So you want to go on a cruise, but you have a tight budget. That is OK!! We want to share with you our secrets to a cheap cruise!
Cruise in Off-Season! Each destination has a peak season and an off season depending on how nice the weather is (or may not be). Watch our video on "When Is The Best Time To Take A Cruise" for more information!
Book far in advance. You'll want to look for these deals for cruises that are over a year out. Or if it's brand new ship, the bookings open up at least 2 years prior to the first sailing. Specifically for Disney, they release new bookings a year- a year and a half out, you will want to book your cruise during that FIRST week of openings. This is a big deal in the DCL world. The cruise prices will never be cheaper than the first week that they announce the new sailings!
Book Last Minute - This is a good option if you can make quick decisions on when to take a vacay, or don't need a long time to plan out activities or finances. Most cruise lines try to sail at full capacity (or close to it) so they will reduce rates near the sailing date to entice potential passengers to book. We booked our next cruise on the Freedom of the Seas 45 days out because we found an INCREDIBLE deal. I've heard of people booking the DAY BEFORE! That is crazy to me!
Book Interior Cabins. You are rarely in room anyway, and you can save some serious cash! Don't get me wrong, the balcony staterooms are wonderful! But if you are looking to save some money, definitely look into interior cabins. You can even book and guaranteed interior cabin (which just means you don't get to choose your cabin location), but you will save even more that way! Trust me, your wallet will thank you!
Book shore excursions through 3rd party like shoreexcursioneer.com! The Shore excursions can be the same as the ones that the cruise line offers, or they could have a few different ones, but the majority of the time, the tours are much cheaper. We booked our Amber Cove Waterfall excursion through shoreexcursioneer and we saved at least $100. Plus- there were less people on our tour and it felt more personalized and local. Another option for on shore activities, is to go at it on your own! Take a taxi to a beach, rent a car and explore the island or walk downtown and find a local restaurant. There are things to explore that doesn't have to cost you a fortune!
Now, let's talk Alcohol for a minute.
You can certainly buy the drink package if you think you will get your money’s worth. It typically costs over $50/day per person, so that may save you money if you think you will be drinking more than 5 drinks every day.
BUT- There are a few options here to save money and still enjoy drinks on board!
1. Bring 2 bottles of wine or champagne on board (per stateroom) - if you are cruising with Disney you are also allowed a 6 pack of beer/person in place of the wine or champagne… and I believe you may bring back some from every port.
2. Free drinks at parties! Occasionally at the captain's reception or a few other ship-hosted parties, they will pass out free drinks!
3. Art Auctions= Free champagne! Yes, the only reason I go to Art Auctions is for the champagne.. mainly because we can't afford those paintings... yet. LOL
4. It pays to be loyal! If you have a status with a cruise line ( like Carnival's VIPF or Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor) you may score a free drink depending on the length of your cruise! We got a coupon in our room for a free drink to use after the 5th day and could use it at any bar.
5. Free liquor tasting! There is almost always a free liquor tasting in the shops (to obviously get you to buy bottles duty free), but its a good opportunity to try things that you may never have had before!
6. Celebrate something! If you are celebrating and let the cruise line or your travel agent know, you may find a surprise bottle of wine or champagne in your room. Often times, travel agents will place bottles in your room simply as a thank you for booking with them! This is a very nice gesture and a great treat for you!