Cruises are a fantastic way to explore the world. The flexibility of a cruise means you can pack in multiple destinations in one vacation, plus get to relax and unwind on a luxury floating resort, with all the bells and whistles to keep you occupied for days!
The typical cost of a weeklong cruise is under $2000 per person but the costs can quickly rise once you get on board. You might think you’re purchasing an “all-inclusive” holiday but more often than not you’ll be paying extra for alcoholic drinks, dining outside the main buffet, shore excursions and even internet access. To avoid ending up like this Texan, who got charged $2700 by her cell phone provider for data roaming whilst on a cruise, we recommend you take note! Do your research
1. Do your research
Booking early could help you save a ton of money, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those special offers online – sites like Cruisewatch.com will do all the hard work for you. Sometimes you’ll find the cheapest rates when you book up to a year in advance. Alternatively, if you’re not set on an exact cruise you could always try booking last minute. We would only recommend booking last minute if you’re happy to be flexible, are planning to go off-season and are okay with booking a (more than likely) non-refundable package.
2. Consider buying add-on packages ahead of your departure
This is one of our top tips for anyone wishing to curb their spending whilst onboard. You may not realise it but little treats like a massage or a meal at the fine dining restaurant can quickly add up. Cruise liners will offer you discounted rates for booking packages in advance, so check ahead of your travel. If you’re planning to drink (a lot of) alcohol on your cruise we would strongly recommend buying an all inclusive drinks package ahead of your cruise – as individual drink prices are notoriously high. Prices for all-inclusive drinks packages depend on your cruise liner but will typically be around $50-$60 per person. If you don’t want to book ahead, you could always research the peak and off-peak hours for bars, restaurants and the spa, when you’re more likely to receive a discount.
3. Pack the essentials
The last thing you want to be spending additional money on is to replace those essential items you forgot to pack. Toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo and other daily toiletries will be charged at a premium on board, so it’s well worth taking your own. We also suggest making a list of every electronic device you’ll be taking with you and ensure you’ve packed all your chargers! You’ll also want to bring a power plug adaptor and a travel power strip as cabins typically only have one or two electrical outlets.
4. Explore the ports on your own
Whilst you may feel obliged to book excursions with your cruise liner, you can save a significant amount of money by simply doing a bit of research ahead of time and planning your own day trips. On average shore excursions, organized by your cruise liner, will cost you between $50 and $175 per person. You can use this guide to get some inspiration for port excursions.
5. Bring your own snacks
Most cruise ships will allow you to bring your own soft drinks and snacks on board for free, so why not stock up on your sweet and savory fixes and save some cash. You might also be lucky and have a cruise liner that operates a BYOB policy (like Carnival which allows you to bring cans or cartons less than 12 oz.) or even a small corkage, so check ahead and stock up on your favorite drinks.
6. Don’t over tip
Make sure you check your food and drinks bills before handing over a generous tip. A service charge of 10%-20% is almost always included, and, if it isn’t you can opt-in to an auto gratuity to make things fair and to allow you to budget accordingly. On average you should be aiming to budget around $12 per person, per day for service charge. Do watch out for the added line at the bottom of your bill that asks for “additional gratuity”, as many passengers have gotten caught out and end up double tipping! That’s obviously not to say if you experienced stellar service that you shouldn’t tip generously! Here’s a useful guide to best practices in the cruise industry in case you’re still confused.
7. Stay away from the onboard Wi-fi
Wifi is unbelievably expensive on board cruise ships, where you can be spending close to a dollar per minute to surf the internet. It’s estimated that passengers spend $50-$100 per day connecting to the internet – meaning a week long cruise could add a whopping $700 to your bill (per person). You’ll also want to make sure you turn data roaming off on your mobile phone, as during your journey your phone may pick up international carriers and charge you before you even know it!
Tep understands that the internet is an essential for the modern traveller so we’ve developed an unlimited data plan that’s perfect for cruise holidays.
For just $9.95 per day, you can enjoy unlimited internet using our Tep portable wifi device. It’s perfect for couples or families too, with just one of our portable wifi’s you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously (including your tablet, mobile phone and laptop). The device is compact and can fit in your pocket (or bag) and gives you access to the internet in over 80 countries worldwide, meaning you’ll no longer have to worry about exorbitant data roaming charges or having to buy a SIM card in every port you visit. For more information or to buy/rent your own visit us here.