Cruises are deceiving. You pay a big price, but it’s anything but all inclusive. We love them and we have done quite a few, but you need to be ready to know what you are getting in to or they will nickel and dime you right out of your budget.
1. Drink what’s Free – They do offer pop/soda cards, but they are expensive and the only way to get your moneys worth is to drink a lot and then it just becomes unhealthy.
2. Don’t eat a the restaurants that charge – There are more than enough “free of charge” restaurants to choose from why would you even consider paying for a meal? If you do want to pay for a meal do it while in port and try some of the local flavor instead. That’s why you are on vacation right??
3. Choose the Free activities – There are plenty of things to do on the boat. Plenty of shows to see and game shows to watch, don’t pay for your entertainment. Walk past the casino, you can do that anywhere.
4. Don’t feel like you need to have an excursion at every port – Big, big money maker here. We met up with a couple a few years back and they had booked something at all but one port. By the time they were at the last one they were happy they could do their own thing and not have another excursion. They almost felt like they had missed out on a few ports because they were whisked away to an activity instead of enjoying the culture.
5. Book excursions through another company, not the cruise ship. You can save up to $10-$20 a person just booking it yourself. (UPDATE: I know cruise ships are trying to crack down on this so double check that you have plenty of time to get back to the ship. When excursions are not booked through the ship, they don’t wait for you.)
6. Grab your drinks while in port – Ships charge lots of money for alcoholic drinks and they charge a 15% (although it could be higher now) tip right on there, and give you an additional tip line. Really?? We like to stop at a local place and try one of the local beers or drinks. Tons cheaper and you get to do something more authentic.
7. If you want drinks on the ship try and bring some of your own. It’s risky, sometimes they go through and sometimes they don’t. But if you can get your own on the boat it will save you tons. We personally have never done this, but we saw lots of people doing it.
8. Once off the ship, walk a little ways – If you get a block or 2 away from port the taxis start to get significantly cheaper. Acapulco was a huge price difference. We went to see the cliff divers. We paid $2 and the couple next to us grabbed a taxi right at port and paid $17.
9. Buy local – You are cruising so you can see different cities in different countries or areas. Don’t buy the silver on the boat, instead walk the city streets and pick up something from the locals. It will be a fraction of the price.
10. Don’t tell your kids the card is attached to an account – They make it so easy to spend money on a cruise. Your room key will also get you drinks. As a matter of fact our last cruise didn’t accept cash or credit cards. It was room keys only. Either don’t tell your kids or make sure they know they are responsible for anything charged.
There are so many more ways to save, but this is just some of the basics. For us it becomes a game. You want my money and I try and see how little I give you. We don’t have regrets about things we haven’t purchased, instead we love the new things we tried and the adventures we have found, at a fraction of the price.