7 ways to save on a cruise

Sailing in the sun’s looking mighty fine right now. Enjoy your cruise and pay less than you think

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by Gail Vaz-Oxlade
November 10th, 2011

Online only.

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I have a couple of girlfriends who cruise twice a year, and they don’t skimp. My make-up artist Tasha and her husband love a mid-winter cruise. I had heard so many good things that I checked into taking the kids on a cruise once, but backed out when I added up all the extras. Here’s what I learned so you can save if you decide to take a floating holiday.

Book through an agent

While you can research to your heart’s delight online, the only way to be sure you’re getting the best deal – and any insider discounts – is to book through an agent who is experienced with cruises.

Plan ahead

Believe it or not the top rooms on the top ships book up to two years in advance.

Book your flight separate from the cruise

If you can find a cheaper way to get to the port of departure, booking your flight separately works as long as your air hasn’t been bundled into the price of the cruise. Since liners have to book so far in advance, you might actually get a better deal if you DIY.

Know that all-inclusive isn’t always

While the basics are covered, there’s lots of stuff you have to pay for. Cruise dining tends to be a formal affair so you may have to spring for some fancy duds. If you don’t want to factor in a new wardrobe, make sure your cruise allows for casual dining.

Don’t feel guilty about not tipping

There’s a gratuity fee built into your ticket price, so only tip if you get excellent service or really, really love your server.

Beware the excursion

Cruise lines make a fortune off guided tours in foreign countries. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, this is another place to DIY. Do some research online before you set sail and save your money.



Watch for “repositioning cruises”

When cruise ships are switching routes, you may be able to get a combination of three or four itineraries at the regular rate.

4 comments on “7 ways to save on a cruise

  1. 8 Ways to save on a cruise…book close to the date of the cruise as the price of the cruise will drop (almost in half) and when it is time to put all of the money down…ask your agent to find out if there is any rooms at the next upgraded level of the cruise…you may even get the concierge service level cheaper than your original.

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  2. Great money saving tips! Booking last minute can sometimes pay off if you’re not fussy about your room type –cruises often start lowering prices 30 to 40 days before departure.

    Another item to keep in mind is additional fees from booking through agents – make sure you read the service charges, cancellation fees and refund policy before booking.

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  3. Actually tips are NOT built into the ticket price. They suggest a $10 pp/pd tip. I give at least that. All the service staff (waiters, room staff, porters, etc) make no salary at all that's right NO SALERY! They live on tips. So if you don't plan on tipping dont board the ship. It's just rude.

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  4. Yes, there can be many hidden costs in cruising, but if you research carefully before you go, you can save yourself a lot. I try to cruise in the off season to start and I live fairly close to a major port (that really helps!). I actually agree with the other commenter that tipping is a good thing to do, as the staff really appreciate it.

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