We all want to go on vacation and not worry about the money right? Every vacation has hidden costs that can creep up on you when you do not prepare for them or do not see them coming. This list is specific to cruising. Ever cruise on NCL? (Norwegian cruise line) Many of the workers on the ship call it NCL (no cash left) due to the cruise industry nickel and dimming you every chance they get. In fact every cruise line makes more money on the ship than they do with the cruise fares. Below are 10 ways to help your budget go farther, and making sure that you don’t spend unnecessary money.
- Take Advantage of the bonus offers when booking.This is in my opinion one of the first keys that are critical to save the most money. Obviously the drinkers and party people will opt for the alcohol package. The ones who do not drink may opt for money towards excursions, or prepaid tips and gratuities. Some might also choose to have the free dining credit or have 3 and 4th guest go free. A lot of times the cruise companies offer you more than one for a balcony or higher. Each of these can go even farther than they tell you and i will break them down for you. For example have a couple or a few friends who want to come with you? PERFECT pick the third and 4th guest option and then ask your friends to divide the cost of the first 2 tickets by 4! All the sudden its only a few hundred bucks for the cruise per person. Now Make sure you are close friends as the rooms are absolutely small and there is little to no privacy, but worth it for the value of the trip. To sweeten the deal if you book the balcony you can pick another option, such as the alcohol package. (the alcohol package cost over 700.00 per person per trip.) A complete waste of money for anyone with a working liver still. Even college kids cant catch up on the drinks when they leave the ships for the days not at sea. Norwegian and a few others (not carnival) let anyone who has the drink package order 2 drinks at a time. so take advantage of that and put the money you are saving to good use. I could go on about the deals and there advantages. If you have any questions on these feel free to contact me.
2. Do Not Over Tip –
I Am not saying to not tip. Cruise employees work over 70 hours of the week at sea and many of them do not make good money. The Cruise line has prepaid gratuity already put into the cruise fair, and they let you pay it before you board or they add it to your on board spend at a daily rate. So keep that in mind when you eat dinner and they have a tip line on the bill and you tip 20%. You can always tip them, but first time cruisers are really taken advantage of on this especially so beware and tip how ever your budget allows.I think this has to be a strategy because in some countries it is actually rude to tip. I personally give 20.00 to a good friendly bartender to make sure i get fast quality service.
3. Order more than one entree
This is something they don’t really tell you, you almost have to find out from someone else, or actually just try it. Cant decide what you want between two entree’s? Order both. Most cruise lines will let you order up to 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and even 2 deserts. So take advantage of it!
4. Pick your own shore excursions not from the cruise line
Cruise lines offer a dozens of Shore Excursions in all the ports of call they go to. The cruise line will wait for you if these tours and excursions run late. They will also refund you if weather makes it where you cannot go to that port (hurricane season). These usually are over priced and over crowded. You can usually do more for less when you plan it yourself in advance. The only thing to remember is that the more popular ones will sell out, so always book in advance.
5. Avoid The Mini Bar in the room.
The mini Bar is never included in the alcohol package, and to me that just doesn’t make sense. They hope that people are to lazy to go to the bar late at night so they spend 10 bucks on a bottle of water, or 9 dollars on a beer. I brought a friend in December on my cruise and although he had the alcohol package, he spent over SIX HUNDRED dollars on mini bar expenses. You can ask your room staff to empty the mini fridge so you have no temptations. The best idea would be to take several drinks to the room before you go to bed, so you have everything you want and more money in your pocket.
6. Take your own Pictures.
Cruise ships have picture themes and spots every day of the cruise and often convince passengers to take pictures with them. They then try to sell the digital copies on a hard drive, turn it into a fancy book. and add a few stock photos of the ship. Why spend 150.00 on a book of these pictures when you can spend Way less taking your own pictures and going to shutter fly? Do your self a favor and do not waste the money on these. You can save a lot of time as well as sometimes they hold you for several different shots each time.
7. Constantly check prices of cruise fair
A lot of cruisers book the cruise and then start planning the vacation. Everyone should be constantly looking at fairs, and calling in every month to see what the specials are. This guarantees you that you will get the best rate and the best deal. Whether you want to get double reward points, an extra free special, or save 10% on your fare you only can make it happen by constantly checking and asking for more. You never know, sometimes a cheap discounted upgrade can be a possibility
8. Book Spa packages, early and in groups and during port days
You can save hundreds of dollars by booking in a group to get a group discount. Saving money by booking early is smart as well as the price tends to go up once everyone is on the ship. Port days also are discounted and easier to book as the at sea days seem to sell out much faster. Remember that the packages they try to sell after the spa service is just a way to add more income for the company and they are not needed. If you cant book spa early, or in a group, consider bartering. You may not get a better deal, but you do not know if you do not try.
9. Go During Non-Peak times
Willing to go on a cruise when the temperatures are in the blistering 3 digits? willing to go with a chance of missing a port do to a hurricane? Look at the prices and consider saving a bunch of money by going during the non peak times. After all. Getting away is getting away, and if you can save money by doing it in a different month, then why not? Make sure you get insurance for the trip if you do go during the hurricane season because the fine print can really put a damper on your vacation.
10. Take advantage of the coupons you get for port shops, and IGNORE SALES ON THE SHIP
I cannot stress how important the ignoring the sales on the ship can be. I am a huge watch enthusiast, and was appalled by the sale gimmicks on a few of the cruises i have been on. The watch sale price was 40% off sticker price! Low and behold though the watch was still 50.00 more expensive than watches online. BUT of course you cant go online and compare prices because you are at sea with no service. I applaud the sales technique, but just remember, that purse that is 30% off. is probably cheaper on shore after vacation.
The cruise lines have meetings that you can go to were they explain the ports and what shops have to offer. They also give you coupons for free gems, free trinkets and other coupons with discounts. Why spend more when all you have to do is spend some time in a meeting and get free souvenirs and some coupons.