Tips for Stretching your Cruise Budget
Trying to figure out your cruise budget becomes more complicated the fancier and more amenity-laden the ships become, as the little extras can all add up.
Traditionally you normally have to pay extra for alcohol and sodas, ship-to-shore phone calls, gambling, shore excursions and gift shop purchases. But these days, cruise lines are adding more and more nifty features, such as exercise classes, onboard Internet Cafes, and alternative dining experiences, and they almost always cost extra.
Here's 8 handy tips and ideas to help you stretch your cruise budget that little bit further.
1. Be Flexible:
Pricing a cruise is a lot like that of an airline ticket – the fares go up and down constantly. Travellers who are willing to travel at the drop of a hat and have the flexibility to wait to book a last minute cruise (3 – 6 weeks before departure for a cruise) may be able to find the best rock-bottom fares.
But, if you do this you should also be prepared to only have the least desirable accommodation on offer. However, these days cruise lines are also trying to “woo” advance planners – so if you are willing to book and pay your deposit 6 months in advance you may be able to grab some excellent fares and inexpensive upgrades.
2. Seek the Sales:
Keep your eyes open for seasonal and last-minute sales. The internet is probably the best medium to keep track of these and you will always be able to find the latest and greatest deals and sales on the Cruiseabout website.
3. Cruise Close to Home:
Cruise lines have increasingly embraced “homeland cruising”, establishing home ports, many on a seasonal basis. And this couldn’t be closer to the truth for Australia. So, cruise close to home and take advantage of the new and wonderful ships and itineraries cruising close to our shores. And, there is no need to tack on the extra cost of an international airfare.
4. Use Email to Stay in Touch:
Calling ship-to-shore has always been exorbitant. These days most ships have onboard internet cafes, but even these can be pricey (although not as pricey as a phone call). If you are really cost-conscious, try to wait until you get to a port so you can use a local internet café.
5. Save on your Bar Bill:
One of the quickest ways to rack up the onboard tab is by buying alcohol and sodas. A lot of ships now offer discount drink packages and things like “wine-and-dine” packages, at a slightly lower price than buying individual drinks. Also, look for special discounts such as a bucket of beer (buy 4 and get 1 free) and the “drink of the day” offer.
6. Savour the Spa at a Discount:
Treatments at the onboard state-of-the-art spa facilities can often cost as much as what you would pay at a top-notch resort rather than at a day spa. But, there are clever ways that you can save money and still be pampered. For example, the spas often offer discount services on days in port as there are fewer people onboard. Or, look at their packages – treatments bundled together may work out cheaper than individual treatments.
7. Shore Excursions:
Cruise lines offer a variety of shore excursions in every port of call. If you book with the cruise line’s own tours, you do have the added advantage that the ship will stand behind the quality of the tour, so you will definitely get value for money. But, these tours do tend to cost more, and they often involve fairly large groups and can sell-out quite quickly. To save some money, and avoid these problems, try booking with independent shore excursion specialists who may offer similar (or even the same) day-trips for less money.
8. Extend your trip:
If you want to spend a few extra days in port either at the beginning or the end of your cruise consider booking cruises with pre-and/or post-cruise stays in the overall fare. Booking hotels, transfers to and from the ship etc. on your own can cost a lot and may push your budget over the edge.