How to Enjoy an Ocean Cruise without Exceeding Your Budget

How to Enjoy an Ocean Cruise without Exceeding Your Budget

By Kathy Steinemann

A cruise can be a memorable vacation. However, you might quickly exceed your budget unless you plan properly. This article provides a few tips to help you enjoy your vacation without being forced to mortgage your house, kids, and dog.

A cruise on the open sea can be an exhilarating experience. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your holiday while staying within your budget.

• Consider paying a little extra for a cruise that includes airfare, food, and beverages. This usually ends up costing less than a “discount” cruise with no perks.

• You will save money by planning your own shore excursions. However, the downside is that if you arrive back at the dock late, you could be left behind. Stick with the cruise line’s excursions and you will not have to worry about being deserted in an unfamiliar port.

• Arrive a day early at the embarkation city and plan to do some sightseeing. If there are any airline delays or other hiccups in your travel schedule, the extra time cushion will help you reach the dock before the ship sails. (Some cruise lines provide a free one-night hotel stay as part of their package.)

• If you are traveling with a group, it might be cheaper to hire a local taxi service to shuttle to and from the ship rather than an airport transfer service purchased through the cruise line.

• Ship photographers will be anxious to take your photo (and charge for it) everywhere you go. Save money by carrying your own digital camera and enlisting the aid of other passengers or group members.

• Stow your cabin key in a next-to-body pouch or on a lanyard around your neck. This will hinder the efforts of potential thieves.

• Onboard laundry fees can be very pricey. Check to see if the ship has a self-service laundromat. Many cruise lines also plan a special day when they will wash a complete bag of laundry for a set fee, which works out much cheaper than the per-item rates they usually charge.

• Check the cruise tipping policy. If gratuities are not included, remember to tip serving staff and stewards. They rely on the extra money to supplement their wages, which are not particularly high.

• Spa services can end up being very costly. When considering the price, be sure to calculate a generous gratuity as part of the total. If you really want to luxuriate in the spa, go ahead and treat yourself. However, avoid the sales pitch for their products after the treatment.

• Keep track of purchases made onboard or during shore excursions. They can add up quickly if you are not paying attention.

• If you decide to visit the ship’s casino, set a budget limit and stick to it.

• Onboard Internet access is expensive, slow, and not always reliable. Ask crew members where you can find Internet cafes during shore excursions.

• It is cheaper to take a packed lunch from the ship than it is to buy food during shore excursions.

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