How to save money while on a cruise

This article on cruise vacations has 10 tips on how to save money on your next cruise. I’ve summarized 6 important ones below:

1. Shop around. This author shopped online, at Sam’s Club, with a local travel agent and directly with the cruise line. An online travel agent ended up delivering the best price.

2. Watch for add-on fees. Many cruise deals have “taxes and port fees” in the fine print.

3. Check for automatic tips. Princess and some other cruise lines add $10 per person per day to your bill. For a seven-day trip for two, it’s a $140 charge.

4. Take your own wine/liquor if allowed. Just check to make sure your cabin will have a small fridge. Soft drinks also cost extra, and the free coffee on many cruise ships is bad.

5. Be aware of excursion costs. If you want to visit ancient ruins or go scuba diving, it will cost $25 to $130 per person.

6. Know that onboard luxuries have a price. Most ships offer massages, spa treatments and some dining at extra cost. You can save money on your cruise by sticking with the free entertainment. Also, talk to fellow cruisers. They may know of some onboard or onshore entertainment.

By the way, I’m told that someone is preparing a Hawaiian cruise travel plan for the 2006 Summer vacation travel writing contest so stay tuned for that!

Filed Under: Cruises

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    I would add, stay out of the casino! I spent a lot of money gambling on my cruise because that’s what my sister wanted to do, but neither of us won anything.

    There are dozens of shipboard activities, though; I liked the trivia games and contests. A useful hour or two was spent listening to a crew member talk about how to buy jewelry in St. Thomas (I came home with a gold bracelet that I treasure).

    But there are lots of ways to spend money onboard, too–art auctions and shops and bingo games and photographs and so on. We paid extra to eat in one of the onboard restaurants one night and, while it was nice, it wasn’t necessary–the regular meals and the 24-hour buffet (this was on the Golden Princess) were more than enough in terms of quantity and quality.

    I also paid for shore excursions (bus/tram tours) on both St. Thomas and St. Martin–it was a good way to see the islands since we’d never been there before.

    Details aside, it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had–actually seemed longer than it was, it was so relaxing.

  2. James Trotta says:

    You’re right! Staying out of the casino should be #1. Lucky for me I don’t like them…

  3. Bill says:

    We saved money on shore trips by getting together with a few other couples and getting a tour bus after all others had left. This way we haggled and got cheaper prices. No gambling – we enjoyed the free on board entertainment.

  4. DEENA says:

    I actually think this is awful advice! Not only is the advice that is actually given is going to hurt the future cruise passnegers, there is no advice in areas where it is needed!!!

    1. Shop around – this is a good idea, but now that cruiselines do not allow rebating our commission to undercut a competitor.

    2. Watch for add on fees….the port charges are mandatory, there is no way to get around them on any cruise. They are the fees that the cruiselines pay to rent the space and time they spend in a port. Your advice and quotations on the taxes ans fees make it seem as though they can be avoided.

    3. Automatic tips….all cruiselines want you to pay the gratuity yourself. If you work with a good agent to book your cruise, they will give you this information…another benefit to avoid relying on the internet for your cruise. The difference in the lines is how they collect this tip – automatically, prepaid, or with envelopes at the end of your cruise. TIPS ARE NEVER INCLUDED IN CRUISE FARES.

    4. Tkae wine/liquor – NEVER ALLOWED on cruises. the cruise lines want you to pay for the liquor in the bars onboard! why would they allow you to bring your own? also, you can buy duty free liquor onboard, but more than likely the cruiseline will hold it for you until the last day of the cruise.

    5. Shore excursions….NEVER go on a tour offered outside of the cruiseline. several reasons:

    a. the ship won’t wait for you if you are late.

    b. heard about the South America bus tragedy? A group of seniors went out on a tour that was not hosted by the cruiseline, and the driver fell asleep while driving. If the cruiseline had booked the tour it would have been with a reputable company that had been researched for safety.

    c. if there are any changes or problems with the tour, the cruiseline can handle the customer sevrice end. outside the cruisline, you are on your own.

    6. luxuries carry a price…you offer no advice to save money – some cruiselines offer discounts on treatments on port days, other have coupons booklets given to travel agents to save money onboard. again, another benefit to speaking to a live agent.

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