By Lauren Ogilvie
Cruising can be the most bang for your buck vacation there is, as long as you’re savvy. It can also turn into one of the most expensive vacations you ever take. Finding ways to keep costs low is a fun challenge for me anytime I’m traveling. Knowing where you can save and where you should splurge will make all the difference.
Bring your own wine. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring 1-2 bottles of wine per cabin. Some will even allow you to keep it with you. Others will take it and hold it for dinner in the main dining room. Either way, alcohol has a sneaky way of driving cruise costs higher, (think poolside mojitos) so why not bring some of your own!
2. Pre-Pay Gratuities
By pre-paying your gratuities before the ship sails, you won’t be surprised by the added charge on your bill at the end of your trip!
3. Be your own photographer.
You will find that the photographers onboard will be snapping your photo every time you turn around. But if you want their copy, you have to pay for it. There is no obligation to purchase any of the photos they take so why not ask someone else to take your photo for you? Bring your own camera and ask a fellow cruiser to be your photographer. Most people won’t have any problems doing that and might ask you for the same in return!
4. Skip the specialty restaurants.
While they provide a more private setting, I find that the food in the main dining room is usually very good so for me, paying the extra $35 per person isn’t always worth it (but it usually is!).
5. Purchase the drink packages.
This one depends solely on your drinking style. If you’re addicted to Diet Coke, buying the soft drink package is probably worth it to you versus purchasing individual sodas at a premium price. The same goes for the alcoholic drink packages. If you plan on having at least 5-6 adult beverages per day, then it will probably be worth it for you to buy the package. Drinks can cost upwards of $12 sometimes!
6. Book excursions on land.
Shore excursions booked through the cruise line are more expensive than if you book through a third party company like CruisingExcursions. You can actually save a lot of money by going this route. I ended up saving $75 on my last cruise.
Let yourself be completely offline for the duration of the cruise. Skip the Internet packages; you don’t need them, trust me. There is more than enough to keep you occupied, so you won’t even remember that you brought your cell phone!
You can find Lauren’s travel blog at weekendwayfarer.wordpress.com.