Whether you’re a cruising veteran or a newbie without sea legs, you want to get the biggest bang for your cruising buck. The best tip is to be aware of all the extras charged to your room and to avoid going over budget. Many people do not realize that all-inclusive does not usually include alcoholic beverages, which can be pricey. Especially if you enjoy drinking. Many internet forums discuss ways to smuggle a bottle of their favorite in their luggage but there are much easier ways to stretch a dollar:
Off-Season: You can’t really write about saving money without mentioning that booking during the off-season or shoulder period can save you and your family a bundle. Do your research and choose your dates wisely.
Cell Phones: Bring your cell phone ... You may need it at the airport, but don’t use it on the ship. Unless your cellular plan is very lenient, a phone call here and there could cost you more than the cruise itself. Call your provider for details before you leave dry land.
Laundry: Generally, your ship has a full-service laundry and dry cleaning service to take care of all the passengers’ needs. Convenient, but with a price tag attached. You can avoid this expense buy bringing your favorite detergent, encased in a zip lock bag, as well as a dryer sheet or two. Find the coin laundry on board and get out of the sun for an hour or two.
Excursions: Do your research. You can save a ton of money on many cruise-sponsored shore excursions by booking them yourself. It’s not complicated; in fact, if you can handle booking a cruise, then you can handle booking an excursion.
Coffee: Just like on land, specialty coffee drinks can be an expensive habit. If you still want to treat yourself while on vacation, some cruises offer a “coffee card” for a reduced, set price that can bring the cost of your caffeine fix down considerably. A similar product is also available for soda on many ships.
Upgrades: When you check in and get your room keycard, ask to be upgraded. If there are available rooms (and if you smile nicely), the staff is usually happy to move you to a bigger and better room at no additional charge.
Buy stock: Ok, this is a little out-of-the-ordinary, but if you invest in the stock market, you may want to look into buying shares in a cruise line. The general rule of thumb is that they offer shareholders a discount, which is a nice little perk.
Enjoy your cruise but remember to keep your eyes open for deals as well as for overpriced items. Nothing ruins a trip faster than an empty wallet.