How to keep costs down on your next cruise holiday
Cruises are a popular getaway for many, and for good reason. They’re fantastic for families, provide endless entertainment and allow travellers to visit multiple destinations all in one holiday.
However, they can be expensive – and in a climate where money is tighter than usual - you may be reluctant to stretch your budget when you don’t have to.
However, cruise expert, Cruise Mummy, has revealed their insider tips to help keep the cost down on your next cruise, from finding cheap deals to saving money while on board.
1. Booking your cruise through a travel agent
There are many routes you can take when booking a cruise, whether you choose to go through a travel agent, book online or book directly with the cruise line. It’s generally cheaper and easier to book with a travel agent, especially if you are a first-time cruiser. Often, they get access to special fares or packages with flights that aren’t readily available otherwise.
However, you may also consider booking online if you’re happy to browse, as it will give you more time to compare cruises without the pressure to book. If you choose to book yourself, you may want to consider using an online comparison tool to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
2. Consider sacrificing optional extras
The price of your cruise will be affected by optional extras, including a balcony room. While this can add a luxurious feel - especially if you’re on a scenic cruise - it also carries a much bigger price tag. A cheaper alternative is an inside cabin, which is a room that has no balcony or windows and often run for a as little as half the price of their luxurious counterparts.
Although inside cabins have no natural light, the money you save could be used to keep you out of your room on excursions or could even be used towards your next cruise!
3. Book last minute or at least a year in advance
According to the experts, you can find the best deals when the itineraries are first released for booking, or 12 weeks before the cruise sets sail as prices start to drop to fill remaining cabins.
Booking last minute is a well-known way to get a cheap deal, but this does come with risks. You have to be flexible and there’s always a chance that you could dislike the itinerary or struggle to find a cruise that meets your needs. However, it’s always worth checking for a last-minute discount.
4. Look for reduced child rates
Inevitably, cruises cost more money during the school holidays, which can make bringing little ones along much more expensive. Luckily, there are still ways to make savings even when travelling with the whole family.
Some cruise lines will charge one set price for passengers of all ages, and if you’re taking young children on board who won’t eat or drink half as much as an adult, you may feel like you aren’t quite getting your money’s worth. It is important to choose your provider carefully.
Some cruise lines may charge a reduced fee for younger cruisers, while others allow children on board free of charge. Some even offer a complementary night nursery, allowing you to be child-free during the evenings! Taking the time to research the prices of children’s tickets and selecting your cruise line carefully could save you hundreds.
5. Pay for WiFi rather than using your phone data onboard
Many of us can’t go a day without our phones, whether we’re making calls, sending texts, or scrolling on social media. However, data roaming while on a cruise can result in a very high phone bill. While at sea, your phone can’t connect to the satellites it normally would, so it connects to maritime satellites instead, which costs a lot of money.
This can be avoided by either switching your phone off or putting it into aeroplane mode to avoid apps using data in the background. If, like many others, you can’t bear to be without the internet for the duration of your cruise, there are on board Wi-Fi packages available. These do come at a cost; however, it can be much cheaper than paying for your data roaming.
As for calling and texting, it is advisable to use apps that allow you to do this using Wi-Fi, such as WhatsApp and Skype to avoid those extra charges.
6. Consider bringing your own alcohol
Paying for drinks onboard may be a cost that you overlook during the planning process, but one that can dramatically increase the overall price of your cruise. If you’re not travelling all-inclusive, you must pay individually for all the drinks you order in the bars and restaurants, unless you pay for a drinks package, which can be very expensive.
A good way to avoid this is by taking your own alcohol with you. Most cruise lines allow one bottle per person, and some allow you to bring more for a small fee. Drinking your own alcohol in your stateroom is completely free, but you may have to pay a corkage fee if you wish to drink it in the ship’s bars and restaurants. It’s important to check with your cruise line first as they all have different policies, but this trick could save you from forking out for drinks unnecessarily.
Jenni Fielding, cruise expert at Cruise Mummy, has commented: “Cruises are an amazing experience, and they really don’t have to be expensive. Making small changes can save you hundreds and allow you to find a cruise no matter what your budget is. And especially during a time when a lot of people are short on money, it is important to make savings where we can.”