You booked your cruise during a great sale, chose a less expensive cabin, took advantage of travel agent discounts and opted for less popular sailing dates – you got a great deal on your cruise fare! But once you get on board, those savings can sink to the bottom of the ocean if you’re not careful. Fortunately, it’s easy to make sure you’re not wasting money on your cruise if you know what charges to be wary of. Here’s how you can save money on a cruise:
Defining Wasted Money
You will spend money during your cruise, whether it is on souvenirs, spa treatments, professional photos, amazing drinks, shore tours, casino bets, bingo games or other fun options. The key is to only spend money on the best deals to make your vacation better, not to overspend just because you feel you have to or you’re pressured to buy something you aren’t interested in.
What you choose to spend money on will vary from other passengers, just as their spending may seem frivolous to you or they think you might be wasting your own budget. Choose your spending wisely, however, and you won’t feel that you have wasted any money at all.
Skip These On Board Expenses to Avoid Wasting Money
There are a many expenses on a cruise that may not be the great deals they seem to be. By examining each one carefully for your vacation preferences, you can avoid wasting money and save your spending for only the very best options.
1. Drink Packages
Most cruise lines offer per-day pricing on drink packages, either for soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages or for all types of alcoholic drinks. While these packages may seem like a great way to save, the savings only add up if you max out the drinks you can have each day – and some packages come with limitations and exclusions that might not cover all the drinks you prefer. If you only drink casually or are content with the free offerings on board, skip these packages and don’t waste your money.
2. Specialty Dining
The lure of exclusive, reservations-only restaurants can be strong, especially if you’re interested in a romantic, luxurious dinner to celebrate a special occasion during your cruise. With costs from $15-40 and higher per person, however, the charges for these restaurants can be extreme, especially when the main dining room, casual buffets, room service and more are all included in your cruise fare. If you still want privacy and intimacy for your evening dining, request a private table in the dining room instead.
3. Fitness Classes
If you want to work off all those delicious calories you’ve enjoyed on your cruise, you might be tempted to join a fitness class such as spinning, yoga or Zumba, or you may even consider signing up with a personal trainer. The fees can range from $10-20 and higher for classes, however, and even more for one-on-one sessions. Don’t waste your money and enjoy working out in the free gym instead, or bring along your favorite classes and workouts on your laptop, phone or tablet.
4. Connection Fees
If you do bring along your computer or phone on your cruise, make sure you have it switched off or in airplane mode to avoid accidentally racking up international roaming charges. At the same time, skip signing up for pricey internet plans – connections at sea are not only expensive, they can be notoriously slow. Instead, disconnect for a more relaxing cruise, or if you absolutely have to stay in touch back home, opt for more restricted social media plans with cheaper prices.
5. Professional Photos
The ship’s photographers are ready and willing to snap pictures of every cruise moment – embarkation, playing by the pool, enjoying dinner, visiting ports of call and of course plenty of posed portraits with a selection of backdrops and props. Instead of paying $10-25 and higher for those professional photos, simply take your own with your camera or phone and you can publish them online, share them with friends or arrange for prints at much lower prices.
Photos aren’t the only souvenirs you’ll want from your cruise, and you may be tempted by the ongoing sales from the ship’s galleria of stores – jewelry, t-shirts, hats and more, all at low low prices. At least, that’s the advertisement, but you can actually find a wider selection of more impressive souvenirs in different ports of call. When you purchase souvenirs in port, not only will you be saving money, but what you do spend will go to support a local economy rather than add more profit to the cruise ship.
7. Tours With Meals
Shore tours are a great way to make the most of the different destinations your cruise visits, but the cost of tours can be very high depending on what they offer. While some experiences – snorkeling with stingrays, soaring above the sea while parasailing, cave tubing through exquisite caverns – are naturally more expensive, some tour prices are inflated because they include snacks or a meal.
This may seem like a bargain, but your cruise fare already includes more food than you could possibly eat on the ship. Instead of booking tours with included meals, opt for less expensive tours that will have you back at the ship to enjoy the meals you’ve already paid for.
8. Shopping Tours
If you love shopping for great bargains, don’t waste your money on a shore tour that highlights the port’s shopping district. Those shopping districts are almost always easily reached from the pier, and it’s no problem to get off the ship and walk over to all the best shops without a guide. Yes, shopping tours often include stops at other points of interest, but if it really is just the shopping you’re most interested in, don’t waste your money on extras and instead save it for your purchases.
9. Familiar Fun
Before you open your wallet on a cruise, stop and think about whether or not you can buy the same items or experiences on land. While cruise ship spas, for example, do offer some specialty treatments you can’t get elsewhere, many of the more basic massages or salon treatments can be had on land for much lower prices. The same goes for familiar, popular drinks and arcade games. Instead of wasting money on these items on board, opt to use your budget for special expenses you can’t buy on land.
10. Gambling Losses
One of the fastest ways to waste money on a cruise is to spend too much time in the casino or playing too many bingo games. While gambling can be fun for recreation, keep a close eye on your budget and spending to be sure you aren’t wasting more money than you can afford.
A cruise can be an affordable, amazing vacation, and if you take care with your budget you can avoid wasting money on expenses you don’t need. Instead, your money can go for more specialized fun and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will make your cruise even more memorable and amazing.