Top Ways to Cruise Cheap

Cruising has quickly become one of the most popular ways to vacation by people all over the world.  What is not to love?  Great food, lots of drinks, fun activities, and a different place every day!  Cruises can, however, become incredibly expensive if you don’t follow some very simple tips while cruising. Here are some ways to keep your cruise cheap. 

cheap cruises

Pack light- Carry On Only

Packing light is the name of the game in my opinion.  You don’t need to worry about lost or stolen luggage, you won’t have to wait in long lines at the airport or when trying to embark/disembark from the ship, and it just makes life a heck of a lot easier.  Extra bonus, you are going to save money on your flight to the departure port by not having to check a bag (and don’t forget the extra time save at baggage claim!)  Trust me you don’t need 3 outfits a day as much as you might think you do.  The formal night seems to be something that causes people to pack, even more, try cruising with Norwegian (NCL) where you have freestyle cruising and there is no need to dress up – but of course you can if you like.
cruise cheap

Be Flexible- Buy Last Minute for the Best Deals

Being flexible with your departure dates, ports of departure, the cruise line, and room type will end in significant savings.  You should always try to buy as last minute as possible to get the best deals.  Most cruise lines will also throw in a free beverage package or onboard credit of some kind with last minute deal.  This means, even more, savings for you.  You can often get a balcony room for the price of an interior room if you wait until the week before.  Be adventurous and go somewhere new!

Don’t Pay for the Restaurant Upgrades

Cruise Cheap

The restaurants on ships are a complete rip-off and the food is generally the same or not much better than the regular restaurant food.  If you must eat at these specialty restaurants you are much better off buying the dining package ahead of time for some savings.  Don’t forget you are also expected to tip at these restaurants so there is an additional expense here. I often find by the time you pay the additional $20-$50 surcharge and consider the tip, these specialty restaurants will likely cost you just as much as going to a regular restaurant on land.  I will never understand why anyone would you do this when you have already paid for your meals and can walk 5 minutes away to a free restaurant with comparable food.

Stay Onboard for Port Days

Most ships are jam packed on the top deck during at sea days, the lines are huge and you fight for a decent deckchair.  If you want to enjoy everything the ship has to offer with no one around stay on board for a port day or two.  The ships are ghost towns! Enjoy premium beach chairs, water slides and food with no lines, and anything else you might be interested in doing without the struggle of insane amounts of people.  Since you are on board hopefully you will be enjoying the free activities, free food, and free drinks which mean you are not spending money on excursions, food, and souvenirs at the port.  These are my favorite days on a Cruise especially in places like the Bahamas since I find most ports are the same thing again and again.


Don’t Book your Excursions Through the Ship

This is the single biggest money saver and the least used.  Every ship I am on I seek people flocking to the excursions desk to book something at the next port.  Booking through a 3rd party will save you a small fortune and probably get you on a better excursion that is less busy.  I know, I know, you are worried if anything happens, the ship will leave without you which the excursions booked through the ship guarantee.  Here is the thing most of these 3rd party websites will cover your expenses should anything make you miss the ship- they make the same guarantee!  The only thing, you will need to book these excursions online before your cruise departs unless you have access to Wi-Fi on the ship. ocean-1395618_960_720

Here are some 3rd party sites that do cruise excursions:

Cruise Compete 

Shore Trips

Cruising Excursions

Another option is to figure out the excursions once you are on shore if you look and barter a little you will likely be able to do any excursion for a ¼ of the price on the ship.  You will have to look though because most of the companies really close to the port work with the cruise ships and will not take you unless you’ve booked through the cruise line… they don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with the cruise line.

Sneak Booze on Board


Well, this tip isn’t exactly 100% above board but if you weren’t lucky enough to snag a free booze package and didn’t buy one in advance you can easily get hard liquor on board. This won’t work for you beer drinkers but for anyone who likes clear alcohol just be sure to put it in a mouthwash bottle or check out some of this awesome prohibition inspired containers.

Sunscreen Alcohol Flask
Drinking Bottle and Pour Spout

If you do end up buying drinks one at a time and enjoy more than 2 each day, you will end up spending a small fortune so make sure to plan ahead on this one. Don’t forget you can usually bring as much pop or juice as you would like onto the ship so don’t be afraid to mix away!

I hope these tips helped you to keep the budget in check.  What are your favorite ways to save money while cruising so you can cruise cheap?  Share in the comments below!

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