Have you ever had sticker shock when your received your onboard account statement at the end of your cruise? If you are not careful, it is easy to rack up a large room bill if you aren’t closely monitoring your account. However, you are on vacation, who wants to constantly check their account balance to see how much they are spending?
Here are a few tips to keep you from having a large charge to your credit card at the end of your cruise.
A can of Coca-Cola/Pepsi will cost you roughly $2 plus 15% gratuity. You can purchase a soda card (usually around $6-7 per day plus gratuity) that gives you unlimited soda throughout your cruise, but that adds up to over $50 on a 7 night cruise. A way you can save money is to bring your own soda on board with you. Most cruise lines will still allow you to bring on one 12 pack of soda per person onto the ship with you at embarkation. After you get onboard, have your room steward empty the overpriced drinks out of your mini-fridge.
An easy way to save money on shore excursions is to book them ahead of time online through a 3rd party agency or after you arrive in port. I just came back from a 7 night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean and decided to take an island tour in St. Thomas. The cruise line wanted $59.99 per adult for this tour. We were able to talk a local and get the exact same tour for $20 per person. We were even able to customize the tour and visit a beach that isn’t as crowded, something you can’t do with the cruise line’s tours.
Booking with the cruise line does give you the guarantee that the cruise ship will not leave without you in the event that your excursion arrives back late at the pier. However, if you plan on being back to the ship least 1-2 hours before it is scheduled to leave, this will give you give plenty of time in case of a breakdown, traffic etc.
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Cruise lines will let you use cash to fund your onboard account instead of a credit card. I know many cruisers who do this because it helps them keep their account spending under control. Once you charge to your account the amount of cash that you put on it, you can not use your card for anything else until you visit guest services and add more cash to it.
This can be a pain since the line for guests services doesn’t always move the quickest and can be long (especially the first and last day of the cruise). Some cruise lines do have kiosks that allow you to view and add cash to your account without having to stand in line.
An easy way to control what you spend (or lose) in the cruise ship’s casino is to bring an envelope for each day of the cruise. Put cash in each envelope and once the money for that day is gone, you stop gambling. This will keep you from returning to the well (your wallet) too often and will keep your losses in check.
Cruise lines are starting to roll out cheaper and faster internet packages. Unfortunately, these packages are not yet available on every ship and cruise line. If you are going on a ship that does not have these newer, faster, and cheaper internet packages, then here are a few tips for you.
Internet (wifi) can be a bit pricey when on a cruise. Many internet packages start at .75 a minute and go lower if you buy a block of minutes. There can also be a one time connection charge of $3.95. The connection is much slower than your home DSL or cable. The speeds will remind you of the old AOL dialup days.
If you need to check your email or view message from home while on a cruise, visit an internet cafe while in port. Not only can usually get 60 minutes for around $5, the connection speeds will be faster and more in line with what you are used to at home.
Using your cell phone while at sea can cost anywhere from $3-$6 a minute, depending on your carrier. Text messages also come at a cost and data roaming is ridiculously expensive ($15 per mg). If you use the phone in your cabin to call home, it will cost roughly $1.99 per minute (rate will vary based on the cruise line).
If you need to check on things back home, either use your cell phone while in port (roaming charges will apply but are cheaper than the ship’s charges) or get a calling card. Calling cards are the best deal and will let you call home for 1/10th of the cost of using your cell phone.
These are 6 ways that can help save money on your cruise without sacrificing anything. If you have other ways of saving money, please post them in the comment section below so you can help fellow cruisers make the most of their cruise vacation.