Then read our post Ocean Cruises that Cater to Solo Travelers.
And read on.
There are many ways to save on an ocean cruise beyond looking for one that doesn't have a single supplement. That's what this post will cover.
Again, we've turned to Gary Bembridge, author of The Cruise Traveler’s Handbook. He's an award-winning cruise writer who knows his stuff.
Money Saving Tips for Ocean Cruises
- Book a “guaranteed grade” rather than a specific level or stateroom. Cruise lines will usually offer a fare for each grade on their ships (inside, ocean view, balcony or suite) and charge a premium to book a specific cabin within each of these. Book the grade only and let them allocate the cabin. This is the cheapest option available.
- Research out-of-country prices. If you are looking at a longer trip, going on an expensive cruise or travelling in a luxury suite, get estimates from agents in other countries. A better deal may be due to their currency vs. yours, tax structure, or simply what the population is willing to pay. Whatever the reason, the best fare for a cruise may come from an agent in a different country than the one you live in! Make sure that they are able to do a booking for you. My agent in the United Kingdom has been able to make bookings for people in United States, Canada and Australia to save them money. If you want to try this contact my agent at gocruisewithjane.co.uk as one option.
- Compare travel and transfer costs. Compare arranging your own flights, pre- and post-trip accommodation and transfers to and from the ship. You can often beat cruise line prices.
- Research and plan alternatives to port excursions. Research the ports you will be visiting before departing and plan to do some touring on your own or check out alternative inexpensive tours from companies like Viator.com. Use the cruise shuttle bus, public transport and even the local hop-on hop-Off bus tours instead of taxis. You will always find other passengers who are also finding their own way around or have been to the port before to assist. The local tourism office will also help.
- See if your cruise line allows you to bring any alcohol for use in your cabin. Many do not and will confiscate your bottles – what a waste. But some may permit limited quantities and charge corkage fees in the restaurants.
- Review the packages offered on embarkation day. On embarkation day you may be offered packaged discounts for drinks, Internet access and excursions. Review these to decide whether you can save money with them or are better off purchasing them separately.
- Return to the ship for meals. If you’re out exploring on your own, return to the ship for meals that are included in your fare rather than buying food on shore.
- Enjoy free. Drink the free juices, teas, coffees and water at meals and in the buffet rather than ordering them at the pool, bars or lounges. There are water fountains on deck and although it is not encouraged, you can refill water bottles there. Many cruise lines allow you to bring bottled water and sodas on board. Check in advance to see if this is permitted.
- Free drinks. Attend cocktail parties you are invited to as they often serve free drinks and canapés.
- Look for a CruiseCritic Meet & Mingle event. You'll need to sign up for these but, in addition to receiving free refreshments you will also meet other guests who will have money saving tips.
- Avoid activities designed to make you buy. Stay clear of promotional activities like merchandise sales tables, shopping talks, art shows, auctions and on-board stores.
- Go beyond the port for shopping. Do not shop close to the port as these shops are usually expensive. Ask the crew where they shop. They likely know the best markets, stores and malls.
- Go light on the special classes. Avoid premium events like art classes, wine tastings, cocktail making and flower arranging. They can be costly!
- Avoid official ship photography. Take your own photographs while boarding and on formal nights rather than buying them from the cruise line.
- Use free WiFi in port. Avoid using the Internet on board and rely on free Wi-Fi in ports. Ask the crew or follow where they go as they will know where the closest free ones are.
- Control roaming fees. Try not to use your mobile phone on board and disable data roaming to avoid receiving a significant bill on your return home.
- Do your own laundry. On long cruises use the complimentary laundry rooms. You may need to bring or buy washing detergent to use them. It’s worth inquiring of the cruise line before you go.