Girl with Suitcase on Cruise Ship

12 Things to Bring from Home to Save Money on Your Cruise

Looking to save money on your next cruise while sticking to a budget? There’s an easy way to do so—bring things from home instead of buying them on the cruise. Buying things onboard can get expensive, as prices are often marked up in the cruise’s gift shop. So, what can you bring from home? Here are some things to pack on your next cruise that will save you money. I’m also sharing my cruise budget tracker as a free printable below.

What to Bring to Your Cruise to Save You Money

1. Refillable Water Bottles

Bringing refillable water bottles tops my list of things to bring on a cruise to save money. Cruise ships don’t provide free water in your cabin, so you’ll need to buy bottled water from the cruise line. 

But why pay for water when you can get it for free from the buffet? Simply bring your own refillable water bottle, fill it up with water and ice and take it to your cabin. This will also come in handy when you go ashore. It’s best to bring water bottles without straws so you don’t have to wash them in your cabin.

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2. Travel Mug

I always bring an insulated travel coffee mug with me on a cruise. I love drinking tea and coffee all day long, so I fill it up with coffee at the buffet and carry it around the ship. 

Because I have a travel mug, I don’t feel the need to buy coffee from the cruise specialty coffee shop. This not only saves me money but also saves me time from having to go back to the buffet to refill my coffee. 

Even if you’re not a coffee or tea drinker, you can fill up your travel mug with free juices, iced tea, or lemonade from the buffet during breakfast. It’s so convenient to have a travel mug on sea days because it will save you the hassle of constantly going back and forth to the buffet for water. Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this tip! I like this insulated mug with lid.

3. Flavored Coffee Creamer

I like having a little bit of flavor in my coffee, so I always bring flavored coffee creamer from home. I usually pack a few packets of powdered coffee creamers so that I can have my hazelnut coffee without having to buy coffee at the specialty coffee shop.

4. Flavored Water Powder

I always make sure to bring some flavored water powder when I go on a cruise, like Crystal Light or Gatorade powder. I’m not a big fan of plain water, so I like to add a bit of flavor to my water so it tastes great. 

This saves me money because I don’t have to buy drinks on the cruise. It’s especially handy when we’re out exploring the port—I’ll mix some Peach Mango flavor with some ice-cold water, and it’s super refreshing to drink. 

My kids really love them too. They have these flavored packets that taste just like Skittles, Welch’s fruit snacks, and Starburst!

I’ve also made my own alcoholic cocktails mixing wine with some flavored water- it’s my own version of sangria!

Things to Bring on a Cruise to Save Money

5. Bottle of Wine 

Many first-time cruisers don’t know this, but they can bring wine onboard the ship for free. It’s a great way to save money on your cruise!

Most cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine or champagne per person, up to 750 ml, on the ship when you bring it on embarkation day. Some cruise lines even allow you to bring two bottles. 

Remember this only applies to wine that you bring on the first day of your cruise. Any alcohol that you buy at the ports will be taken and kept until the end of the cruise. It’s also important to note that cruise lines charge a corkage fee if you drink the wine in a restaurant or public area. 

It’s best to double-check with your cruise line before bringing wine since their alcohol policy can change. 

What you can bring will vary depending on the cruise line. For example, Carnival allows one 750-ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage. Royal Caribbean allows each adult to bring one sealed 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne on embarkation day. Boxed wine are prohibited. 

Norwegian cruise line is different. They allow guests to bring bottles of wine and champagne on board. When bottles are brought on board and served or consumed in any restaurant, public room area, or stateroom, a corkage fee will be charged according to the bottle size. 

Princess Cruise guests are allowed to bring one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne on board. There will be no corkage fee if you drink your wine in your stateroom. 

Disney Cruise Line’s policy is more generous. They allow guests 21 years and older to bring a maximum of 2 bottles of unopened wine or sparkling wine (no larger than 750 ml) or 6 beers (no larger than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of your cruise.

6. Soda

One way to save money on your cruise is by packing your own soda and juice. Most cruise lines allow you to bring a few bottles or cans of non-alcoholic beverages with your carry-on luggage when you board the ship on the first day. 

Every cruise line has its own policy of what you can and can’t bring onboard. For example, Norwegian has a strict policy of not allowing any non-alcoholic beverages on board.

Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, allows guests to bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on embarkation day. These non-alcoholic drinks cannot exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom.

Carnival also allows non-alcoholic beverages, such as sparkling water, sodas, energy drinks, juice, and milk, in cans or cartons, on embarkation day. These must be carried in the guest’s carry-on luggage. Carnival allows you to bring a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12-ounces/354-ml each, per person.

Again, check the cruise line policy before bringing any beverages onboard the ship.

7. Snorkeling gear

If you’re planning to go snorkeling during your cruise, a great way to save money is to bring your own snorkel gear. Not only will you be able to save on rental fees, but you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of using your own snorkel gear, which is much more hygienic. 

Just keep in mind that some cruise lines impose restrictions on bringing your own snorkel gear, so it’s important to check their policy beforehand. Bringing your own snorkel gear is definitely worth it if you plan on snorkeling frequently during your cruise.

Things to Bring on a Cruise to Save Money

8. Water Shoes

One way to save money on your cruise is to bring your own water shoes. Protecting your feet against jagged rocks while swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking is important. Plus, water shoes can prevent you from slipping on wet surfaces and provide more comfort than flip-flops. 

I have been on several Caribbean cruises where I thought I could do without water shoes but ended up buying them from a beach gift shop at a premium price. Now, to save money, I always bring my own water shoes.

9. Collapsible Beach Toys

If you’re traveling on a cruise with your kids and planning to spend most of your time at the beach, you should bring your own beach toys. Otherwise, your kids will end up using plastic cups as buckets, which is no fun! 

If you’re like me, you will feel guilty letting your kids play with plastic cups so you end up buying overpriced sand toys from the beach vendors. To save money and keep your kids entertained, it’s best to bring your own beach toys. 

I like this beach toy set because it’s collapsible and can easily fit into your luggage and is convenient to carry around.

10. Laundry Detergent and Wrinkle Remover

If you want to save money and avoid running out of clean clothes, you can wash some of your lightweight clothes in the sink or the shower. Bring some laundry detergent to make it easier. I like these travel detergent packs.

I also always bring a small wrinkle releaser spray to smooth out the wrinkles in clothes. You never know when it might come in handy, especially when you are traveling and have limited access to an iron. You can keep your clothes clean and fresh without spending extra money on laundry services.

11. Luggage Scale

I always make sure to bring a luggage scale with me when I go on a cruise. This way, I can weigh my baggage and avoid paying overweight fees at the airport. I like this luggage scale because it’s both compact and portable, making it easy to bring with you when you travel.

12. Foldable Duffel Bags

I don’t know about you, but every time I return from a cruise, I always end up with more baggage than I started with. Sometimes, I end up buying extra luggage or duffel bags from the port or cruise gift shop just to fit all my stuff, which I hate because I feel like I’m wasting money on overpriced luggage. 

So now, I always carry an additional foldable duffel bag in my luggage in case I need an extra one. It saves me money and the hassle of having to buy an extra bag at the port or gift shop. I like this foldable duffel bag because it’s easy to use.

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Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

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8 Easy Ways to Get FREE Onboard Credit on a Cruise

8 Reasons Why Cruise Ship Beverage Packages are a Waste of Money

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