Photo Credit: Regina Anne
Hello, I’m Nakeya from the Decorator’s Voice. After reading Because I’m Cheap and communicating with Jenn, we decided a post on saving money during a cruise may be welcomed.
Going on a cruise can be a very fun and exciting experience for you and your family. It can also be expensive if not properly planned. There are ways to save money and still have a fabulous time. These are my top nine tips.
Opting Out of the Unlimited Soda Plan
Juice, milk, tea, coffee, and lemonade are all offered free on your cruise. You may be tempted to purchase the unlimited soda plan. Unless you just need to drink soda, opting out of the endless soda plan can actually save a family of 4 over a hundred dollars. Many cruise lines will allow each member of your party to bring a 12 pack case of soda on board. Before you board, visit your local superstore and purchase your soda beverages to take with you. Ice is free. Be creative and pack your favorite water bottle or cup.
Take Advantage of All of the Free Activities
There are literally free events happening non-stop at least 20 hours a day on your cruise ship. Each day you will receive an itinerary. I suggest you take a highlighter and highlight the ones you want to participate in. Avoid the spa services and paid classes if you are on a budget. Yes, receiving a 60 minute massage at sea is very relaxing; however, you can receive an equally relaxing massage from your local Massage Envy for 25% of the cost at sea.
Skip the Specialty Restaurants
Don’t be tempted to pay $25 per person to eat at one of the cruise’s specialty restaurants. Yes, you may receive a free glass of wine and can order steak, but you can also receive steak and lobster in the main dining room on elegant night for free. Also, when dining in the main dining room, you can order multiple appetizers or entrees’. You don’t have to pick between steak or lobster. You can have both. Many people do not know this and the wait staff will not offer it unless you inquire about it. As long as you consume what you order and don’t go overboard, you order as much as you can eat. You can order an entrée as your appetizer or order two appetizers. Have fun and try new things. Also, don’t forget the lido deck, 24 hour free room service, and the other free eateries on the ship.
Avoid the Gift Store
Try to be as prepared as possible. Don’t wait till the last minute to pack because you may miss something. Read our blog post on The 8 Must Haves For A Cruise for tips on things to bring which can save you a lot of money.
Put a Limit on the Kids (or your Spouse’s) Ship Card
Most cruise ships are cashless (with the exception of the casino). Your ship card is used to open your cabin door, charge expenses, and on some cruises used to turn on your cabins light. Your kids may want to use the card in the video arcade and candy store. Your spouse may use the card to charge gift store purchases and other vendor purchases. The cards are linked to the credit/debit card designated when making your reservations or at the front desk. To avoid any surprises, feel free to put a limit of the amount of expenses that can be charged to the card.
Do Your own Excursion Research
Your cruise will offer multiple excursion options. You can pre-purchase them before you arrive or you can purchase them on your ship. There are great advantages of booking your excursion through the ship. The ship will not leave you if your excursion has been purchased through the ship and you’re late returning back to the ship. If you feel you may need this assurance, paying more to purchase your excursion from the ship may be best for you. However, the price can be almost double than if you purchased directly. Look at both options before making any purchases.
I suggest you turn off your phone and put it in your cabins safe. You don’t want to be surprised to find a $3,000 cell phone bill due to a data overage. Many people put their phone on airplane mode and use it as their camera. Trust me, accidents happen!!! You don’t want your airplane mode to accidently turn off in the middle of the sea. I recommend using a standard point and click camera. I purchased everyone in my family disposable waterproof cameras for our last cruise. You can also purchase a pay as you go phone or take your wifi only phone to be used at locations in ports that have free wifi.
Prepay Your Gratuities
Many people often forget to include the gratuities in their budget. For a family of four on a 7 day cruise, the gratuities may be up to $336. The gratituites is automatically deducted from your debit/credit card on file with the cruise line. If you are using a debit card, the cruise ship may place an additional temporary hold on the card. You can prepay your gratuities before your cruise. This tip doesn’t necessarily save you money, but it helps you manage your budget and prepare for your trip. I’ve often taken cash to the customer service desk to credit my account so the money is not taken of my credit card. Although it is not recommended, you also have the option of going to the ship’s customer service desk and asking them to remove the gratuities if you aren’t satisfied with your service. I’ve cruised on multiple cruise lines and have never received less than perfect customer service.
Limit the Number of Professional Pictures You Take
The professional photographers on the cruise have wonderful lighting and excellent background. You can take one hundred pictures per night without any obligation to purchase them. When the pictures are developed you will look so wonderful, you will want to purchase each and every picture in every size, key chain, and canvas. If you don’t take 500 pictures, you will not be tempted to purchase all of them.
I hope you are able to use some of these tips to help you save during your cruise. Please comment with any questions and additional money saving tips.
For additional cruise tips, home décor ideas, organization ideas, and planning & productivity strategies, visit my blog at http://www.decoratorsvoice.wordpress.com