7 Budget-Friendly Tips for Planning a Cruise with the Family

In 2018, over 28 million people went on a cruise. Are you planning on taking a cruise trip with your family?

Cruises offer an exciting all-in-one deal. You can visit a luxurious destination. Instead of sitting in an uncomfortable airplane, a cruise offers plenty of entertainment, fun activities, and good food.

But cruise ships can get pretty expensive. With the ticket, room, and gratuities, the average cost per person is close to $300. But do you have to spend this much to go on a cruise?

If you’re planning a cruise, here are 7 budget-friendly tips to save money while living it up on a cruise!

1. Seek a Travel Agency

Is hiring a travel agent an old-school tactic? Not at all — travel agents can help you book the best cruise but can also help you find the best price. Travel agents go beyond picking a great cruise.

They will look at your itinerary and can find an all-in-one package deal that will help you save money.

In addition, researching all of the different cruises is exhausting. A travel agent excels in the best cruise deals and how you can spend less to have an amazing vacation.

Some travel agents even know how to get around booking fees and other charges. This will help you save a decent amount of money!

2. Compare Different Offers

You can still conduct thorough research and find the best cruise for you while saving money. But this will take comparing different offers and choosing the one that offers the most for your money.

Start well in advance. Conduct your research at least a year before embarking on your cruise.

Another helpful hint is booking with a third-party agency. While you may not get all of the benefits of booking directly with the cruise lines (refund, etc.), the prices will be lower.

However, booking a cruise directly with the line is usually the first best strategy. Some cruises offer regular deals. Sign up for their email list and check their website for these deals.

3. Sail During Off-Season

Most cruises have a peak season between December and June. However, you’ll save money by traveling in the fall, usually between September and November.

Why are the fall months the cheaper months? This is when severe storms are on the rise, specifically in the Caribbean.

The last thing you want is to embark on a cruise in the middle of a hurricane; however, as long as you pay attention to the weather, you’ll get a refund.

Storms aren’t the only reason why fall cruises are cheaper. Most children are in school and families plan for holidays during this time.

If you’re not traveling with children and don’t need to meet with the family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, take advantage of these cheaper prices.

4. Book Early

We mentioned researching and booking early. But it’s best to highlight the importance of this tip. That’s because you should book early, but there’s a sweet spot on scoring the best deals.

Most cruise lines offer the best deal between six months and a year in advance. If you book earlier, the cruise line may not post any deals or special offers. If you book later, the cheaper rooms may be sold out.

While there’s a sweet spot to embark on a cruise, there’s also an ideal time to book a cruise. Most cruise lines post these deals from the months of January-March. These deals can include free excursions, shipboard credits, and free room upgrades.

5. Don’t Do the Shore Excursions

When looking at cruise features, you’re probably enticed by some of the shore excursions. Who wouldn’t want to go scuba diving, go on private tours, and ziplining? However, these activities can increase your cruise price.

Instead, create your own itinerary. Research local tours instead of the cruise tour. Find other activities. Or just be spontaneous — walk on the shore and discover what you want to do while you’re there.

Rather than participate in the typical tourist activities, see if you can “live like a local” and see some of the cultural and historic sites. These are usually free or cheap. As long as you can find transportation, you can create your own adventure.

There are also other third-party excursion and cruise activity companies that offer the same excursions but at a lower price.

6. Sail for a Shorter Time Frame

Most people choose a cruise that’s a week long. Do you want to stay on a cruise for that long?

If you don’t, choose a long weekend cruise. These cruises last four or five days, some even shorter. Your daily rate decreases and you may be able to save on your ticket price.

This is also more beneficial if you’re traveling with kids. They don’t have to take time off of school and you can book during the off-season. Shorter cruises are also ideal for those who have limited PTO and have a generally busy schedule.

With these cruises, you still receive all of the amenities and still stop at a luxurious destination.

7. Look for Kid-Friendly Amenities

Are you cruising with young kids? Many cruise lines offer kid-friendly discounts. Some of these discounts include reduced ticket prices and cheaper amenities.

Some cruises also offer an unlimited item for kids; for example, if a cruise charges extra for fancy dinners and dining, they may offer unlimited high-end dinner and dessert for kids.

Some of these discounts aren’t limited to kids but can include a general family package. Some items on these packages include unlimited family WiFi.

It’s still best you choose a specific family-friendly cruise line for these deals, such as the Disney Cruise. These cruises not only offer great family and child deals but they also offer kid-friendly entertainment.

Planning a Cruise Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Everyone would love nothing more than to embark on a cruise. However, planning a cruise can be expensive. Remember these money-saving tips and have the cruise vacation of a lifetime for cheap!

Want more advice money-saving cruise advice? We offer a whole cruise savings section, so check it out!


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