While I am not a professional cruiser, I have been on 10 cruises so far. The good thing about my cruising experience, is that each cruise was individually unique. Aside from the fact that the destinations varied, along with the Cruise line, I also almost always went with different people.
With that said, here are some of the top suggestions I swear by, based off my past sailings in order to save some cash, for my next trip!
Once your cruise is paid for, the only mandatory costs would be gratuities, which are charged to your on board account sometime during your trip. If by chance you are going to a port that requires a visa, such as Cuba, that would also be charged to your on board account. However, most ports do not require a visa, therefore, there would not be any more additional charges. Everything else is essentially optional.
On Board Purchases
Everyone wants to have fun while you’re on board and live it up, right? Right. But honestly, there is plenty for you to do at all times, without having to spend anything. There are plenty of food options, the dining room and buffets are awesome! The specialty restaurants are cool, but you don’t have to pay extra just to get a steak. They usually offer a different steak cut every day in the main dining room. Prime example of a steak offered in the main dining room below. Entertainment is always happening, and it’s included. My Mediterranean cruise for example, would fly in different performers every few days. The shows were exquisite and best of all, included in our ticket. During the day, if you read your cruise guide, there is honestly always something to do. So much so, you usually even have to pick between options!
I usually pick one for every 2-3 ports. The other ports, I explore near by or just venture around on my own. Shore excursions are awesome, but they do add up super quick. So take a little time, stop by the shore excursion desk on day one and talk with the representative. They know about the ports, and can give you some insight about what ports have a lot to do right off the ship vs others ports that have nothing and you would need to find your way to civilization if you want to see a glimpse of the country. So trust me, insight goes a long way. If you by chance are anything like me, I usually read the shore excursions offered, and have an idea of what interests me, then I go to the desk to finalize my decision.
I love pictures. In case you haven’t noticed from my other blog posts. Cruise pictures are not an exception. There are photographers everywhere on board. Especially during events, which are always happening. They go around the dining rooms, they are at check-in when you’re walking on board for the first time, and they are strategically set up in the main areas around dinner time so you can take casual or fancier pictures. All the shots are free, unless you reserve a photo shoot, which you would know you are before hand (been there, done that). A few hours after after a picture is taken, you can make your way to the photo gallery and see the print out for yourself. This is great, but tempting.
Almost always, I end up purchasing one group picture and depending on the ports, a port picture from each stop. I have an album of port pictures because each one shows the city you are in, which is somewhat of a stamp that you’ve been there. It’s kind of my trade off for not actually getting a stamp in my passport in a way.
This applies to most cruise lines. The reason I say most, is that I took a Norwegian Sky trip last year, and the drinks were included as part of my trip purchase. So no additional charge was necessary for unlimited drinks.
For the ships this is available it really depends on a few things. 1. Who are you sailing with 2. How much do you drink and 3. How many days are you at sea.
- If you are sailing with your family or friend who does not drink, you may not find yourself drinking as much as you would with a group that drinks around the same as you do.
- Do you drink occasionally, maybe once a day. Or are you on this trip to have fun and drink as much as you can. Even maybe just remember parts of the trip through pictures?
- The biggest days for you to get the most out of your money with the drink package, would honestly be your days at sea. Reason being is that usually, when you are docked at a port, you are out exploring there. Most people go for majority of the time to the island, even maybe on a shore excursion. Then the few that stay near the ports, usually check out local places that offer drinks to purchase there.
So basically, take a second and think. The drink package costs, $50/day. It usually does include soda, specialty coffee, wine, alcohol and beer. Is $255 (for a 5 day sailing example), with 2 days at sea, worth it? On average each drink costs about $8. That means I would have to drink about 32 drinks in those 5 days. Doable? It all depends on who I’m with, because I know I’ll be on the islands for our two stops!
Overall cruises are an amazing way in my opinion to see bits of what another destination has to offer. It’s great for sneak peaks to say the least of new places, or sometimes a great refresher and get away. The best part of cruises in my opinion is that you make the plans to get to the cruise port that you will embark on your ship. As mentioned above, you have control of how much money you’re spending, and can plan accordingly ahead of time. You can space out trip costs. Example Book cruise, you could even do a payment plan depending how far in advance you’re booking your cruise. Buy plane ticket (if needed), and decide what shore excursions to opt into. The rest is manageable and can be saved towards before even leaving on your trip. The entire trip can be entirely care free. You get to go on board, unpack your luggage, and just have fun for however long your sailing is, without having to worry much about transportation between countries, food choices or costs, and entertainment is always available.
If you’ve never been on a cruise! What are you waiting for, go and book one today!
Here are some cruise specific items I never cruise without!
While this is not absolutely necessary, and can be bought on board during ship store hours, I usually take a pack. Sometimes the boat gets rocky at night, usually around dinner, but I typically take one when going on a shore excursion or transportation boat to the islands that the actual ship can’t dock directly on. It never hurts to prevent feeling nauseous in my opinion.
Cruises I’ve been on:
Norwegian X 3
Disney X 1
Carnival X 6
Coming Soon: Royal Caribbean X 1 + Alaskan Cruise, line TBD.