7 ways to save money on a cruise
March 9, 2012 ·
Cruising can be an affordable vacation option if you know how to avoid getting nickeled-and-dimed aboard the ship. We turned to three leading cruise experts for easy tips on how cruisers can spend less money next time they set sail — and still have fun.
1. Buy meals and spa treatments in advance
“More cruise lines are creating pre-purchase packages for meals and spa services prior to departure.” says Tiffany Neidhardt, VP of sales & marketing for Cruises-N-More. “For example, Royal Caribbean just announced 25-percent-plus savings on dinner packages aboard the Oasis and Allure of the Seas as well as Radiance and Splendour of the Seas. Guests can pre-reserve dining at three specialty restaurants for just $65 per person, which saves them more than $25 each.”
2. Don’t automatically buy a beverage package
“We typically don’t recommend buying a drinks package for alcoholic beverages,” says Kevin Weisner, vice president of CruiseDeals.com. “By our calculations, most people won’t keep up the drinking pace needed to break even on these packages. However, for families that have youngsters that consume a lot of soft drinks, juices and bottled water, these are an area for potential savings.
3. Pack light
“With the increased cost of checking bags, I recommend packing a bit lighter,” says Weisner. “Laundry services aboard cruise ships are reasonably priced, and your clothes will look fresh versus wrinkled from your suitcase. A couple could easily save $50 to $100 on luggage fees alone. That would cover a good bit of laundry, and save your back at the airports.”
4. Consider a megaship
Some megaships can accommodate more than 6,000 people — that’s a lot of cabins to fill. “Book now for the best pricing on the biggest ships at sea, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. You can try an 80-foot zip-line across the aft of the ship. Fares have tumbled to a new low of $749 per person for inside cabins on 7-night cruises through late fall,” says Sherry Laskin, owner of Cruise Connexions.
5. Pick a shorter cruise
Can’t afford a 7-night cruise? “Cruisers can find the best values in the shorter cruise market from January through April, and not just aboard older ships,” suggests Neidhardt. “For example, Royal Caribbean has the Jewel of the Seas sailing from Tampa for four and five nights or the Liberty of the Seas departing from Ft. Lauderdale for the same length of time. Both vessels have been updated. On the Jewel of the Seas, you can climb the rock wall or retreat to a new adults-only area. On the recently refurbished Liberty of the Seas, the family can enjoy DreamWorks-themed entertainment, 3D movies by the pool, or a Broadway-style show.”
6. Cruise during hurricane season (June 1-Nov. 30)
“If you’re willing to roll the dice and cruise during hurricane season, a Caribbean cruise offers the best cruise value,” says Laskin. “For instance, Carnival has some incredible deals: a 7-night cruise aboard the recently upgraded Carnival Liberty starts at $389 per person for an inside cabin on the Sept 22. sailing round-trip from Miami. That’s under $60 per person a day.”
7. Get upgraded
“Ask your travel agent or watch the cruise lines’ websites for automatic upgrades from an inside cabin to an ocean-view stateroom. Cruise lines that frequently offer this type of promotion include Carnival, MSC, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Line.”
But please don’t forget to consider travel insurance.