Okay, that’s it. I am sick of winter. Sure, the snow is nice during the holiday season but come January I am more than ready to swap my snow boots for flip flops and parka for my swimsuit. With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, I can’t help but reminisce on my last tropical vacation with my family. We sailed the Caribbean ocean for a week and it was glorious! With spring break just around the corner, I am sure many of you have opted to get out of the cold. Well if you are planning a cruise vacation, this blog post is for you! Today I’m revealing my top secrets to save you money on your next cruise!
Planning is the most important step when it comes to a budget friendly vacation. I wrote an entire blog post on planning for vacation that covers planning ahead, budgeting, saving, trip deals, etc. You can catch my travel planning tips HERE.
Yes, you can save money just by packing light. Many airlines charge a fee to check your baggage. So, to reduce the cost of baggage fees try sticking to carry-on bags only. Packing for a week in a carry-on might seem impossible but trust me you don’t need to bring that much, you will live in your swimsuit (keep reading for my go-to packing list). Pack light weight clothing that won’t easily wrinkle and use accessories to dress up your casual outfits that can be worn any time during the week.
Airport and Cruise Terminal Transportation
If you are flying into your cruise port, it’s wise to arrive the day before and stay in a hotel close to the cruise port. Take advantage of free hotel shuttle service from the airport, and when it comes to catching a ride from the hotel to the cruise port, make sure to evaluate your options. On our last cruise the shuttle service from our hotel to the port was $12 a person. Instead we took an Uber which was half the cost at $6 a person.
Many people book their excursions through the cruise line to avoid getting scammed and simply because it’s easy. But excursions through the cruise ship are SO much more expensive. Take advantage of excursions offered by the locals at a cheaper rate. Avoid getting scammed by reading up on the company through sites such as Trip Advisor. My mom (who is the budgeting and discount queen) has always booked our excursions through smaller, local companies (not the cruise line) and every excursion has been safe, credible and most importantly a blast. Plus, we got a chance to save our hard-earned money which is always an added bonus. If you decide to do a last-minute excursion wait to score a great deal off the ship and offer to pay with cash. Larger groups tend to get better deals. If you’re travelling with a smaller group, meet some people on the ship who have an interest in the same excursion as you to make your group bigger.
Non-inclusive alcohol is probably the biggest reasons why people don’t like to cruise. But for those who aren’t big drinkers cruising is an amazing and affordable way to experience many different islands, cultures, and beaches. While I’m not one to consume copious amounts of booze on my vacations, I do enjoy a glass of wine at dinner and during the evening entertainment. Most cruise lines allow you to bring on board 1 750ml bottle of alcohol aboard per person (over the age of 21 of course). Bringing your own alcohol on board will save you big bucks as the cruise lines charge an arm and a leg for alcohol.
After a couple days at sea, you can’t wait to get off the ship and explore your destination. But don’t forget to pack some food for the day! Instead of paying for overpriced food on the islands, bring along some zip lock bags and fill them with your favorite foods from the ship. Our last ship had an amazing sandwich bar, so we packed some tasty sandwiches along with some fruit and we were set for the day. It’s also VERY important to stay hydrated while touring the islands so don’t forget to pack a re-usable water bottle. Prior to getting off the ship, ask the bar tender to fill up your bottle so your not stuck on a hot island paying $10 for bottled water.
Swimwear and Accessories
One word…SALE. When it comes to my swimwear and swim accessories (diva sunhats are a must), I always take advantage of end of season sales. My last cruise was in November, so I bought many of my new suits in August when all the summer seasonal attire was on sale. I saved some major bucks! I also used websites such as Rose Gal to purchase some of my more trendy swim attire that fit within my budget. If ordering from sites such as Rose Gal, Cupshe, and Zaful, don’t expect much from a quality perspective and take your measurements before making a purchase! Attire is NOT true to size.
My Go-to Packing List
- 5 swimsuits (this is probably over kill but I like to have options)
- 3 cover ups
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 3 t-shirts
- 3 dresses (light weight material)
- 1 pair of jeans/pants
- 3 dressy tops
- 1 cardigan that goes with all outfits
- 1 blazer
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 pair of wedges
- 1 pair of running shoes
- 3 pairs of pajamas