Cruise Vacations On a Budget: Alternative to Traditional Family Vacations

No matter the worlds economic state, vacation from the grinds of daily life will always be a welcomed pleasure, and cruise vacations can be exhilarating and cost-effective if planned correctly. One of the most enticing factors of a cruise vacation is that the majority of your mandatory costs will come from booking the cruise itself, and you may not have to worry about any other expenses except for travel to the port. Factors such as timing and fees are important to consider before swiping the credit card.

[Cruise vacation] prices are seasonal, usually based on the school calendar,” says John Rice of Caribbean Tour & Cruise. You will get a better deal on a cruise traveling in late spring or fall while school is in session. To further maximize the best deal possible, book the cruise at least two months prior to sailing or the day before the ship leaves port. Many cruise lines will offer a great last-minute deal to try and fill up the remaining rooms.

At first glance, the Internet would appear to be swarming with deals on cruise vacations from various competitors. However, after reading the multiple pages of information including the fine print, you’ll find that the total cost of most cruises don’t fluctuate that much. The difference lies in the extras such as free room upgrades, excursions and on-board credit. If this is your first cruise, try to stay away from booking directly through the cruise line and see what the bargain sites have to offer.

Shop for discounts being offered to various demographics such as senior, military, return customer and group rates. As well, fees such as port parking, automatic gratuity and optional insurance need to be researched before booking. After arming yourself with a wealth of knowledge, contact a couple cruise travel agents and tell them to beat the price. You may be surprised to find they actually can.

You can further lower your cruise vacation expenses by not eating onshore while docked. Many cruises offer free room service and prepare simple dishes 24-hours a day. By packing a lunch for your offshore excursions you will save money. You can also save on alcohol by skipping the girlie beach drinks and bringing a bottle of wine. Many cruises will allow each person to bring one bottle with them.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that the Internet and cell phone roaming charges can get quite expensive on a cruise vacation. Research any free WIFI spots available at the various dock points before leaving the home port. If you must pay to log on and send emails, write all of your correspondence offline in Word, then copy and paste the messages. It may also be wise to bring a two-way radio set to keep in touch with family or friends on the cruise that may be exploring different areas. You can also save on phone calls to colleagues by using Skype .

The main thing to remember when on a cruise vacation is that you are there to relax. Try not to go shopping, and focus more on taking pictures to serve as memorabilia. You don’t have to conquer your destination. Instead of spending money on an expensive excursion, take a stroll through your destination’s historic district or simply spend the day exploring the ship. Take advantage of any free activities the cruise offers such as comedy shows, bingo or dancing, and spend the rest of your trip simply reflecting on how great life is. You’re on a boat! Enjoy it.

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  • 3 comments for “Cruise Vacations On a Budget: Alternative to Traditional Family Vacations

    1. January 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      I never realized how closely cruise prices are tied to the school year. Makes since, thanks for the great article.

    2. February 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Don’t forget that ALCOHOL is one of the most expensive things when on a cruise vacation. The majority of cruises allow you to bring 1 bottle of wine per person over 21 so make sure to take advantage.

      Warning: Scanners will show any glass bottles and you bag will get pulled for further inspection (speaking from experience :P).

      I’m not saying but I’m saying –

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