Woman on Cruise Ship

I’m Cheap, Here are 9 Things I Always Do to Save Money on a Cruise

I love going on cruises, but one thing that I hate about cruising is the final bill that I receive at the end of the cruise. It seems that no matter how careful I am with my spending, there are always extra expenses that crop up along the way. Having been on over 25 cruises, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me save money and avoid any unpleasant surprises when it comes to my final bill. Here are the things that I always do when I cruise that save me money. 

1. Attend Cruise Art Auctions to Get Free Champagne

I love getting free drinks on a cruise. One easy way to do this is to attend the art auctions. It’s a surefire way to get free champagne. 

Art auctions on cruises serve complimentary champagne to entice people to attend. You can leisurely peruse the artwork while sipping on a glass of bubbly. And the best part is, there’s no pressure to buy anything. The champagne is free for all attendees to enjoy!

Save money on a cruise

2. Wait for the $10 Gift Shop Sale

Throughout my years of cruising, I’ve learned an important money-saving tip: never buy t-shirts and souvenirs from the cruise gift shop at full price. Instead, wait for them to go on sale – and they always do. 

On sea days, when the gift shop sets up tables with piles of discounted merchandise, you can find items like t-shirts and pashmina wraps for just $10. These sales are the perfect time to buy your souvenirs but don’t wait until the next day because when the sale ends, everything will go back to the regular price. If you want to be sure your cruise ship will have sale days, you can always ask the gift shop staff – they’re usually happy to tell you when the sales are happening.

3. Bring Wine from Home

Another way I save money on a cruise is by always bringing wine or champagne! Many cruise lines, such as Carnival, allow you to bring 1 bottle of wine or champagne (750 ml) per adult on embarkation day only. Disney cruise lines allow 2 bottles per adult. It’s great when I go on a short cruise because the wine will be enough to last me a day or two, and then I just need to buy wine for the remaining days. 

Do keep in mind that you can only bring wine on the first day of the cruise. If you bring it from the port of calls, they will confiscate it and store it for you during the entire cruise. At dinner, the cruise line will charge a corkage fee if you bring your wine, so it’s best to drink your wine in your stateroom. 

Many people don’t know that you can bring wine onboard the ship, so make good use of it! Do check your cruise line’s policy since what you can bring will vary by cruise line. 

4. Order Wine by the Bottle

When I’m on a cruise, I always order my wine by the bottle instead of ordering by the glass. It’s cheaper by the bottle, and you don’t have to worry about not finishing the entire bottle in one sitting.

Most people don’t realize that your wine bottle follows you wherever you go on the cruise ship. That means if you order a bottle of wine from the main dining room and don’t finish it, you can access it anywhere on the cruise ship later on. 

If you go to a specialty restaurant or sit in a lounge, you can drink that bottle of wine. It’s a money-saving cruise hack because you save money by buying wine by bottle instead of glass. To access your wine bottle, simply ask the bartender or server to bring it to you.

Save money on a cruise

5. Bring Refillable Water Bottles

One easy way to save money on a cruise is to bring refillable water bottles. It will save you money because you don’t have to buy the ship’s expensive bottled water.

You can easily refill it at the buffet or ask the bartenders on the ship for water. Having a refillable water bottle comes in handy because you can bring water to your stateroom and on shore excursions. 

Plus, you don’t have to keep going back to the buffet for water (which is a hassle if your stateroom is far from the buffet!) 

Another way I save money on a cruise is to bring flavored packets to add to my water. My kids love the skittles flavors

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6. Turn my Phone to Airplane Mode

One of the first things that I do when I get onboard the ship is to turn my phone to airplane mode. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. You don’t want to end up paying hundreds of dollars on roaming and data when you’re at sea!  

I typically don’t buy the cruise WiFi plan. What I usually do is wait until we get to a port to turn my cellphone back on and use the free WiFi at the port. My T-Mobile cellphone plan also comes with free international text and data, so I use that if it’s available. Check your cellphone plan to see if you have free international text and data 

Another way I save money is to download ebooks and movies at home. That way, we can stay entertained on board without WiFi—my kids can watch movies, and I can read my ebooks offline on our devices.

7. Always Attend Cruise Loyalty Parties

If you are ever invited to the cruise loyalty party, you should definitely go. I never miss them. It’s a great way to get free drinks. 

You’ll enjoy an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and the chance to chat with the captain and other officers. They might also show you some sneak peeks of their new ships and latest cruise innovations. Plus, at these parties, they also usually have a raffle and will give away bottles of champagne and gifts. 

To maximize my free drinks at these loyalty parties, I usually order a round of drinks right before I head out and bring my drink with me to my next activity! 

8. Use the Cruise Laundromat

When I go on a long cruise or when I’m cruising with kids, I often find myself needing to wash clothes. However, I never use the pricey cruise laundry service on the ship. Instead, I use the more affordable and sometimes even free coin-operated laundromat, depending on the cruise ship. 

But do know that not all cruise ships have a laundromat. If the ship doesn’t have a laundromat, you can still wash your clothes in your cabin. You just need some detergent. I like to pack some travel laundry packets that are perfect for light washing.

9. Don’t Rent Gear

I don’t like paying for equipment rentals when I know I can bring my own. Whenever I go on a cruise where I know I’ll be at the beach a lot, such as a Caribbean cruise, I always bring my own snorkeling gear and floaties. This way, I don’t need to waste money renting them at the beach, and the rental fee can add up for a family of four!

Just make sure to check the cruise policy before you pack your beach gear because some cruise lines may have restrictions on bringing your own snorkeling gear and floaties on board the ship. Check out my list of 12 things to bring from home to save you money on your cruise.

Free Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

Get Your Free Cruise Toiletry Bag & First Aid Kit Packing List

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your cruise toiletry bag and first aid kit so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

Check out these free cruise printables

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