship does offer some nice extra incentives, but you also pay more. You can save as much as 30% by finding a company that has a good reputation and that will give you your deposit back if your ship can’t make it to port. If you book outside the cruise line, make sure you will be back in plenty of time before the ship departs, as the ships wait for no one! Many times we have watched poor people running down the dock, and the ship has already pulled out of port and they are left behind! Don't let this be you!!
You can go on a cruise and have the time of your life and the only thing on your room bill is your daily gratuities. Did you know that you can even pre-pay for your gratuities before you set sail? Yes, we always do this before we set sail, so our budget is pre-planned all the way through the trip! No surprises= a worry free vacation! You can take a cruise on a budget by following a few simple steps outlined above!
Want to cruise like a pro? Check out some of our insider secrets to saving money on cruises through all the informative articles we've shared on our site.
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