How to get the most for your money on a cruise

How to get the most for your money on a cruise
April 05, 2018 | Katie Pins

You want to get the most for your money on a cruise. Vacations shouldn’t stress you out. They should be the perfect combination of relaxation and exploration. Cruises offer an opportunity for your family to enjoy multiple places in style. It is a known fact that cruises can be great for your wallet, but expenses can accumulate. Here are a few ways to get the most out of a cruise vacation.

What to do before you start your all-inclusive cruise

Look early.

Cruise lines want you to book early and will give you money for doing so. They will let you book 18 months in advance for cheap. Since you’re looking ahead of time, you’ll have time to compare dates and prices. After you do some research, you will find that you have a lot of options by booking in advance. When you purchase a vacation early, you won’t be forced into a windowless stateroom. You can pick the ideal luxury experience you want.

Use the right credit card.

This vacation is a chance to get some cash back. Use a rewards card that will give you a high percent for this purchase. You’ll likely go abroad for this trip as well, so having a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is important. If you don’t have a card like this, consider opening one. Plus, you’ll often get better deals the first year you have a card. Alliant’s Signature card rewards you with 3 percent cash back on all purchases for the first year you have the card.

Extend your vacation.

Your flight might be cheaper if you extend your vacation a day or two. Airlines know when cruises arrive and depart, so they sometimes up the price of nearby flights. If you extend your trip, you’ll pay less for your flight and you’ll have a day of enjoying your port of call. Explore the city or use it as another day to unwind. My family used this tip when we took a cruise out of Barcelona. We actually saved money and got to know another beautiful city.

How to save money on the cruise boat

Once you’re on board, there are endless opportunities to spend a mountain of cash. To avoid overspending on these add-ons, it’s good to know what kind of experience you want before you start your cruise.

Enjoy the spa during off hours.

Book an appointment in the middle of the day when at a port. Spa services are less expensive when other passengers are on excursions. You also won’t feel rushed in the morning or evening by getting a massage in the afternoon.

Take a look at drink packages and pick the one that’s best for your family.

It is important to do the math when considering a drink package. When planning my cruise, I knew I would only have an occasional glass of wine at dinner. It didn’t make financial sense for me to get a drink package. For some people, it’s a bargain. For example, if your kids drink lots of pop, you should probably consider the drink package. Ask for prices and compare your potential drinks to the package before deciding.

Disconnect at sea.

Internet access is costly on cruises. We’re all looking for a chance to unplug, so embrace it. Your family can sit down and enjoy a meal together without their devices. That Instagram post can wait until you get off the boat. Enjoy the moment with your family and save some cash.

Negotiate excursion prices.

The listed excursion price is just a jumping off point for negotiation. If you book excursions before the trip, call the cruise line and see what you can negotiate. If you’re already on the boat, negotiate in person. You can also book your own excursions and save some dough. If you don’t find an excursion the whole family will enjoy, stay on the boat. This is your vacation, make it your own!


A cruise is a great way to unwind or conveniently explore the world. Knowing you got the best deal makes it even more enjoyable. I hope these tips help you plan your family vacation. Happy sailing!

Katie Pins is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.

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