9 Cruise tips that save you money
Cruising is fast becoming a popular holiday choice here in Australia, and they make the perfect holiday for our family. We just unpack once, the cooking and cleaning is done for us, and the kids club keeps the kids entertained. The following 9 cruise tips will help you plan your own family cruise while saving money.
1. Choose the right cruise line
All cruise lines are not the same! Each line has its own demographic, along with different features and most importantly, price points. Spend a bit of time narrowing down the cruise lines that best suit your families needs and budget before you start selecting a cruise. We personally love Royal Caribbean, as their ships are packed full of family friendly activities and the staff are amazing. We have also had a fantastic time on carnival, whereas we cruised on Princess pre-kids, however it’s more suited to kid free cruises. Cruise Critic is a fantastic resource for researching cruise lines and ships.
2. Book a last minute cruise
You can save massive amounts of money by booking a last minute cruise. This tip is best for those who don’t have to give a long notice period before taking leave. Once the penalty free cancellation period for a cruise ends, there are likely to be a number of staterooms that become available, and the cruise lines will usually reduce the price of these to fill them up. Depending on the cruise line this period can range from 2 to 6 months before the cruise departure date. A great place to view and book last minute cruises from different cruise lines all in the one spot is CruiseAway.
3. Don’t rush to check in
This tip is not so much a money saving one, but is a great little tip for new cruisers. Don’t feel as though you have to check in as soon as check in opens on boarding day. This is usually the busiest time of day and there could be very long lines at the check in desks and through immigration, plus cabins generally don’t open until around 1.30pm. Instead, heap to the bag drop tent, drop of any luggage you don’t need for the day, and head off to do a bit of site seeing for a few hours. Then head back to the ship to board once the lines have died down. This tip especially works well in ports such a Sydney, where the ships docks right in the CBD and there is plenty to see and do within walking distance.
4. Choose the right time of year
School holiday cruises will generally be the most expensive, but if you do need to sail during the holidays, try searching for cruises that sail during the last week or two of the summer school holidays. If you can sail at any time of year, (this applies to the Australian cruise season) look for cruises at the beginning of the cruise season, in November and early December, as well as cruise in February and March.
5. Choose your cabin category
Generally there are 4 types of cabins; inside, oceanview, balcony and suite. This is more of a personal preference, although it also largely depends on your budget. If the price of a balcony is barely more than an inside we go for this option, however there is usually a large difference in price between and inside and balcony ($1500+ for two adults and two kids) so we usually go for the inside option. If you spend a fair amount of time in your room these may not suit you, however if you like to spend most of your holiday out and about like we do, an inside could be perfect, with the bonus being you save money to spend on your next cruise!
6. Consider a guarantee cabin
If you don’t have a preference of where your cabin is located on the ship, a guarantee cabin could be the perfect option. Instead of choosing a specific cabin as you normally would, you instead book a category. This means that you will get a cabin anywhere on the ship in the particular category you have chosen or a higher category, and you may not know which cabin you have been allocated until you check in. These are offered at a discount, and are used by the cruise line to fill any remaining cabins they have available.
7. Purchase an unlimited drink package
If you are a big drinker of anything other than water, tea and coffee, consider purchasing an all inclusive drinks package, which are available on many cruise lines. If you are likely to drink a fair bit, these packages could seriously save you money. Options usually include non-alcoholic, basic alcoholic and premium alcoholic packages. Your package will then allow you to get drinks from any bar on the ship.
8. Research your ports
Before you leave home, set aside some time to research the ports your cruise will be visiting. You may be able to do you own thing, which will save you from having to book expensive ship organised port tours. Just be mindful if you go into ports on your own that you will need to be back at the ship with plenty of time to spare before sail away. If you are late and you are not on a ship organised tour, the ship won’t wait for you.
9. Make use of the kids club
We have found the kids clubs to be amazing, to the point that our daughter constantly asks to go back into the club while we are on board. The kids club staff create a schedule packed full of activities for every single day of the cruise, and best of all it’s free! The bonus is that it gives parents some quality kid free time too.