How To Save Money When Booking a Cruise

03.22.23 by Travelex Insurance
Image credit: Getty Images

Cruising can be expensive or reasonably affordable depending on a wide variety of factors. There are myths surrounding cruises that often keep travelers on land unnecessarily, and first-timers may not know how to avoid maxing out the credit card by the time they get home. With some research and advanced planning, cruising can be a wonderful trip for a solo traveler, couple, or family. Read on for insider tips on how to save money when booking a cruise.

How to find a good deal on a cruise

Consider using a travel advisor

Sure, you can scour the internet and spend weeks comparing prices, cruise lines, and destinations. Take the pressure off and consider booking through a travel advisor. An experienced travel agent offers knowledge and access to information you may not find on your own. Plus, they do all the leg work for you.

Book an inside cabin

If having a balcony or bigger room isn’t important to you, consider an inside cabin. Some people prefer to spend most of their time outside the room anyway, so this is a simple way to save some cash.

Join a cruise loyalty program

Some customer loyalty programs can pay off after just one cruise. You may enjoy perks such as glasses of wine, special discounts on drinks and onboard shops, or invitations to exclusive events onboard.

Target cheaper cruise seasons

Generally, holidays and school breaks are going to be more expensive. Busy season will vary depending on where you want to cruise. For example, cruising in Alaska in April will differ from cruising in the Caribbean in October. Check for a detailed list of times and locations that may save you money.

How to save money on cruise excursions

It's easy to spend a small fortune on excursions if you're not careful. Here are four tips on how to save money:

  1. Find out what excursions are available for your specific cruise, and then search your scheduled ports. Check the descriptions carefully to see if any are the same. Compare prices and read reviews.
  2. After you find this information, compare the price of booking excursions through the cruise line versus doing it yourself directly with the excursion company.
  3. Talk with your travel agent about the excursions you’d like to take, what deals they may be able to get, and get their input on how you could save money.
  4. Book excursions that include food and/or drinks.

Be careful with onboard credit

If you’re new to cruising, be advised there are additional costs to consider even after you book your ticket. Gratuities, beverages, excursions, and specialty restaurants can all add up quickly. If you score onboard credit, think about putting it towards gratuities first so you don’t have to worry about them later. Everything else is optional, so if necessary, you could choose to opt-out of some things and not be blindsided by a huge credit card bill when you get home.

How to save money on drinks

Drinking on cruises can add up quickly if you don’t plan ahead — especially at up to $10 a drink (or more). Specific drink charges and packages will vary depending on the cruise line, so know before you go. Use the following quick tips to help you prepare in advance:

  • Many cruise lines offer complimentary tap water, coffee, basic juices, and tea throughout the ship.
  • Consider purchasing a non-alcoholic beverage package.
  • Certain cruise lines will offer an unlimited soda package and/or a classic non-alcoholic package that includes bottled water and coffee drinks.
  • If you think a package may be for you, figure out the cost of your favorites and how many you may drink per day. Then do the math to see if the package is worth the money.
  • On days in port, get your drinks on land to save money. Check to see if you can bring beverages back to the boat and how much you’re allowed.
  • Are you a wine drinker? On many cruise lines, you are allowed to pack two bottles.

Saving money when booking a cruise is absolutely possible and will put your mind at ease while getting the vacation you deserve. Visiting multiple destinations, while only having to unpack your bag once, is a great way to travel. Remember however, it may not all be smooth sailing. In the event of a stomach bug, or a broken bone from a slip on the deck, you’ll be glad you purchased cruise insurance. We’re here to help — get a quote today.

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