Going on a cruise is one of the most economical vacations you can take, and since it includes so many things like food, lodging, and entertainment you might forget that you need to have a little extra money on the ship as well. So how much money do you need to take on the boat with you? This really depends on a few factors, but this article will help give you an idea of how much more money you will need.
Spending money for tips
Now the real question is how much “cash” you need to bring on board the ship, since most things can be paid for with your on board account or keycard, and at the end of the trip you can settle your account with your credit card. But cash may still come in handy. Yes, you can tip your room steward with your on board account, but they aren’t going to turn away cash either. Many people like to pay for their tips in advance so they don’t have to worry about it, but even if you choose this option you can still tip your room steward and wait staff with some extra cash. Read the article on cruise tipping 101 here.
Spending money at the ports
If you plan on doing a lot of shopping, this will certainly bite into your budget. Many ports in the Caribbean offer some “discounted” touristy items, but you can always talk the price down even more. Most of these places only take cash, but this doesn’t mean you have to carry cash around with you. Most of the ports I have been to also have ATM machines. Just don’t get too much money out of the machine because it will not be American dollars, AND you do NOT want to be carrying around a lot of money on foreign soil. At least when your credit card is stolen you can make a call and get any fraudulent charges taken care of, but when cash is stolen it’s usually gone forever.
Spending money on excursions
Typically you can pay for any excursions with your on board credit as well, but if you come across something you want to do while you are on an island or port, you might want to have some extra cash. One of the advantages for paying for an excursion through the cruise line, though, is that the ship will not leave you at the port if your excursion goes long. At least, they aren’t supposed to.
Spending money on beverages
Any drinks on the ship besides water and tea will typically cost you a bit extra. Some cruise lines offer soda for free, but the big ones like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian do not. You can still prepay for a “soda pass card” that will allow you to drink as many soft drinks as you want, so if you are a big soda drinker you can just put this on your credit card account.
Spending money on the ship
Anything you want to buy on the ship, whether it’s at one of the shops or a photo in the gallery, you are able to buy with your on board account. So yes, you need to factor this into the total cost of your cruise, but no you don’t need to bring cash on board to make these purchases.
Over all, cruise lines deal in a cashless society. Except for the casino there really aren’t any places on board that require cash at all. But if you want to cruise on a budget you really don’t have to bring hardly any cash at all, and if you keep you expenses low, you won’t have to pay for much more than the cost of your cruise (on top of taxes and fees of course).
Want to cruise like a pro? Check out some insider secrets to saving money on cruises and avoid the 20 mistakes that most cruisers make with the Intelligent Cruiser here.