An Insider’s Guide to Planning a Budget-Friendly Cruise Vacation

An insiders guide to planning a budgetfriendly cruise vacation

No matter if you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or an extensive weeklong voyage, taking a cruise can be an exciting and relaxing way to discover a new destination. Unfortunately, it can also get expensive!

That’s why it’s essential to learn how to save money on a cruise vacation. In this episode, an experienced cruiser provides his top tips for planning an affordable getaway.

1. Book Early

Booking early is the best way to guarantee yourself a great cruise price. Many cruise experts suggest booking more than a year prior to your sailing date for optimal savings.

Though it may seem like a long wait, the wait usually pays off in the end. Not only will you have access to more cabin options and competitive rates, but you also gain valuable time for other activities.

After you board, keep an eye out for mid-cruise specials and promotions advertised in your daily schedule or newsletter. These can include discounts on paid attractions, shore excursions, specialty dining options and more.

2. Book with a Travel Agent

Travel agents possess extensive knowledge about cruises, which can assist you in making informed decisions. Furthermore, they often have access to exclusive perks, discounts and inventory not available online.

For example, your cruise fare typically includes accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities – as well as drinks, tips and shore excursions. It can be tricky to determine exactly what you’re getting when booking online or through a cruise line website so having an expert help you sort through the details is highly recommended.

On a cruise ship, you aren’t just booking general passage; you must select a specific cabin and when to dine. A mistake in either category could ruin your cruise experience.

3. Don’t Forget About Points

Cruising can be a budget-friendly vacation choice, but not everything is included in the fare. Port taxes, fees and gratuities must be added onto your budget for added expenses to consider.

When planning your cruise, look for packages that bundle purchases and save you money. These could include all-you-can-drink beverage packages, specialty dining deals or dinner and drinks packages.

Cruises are an ideal opportunity to utilize your travel rewards credit card points, which can help cover the cost of your cruise and provide you with a truly all-inclusive vacation. Personal finance expert Lance Cothern has taken several cruises for free or at significant discounts using his travel rewards credit cards.

4. Don’t Forget About Special Occasions

No matter the occasion – whether an anniversary, birthday or graduation – a cruise vacation can be the ideal way to mark life’s major achievements. Today’s most technologically advanced ships boast amenities that will please even the pickiest traveler, from water slides to Broadway entertainment. It all comes down to what your traveling party wants in terms of fun, food and beverages before planning their itinerary.

To determine what everyone’s priorities are, have a conversation. Once you have this info, you’re on the path to planning an enjoyable and successful cruise vacation that will provide lasting memories for years to come. To get started on shopping for your cruise vacation needs, create a list of must-haves and don’ts before heading out!

5. Don’t Forget About Credit Cards

Credit cards are a convenient payment option for cruises. You can use them at restaurants, shops and beach clubs during your stops at ports of call.

You can use them for purchases inside your cabin, such as room service or meals at alternative restaurants. When checking in, the cruise line will put your card on file to charge to your room account.

If you opt to charge your cruise to a credit card, be sure to pay off the balance in full by the end of each billing cycle in order to avoid incurring interest charges. Some cards offer zero percent APR for years or more, which can save money in the long run.