Monthly Archives: July 2009

How To Save Money During Your Cruise

Now that you’ve booked yourself a cruise, I’d like to share some ideas to help you save money during your cruise. Remember, you are on vacation so you should enjoy yourself, it’s just a matter of finding a good balance between  a little indulgence and watching your pennies.

When you begin your cruise, each adult is given an electronic card to access their cabin but it also serves as their ID for reboarding the ship and as a “charge card” for onboard services (including the casino) and purchases.  At the end of your cruise, you will receive a statement summarizing all your transactions.  The electronic card is very convenient since you don’t have to worry about carrying your wallet/purse with you.

Check Your Cabin Statement During The Cruise – As you can imagine, the convenience of the “charge card” can become too convenient since it’s not difficult to lose track of all your small transactions. We suggest checking the statement at least once if not twice before the end of the cruise. This can be done through the Pursers Desk or possibly using the interactive television in your cabin (depending on the cruise ship).

Beverages – Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are traditionally not included in your cruise fare. Some Cruise Lines offer a sticker or a card that allows you unlimited soda pop and sometimes other non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re a coffee drinker, find out if your cruise offers a “coffee card” which entitles you to a set number of coffee beverages for one price. Before investing in one of these beverage options, realistically think about how much you will actually drink during your cruise.

If you order a bottle of wine with your meal, check with your server to find out if they can cork and store your bottle for the next night if you can’t finish it. Cruise Lines don’t allow passengers to bring their own alcohol onboard.  All luggage is X-Rayed as part of their security procedures.  I heard from a client that they discreetly packed wine in a tetra carton in their luggage/carry-on to enjoy in the privacy of their cabin.

Telephone and Internet – Ship-to-Shore phone calls are possible but expensive. If you don’t need to make a call but want to call someone, consider waiting until you reach the next port of call and use a pre-paid calling card.

Internet cafes and wi-fi hot spots are common on most cruise ships but their accessibility does come at a cost per minute (or a bit less if purchase a package). We all love our tech gadgets like Blackberries, iPhones, etc but don’t forget…you are away on vacation to relax and escape from your day to day hustle and bustle. Similar with the previous suggestion for phone calls, there is likely to be an internet cafe at your next port-of-call.

Bring Your Own Camera – Cruise ships have onboard photographers who can be seen taking photos everywhere.  They offer to sell you photos they’ve taken or offer to take photos of you and your travel companions for a price. You can save money using your own camera to take pictures or offering your camera to a fellow passenger to take a picture of you and your friends. If the onboard photographer has captured a special moment, buy a photo or two but restrain yourself from too many.

Medical Expense – Purchase travel medical insurance before your cruise for peace of mind if your current medical insurance does not cover you. While medical emergencies are rare, they are very expensive, e.g. air transport from the cruise ship or being taken to the hospital in an emergency vehicle from the pier.  I’ve heard that there’s even a cost to see the onboard medical staff.

Booking Your Next Cruise During Your Cruise – All Cruise Lines have a staff onboard who can help you book your next cruise. Find out what incentives they are offering you for a deposit on your future booking. Also their base prices for cruises are typically lower than what you’d find back on shore, some offers allow you to book at a discount with your travel consultant.

Minimize Your Alternative Dining – Eat in the regular dining rooms; they offer a wide variety of options to suit everyone’s tastes. The alternative (aka premium) restaurants will cost you extra so consider these a treat rather than a regular dining option.

Airfare To Your Departure Point – You are you not required to book your airfare with the Cruise Line.  The benefit of booking with them is that if your plane is late or delayed, the Cruise Line will try their best to join you with the next Port-of-Call (check with your Cruise Line for specific details). If you find a better airfare deal with your travel consultant, we strongly recommend arriving at your port of embarkation AT LEAST one day in advance.

If you have any suggestions on how to save money during a cruise, please share them here.

How To Save Money On Your Cruise

Cruising is generally a great vacation value. Being in the travel industry for over 25 years, I’d like to share some ideas on how to save money on your next cruise.

Book Early – Cruise Lines usually finalize their itineraries at least 12 – 16 months before the sailing date. Take advantage of their early booking discounts plus you get your choice of locations and staterooms.

Book Last Minute – It seems contrary to the previous point above but if you are not particular about the stateroom or your location on the cruise ship, you can sometimes save money if they aren’t full a couple weeks before the sailing date.

Pay For It In Advance – Sometimes cruise lines offer an additional discount if it’s paid in full at least 6 months in advance of the sailing date.  Check with your travel consultant to see if it applies for your booking.

Ask Your Travel Consultant About Sales/Promotions – Cruise Lines run multiple sales/promotions at the same time targeting specific demographics and geographic markets. Ask your travel consultant what the current sales / promotions are for the type of cruise you’re interested in and for your situation.

Become a Repeat Cruiser – Cruise Lines offer loyalty programs to encourage their passengers to cruise again. These programs offer benefits like preferential pricing and / or special promotions, onboard member events, and/or upgrade certificates. The more you cruise with a particular cruise, the better the benefits.

Consider an Inside Stateroom – There’s so much to see and do on a cruise ship. It’s like it’s own miniature city with shopping, movies, dancing, casinos, and more. You’ll hardly spend much time in your cabin except to sleep and change your clothes.

Sail During the Shoulder Season – Prices are usually less if you sail at the beginning or towards the end of the season. For example, the Alaska cruise season begins in May and early June and ends in September.

Find Out About Gratuities And Plan For Them – Usually the gratuity is not included in the cost of your fare, check with your travel consultant to confirm. If they are not included in the cost of your cruise, your cabin is usually charged a pre-determined amount each day per person during your cruise. Planning for this amount in advance reduces any surprise of a large bill at the end of your cruise. If you encounter poor service, contact the Purser’s Desk and explain the situation. The amount of your gratuity can be adjusted.

Book a Guaranteed Cabin Category – Ask your travel consultant about booking a specific category of cabin instead of specific stateroom. This guarantees you a minimum cabin category, just not where it is located on the ship.  By choosing this option, there is a good chance the cruise line could upgrade you to a higher category. Since an upgrade isn’t a certainty, we don’t recommend booking a cabin category that you aren’t comfortable sailing in.

The last suggestion doesn’t save you money but it could save your sanity and avoid frustration. If you’re looking to relax and re-energize on your vacation, we suggest booking your stateroom away from triple and quad cabins, elevators, utility rooms, show lounges, casinos, and pool decks.

Check our next blog post with suggestions on how to save money during your cruise.

Cruise Trivia – If you’ve ever wanted to do something different like staying at an ice hotel but either never got around to it, couldn’t afford it, etc.  You have the opportunity to experience the next best thing…the ONLY TRUE ice bar that sails the seas. The NCL Epic launches in the summer of 2010 in the Caribbean and here is NCL’s description of The Ice Bar:

Now this truly is as cool as it gets. Inspired by the original ice hotels in Scandinavia, The Ice Bar is one of only 14 in the world and the only true ice bar at sea. Enter a glistening, frozen, fantasyland where the bar, the walls, the tables, the stools, even the life-size sculptures are made out of ice. Let us help you slip into a faux fur coat to keep you warm in the chilly 17 degrees. Of course, the vodka helps, too.

Norwegian Cruise Line