If you are an avid cruiser in search of a bargain, you are the master of creativity and ingenuity.  You carefully research and tenaciously hunt down a cruise bargain. Your desire to get the best possible cheap cruise means hunting down every opportunity to save money! You negotiate the best deal on single supplements if you are travelling alone and do everything humanly possible to find those magic dates and special deals! You are proud when you secure a great cruise for a great price!

Now, as the cruise date approaches, the question to ask is how you enjoy your affordable cruise and avoid spending all the money you saved on frivolous non-essentials and hidden costs.

Paying for Extras

Very few cruises are all inclusive. Pullmantur and other budget lines offer free drinks and excursions. Some like Viking offer one free shore excursion at each port, but charge what they must for speciality options. Some cruise lines like Hurtigruten include tipping in the cost of the cruise and others build a surcharge into your cruise cost.  So, the tip here to is read all the very small print and ask lots of questions so you know what extras you will be expected to pay for.

To be honest, on my latest Hurtigruten cruise I only paid for one brilliant shore excursion and made my own way around the other towns we visited on my own. Just made sure I had a map of the town and a very accurate watch since our stops were mostly all under 4 hours.

Drinks Including Water and Tea

I must admit I was a little surprised that Hurtigruten offered free tea and coffee for breakfast and lunch in the dining room. But for dinner coffee and tea were served on another deck in a lounge area and any hot drink between meals had a cost. Viking and others have a coffee and tea nook operating 24/7.

Water may not be free, especially if you like the sparkling kind. So, here are two ideas. One is to just pick up a few bottles of cold water at ports you visit. For hot drinks, you can carry a small thermos and bring some of your favourite tea bags with you.

And if you love a cup of bedtime tea, just fill up that thermos with hot water after dinner and a hot drink will be waiting for you as you curl up at night in bed.  I love my Swell thermos! They have fabulous designs and the big plus is that they keep water hot for 8 hours!

Skip the Ship Photos

Most cruise lines have wonderful photographers positioned in places where you can’t avoid them. As you board, or disembark they take your picture ‘for free’ and then post it for you to purchase. If you are super self-disciplined, just let them take the shot, but if you love the picture you may be tempted. One way to save those hard-earned pennies.

Limit Your Drinking

Drink bills are one area that always shocks many cruisers. $6 beers and $10 mixed drinks add up very fast.  So, if you plan to drink every day (and why not, you’re not driving) then consider a drink package. I am not going to advise bringing drinks on board from port in sneaky ways. There are ways of course.

Having said that some cruise companies will let you bring one case of your own water and beer. Often bringing a bottle of wine onto the ship is ok. Check with your cruise line!

Avoid the Speciality Restaurants

Most cruise ships have wonderful speciality restaurants. While it may be lovely to enjoy one or two special nights, they can really add a substantial amount to your bill. So be aware of the cost of that special treat and choose your indulgences wisely.

Ixnay on the Casino

This one is obvious!

Plan Your Own Shore Excursions

Cruise-run shore excursions. They tend to be expensive and crowded. That is the reality of bus tours. Having said that sometimes that is the only way to see the maximum amount of a place. So, choose wisely. If you are on a river cruise, you can literally walk into town. Or get a taxi (share) into town and do your own wandering and exploring.

You don’t have to tick every monument, museum and historical site. Sometimes just ambling, wandering and getting back to the ship online can be the best and least expensive option.

Plan Your Own Spa Experience

This is one of my favourite things to do! On-board spa treatments are wonderful and many of the new cruise ships have a fabulous range of services. From manicure to pedicures, body wraps, aromatherapy and hot stone massage there is an abundance of sheer indulgence!  If you can afford one, absolutely go for it!

But if you are on a budget why not bring with you some lovely oils or creams or a Korean facial sheet mask for fun.  You can have your own spa day, remembering that most of the joy of a body treatments in in your head. Knowing that you are taking time to feel good, pampered and loved! You can save a lot of money!

It goes without saying that the best way to save money is not to spend it. So that means not shopping on board, considering nixing the Wi-Fi package, and doing all those things I’ve mentioned above.

You can have a lovely time on a cruise just being on board and enjoying all the free features of the ship. The people, food and entertainment. Treasure the hidden nooks like the library, gym and of course the wide-open decks. And of course, don’t forget those sunrises and sunsets. Mother Nature provides exquisite experiences for absolutely no charge.

What ways do you save money while on a cruise?

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