Cruise package prices usually include accommodations, some activities, on-board entertainment, baggage handling, some food and the use of any public facilities on the ship. However, there are several other charges to be aware of when planning a cruise. Port fees and taxes are added, and these vary depending on the port location. Some local governments may also add a head tax, which is an extra fee per passenger to help cover the cost of maintaining a port’s infrastructure.
People who must fly to their port of call may also choose to add airfare to a package. It is helpful to check with the cruise line to see if this added charge includes or excludes baggage and handling costs. Some premium restaurants and special activities on a cruise may cost extra. While most food is free on a cruise, free beverages are limited. Fortunately, there are ways to save money in all of these areas.
1. Compare Separate Costs
Many people book their flights and excursions with their cruise because it is easier. However, booking everything as a package deal is not always the most affordable option. Spend some time comparing the individual costs of flights and activities. In many cases, savvy travelers are able to find coupons or promotional deals for cheaper airfare and excursion packages.
2. Know Where To Find Free Drinks
People who want to enjoy alcoholic beverages without paying a small fortune can do so with a little creativity. During the first night of the voyage, some restaurants on board hand out complimentary bottles of champagne or wine. With some cruise lines, there are socials or other events designed to introduce the passengers and crew members to one another. Attending these events is often a good way to enjoy free cocktails or a free bottle of wine. Keep in mind that many cruise ships do not allow passengers to bring their own alcohol, but some will permit one bottle of wine if it is declared at embarkation.
3. Research Entertainment And Activity Costs
While many cruise lines provide plenty of free food and entertainment, it is important to know what is excluded before making plans. For example, food from the main dining room or buffet may be free, but the cuisine at a specialty restaurant on board may cost extra. The same is true with spas and some other venues on a ship. One way to still enjoy some of these extra services without spending a fortune is to buy on-board credit. Choosing a specific amount of credit, paying for it beforehand and using it wisely during the cruise can help travelers avoid overspending. In many cases, another way to save is to consider river cruises. The companies providing these voyages usually offer more inclusions for the package price. When planning shore excursions, watch for local deals not offered by the cruise line. Many excursions offered by cruise lines are expensive, and this is especially true with any beach-related adventures.
4. Book During ‘Wave Season’
Two of the best ways to save money are to purchase tickets during wave season and to choose off-season dates. Wave season lasts from January through March, and it isn’t about choppy seas; it earned its name simply because these months have always been the most popular time to purchase cruise tickets. This is also the time when all cruise lines offer the best prices, free upgrades and discounted add-on features. In addition to booking during wave season, choose a voyage that sets sail during the off-season months. These are dates during the early spring, late fall and winter. While off-season dates are usually cheaper, some outdoor activities on board the ship and some shore excursions may be negatively affected by inclement weather.
When booking a cruise, it is helpful to use a travel agent who specializes in cruises. Working with a travel agent who does not devote all of his or her time to the cruise industry could result in paying more and missing out on better deals. People who plan to travel frequently and stick with one cruise line can also purchase shares to save money. Research the discounts offered to shareholders before making a decision.