How to Plan for a Cruise Without Breaking the Bank

Is a cruise just what you need to get through the doldrums of winter? You may be too afraid to even dream about taking a cruise because you assume that cruising is synonymous with spending. The truth is that cruise fares can be high. Cruise operators know that people will pay premiums to sail to paradise. However, your dollars don’t necessarily have to get lost at sea when you design a cruise budget. Let’s take a look at simple ways to cruise frugally!

Book a Last-Minute Trip

This tip may not be for you if you’re dealing with a very tight work schedule. However, the reality is that booking a last-minute cruise is one of the best ways to get a deal. Cruise operators don’t want to sail with ships that aren’t full. Half-empty ships actually cause cruise companies to lose money. What’s more, cruise operators count on people who are willing to pay full price in exchange for booking as far out as possible to make money. That puts you in a great position if you have some freedom regarding your vacation time! A cruise operator is very likely to throw around steep discounts as the departure date for a cruise itinerary draws closer.

Cruise While School Is in Session

One of the simplest rules to follow in the cruising world is that prices are low while class is in session. Try to plan your trip to match a time of year when kids are all in school. Cruise operators often offer cheaper fares during these periods of the year because demand for rooms is so low.

Skip the Soda Package

An affinity for fizzy beverages could be the downfall of your plans to cruise frugally! Most cruise lines offer drink plans that give you unlimited access to soda and other sweet beverages. You could pay around $15 per day for a card that gives you access to unlimited soda. This arrangement creates pure profit for a cruise operator because ships typically use soda machines that simply blend syrup with water. You will be paying a few dollars per cup when you break it all down.

You could actually discover that a cruise operator’s alcohol-inclusive drink package is worth the money. Many cruise operators offer those drink packages for between $25 and $60 per day. That’s not a crazy amount of money if you know you like to let loose and drink while on vacation. Just remember to really do the math per drink to ensure that you’re actually getting a good value. You may actually prefer to skip the drink package in favor of visiting some local bars to enjoy high-quality, locally inspired drinks at the ports you visit! Don’t forget that booking an all-inclusive cruise that covers drinks could actually get you the best deal if you simply cannot cruise without libations!

Book Excursions Outside of Your Cruise Operator

Your cruise operator will offer you options for booking excursions when you arrive at ports. However, it’s important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to book your excursions through your cruise operator. You will be free to spend your time at each port however you choose to during your cruise! You should do some research to compare what you’d pay for excursions that you book on your own versus the fee that your cruise operator is charging. You may be able to book things like guided hikes, diving adventures and wildlife encounters on your own using coupons that you find online. What’s more, you may actually find that you don’t need to pay extra for excursions in some spots. There are many fun ports around the world that offer plenty of free things to do for cruise travelers. Do your research before you fall into the trap of thinking that every minute of your cruise experience needs to be managed by the cruise brand you’re traveling with during an itinerary.

Book Directly With a Cruise Operator

It can be challenging to get an accurate picture of what you’ll pay when you go through a third-party booking platform. A better option is to simply check prices directly on cruise websites. The big advantage to booking directly through a cruise operator’s website is that you’ll be able to contact the cruise operator directly if you notice any price discrepancies on your final bill.

Avoid the “Extras”

It can seem like a million little costs can spring up when you’re on a cruise. It can be easy to lose your head when you’re caught up in a vacation experience. However, the extras that you pay for can undo all of the hard work you did to book your cruise frugally. Here’s a rundown of the best ways to avoid unnecessary costs:

  • Skip the formal photos that are offered.
  • Stay out of the ship’s casino.
  • Never pay for food when there are free options available.
  • Decline any entertainment options.
  • Walk to eating areas instead of ordering room service.
  • Never do laundry on the ship.

The bottom line is that extras often aren’t necessary to have a good time. Most ships provide enough free excitement to keep you busy during your entire journey. Don’t forget that simply sitting on a lounge chair on the deck of your ship to take in beautiful views will always be completely free!

Are You Ready to Cruise Frugally?

Expectations are everything when it comes to booking a cruise frugally. The reality is that cruising is simply never going to be the most economical option. A cruise is intended to be a splurge! However, you can do little things to get the best value possible when booking a cruise. Simply knowing that you reduced the amount you’re paying for a cruise by a few hundred dollars compared to what the average guest is paying should make you feel pretty good!