Cruising the high seas can offer a great vacation bargain, but that doesn’t automatically mean the ticket price is cheap. Here are five ways to save on your next cruise.
Book Last Minute
While conventional wisdom would tell you to plan ahead, when it comes to cruises, bookings made anywhere from six to three weeks before departure can offer some great bargains. According to www.cruisecritic.com, great last-minute deals are especially easy to find if you choose to sail during a slower travel time like autumn. Not only are base fares lower to begin with, but in order to fill empty cabins, cruise lines continue to drop prices as sailing dates get closer.
Find a nearby port
Rather than fly to an exotic location to begin you cruise, take advantage of U.S. cities that have cruise ports, like New York, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston and many Florida cities. That will save you money that you can apply toward a nicer room or other cruise ship extras.
Don’t follow the crowd
Shore excursions are often quite expensive, so do research before you sail and create your own tour. You might enjoy your own adventure more than if you took the organized tour. Just keep an eye on the clock and make sure you’re back on the ship before it sets sail again.
Sign up for the booze cruise
Before committing to a cruise line, check to see if you can get a deal that charges flat fees for unlimited beverages. According to Cruiseline.com, packages range in price from $5 per day for a bottled water plan to $55 per day for plan that includes alcohol. However, make sure you read the fine print, because some have restrictions like per-meal or per-day caps. Also, many include a 15% service charge and aren’t transferable.
As noted above, gratuity is often included on your bill when you dine or visit the bar. In fact, according to travel website Places You’ll See, some cruise lines even charge a set amount to your onboard account each day. So while you may feel moved to tip an especially helpful or friendly server, keep in mind you might be tipping twice.
If you follow these tips and search online for even more – articles on this topic abound on the internet – you may be able to save enough money to start planning for a second cruise.