Ocean cruising has been a highlight of my life, and I can think of few better ways to spend my money. Competition is tough, and there are some great bargains out there. My advice is to be wary of upselling. When your travel agent enthuses about what’s part of an all-inclusive ocean cruise, remember that there’s a lot on board that’s not. Here are a few that I hope you would find useful.
Money Saving Cruise Tips
I don’t believe cruise lines make a huge amount of money out of cabin tariffs. In fact I think these simply cover costs. So the game is to tempt you to opt for add-ons like beers in the afternoon, cocktails in the evening, wine with supper and so on. And that’s not even mentioning luxurious spas, on-board activities and onshore tours. As a general principle I recommend you plan ahead, decide what you are going to do, make a budget and stick to it.
Wine, Dine and Then a Flutter
Your ocean liner is bound to offer an exquisite buffet breakfast lunch and supper, with everything you could dream of except the alcohol assuming you want it. Look twice at the ‘drink as much as you want’ packages because there’s no refund for the unused portion. So do your calcs first, Are you really going to drink several cocktails every evening? It could be cheaper to pay as you go.
Speciality restaurants are another neat trick but look past the classy décor and the obliging waitrons. These places are hugely expensive, and with few exceptions the food is no better than you get in your home town at half the price. My advice is stick to the buffet. Save your money for when you go on shore and find an authentic back-street café. And leave your purse in the cabin if you pop in to see what the casino’s like.
Cost the Extra Add-Ons
Watch your step before you walk into spas because many of these are actually retail outlets for over-priced products you might never consider purchasing at home, and there are only so many ways you can massage regardless of the price. Of course, if you have an endless supply of money then this is an extremely pleasant way to spend it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hammering the industry. Simply recommending that you be selective and have a budget for the extras.
Although oil prices have been easier lately thanks to fracking, all cruise companies have a clause that says they can put the price up to cover any unforeseen increase in the price of diesel. You either accept this or you don’t go cruising. I have a neat way of coping with this. What I do is hold a couple of $100’s in reserve ‘just in case’. If I don’t need it, well then I’ve got more than enough money for a spa treatment and a fancy meal upstairs.
You are going to pay a mandatory gratuity over and above your ticket price, which goes into a central kitty and the entire crew share. This is fair, as you only get to meet 10% of them if that. Call me mean, but I generally don’t believe in individual tipping over and above that. There is however one exception you should consider. I give my cabin attendant $50 when I arrive with a promise of another $50 before I disembark which I am careful to honour. Do the same, and I promise you’ll feel like you owned the boat!
If you have any more Money Saving Cruise Tips, please let us know. We would love to hear your best tips!