I mentioned in my last post that Eric and I planned our trip to the Bahamas as a quick getaway without breaking the bank. There are ways to save some money while cruising. Keep in mind there are different types of cruise lines. We ended up choosing Carnival since their boats tend to have a more “casual feel.” There are several ways to save some money but here are the main ones that I focus on:
- Choose an interior room-most cruise ship rooms are tiny and this is especially the case for interior rooms. So why choose it? Well, it’s the cheapest room. In my opinion, when you are cruising, the last place you want to be is sitting in your room. So, take the saved money and use it elsewhere. AND if you tend to get seasick, lower level interior rooms are the most stable and have the least amount of rocking!
- Avoid purchasing drinks on the boat– Carnival allows you to bring 2 bottles of wine per person (above 21). This was just enough wine for our trip. Water, teas, and coffee are free. We aren’t huge soda drinkers so we didn’t buy the soda pass. But if you like soda, there were several people who just bought a 12pack or something of soda cans and carried it on the boat. Our room didn’t have a refrigerator but there’s always ice available. We also saw people carry on packs of bottled water. I try to avoid plastic bottles so I packed our own water bottles and just refilled them at the water stations in the dining areas.
- Avoid booking most excursions through the cruise– The excursion packages tend to be overpriced. If you are willing to wait and get off the boat, there are several other vendors that offer the same activities for less money. There is also the independent option. For example, Eric and I visited a beach in Freeport. It was a $14 taxi ride, free beach entry, and $5 for a beach chair. The same excursion the cruise offered wanted to charge ~$69/person for the same beach trip (included bus ride, chair, and lunch). Sure we didn’t have the burgers they had for lunch but we just went back to the boat to eat (since we already paid for that food).
- Minimize shopping on the boat– You are on a boat with nowhere else to go so you seem tempted to buy everything on board. It is cheaper to buy anything you need once you get off the boat at port. This is why it’s important to plan and pack everything you will need to avoid this expense.
So there are ways to save some money on vacation. I don’t think these are the only ways, but they are simple and easy tips to keep in mind if you are looking for a budget cruise vacation. Finally, it also helped that Carnival has had a few issues with their boats lately which have been highlighted in the news. I decided to leverage this and took advantage of the especially low rates they offered (in my opinion, an effort to combat the bad press).
Side note- please do not take money out from the gratuity as a method to save money. The staff work really hard and the gratuity that is charged is not that much given everything that they do!