Never Overlook These Essential Tips for a Budget-Friendly Cruise

If you’re looking for a way to explore different destinations without having to unpack multiple times, a cruise could be a good bet. The nice thing about a cruise is that the price you pay is generally inclusive of meals and many on-board activities. So rather than having to worry about how much food will cost on your travels, with a cruise, your meals are included in your room rate.

That said, cruising can be an expensive endeavor. The average total cost of a seven-night Caribbean cruise per person ranges between $1,500 and $2,000, according to Cruisewatch. And that’s just one example. For other destinations, you may pay even more.

The good news, though, is that with the right approach, you can pull off a cruise on a budget. Here are some financial tips to incorporate into your cruise planning.

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1. Book ahead of time

Cruise itineraries can go on sale a good two years ahead of their respective sailing dates. Booking early could be a source of savings, because that way, you get your choice of room. You might also get a discount by booking in advance.

2. Use a travel agent

You don’t have to use a travel agent to book a cruise. But often, travel agents can secure special pricing for their clients. Plus, travel agents usually don’t charge a fee. So there’s really no harm in seeing what cruise deals a travel agent can snag for you.

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3. Book through Costco

Costco Travel offers different cruise packages at competitive prices. Plus, the beauty of booking a vacation through Costco is that you get the help of a travel specialist who can help you work through your options and handle any hiccups that might arise. Also, Costco cruise deals sometimes offer the benefit of a Costco Shop Card (the store’s version of a gift card) that you can use after your trip.

4. Find a cruise you don’t have to travel to

If you live in New York and want to take a cruise out of Miami, you’re going to need to spend money to get down there. On the other hand, if you find a cruise that leaves locally, you won’t have to shell out money for a flight. Also, flying out to a cruise on your exact departure date can be risky due to the potential for flight delays — so you may need to arrive early and stay elsewhere overnight. If you cruise locally, you won’t have to pay for an extra night of lodging. 

5. Seek out kid-friendly deals

Some cruise lines offer promotions during the year where kids sail free. It pays to shop around for deals like these to lower your costs. Just read the fine print, because those deals might only apply to certain cabin classes or kids of certain ages.

6. Purchase your upgrades before you sail

Food and certain drinks are generally included in your cruise price. So are things like entertainment and onboard activities. But there are extras you may want to buy for your cruise, like internet service or shore excursions. It’s generally best to purchase these before you set sail, as you can often get a better price ahead of your trip.

Taking a cruise doesn’t have to break the bank. Use these tips to pull off a budget-friendly getaway.

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