30 Money Saving Cruise Tips

Money Saving Cruise Tips

The cost of a cruise can add up quickly and it’s easy for costs to spiral out of control. Drinks, wifi, dining and shopping can leave you will an eye-watering bill at the end of your cruise.  So, we list 30 money saving cruise tips for your next cruise.

How to save money when booking a cruise

1. Choose a lower grade stateroom or an obstructed cabin.
You can get big savings by downgrading your stateroom or choosing a different location. Also, look for an obstructed staterooms. These can feature a small part of your view obstructed and offer a big discount.

2.Book a guaranteed cabin.
If you are not fussy about where on the ship your cabin is, book a guaranteed cabin. These are much cheaper but are usually excluded for extra promotions such as all-inclusive deals.

3. Cruise offseason.
What you compromise in weather, you gain in savings.

4. Book during wave season.
You will usually see discounts from January to March which is known as wave seasons.

5. Found a discount after you have booked or the price of your cruise has dropped?
It may be cheaper to cancel your cruise and re-book. Especially if you have a refundable cruise deposit.

6. Book a Re-Positioning cruise.
Repositioning cruises can be a fantastic deal. They offer interesting itineraries and sometimes more interesting ports.

7. Book your flights and travel insurance separate.
Unless the cruise line is offering a discount on flights, it is usually cheaper to arrange these yourself.

Jonny Rockets on Royal Caribbean.
(c)Cruise with Ben & David

Tips to save money on cruise drinks and dining.

8. Bring a water bottle.
Bottled water is expensive on cruises. Bring your own refillable bottle to save money and save plastic! You can refill your bottle at the buffet and some bars.

9. Look out for the ‘Drink of the Day’
The cocktail of the day can be up to half the price.

10. Join the loyalty scheme and you may get free drinks and discounts
If you are a member of the cruise lines loyalty programme you may get drinks vouchers in your room. Alternatively, the member events for free drinks.

11. Attend the Art Auction or ship promotions.
Most cruise lines have a champagne art auction with free champagne. You don’t have to buy artwork but is a way to spend an afternoon with free drinks. Also, some shops offer special promotion hours with free drinks and a raffle.

12. Don’t waste wine.. put a cork in it!
If you have purchased a bottle of wine in a restaurant, ask your server to cork it for you until the next evening.

13. Take advantage of bringing your own alcohol
Check before you sail if you can take any alcohol or soft drinks with you.

14. Book dining packages before you board
You can save up to 30% by booking your dining package before you sail.

15. Look out for promotions and discounts on pre-cruise purchases
Royal Caribbean, in particular, run promotion on Drinks packages, photos, dining packages and wifi periodically throughout the year. Other cruise lines also offer pre-cruise discounts but are less often.

16. Book speciality dining on the first night
The first night is usually quiet in the speciality restaurants so cruise lines run offers to entice you in. We have seen discounts up-to 50% on Royal Caribbean and even a free bottle of wine on Carnival. Check your pre-cruise planner for any promotions.

Antigua on the Disney Magic
Antigua on the Disney Magic. (c)Cruise with Ben & David

How to make shore excursions cheaper

17. Do your homework before you sail book excursions with local operators.
You can save a ton of money by booking excursions outside the cruise line. Just make sure they are a reputable company, get good reviews and that you will be back to the ship on time.

18. Don’t book excursions and go it alone
Do your research and make your own excursion. Research local transport and attractions.

19. Research ports before you sail so you don’t get ripped off
Check the cost of taxis before you arrive you know you are not getting ripped off.

If you are going on Mediterranian cruise, take a look at our 10 Mediterranian cruise tips.

Cruise currency and money tips

20. Save money with a currency card/pre-paid cards
You can use a currency card just as you would use a debit card to spend or withdraw cash as you wish. And because they’re pre-loaded, it allows you to keep tight control of your spending. Some also allow you to lock in a rate in advance. But shop around and look for any hidden charges or fees.

21. Buy currency before you sail
Check each destinations currency (Many take USD) and avoid currency exchange in airports

22. Pay your bill in the ship’s currency and not the currency of your card
Check you are settling your bill in the currency of the ship. The exchange rates are usually poor and you can end up spending much more. Use a currency-card or credit card with a good exchange rate to settle your bill.

23. Don’t over-tip – its already included.
When you buy drinks or dining onboard a tip is already added to your bill. Likewise, a gratuity will be added to your final bill that is split among your room steward, servers and the crew.

24. Put a restriction on children spending!
If you are travelling with children visit guest services to put a restriction on there spending. Alternatively, you can block their card so they can’t make any purchases.

Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
(c)Cruise with Ben and David

How to save money on-board a cruise

25. Avoid the sales
There will be plenty of “Don’t Miss” sails onboard. These are usually hyped up during your cruise as discounts “you can’t miss”. These items are often not designer items and very low quality. Yes, a “designer watch” for $10 is too good to be true!

26. Research port parking
Don’t get a shock by not planning or pre-booking port parking. Shop around online and look for the best price. Also, look out for any hotels offering any park and stay offers.

27. Look for spa treatment offers
You can usually find offers on spa treatments on Port Days, the first day of your cruise and towards the end of your sailing.

28. Take your own camera.
Avoid using the ship’s photographer as these are very expensive.

29. Disconnect at sea
Avoid costly phone bills and don’t buy the wifi! Wifi on board is expensive and generally slow. Wait until you are in port and find a cafe with free wifi. Also, remember to turn your phone onto aeroplane mode to avoid connecting to the ships cellular network.

30. Avoid been ripped off for everyday essentials 
Make sure you have all your essentials such as suncream, toiletries, batteries and medication before you sail. These can be very expensive onboard and in ports.

David McDonald
As one half of Cruise with Ben & David I am a huge cruise enthusiast and have sailed on over 30 cruises. On dry land, I am a Head of Design at a digital media company based in London. I have had the opportunity to work with brands such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph.