Cruises can be a really cheap way to travel. How cheap you ask? Elizabeth and I took a cruise almost two years ago and paid $480 for 7 nights, thats $68 a night! Then, a year ago, Mike and I went on a cruise from Florida and paid $340 for 3 nights, that’s $113 a night (although, it ended up being more, see previous post). I have a free cruise stay coming up as well – I will have to share how in a later post. Here are my tips for saving money on your next cruise.
Many people take cruises to relax and sit on beaches, but I use cruises as a way to see many different places for a very low cost and to experience different cultures. Here are my tips for making the most of a cruise as an adventure!
Pick a cruise that meets your needs
- I’ve been on two through Carnival and Norweigan which both have their pros and cons; however, both suited my needs at the time.
- Look into ports – do they have activities you want to do?
- I don’t like being on the boat. I choose cruises that don’t have many days at sea (that’s days on the boat without a stop)
Find a cruise with a starting point that is a fun place to visit too
- You just added another stop on your vacation. Both cruises I’ve been on started in cool cities (San Juan and Miami). We planned ahead and spent extra time in both adding another stop to the vacation for little cost!
- Doesn’t cost more than other cruises, but adds value to your cruise
Find something unique to do on every island
- Each island offers unique activities
- Every culture is different and new
Don’t spend a lot of time on the ship
- Cruises are relaxing, but the ports are where adventure happens
- Every island offers wonderful things to do – we got to snorkel, zipline, kayak, hike, jump in waterfalls, swim right under planes, snorkel with sea turtles, feed iguanas, and visit historic sites
- You may not get to visit again, so take advantage of where the boat is
Eat the meals on the cruise (they are included after all), but don’t miss the local food either
- Saving money is good, duh
- The food on the cruise is pretty good and they give you as much as you want
- Local food is good. We had our best meal on our catamaran in Barbados. It was made by the captains aunt – all homemade and delicious!
- Every island has something they are known for – give it a try and add adventure to your cruise
Don’t double the cost of the cruise by buying things on the boat
- Activities on the cruise can get expensive. We paid $30 for three rounds of bingo – NOT WORTH IT, but we were bored during our day at sea.
- Things on the islands are much cheaper. You can find the same things on the boat as you do on the islands, but for a better price.
- Support the local economy and buy souvenirs and activities there. We found very cool things for just a few dollars each. Don’t forget to barter on the price! Try starting off at half of what they have asked.
- You carry around a card or bracelet with your card number saved in it and they don’t tell you how much you’ve spent. Keep track and don’t over spend by using an excel sheet, google doc, or journal, whatever works for you.
Do take advantage of the free events
- Shows and events are catered to you
- Giveaways and funny things happen (we saw couples get very embarassed, I ended up doing karaoke)
- You are paying for the entertainment on the cruise – it’s there for you to experience
Don’t double the cost of the cruise buying excursions (unless it’s in your budget)
- Set a preset amount you are willing to spend a day – on ours it was $75, on some islands we spent less, freeing us up to spend more other places. Ziplining was more $112, but we only spent $35 for St. Martin.
- Local activities can get pricey
- Even after you’ve found a company you like, look on their website, Trip Advisor, and Viator (those are my go to sites) to make sure you get the best deal.
Remember each island
- Next time you go, you can pick your favorite and just vacation there. We loved San Juan and St. Martin so we want to plan trips to go back to these places.
- Take unique photos that will help you remember; try taking candid photos of the people, or landscapes that you feel you wouldn’t normally see.
- Each place will have different memories
Have you taken a cruise? What would you want other people to know about it? Let me know!