Updated November 25, 2019

How To Save Money On Cruises: 15 Affordable Tricks

How to Travel Cheap

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Cruises are the best ways to travel. You get to take advantage of being onboard a full-amenity ship with plenty to do and see. Plus, you get to travel to exotic destinations, giving you plenty of enjoyment during your cruise.

But cruises can be expensive, and that may be the stopping block in your travel plans. You can learn how to save money on cruises with these easy tricks. As you book your next cruise, consider these travel tips that can save you plenty of money along the way.

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1. Book In The Off Season

Everyone wants to head out of town in the summer and spring. You may be in search of sunny days, blue water, and sandy beaches during this popular time of year. But you are not alone if you are looking to get away in the prime season. This, however, can be the most expensive time of year to travel.

Good to Know: You need to think outside the box and book a cruise in the off-season. Fall and winter cruises can save you money when you book vs. the busy spring and summer demand.

Pro Tip: You may also want to consider the wave season in January and March. This can net you quite a discount as many travelers steer clear of these rough waters.

If you have a strong stomach and don’t get motion sickness, you may want to book in these low demand months so you can save on a cruise.

2. Buy On Discount Sites

Looking for a cruise to purchase is half the battle. You need to do your homework and compare prices on several sites.

Pro Tips

  • One site that can help you get plenty of cash back on your cruise purchase is Ebates. This website pays you for shopping at your favorite places right from its site. You’ll find a range of cruise and trip options on Ebates that you can book. Ebates gives you a percentage back on these purchases and will let you cash out your balance in the form of a check.
  • Another discount site you’ll want to try is Groupon. This site offers package cruises at a discount that can help save you money. You’ll have to have a watchful eye as vacation packages are limited and if you don’t’ buy when you see the offer, you may be out of luck later. Groupon is a fun site that you can spend a great deal of time looking for deals on cruises, but we recommend it as one of the ways to save money on cruises.

3. Find A Travel Agent

You may be hesitant to work with a travel agent to book your cruise, but it can actually save you money in the long run. While you do pay a travel agent for their services, they typically have relationships with certain cruise lines that can help to offset those costs. Plus, a travel agent knows the ins and outs of cruises, so they can direct you to the right one for your needs.

Good to Know: Imagine all the time you would spend looking for and booking a cruise. There is airfare to deal with, transportation, excursions, and the cruise itself to think about. Your travel agent will set up and reserve all of these details for you. Not only will it save you time searching, but you will end up with a better deal than if you booked everything on your own.

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4. Book Airfare Separately

You may be tempted to book an all-in-one package deal for your cruise that includes airfare. While this may seem like the easiest way to save on a cruise, you can do better if you book your airfare separately. This will allow you to search for the flight that works best for your schedule as well as fits within your budget.

Good to Know: When you book a package deal with airfare included, you have no way of knowing exactly what you are paying for your airfare portion. Cruise lines lump the price altogether, making you think that you are getting a good deal on your cruise.While it may seem like a hassle to look for your own airfare, remember you want to know how to save money on cruises, and this is one of the easiest ways to do it.

5. Find Your Own Excursions

Excursions are part of the fun of your cruise. As your ship docks, you get to explore the land and see the sights. You may have a special excursion on your bucket list but paying for it may make you a little seasick.

Keep in Mind: You can save on your cruise if you book your own excursions. It may take a little more effort, but you will have the exact trip you want. Booking your excursions before you travel can be done easily. A few searches online can put you in touch with plenty of excursion options that are sure to pique your interest. Plus, many of the excursions that are offered through your cruise line will put you at their mercy.

You may not get the day or time you want as these ship excursions fill up fast and could put you in a position where you don’t get to enjoy all the activities you wanted on your trip.

6. Bring Your Own Drinks

While most cruise lines don’t allow you to bring alcohol aboard the ship, you will be able to bring as many other beverages that you need.

While you may think that a soda here and there won’t add up fast, but in actuality, you’ll be surprised at how much you spend. Carrying on a six-pack or 12-pack can help you to cut your costs board your cruise.

Pro Tip: Just ask for a cup of ice, and you’ll soon be enjoying a frosty beverage as you lay in the sun by the pool.

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7. Book Amenities Early

If you have a special way that you want to spend your time aboard your ship, you need to act fast. Booking your amenities early is one of the better ways to save money on cruises. You’ll get a discounted rate when you book early vs. waiting until you are on the ship to book that much-needed massage or spa day. Amenities can run the gamut on cruise ships, and you’ll be surprised at how fast they add up.

Plus, space is limited for these special treats, so you don’t want to be left out of having all the fun you planned on your trip. Contact your cruise line and find out what they offer. Book the items that you know you want to do aboard the ship.

Good to Know: The sooner you book these added amenities, the lower the rate will be as cruises look to fill all the open spots they have for each day.

8. Pack Light

Traveling light may seem like a real challenge, especially if you are unsure of the weather. But you need to consider the costs of multiple bags. The airline that you take to your cruise will charge you for extra bags with fees that range from $25 to $50 one way.

Good to Know: These added fees can significantly increase the cost of your cruise, and you want to save on a cruise any way that you can. Traveling light not only will save you from paying these fees, but you may be able to carry on your luggage which will help you avoid the baggage claim.

You’ll get to your destination sooner and never have to worry about losing your luggage when you fly to your cruise’s port of call.

9. Plan Your Next Vacation Early

There is no doubt that you are going to love your cruise, so much so that you are going to be looking forward to your next adventure. If you really want to learn how to save money on cruises, you‘ll book your next travels right when you are on board the ship.

Pro Tip: Many cruise lines offer travel packages to come back on a cruise again.  This is the perfect opportunity to plan your next trip and have something to look forward to when you get back. The deals that these cruise lines offer are designed to entice you, and the prices reflect their desire to get people booked aboard the next ship.

Good to Know: Have a plan in place before you arrive , so you know where you want to go and when. You’ll also want to be prepared to pay upfront for the next cruise of your dreams.

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10. Be Flexible About When You Travel

It can be easy to pinpoint an exact date that you want to travel, but without even knowing it, you may be putting yourself on a higher cost cruise. If you are flexible with your dates of travel, you may hit a cruise that is low on passengers.

Good to Know: Cruise lines may be wanting to fill up that ship, and with a little flexibility on your part, you can pay less for a cruise. Having a range of dates that you want to travel can make it easier for you to book a lower cost cruise that goes to the destination you are looking for. Certain dates are more popular like holidays, long weekends, and spring break.

Stay away from these travel times and look for dates that work for you but yield a lower rate. The more flexibility you have combined with off-season travel can produce quite a savings on your cruise.

11. Look For Cruise Specials And Sales

You’ll want to really dig deep to find those cruise sales and specials.

Cruise lines like to fill every cabin before they depart and will offer special promotions to get people aboard.

  • Finding a sale means staying on top of these cruise lines and keeping an eye on when they are offering discounted rates.
  • You may find specials in the off-season or to a low-demand destination.
  • Don’t count these opportunities out. They can help you reduce your cruise costs, and are one of the best ways to save.
  • When you do see a sale on a cruise of your choice, book it right away.
  • These low prices will drive sales for the cruise lines and demand will increase, driving the prices back up again.

Waiting to book during these sales will only bring disappointment as you miss out on the savings.

12. Book A Lower Deck

You need to think about what type of room you are looking for on your cruise. Keep in mind that the majority of your time will be spent on deck and off the ship.

Pro Tip: Booking a lower deck room will help you save big money on your cruise. You may not have the view you dreamed of, but there are plenty of picturesque places to gaze at the ocean while onboard the ship. A lower deck is less coveted by travelers but comes with a reduced rate. You’ll still have access to all the amenities that above deck rooms offer without having to pay the extra costs.

While no view may not be in the cards for you, but if you are looking for ways to save money on cruises, this is it.

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13. Book As A Group

Why not invite all your friends and family to join you on your trip. Not only will you get a better rate but you’ll have a lot more fun. Cruise lines offer group rates that can significantly cut the price of your cruise, saving everyone money on a little fun. Group rates can vary by occupancy and the more people you can gather up the greater your discount will be.

Good to Know: Cruise lines love groups as it helps to fill the ship up faster. You can book a block of rooms or spread out as you see fit.

Remember the more the merrier aboard a cruise, and you’ll soon find that you are saving money while having the time of your life.

14. Cut Your Travels Short

While you may be dreaming of a long getaway, a surefire way to save some money on your cruise is to keep your trip short. Shorter trips offer you a reduced rate as you are not traveling as far or as long.

Pro Tip: Picking a cruise that lasts three to four days will be plenty of time to have some fun. You’ll get to see a few destinations and find out if you like cruises at all to begin with. Keeping your destination short may sound like a drag, but it is a good way to save on a cruise while still taking a mini vacation.

Plus, with all the money you save, you can book another cruise in a few months.

15. Drive To The Port Of Call

One of the easiest ways to save money on a cruise is to drive to the port of call. This can save you on airfare, especially is you live in a departing city.

While you may have to plan an extra day of travel to drive, you can save a bundle by using your own car.

  • Your gas mileage will certainly cost less that taking a flight there and back.
  • You’ll also be in control of your travels as you can leave when you want to or even stop at some sights along the way.
  • You won’t have to worry about delayed or canceled flights as you drive your way to the port to hop aboard that ship.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how to save money on cruises there is only one thing left to do. Book your cruise!

You’ll save plenty of money with these cost-saving tips and enjoy yourself fully knowing that you got a deal.

Are you going on a cruise soon? Did you save money when you booked? Let us know how. We want to hear from you.

Click here now to find out how to increase your monthly income.

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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