Cruising on a Budget
by Roy Witman © 2008
Ask any seasoned traveler, and he'll quickly admit
vacations are a great deal for the
money. Go one step further, and you'll find popular
opinion sides with cruise vacations as the preferred
all-inclusive because you get multiple destinations for
one price plus the freedom of not having to pack and
move with each new location. Still, many people
spend way too much on cruise
Here are several ways to save big on your next
Buy the Drink Card
With few exceptions, almost everything you could
imagine is included in the price of your cruise. One
thing that is not included is soft drinks. However, most
cruise lines, including Carnival, offer drink cards. You
pay approximately $25.00 per person for a card that
allows you an unlimited amount of soda. This price
also includes gratuities. Considering each soft drink
onboard costs between $2.50 and $3.00, if you drink
just 10 sodas, you'll have paid for the card. This type of
card is not applicable to alcoholic drinks.
Buy an Inside Cabin
Always the lowest in cost, inside cabins can save
you a good deal of money. Depending on the itinerary
and ship, an inside stateroom can be as much as
$100 less than an ocean-view room or balcony room.
You sacrifice having a view of the ocean, but chances
are, you'll be having too much fun to stay in your cabin
Travel During the Slow Season
Because children are in school, anytime you can
cruise during the week in the middle of the school
year, you'll find better bargains. During spring break,
summer break or holidays, families head out on
vacation, causing demand (and prices) to be higher.
January and February are excellent months to find
Watch for Sales and Upgrades
The best way to find out about special incentives
including discounted rates, free upgrades or onboard
credits is to sign up for email lists. Subscribe to your
travel agent's newsletter or to the cruise lines' lists.
Those are usually where specials are announced
Compare a la carte Vacations to
Don't assume package deals always equate to a
bargain. Always take time to do your research. Can
you find a better airfare rate at one of the discount
travel sites? If so, that could save you hundreds of
dollars in and of itself. Spending an hour on the Web
investigating your options is one of the easiest ways
Book Excursions Directly
Here's another area where doing a little
background work can save you big. Contact excursion
vendors directly and ask for pricing. You'll often find
they charge less when booking directly than they do
when booking through the cruise line.
Bring Water-sports Gear
Renting snorkeling equipment and other water-
sports gear can add quite a bit to your vacation costs.
If you have room in your bag, bring along your own
facemask, snorkel and fins.
Watch Alcohol and Casino Spending
Lastly, two areas where spending can quickly get
out of control is with buying cocktails and gambling in
the casinos. If you're tight on funds, set a limit as to
how much you're going to spend before you go out for
the evening and then stick to it.
Read more about Cruises from New York.