Saving Money on a Cruise

There are lots of ways to save money on a cruise. It doesn't have to be expensive to enjoy cruises to the full.

saving money on a cruise
photo courtesy Cunard

Tips and Advice About Saving Money on a Cruise

Gone are the days when everything was included in your cruise.

Indeed, ten and even twenty years ago, one of the most attractive parts of a cruise was that everything was included in one price and that once you were aboard there was really nothing to spend your money on apart from booze at the bar and souvenirs to bring home. Things have changed.

Here are some tips on how to limit your spending on your cruise without spoiling the fun:

Shore Excursions

By far the largest budget item for cruise passengers, shore excursions can gobble up all your budget, especially if you are travelling with a family.

The key with shore excursions is to do your research before you leave home and to limit the things you want to see in each port. Being well informed about the destinations makes sure that you do not spend money on an official excursion when a self guided walking tour can be had for free.

Also, take a look at the shore excursions on offer before you leave, and limit the number of exotic excursions for the trip to one. You don’t need to take 2 helicopter tours on a 7-night cruise, no matter how much fun they are.

Another idea is to book the shore excursions online before you get to the cruise ship. You are likely to be more sensible about the choices you make in the staid environment of your own home.


After shore excursions, the bar bill is, for many, the largest budget item over and beyond the cost of the cruise itself, and it is the most difficult to control. It’s not easy to remember an alcohol budget at 2 in the morning when the third double brandy seems like the best idea in the world and you are convinced that there is no such thing as a hangover.

Some cruisers have found success in controlling this budget item by keeping a record of what they spend each day in the bar. When you see the total the next morning, as the Alka Seltzer clears your foggy head, you might be less inclined to spend quite so much during the evening to come.

There is the option, also, that a few cruise lines offer in bringing your own wine on board, but smuggling on that bottle of vodka is generally not tolerated by any of the cruise lines.

If alcohol is an important part of the trip, consider booking a cruise with a cruise line that offers fares inclusive of all drinks. These will tend to be cruises with the more upmarket cruise lines, but if you drink a lot, and the cruise does not have many ports of call, you might actually save money.


Remember that gambling is NOT about winning the fare for your next cruise – it is about having fun playing a game of chance and knowing that odds are that you will have to pay for that fun. So the number one rule in limiting your gambling budget is to put a cap on the amount of money you are willing to lose each night. Many cruisers we spoke to set the limit at $25 - it seems to be a magical figure. Once the $25 has been spent, the fun at the tables is over.

Alternatively, you can limit the amount of time you spend in the casino.

Better yet, you can limit both the gambling budget to a fixed figure each night AND limit casino time as well.

Spa Treatments

Spa treatments are generally very expensive and may be out of the budget for most, but if a massage is part of the whole treat of a cruise for you, and if you fancy the idea of hot pebbles on your back, keep a watch out for special deals on board. Some treatments may be cheaper while the ship is in port and some cruise lines post special offers for spa treatments each night in the daily newsletter.


All those boxes of “stuff” in your garage that is clogging up the dusty path to the treadmill you only ever used three times are probably full of souvenirs you bought on a cruise. To avoid that pile growing ever larger, the trick is to be sensible and to ask yourself the obvious questions as you stand in the line up waiting to pay for all of this “stuff”!

For example – will I ever wear this at home? A pink floral silk shirt may look “kewl” on a guy in the Caribbean – not so much in the sports bar back in Wisconsin. Or, will I ever use this at home. This handy set of 6 glasses covered in palm trees looks great in the sun – not so much in the snowy mountains of Montana.

 Cruise Advice - Tips

• Running on a Cruise

• Advice for an Alaska cruise
• Avoiding putting on weight
• Bringing Alcohol Onboard
• Cabin Fever
• Child Free Cruises
• Choosing a Cabin
• Cold Climate Cruising
• Cruise Dress Codes
• Cruise Etiquette
• Cruise First Aid
• Cruise High Fashion
• Cruise Ship Entertainment
• Cruise Ship Laundry
• Cruise Ship Libraries
• Cruise Ship Officers
• Cruise Vocabulary
• Dealing with Disabilities
• Disembarking
• Early/Late Seating for Dinner
• Family Cruises
• Food Poisoning
• Healthy Eating
• Healthy Cruising
• Internet on a Cruise Ship
• Jet Lag
• Lifeboats on Cruise Ships
• Maintaining mental health
• Medical Preparedness
• Norovirus/Norwalk
• Packing for a Cruise
• Packing for a Cruise (more)
• Phoning from a Cruise
• Rewards Programs
• Safety at Sea
• Saving Money on a Cruise
• Seasickness
• Shore Excursions
• Smoking on Cruise Ships
• Sun and the Topics
• Swine Flu
• Table Assignments
• Taking Alaska photos
• The real cost of cruises
• Tipping on Cruises

 Ship's Doctor

Medical expert and travel enthusiast Joe Springfield offers some tips and advice about typical travel concerns.

• cabin fever
• cold climates
• food poisoning
• jet lag
• norwalk virus
• seasickness
• tropical concerns

For more advice on all sorts of topics, take a look at the Prow's Edge Cruise Forums and Cruise Message Boards and see what fellow passengers have to say about cruises.

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