Cruise Tips8 Things I Skipped On My Cruise to Save Money

8 Things I Skipped On My Cruise to Save Money

Cruises are a great way to maximize your vacation funds. Oftentimes, you can book a cruise for far less than a land vacation. A wide variety of food and drinks are included, some activities, and your accommodations for the duration of the trip. 

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Celebrity cruise ship sailing from Port Everglades
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

While cruises are an effective way to stay within a budget, there are hidden costs along the way.

Through trial and error, I have discovered several things that can be excluded and still provide a wonderful vacation. 

Here are the 8 things I skipped on my cruise to save money: 

1. Beverage Package

While a beverage package can be tempting, it’s not necessary. Many cruise lines offer a “soda package” and an “alcoholic beverage package”. These packages can be purchased ahead of your cruise or at the beginning of the trip.

Each package typically gives you a maximum amount of beverages that can be purchased per day.

While this sounds convenient, it can add a hefty price tag to your cruise. I would recommend budgeting a particular amount each day to beverages or limit yourself to drinks after dinner. 

Cruise ship and drinks: Which cruise lines charge the most for drink packages

2. Shore Excursions

While many will disagree, I tend to stay away from shore excursions. This may be due to the larger number of cruises I have been on, but I prefer a relaxing day in port.

If you are unsure of the port area, do a little research or attend the cruise line-held informational talk before arrival. 

Many ports have beaches nearby or attractions that are only a short distance away. You can save lots of cash by planning ahead and paying those lower entrance fees yourselves.

Team up with other cruises to make cab fares even lower. 

Read more: 10 most overrated cruise shore excursions

jet ski, swimming with dolphins and snorkeling

3. Premium Dining

Premium dining is great for special occasions or first-timers. Otherwise, I am perfectly happy with the included dining on most cruises.

Many ships offer a more luxe dining option that will incur additional fees to your cruise bill. Some of these meals will provide a higher quality meat, larger portions or specialty menus. 

If you insist on paying the extra charge for a Steakhouse onboard, rest assured it will be delicious and worth every single penny. 

Fine Cut Steakhouse on Celebrity Ascent
Fine Cut Steakhouse on Celebrity Ascent (Photo credit: Cruise Fever)

4. Photo Credit

Before your cruise departs, you will probably peruse the company website and prepare for any possible situation.

One of the options you may come by is photo credit. You can purchase photo credits that will be assigned to your folio or account onboard. I’ve known of people who will add hundreds of dollars of photo credits at a time. Why? In the name of budgeting, I suppose. 

I am quite picky about photos. I would prefer to purchase each photo a la carte, if I find one I am happy with. While some cruise photos are great, many are not. Choose which photos you love and purchase them if you really want to add them to your collection. 

5. Bingo

While bingo is fun, it can be very pricey on a cruise ship. Before the bingo session begins, cruise staff will do their best to sell you a package of cards (and a dauber, if you do not bring one yourself). 

Sometimes, a large jackpot is advertised, but that comes with restrictions. The entire bingo card needs to be covered in a certain amount of numbers called or less.

Personally, I’d rather spend my money in the casino so that I can at least enjoy the sounds of the slot machines. 

6. Balcony Stateroom

I absolutely love a balcony stateroom. The views are gorgeous and many balcony cabins provide a bit of extra space. If it’s not within my current budget, I’ll opt for an interior cabin. Literally hundreds of dollars can be saved by booking a room without a view. 

This may not be a popular suggestion for some, but I would rather skip the balcony and still be on the cruise ship for a week of fun in the sun. 

Carnival cruise ship balcony door

Read more: True cost different between a balcony and interior stateroom

7. Spa Treatments

Most cruise lines offer a full selection of spa treatments and salon services. Many newer ships have spas that include thermal suites. These can offer additional, premium options such as hot and cold treatments, infrared saunas, and aromatherapy baths. 

These spa treatments almost always come with a hefty price tag. Pampering and relaxation are the perfect way to spend a day, but can be booked far cheaper on land.  

two massage tables in the spa of a cruise ship

8. Discounted Jewelry

No doubt you have noticed the seemingly endless advertisements for discounted jewelry on cruise ships. You might find a good deal on occasion, but trusting your hard-earned money to your local jeweler will leave you happier and more satisfied. 

The “Inch of Gold” is one area I would particularly stay away from. The “plating” on this material is hardly even a coating of sorts. As a general rule, this is the type of jewelry that will turn your skin green. 

The next time you book a cruise and need to stay within a particular budget, consider the 8 points above. You will have a wonderful vacation and save money for your next cruise. 

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Cruise Tips8 Things I Skipped On My Cruise to Save Money
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