Cruise Budget Planning Essentials
Although it’s easy to book a cruise there are many things to consider to make sure you get what you want, at the price that is right for you. This is a must read before booking.
Every year (lets be honest, anytime I have free time) I start daydreaming about taking a vacation. I usually start by clicking on some ad that promises a deal that usually is too good to be true. But that exercise ignites the desire to go on a trip and at that point, I am on a mission.
What is the cost of the cruise?
What if something happens?
What activies will you do in port?
How will you get to the port?
What extra charges will you have on the ship?
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Cruise Fare Budget Tips
If you are looking to stretch your cruise budget, then be aware of these tips to help you cruise better.
- Compare like cruise line products to determine value. For example Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruises both appeal to first-time cruisers because of their enticing cruise promotions. However, if you are looking for a more refined experience then you will need to know what is offered on those ships or shop elsewhere. For example Norwegian Cruise Line offers a ship-within-a-ship concept that offers higher-end amenities, concierge service, and access to many perks to enhance the cruise experience. But even though staying a a suite on Norwegian Cruise Line is nice, it is not the same experience as sailing on luxury liner Silversea.
- Know when high season and low season are for apples-to-apples price comparisons. You will see higher prices during peak times. Sailing during the holidays is a good example of when higher cruise prices can be expected.
- Understand what type of stateroom you are getting for your money. Stateroom cabins vary according to size and also by location on the ship. I have recored a YouTube video explaining how to pick a stateroom cabin on Princess Cruises, you should watch it (click here).
Plan Ahead for Additional Expenses
More ways to spend money on your cruise vacation Unless you are sailing on most luxury cruise lines like Crystal, Regent, or Silversea, you will need to budget for additional expenses.
When I was in sales, I was always offered customers the option of getting trip insurance. Some people would accept, others would not. Personally, I always want it when something goes wrong, but hope that I will never need it. Make sure to research the options. There are many types of trip insurance plans, those offered through the cruise line or policies offered by travel insurance companies. Some policies need to be purchased at the time of deposit, so become familiar with the options before you make a cruise purchase.
Some cruise lines like Azamara offer a variety of speciality drinks as part of the cruise fare. Luxury lines like Crystal and Silversea offer all-inclusive pricing, which means they have a very generous complimentary (it’s included in the cruise fare) pricing model. On other cruise lines budget for these types of beverage: soda, bottled water, beer, wine, cocktails. Specialty coffees like Espresso or smoothies can be extra.
Pre Cruise and/or Post Cruise Expenses
How will you get to the port? Where will you stay overnight in a hotel so you can board the ship in time? Will you need to fly the embarkation or debarkation port? These additional travel expenses need to be factored into your cruise budget.
Once you are onboard there are more ways to spend money, if you are not on a cruise that offers all-inclusive pricing for alternative dining, or premium seating at entertainment venues. There are also costs to access the ships Wi-Fi, infant care, after hours babysitting, laundry service, cabana rentals, some exercise classes, spa and beauty services, and onboard shopping. Hey, you will even have to pay for room service delivery on some cruise lines. Another big expense you may incur on the dreaded shipboard account are shore excursions. You will want to research in advance the ports-of-call and decide what you would like to do. Some ports-of-call are very easy to navigate on your own, while other places are best suited for an escorted group tour offered by the ship.
Gratuities and Tips
Ways to Stretch the Budget
Join a cruise line loyalty program and get special promotions. If you become a frequent cruiser you can get some sweet offers.
If you like to enjoy cocktails, sodas, bottled water energy drinks or specialty coffees then consider getting a drinks package. Be on the lookout for information about beverage packages when you get onboard. You usually have to commit the first day or two of your cruise.
Sail with a Group. Don’t let members of a group buy individual stateroom cabins. Instead designate a couple people to act for the group and work with a travel agent or the cruise line’s group department for additional savings and perks. Your group may qualify for a free cabin, it’s worth looking into.