Here is a list of ten minimal effort ways to save money onboard a cruise ship. Without much thought I probably could have made a list of over one hundred ways but I wanted to make sure to only choose things that took little to no effort to do. In fact, nearly all of these tips specifically require a lack of taking action. Most of them are common sense and none are groundbreaking but they are all pretty useful and will save you money.
1. Don’t buy a soda card. – Although you may think buying a soda card is a great deal its not nearly as great a deal as drinking all the tea, punch, lemonade and water that was included in the price of your cruise
2. Don’t dine in the specialty restaurants. – Honestly, I love eating in the specialty restaurants but if I were planning to cruise on a budget, they would be among the first things to go. Cruise ships have so many eating options available that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay extra for another.
3. Stay away from the Casino. – If you are trying to make your cruise as economical as possible the Casino is probably the last place you should visit. However, if you do decide to gamble onboard a cruise ship make sure to set and stick to a limit on how much you can lose.
4. Don’t use the ship phones. – Do yourself a favor and avoid using the 10 dollar per minute ship phones at all costs but of you must use it be sure to dial the wrong number. A few years ago, I needed to make a call via the ships phone. On the first attempt, I accidentally dialed the wrong number, which ended up being a 10-dollar mistake. Even though international roaming charges will apply, if you wait until you are in port to make calls it will be much cheaper.
5. Stay away from the Art Auctions. – Well, you can go to the auctions for the free champagne, just don’t buy anything. In all honesty, do you know if that piece of art is actually worth 600 dollars? If the answer is no, you should probably leave the art auctions to people with actual knowledge.
6. Stay away from the Spa. – While many will say spas and cruises go together like peanut butter and chocolate, just say no. Truthfully, compared to many land based spas the services are merely so-so but the costs are not. However, if you want to get a massage while on vacation I would never want to stand in your way, but I will tell you not to pay full price. Over the course of your cruise, there will be many opportunities to enjoy these services at a discounted price. Take advantage of these opportunities.
7. BYOM – Bring your own meds. If you find yourself in need of some Excedrin or Benedryl, you can find them in the ships gift shops. Just be prepared to pay about five times as much as you would at your local drug store.
8. Don’t buy the premium coffee, ice cream or pastries. – The price of the cruise includes many things, food and drink are among them. On most cruise ships food and drink are so readily available that it really makes no sense to pay additional for the specialty coffee, pastries and ice cream
9. Don’t buy ship photos. – When I return home from a seven day cruise I usually have somewhere between three and five hundred photos on my camera. Therefore, my belief is, if I didn’t shoot it, than it wasn’t worth shooting. The only time I break this rule is if a formal night picture turns out especially well.
10. Limit the amount of ship sponsored shore excursions. – Excursions are the fastest way to (unless you are addicted to gambling) run up a huge shipboard account. Be selective in which ones you choose as some are better values than others are. In fact, if you do your homework you can find all of the excursions offered by the ships for a much lower cost by going straight to the excursion provider.