Tuesday, February 23, 2010

5 ways to save $$$ while cruising

For many travelers cruising has become a top option when needing a break from reality. The prices may seem intimidating at first, but when it comes down to crunching the numbers going on a cruise doesn't have to break the bank. Here are 5 ways you can save money on your next cruise.

1. Putting 4 people in a room

If you are traveling with 4 or more people and want to save money, it is essential to maximize the number of people per room. The default settings for most online booking sites is 2 people per room, but many rooms can sleep up to 4 people. This includes the windowless interior rooms which is the cheapest option aboard. The key is that the 3rd and 4th passengers pay a highly discounted rate. The savings occur after you split the total cost of the room 4 ways.

Let's look at an example when booking the same interior room on the Carnival Miracle for 8 nights on Expedia.com. Our room is in on Deck 1 and falls under category 4A. The price is $779 per person.

Price of the room for 2 people: $779(cost) * 2 (amount of people) + $162.74 (taxes + fees) = $1,720.74 and therefore $860.37 per person.

Price of the room for 4 people: $779 (cost for first 2 passengers) *2 + $449 (cost for 3rd and 4th passengers) * 2 = $2456 + 325.48 (taxes + fees) = $2781.48 and therefore $695.37 per person.

Sorry for all of the math! But it clearly shows that by adding the two extra people to same exact room each person saves $165.

2. Cruising from your home city (or a nearby city)

There are many departure ports that sail to various destinations both north and south. New York City and Northern New Jersey offer itineraries to the Caribbean, New England, Canada and even transatlantic excursions to Europe. Of course Florida boasts a large selection of destinations due to its close proximity to the Caribbean. Aside from the greater NYC area and Florida, here are some other US cities that offer cruises to the Caribbean:

  • Baltimore, MD

  • Boston, MA

  • Charleston, SC

  • Galveston, TX

  • Mobile, AL

  • New Orleans, LA

  • Norfolk, VA

If you live in or around any of these areas you will likely be able to enjoy more cruise bang for your buck while saving money on airline tickets and avoiding stressful airport procedures. If you want to cruise to destinations such as Mexico or Alaska, there will be plenty of options on the west coast to leave from.

3. Skip the shore excursions

When docked at its location the ship offers a wide range of activities for all ages and interests, called shore excursions which come with a steep price. While some excursions such as swimming with dolphins sound amazing, they are very expensive. Some cheaper shore excursions could include lunch in paradise at a pristine white stand beach for the afternoon. There are times, with a little pre-trip research where you can get to the same destinations as the shore excursion without paying the high bill.
For example, when my friends and I went on a Norwegian cruise in 2008 that stopped in Tortola (British Virgin Islands) there was a shore excursion that offered lunch at picturesque Cane Garden Bay. I had done my research and already knew that Cane Garden was one of the nicest and most popular beaches in Tortola. We decided to go there on our own, and only had to pay round trip taxi fare. It was well worth missing out on the lunch to save a bunch of money.

4. Take advantage of all the free eating options aboard

Arguably the best part of cruising is the all-inclusive food options on board. Amazing food is all over these floating cities in the form of sit down restaurants, buffets, bistros and bars. No matter what you're craving and what time of day it is, you are covered. The ship will also offer various "premium" eating options where each consumer will have to pay an additional surcharge. These restaurants are spread out through out the ship and can feature such venues as steakhouses and sushi bars.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure most of these restaurants serve excellent food, but if you're looking to save money, avoid them! There are so many free eating areas on the ship that serve fantastic food. Trust me, you will never go hungry & you won't have to worry about racking up the bill.

5. Drinking while exploring

If you like to drink and order your drinks on the boat, expect a very large tab at the end of your vacation. Think about going out to your city's most trendy neighborhood, how much would you say the drinks are? $10? $12? ... Well that's about how much you will pay for mixed drinks on your cruise. Come on, with all the free food on board the organization has to make profit somehow, and overcharging for drinks is one key way. If you must drink on the cruise, stick to beer which will probably cost $5-$7 each.
One option to score cheaper drinks during your cruise is to drink while visiting the ports. Once away from the dock area, there are bound to be cheap bars and restaurants. Why not kick back with some local residents and enjoy some ice cold cheap drinks at the neighborhood watering hole.

Cruising is an awesome way to spend a vacation, so don't be afraid if the prices initially seem high. Do your research, search multiple cruise lines and sources and follow these rules in order to enjoy this high seas without emptying your life savings.

Have any of you been on any cool cruises lately? If so, do you have any other money saving tips?

1 comment:

  1. Those are great tips! Here's 101 more money saving and cruise enhancing tips. Just found this on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/101-Cruise-Secrets-cruise-service/dp/1450588069/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267193814&sr=8-1