How does the perfect cruising experience sound with all of your onboard accommodation, dining, entertainment and more included? Although, all of those little extras, additional luxuries and incidental purchases can mount up quickly - a deluxe coffee at breakfast, a massage or two in the luxury spa, dining at a speciality restaurant, a cocktail or two… or three, bingo every day, the casino every night... soooo…
Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your cruising experience to the max without breaking the budget.
- Consider paying a little extra right upfront for your cruising holiday. Include any airfares, additional travel or incidentals, that way almost everything is paid beforehand
- Some cruiselines will include gratuities prior to sailing, others will include them once on board. If gratuities are not included in your upfront price, ask your cruise specialist what the policy is BEFORE you sail so you can budget for this. (Gratuities are there to help appreciate all of those who have made your holiday memorable – from the waiter at dinner, through to the boilermaker who keeps the ship running smoothly!)
- Decide BEFORE YOU SAIL if a massage, facial treatment or other Spa services are an essential while on holiday. We certainly think they are, so factor these little luxuries into your cruise budget – after all, you’re on holiday!
- Add in a beverage package to help keep the costs down on incidentals. Most ocean cruises will expect you to pay extra for beverages, although there are some that will be included – for example the buffet area usually has coffee, tea, soft drink and water freely available. There are some higher end cruiselines that have all-inclusive food and beverages in their upfront cruise price, and take note that almost all river cruises will have ALL meals, ALL beverages and ALL on‑shore excursions already included!
- Plan your own excursions. The upside is you can plan your own time. The downside is that you MUST make sure you get back to the dock on time – otherwise you risk being left behind! Sometimes its best to go with a cruiseline excursion that showcases the best of the destination, and you can relax knowing that if the tour is delayed, the ship will wait.
- Arrive early to your embarkation city and do some extra sightseeing before your cruise. We always suggest arriving a day early, especially when flying in to your destination – that way you take into account any flight delays and possible jetlag.
- Use your own camera to snap those memories of a lifetime. Although its a nice to have a professional photograph taken while on board, it is an expense.
- Internet onboard can sometimes be unreliable, slower and the costs may mount up. If you absolutely have to be online during your cruise holiday, use shore days to stay connected – there’s usually an onshore café or McD’s with connectivity somewhere.
- If you feel the need to brave the passenger’s onboard laundry to wash clothes go right ahead. Our personal opinion is that while we’re on holiday and it’s time for a break from washing up, tidying up, laundry and cooking. The little extra to have someone else do it is well worth it to keep you in the relaxation zone!
The biggest tip we can offer is to simply keep track of your expenses, and any purchases, don’t go overboard on them, and make sure to factor in a few little luxuries along the way - after all it’s your cruise holiday!
Written by Jackie Hamilton and Kevin Montalbo