Going on a cruise can be like buying an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen. You start out with that vanilla cone for $1.29, but before you know it you’re adding a fancy waffle cone, getting it dipped in chocolate and nuts, and all of a sudden your change from your $10 is fairly piddling.
The price for a cruise is the same way. It can start out unbelievably cheap – $249 for four nights in the Caribbean. But five days later, you’re staring down a long list of charges and your $249 cruise is now going to set you back more than a mortgage payment.
Here are just a few ways we saved on our holiday cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas. Your savings may vary by number of people and cruise ship of course, but here are just a few ideas to get you started.
1. Take a taxi rather than a shuttle from the airport. Our group of seven flew into Miami and needed transportation to the Miami port, approximately 7 miles away. We could have booked the shuttle ahead of time for $30 round-trip. But taxis have a flat fare of $24 to the port. We found one that held all seven of us. Savings? More than $150.
2. Take your own luggage on board. On previous cruises I had noted that as soon as you arrive at the port, a nice gentlemen offers to take your bags. You are expected to tip handsomely and may not see them for several hours. Savings? Around $20-$30 and no hassle waiting for our bags to show up on the ship and back at the terminal when we disembarked.
3. Compare costs on excursions. During our day in Nassau, our group decided to go visit the stunning Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. As we were unable to come to a consensus prior to our cruise, we hadn’t booked any type of excursion, which proved to our benefit. Rather than paying a hefty $54 a person and being on someone else’s schedule, we just strolled off the ship at our leisure, found a water taxi for $6 a person round-trip, and toured the property on our own. There is a public beach you can visit as well, at no cost. (Unless you decide to accept one of the many offers for all-you-can-drink coconut drinks for $20.) Savings? More than $340.
4. Take your own alcohol on board. Sssh! This one is a secret, as our cruise line did not allow alcohol on board. Many do, however, and we found that the best way to handle taking on wine is in a box. No worries about breakage, and you can fine decent box wine that holds the equivalent of four bottles of wine. Savings? More than $150.
5. Join the cruiseline’s loyalty program. If you’ve cruised with that line before, get details on their loyalty programs. I joined the Crown & Anchor Society for Royal Caribbean and received a coupon book for discounts and an invitation to a members-only cocktail party.
Cruising can be an enjoyable, and affordable vacation. Just keep an eye on all those extra charges.