Top 5 Cheap Cruise Tips for Your Next Summer Adventure

by Hank Coleman

Cheap Cruise Tips for Your SummerSky’s the limit when it comes to summer vacation ideas. If you’re looking for an affordable yet exotic trip for the upcoming warmer months, then you can’t go wrong with a cruise! Not sure if/how you’ll be able to afford it? These cheap cruise tips lay out everything you need to know to minimize your vacation expenses while maximizing fun while sailing the seven seas!

Cheap Cruise Tips for Your Summer

Compare Cruise Prices

As with airfare, accommodations, and other aspects of travel, comparing your different options in terms of amenities and pricing is a crucial first step to saving money on your summer vacation and is an important cruise tip. All too often, folks rely solely on their preferred travel agency or cruise booking website without looking elsewhere for better options.

To avoid getting a so-so deal instead of the best deal possible, Cruise Compete and Cruise Critic’s comparison tool can help you search through multiple booking agencies and websites’ listings. The sites lay out all your possible options before deciding which cruise is right for your budget and vacation preferences. You can also check Priceline for deals!

If you’re cruising alone, you may have a bit more researching to do to avoid a huge single supplement on your cruise cabin because although more cruises are becoming solo-traveler friendly. The surcharge for a single-occupancy cabin remains a popular industry tactic for buffering their bottom lines.

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When you compare cruises however, you might find some that offer studio-style cabins built specifically for folks traveling on their own. Or, you might find cruises offering reduced rates for solo travelers. Save up to $500 with a flight+hotel Vacation Package!Cheap Cruise Tips

Find Onboard Credit Specials

According to Cruise Critic, onboard credits are basically free money that you can spend on everything from special dining options to onshore tour excursions. Even all-inclusive cruises may be missing a few luxurious add-ons here and there.

You may want to look for a day tour around the port city, unlimited drinks coupon, salon and spa package, etc. And, onboard credits can help you pay for extra services that aren’t already included in your cruise package.

Most online cruise offers include a small amount of onboard credits – e.g., $100 in credits when you book through a particular website, $250 in credits when you upgrade before departure, or $200 in credits for booking a cruise line you’ve sailed with previously.

But, you can score more onboard credits by signing up for the cruise line’s e-newsletter or loyalty program. You can also earn rewards for referring friends or family to your favorite cruise line too. For example, Royal Caribbean gives out onboard credits for everything from referrals and future bookings to joining the Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society.

Onboard credits are treated like a special credit card that you can use for most purchases of goods and services during your cruise adventure. Finding these deals before booking can mean the difference between a bare bones cruise with minimal amenities and a top-notch cruise trip with extraordinary services offered while you’re at sea.

Have you gone on a cruise lately? What are your best cruise tips in order to save money at sea?Click To Tweet

How to Find Booze Bargains 

Unless you book an unlimited drinks package with your cabin, you may find the prices of drinks – especially alcoholic beverages – to be completely outrageous onboard. Cruise Critic points out 15 different ways to get cheap or free booze on a cruise.

These include attending parties with complimentary beverages ( more prevalent on the luxurious cruise lines), finding BOGO specials at the onboard bars’ happy hours, and bringing your own wine onboard with the indication that you’ll be paying a cork fee.

Some sneaky vacationers try subverting cruise restrictions on bringing drinks from home by smuggling in liquor in water bottles. But, these may be confiscated at security so proceed with caution. If one of your main goals is to have an über boozy cruise, then paying for an unlimited drinks package may be worth your while.

For example, Carnival Cruises’ CHEERS! Beverage Program costs $49.95 per person over 21 years of age, per day, plus a 15% gratuity rate – this is arguably cheaper than paying for multiple $18-25 cocktails everyday!

Avoid Surcharge Dining Options

Most cruise ships offer a general dining package consisting of buffets and main restaurants, but cruises also have specialty restaurants, five-star dining experiences, and classy bars available for an extra cost. Should you do it?

If you’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday, then a single night’s splurge on expensive dining options wouldn’t be a problem. But, to save money over the course of your cruise, you should probably stick to the included dining options and avoid the pricier eateries.

Beware Gratuity Overcharges

Did you know that often the gratuities are already included in your bills? Whether it’s at the restaurant, bar, spa, tour, or even your basic cruising package, you should be sure to thoroughly look through the charges on every receipt before adding anything on the tip line.

Ready, Set, Cruise!

Cruises have become one of the most convenient, affordable options for family and solo vacationers alike. As long as you compare your options beforehand and get as many onboard credits as possible before you depart, your summer vacation on the high seas will be an affordable, yet exciting adventure for everyone who joins you!

Have you gone on a cruise lately? Do you plan on going on a cruise this summer? What are your best cruise tips in order to save money at sea?

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 590 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate @ Cashville Skyline

As much traveling as I’ve done, I’ve actually never been on a cruise. My parents weren’t really into in. And I’ve mostly traveling where I could fly for free (via Southwest points). But my co-worker just returned from a Caribbean cruise and I was pretty jealous. Definitely sounds like slow stress way to visit a bunch of beautiful places in one trip!

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Hank Coleman

A cruise can be a great vacation! I wouldn’t recommend it all the time, but it is definitely a great way to hit several countries in a single trip. You don’t get to spend a lot of time exploring the port cities though…less than a day. And, eventually, my wife and I got a little restless on the days at sea during the 7 day cruise we took years ago.

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