13 Guaranteed Ways to Save on Your Cruise

Dollar sign indicating you can save money while on your next cruise
By simply following a few tips, you can potentially save big on your next cruise.

Going on a cruise is a unique experience like no other, especially if you have secured some great cruise savings. You are going to see a number of incredible destinations, see brilliant entertainment and enjoy fine dining without ever having to leave the comfort of your ship. 

There is no doubt that they can be expensive though, especially if you end up not using any tips or tricks that can take a significant chunk off your cruise bill. Here we will explore how exactly cruise liners make their money and what that means for you getting the cheapest deal possible.

Why isn’t your cruise fare all-inclusive?

Cruise liners have to decide how they are going to earn their money from you being aboard their ship. Considering that they have an incredible number of staff, a huge amount of food as well as other huge costs, the profit margins aren’t enormous.

Due to that, a cruise liner will often sell tickets at a loss in terms of covering all their operating costs. Most of them make their profit from what passengers spend on board and this is why they have the additional costs.

The other way to do it would be to increase the ticket prices and then have almost everything as all-inclusive. Cruise liners though most feel as though passengers wouldn’t be willing to pay for these higher ticket prices.

What causes these additional cruise costs?

While it may feel frustrating to have to pay these costs, as we mentioned there a huge amount of money is spent by cruise companies. This can be shown by the information released by Carnival Corporation who own many of the most famous cruise companies. 

The holding company spent $1.62 billion on fuel in 2018, over $2 billion in wages and over one billion on food alone. With the likes of the commission, port charges, stock and maintenance, the Carnival Corporation spent over $11 billion in 2018 operating their ships.

This makes you see that cruise liners don’t charge their passengers what they do for the sake of it, it’s because they have to, as the profit that they get from each passenger is quite small. What you can do though is make subtle changes to ensure that you are getting the best value for money possible.

People are standing at the railing on a cruise ship ready to start their vacations.
Following a few money saving tips, you can start your cruise vacation with anticipation and worry-free!

What are the 13 guaranteed money saving tips?

As you can see, the cruise liner desperately wants you to spend as much money onboard as possible and there are a few ways that they will encourage you to do this. By being a little savvier, you would save yourself hundreds of dollars not just during your trip but before it too. Here we look at 13 ways that you can help you enjoy that cruise without any spending guilt.

1. Book an older cruise ship

Cruise ships continue to get bigger and more impressive and there is always a drop-off in interest in any vessel that isn’t brand new. Due to this, there are often savings to be had by looking at an old cruise liner instead of rushing to new ones.

A lot of companies will call these ‘romantic’ which is a nice way of saying old, but it’s also true. All cruise ships are very well maintained and an older ship will be able to give you a more charming experience without the extra costs.

2. Book an inside cabin onboard

This is going to be the biggest saving that you can have. You need to ask yourself what you are going on a cruise for. Surely it’s for the luxury of the ship and the ability to see new destinations at every port that the ship calls at.

While it’s nice having a balcony view, your room should be nothing more than a place to sleep and get changed. Inside cabins are very comfortable and you will get a lot of amenities, a balcony is a luxury that most people don’t need.

Save up to 80%!

Start our FREE cruise price alerts to never miss a deal again.

3. Book shore excursions outside of the cruise line

Cruise liners play on the expectations of their passengers, as they know that people will expect to pay for excursions. This means that they will have a mark-up in price as most people will take the easy option of booking an excursion through them.

Local competition is rife though and there will be plenty of native companies offering the same excursions for a lot less money. Cruise liners bring big business to many ports and locals know this and cater to cruise passengers extremely well.

4. Don’t be impatient when looking for cruise deals

You might see an advert on the television or it could be that you are getting to the end of your cruise and simply can’t wait to book another one. It’s always important though to step back and think through what you are actually doing.

Cruise vacations shouldn’t be booked in haste and should take planning in order to get the best value for money. Even though a liner/website/agent may say they have saving, it still might not be the cheapest available and you should look around.

5. Explore cruise destinations on your own

Some cruise liners can be quite regimented in how they organize tours and excursions. Sometimes the beauty of traveling is being able to explore a destination on your own to see the incredible sights that they have on your own terms.

It’s not going to be difficult to find the main attractions at each port and a fun part of your cruise is looking at this beforehand so you can travel with all the information that you need. This will mean that not only do you see everything that you want, but you also save a lot of money too.

6. Avoid specialty dining and eating on shore

The overwhelming majority of cruise ships are going to offer you three meals a day at the least in their dining venues, with most also having snack options open throughout the day. Theoretically, you needn’t have to spend a cent on food for the duration of the cruise.

Eating out a la carte or at an expensive restaurant is a luxury that you don’t need to pay for and the cost of a meal close to the ship can be significantly higher than a normal restaurant. While you are likely to want snacks and treats at times throughout your vacation, ensure that all your big meals are on the ship and away from the fee-charging specialty restaurants.

7. Stock up before boarding your cruise ship

Items purchased onboard a ship are unsurprisingly high. You could end up paying over double for an item that you would when on shore. You have to think to yourself whether you actually need the item that you want straight away.

A good example of this would be sun lotion. If you were buying this to protect yourself from the next destination, for example, then you may as well wait until you are there to get it. This is just one example where small savings can add up to something significant.

8. Give beverage packages while cruising deep thought

Everyone drinks a different amount, whether that is bottled water or an alcoholic beverage. Due to this it’s a good idea to see what beverage packages are available and how much they are going to save you, if at all. There are few important considerations here though.

Each ship varies in the inclusive drinks that they offer and this is important to check. Also if you are unsure, it might be best to leave it and you will always be able to get a package later rather than being stuck one for the duration on your cruise.

9. Keep a tab of your onboard credit

Cruises are, more or less, a cashless environment. Most of them work via a card that works in the same way that a credit card does and once you get to the end of the trip, you would be able to pay the bill of however much you’ve spent. 

Unlike a credit card though, there aren’t convenient machines, apps and websites to check your spending and this can lead to a surprise at the end of your trip when you have lost track of your outlay. It’s a good idea to maintain a rough idea on your spending and also ask them to check your balance every couple of days to stop you from getting carried away.

10. Forget about WiFi until the cruise port

Whether it is messaging friends, checking sports scores or replying to e-mails, many people are very attached to the internet and that is something that cruise liners take advantage of with high WiFi costs.

At each cruise port though you are likely to not only get a mobile connection but also there will most likely be many businesses that have free WiFi. If you really do need WiFi access onboard, try and limit your internet access to a one-time slot throughout the day for a short period. 

11. Use the self-service laundry onboard

Most cruise lines are going to be able to offer laundry services, especially on longer journeys. This generally comes with two options as you will be able to get someone to do your laundry for you or you will be able to use their self-service facilities. 

Using the self-service facilities will most likely be free and will allow you to wash your clothes for a lot cheaper than it otherwise would be. Also, packing smartly might mean that you are going to be able to avoid doing laundry at all.

12. Bring your own drinks on the cruise ship

It can never be advised to sneak alcohol onto your cruise as this is almost always against their terms but a lot of companies will allow you to bring some alcohol onboard, usually a bottle of wine, which is a good offer to take up. 

Also, it’s important to check their soft drink policies too as this can save money. Carnival allows 12 cans on non-alcoholic drinks to be taken onboard prior at boarding and also at each port. Having such drink readily available in your room can save a lot of money. 

Best Cruise Advisory!

Create your FREE account to get access to unique services!

13. Remain loyal to your cruise company

Loyalty is very important to cruise liners as getting repeat customers is a big part of their business plan. This can mean that you are given offers that are much better than first-time passengers would be getting.

This may make you feel like you are stuck with a company but if you are completely in love with how one liner operates, then being a part of their loyalty programs is most likely going to be able to save you thousands of dollars as the years go by.

Woman plans her cruise by sitting at her desk researching and calculating cruise prices
With a little planning before the cruise on the basis of our guide you can save a lot of money!

Save on a cruise with these tips

While some people may see these as some great tips to save money, others might feel as though it looks like too much hassle and they simply want to enjoy their cruise without having to worry too much about the money they are spending.

With some pre-planning though, you will be see which cruise lines offering the best deals and be able to get into some great habits. When you do, you’ll find that these things become second nature to you. Once they are, then you will be able to relax and enjoy your cruise knowing that you’ve got all the information that you need.

These tips are only meant as a guide and obviously if you wanted the odd luxury here and there, then you should enjoy yourself, but leaving the cruise with a bill much higher than you were expecting and a bank account much lower can leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Preventing yourself from too much money will enable you to come away richer but also happy to go on the next cruise adventure. Being out there on the sea and seeing incredible ports can be an incredible adventure and saving here and there will allow you to enjoy it time and time again.

Check out these articles for more information on the costs of cruising: