cruise ships

21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

Are you going on a cruise? Cruising can get expensive. There are many hidden costs and extra fees that can add up and make your cruise more costly than you expected. Fortunately, there are also many ways to save money on your cruise. Here are money saving tips to help you save money on your cruise.

Suburbs 101 participates in affiliate programs including Amazon Associates Program and may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

How to Save Money on a Cruise

1. Drink Champagne for Free 

One easy way to save money on your cruise is to score free champagne and liquor samples. Cruise ships often have events and activities where they offer free drinks to the guests. 

For example, if you attend the art auctions, chances are you will be served free champagne to enjoy while browsing the artworks. You can also attend the liquor tasting seminar at the gift shop and sample different kinds of spirits. 

If you have loyalty status with the cruise line, you may be invited to captain’s parties that have free champagne and an open bar. By knowing where to look, you can have fun and save money on the cruise.

Looking for last minute deals? I recommend searching for last minute cruise deals from Cruise Direct

2. Look for a Repositioning Cruise

Another way to save money on cruises is to look for repositioning cruises. These are cruises that move the ship from one region to another, usually to follow the warmer weather. 

For example, a ship with a Caribbean itinerary may be moved to Europe in the winter. The repositioning cruise will be transatlantic sailing from New York to Southampton, England. 

These cruises are usually not round-trip, which means you have to book a one-way flight to or from the port. However, this can save you money on airfare and cruise fare, as repositioning cruises tend to be cheaper (and less crowded too). 

The downside is that they may have fewer ports of call and more days at sea, cruises tend to be long (more than a week) and they are usually only available in the off-season. 

If you are retired and have the flexibility, you should definitely always check for repositioning cruises to save money!

21 ways to save money on a cruise

3. Take Advantage of Gift Shop Sale

A smart way to save money on t-shirts and other souvenirs is to wait for the gift shop sale days. The gift shop will often have sale days on items like t-shirts and pashmina wraps, which you can buy for only $10 each. 

These sales usually happen on sea days, when the gift shop sets up tables with piles of discounted merchandise. When you spot these sales, don’t hesitate to buy what you like, because they may not offer the same deals the next day. 

By waiting for the right time, you can get some great bargains on your cruise souvenirs.

Pro-tip: You can always ask the gift shop staff, they will usually tell you when the sale days are!

4. Take Advantage of Port Day Specials

Another way to save money on your cruise is to take advantage of the port day specials. These are special offers that the cruise line gives to the guests who stay on board when the ship is docked at a port. 

One of the best port day specials is the spa services, which are usually discounted on port days. You can book a relaxing massage, a facial, or a manicure for a lower price than usual. 

You don’t have to miss out on the port- you can do both! You can either book a spa appointment in the early afternoon and visit the port before that, or book a spa appointment in the morning and go to the port after that. This way, you can visit the port and also take advantage of the spa discount!

5. Choose a Port You Can Drive To

Another way to save money on your cruise is to choose a port that is within driving distance from your home. This way, you can save a lot of money on airfare, which can be a significant part of your cruise budget. 

Your transportation expense will be greatly reduced to just car parking or maybe just the price of an Uber or taxi. 

For example, if you are going on a Caribbean cruise and you live in the Northeast, you can skip flying to one of the Florida ports and instead go on a Caribbean cruise out of one of the New York ports.

6. Book the Cruise Beverage Packages

One way to save money on your cruise is to buy the beverage package. This is a good option if you drink a lot, as you can enjoy unlimited drinks for a fixed price. 

The beverage package usually includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as specialty coffee and smoothies. Some beverage packages also come with extras, such as gratuities, free photos, or free internet, which make them a great deal. 

21 ways to save money on a cruise

7. Bring Soda and Water on Board the Cruise Ship

One way to save money on your cruise is to bring your own soda and bottled water. However, before you pack your drinks, make sure to check your cruise line’s policy. 

Some cruise lines may prohibit or limit the amount of soda and bottled water you can bring on board. By bringing what you are allowed, you can avoid paying extra for drinks on the ship.

8. Order the Drink of the Day

If you enjoy having a drink or two on your cruise, you can save money by ordering the drink of the day. Most cruise lines offer a daily drink special, which is usually a tropical cocktail that costs less than the regular cocktails on the bar menu. 

You can check for the drink of the day on the daily newsletter or at the bar. You may also find other drink deals, such as happy hour specials or beer bucket specials, depending on the cruise line and the time of the day. You will save money on your cruise by taking advantage of these beverage offers.

9. Monitor Cruise Prices after Booking

Another way to save money on your cruise is to keep an eye on the cruise price even after you book your cruise. Cruise prices may fluctuate depending on the demand and availability. 

If you notice a price drop, you may be eligible to get the lower price or some other benefits. However, this depends on the cruise line’s policy and the timing of your booking. 

If you have not made your final payment yet, you may be able to get your cruise for a lower price. If you have already made your final payment, you may be able to get an upgrade or some onboard credits. You never know what you can get unless you ask!

10. Book the Least Expensive Cabin

One of the biggest ways to save money on your cruise is to book the least expensive cabin on the ship. This is usually an inside cabin, which means it has no windows or balcony. 

Some people may not like staying in an inside cabin, but if you are okay with it, then it can save you a lot of money compared to booking an oceanview or balcony cabin. 

You can use the money you save for booking shore excursions and spending on board. After all, you will not spend much time in your cabin anyway, as there are so many things to do and see on the cruise.

11. Book During the Off-Season

Another way to save money on your cruise is to travel during the off-season. Summer is the peak season for cruising, which means higher prices and more crowds. 

However, if you go during September and in the fall and winter, you may find some great deals on cruise fares. 

For example, if you are willing to take the risk of traveling during hurricane season, you can get cheap deals on Caribbean cruises. 

Another perk of going on an off-season cruise is that the ship and the ports will be less crowded.

12. Take Advantage of Cruise Deals

Another way to save money on cruises is to look for cruise deals that offer various perks and discounts. Cruise lines will often have special promotions such as kids sail free, free beverage package, free wifi, free gratuity, or free 3rd and 4th person. 

All of these extras can add up and save you a lot of money on your cruise fare and onboard expenses. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for these cruise deals when you are shopping for a cruise.

13. Be Loyal to One Cruise Line

One way to save money on cruises is to stick to one cruise line and join their loyalty program. The cruise lines will reward your loyalty by giving you higher status as you cruise more often.

This can earn you various perks and benefits, such as free drinks, invitations to captain’s parties (with free drinks), free laundry service, free specialty dining, expedited check-ins, and more. These perks can save you money and enhance your cruise experience. Therefore, it is a good idea to compare the loyalty programs of different cruise lines and choose the one that suits you best.

14. Use a Travel Agent

Another way to save money on your cruise is to use a travel agent. Travel agents have access to exclusive deals and discounts that you may not find online. 

They can also help you get upgrades and cruise credits, which can lower your cruise fare and onboard expenses. 

Additionally, they may surprise you with some extra perks, such as a bottle of champagne delivered to your room, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion. Therefore, it is worth considering using a travel agent when booking your cruise.

Looking for last minute deals? I recommend searching for last minute cruise deals from Cruise Direct

15. Take Advantage of First Day Discounts

One way to save money on your cruise is to take advantage of the first day discounts. As soon as you board the ship, you will notice that the spa, the food and beverage servers, and other onboard services will have tables set up with their special offers. 

Sometimes, these offers are more generous on the first day and may include extras such as a bottle of wine or a discount. However, these offers may not last long and may not be available later. 

Therefore, it is a good idea to check out the first day discounts and book the services you want as soon as possible.

Check out: 15 Things I Wished I Had Known Before My First Cruise

16. Don’t Book the Cruise Shore Excursions

One of the ways to save money on your cruise is to explore the ports on your own, instead of booking the cruise shore excursions. The cruise shore excursions can be quite expensive, especially for a large group. 

You may be able to find cheaper or better alternatives on your own, but you need to do some research beforehand. For example you can bargain with a taxi driver to take you around for the day, or look for local vendors that offer discounted tours and excursions at the port (not all ports have them, though). 

You can also use public transportation, such as trains or buses, to visit nearby attractions. Do your homework before you decide how to explore the ports. 

Do know that it is safer to book the cruise shore excursion because they will make sure you get back to the ship on time while if you explore the port on your own, you risk missing the ship!

Check out: Cruise without Seasickness: Genius Tricks You Need to Know

17. Bring 1 bottle of wine or champagne per adult on embarkation day

Another way to save money is to bring your own wine or champagne! Many cruise lines, such as Carnival, will allow you to bring 1 bottle of wine or champagne (750 ml) per adult on embarkation day only. Most people don’t know you can bring 1 bottle of wine per adult, and this will save you some money since alcohol purchases can add up.  

If you buy wine, liquor, or beer in the ports, they will confiscate your alcohol and store it for you during the duration of the cruise and give it back to you when you leave the ship. 

Do bring a corkscrew, but make sure you don’t bring one with a knife, as some cruise lines may not allow it. You can enjoy your own drink in your stateroom. 

Do know they typically charge a corkage fee if you bring your wine to dinner.

Check out: 18 Worst Things that Can Ruin Your Cruise Vacation

18. Bring your own refillable water bottle

Bringing your own refillable water bottle will save you money. You can refill it at the buffet or ask for water from the bartenders on the ship. It comes in handy to have a refillable water bottle because you can bring water to your stateroom and on shore excursions. 

It will save you money because you don’t have to buy the ship’s expensive bottled water. 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!) 

I like this water bottle because it is insulated and does not have a straw (so I don’t have to deal with washing straws in my cabin!)

19. Use Wifi in Port

One of the ways to save money on your cruise is to avoid buying the cruise WiFi package. Instead, you can use the WiFi at the port, which is usually free. 

You can also use your cellphone plan with international coverage, if you have one, and go online when you are at the port. 

However, before you leave home, I suggest you download some ebooks and movies that you can enjoy offline on your devices. This way, you can stay entertained on board without WiFi.

Check out: 11 Anti-Theft Cruise Tips that Every Cruiser Needs to Know

20. Use the Cruise Ship Laundromat

One of the ways to save money on your cruise is to use the coin-operated laundromat on the ship, instead of the laundry service. The laundry service can be quite expensive, especially if you have a lot of clothes to wash. 

However, the coin-operated laundromat is much cheaper (some cruise lines will let you wash your clothes for free, you just have to pay for detergent!)

This is especially helpful if you are traveling with kids or going on a long cruise. However, not all cruise ships have a laundromat. 

If the ship doesn’t have a laundromat, you can still wash some clothes in your cabin. You just need some detergent and clothes pins. I like to bring these travel laundry packets that are easy to use. 

21. Bring Your Own Beach Gear

Another way to save money on your cruise is to bring your own beach gear, such as snorkeling gear and floaties. This way, you can avoid renting them at the beach. 

However, be aware that some cruise lines may have restrictions on bringing your own snorkeling gear and floaties on board the ship, and you may not be able to use them in the ship pool. Therefore, make sure to check the cruise policy before you pack your beach gear. 

If you need to book shore excursion tours, a great platform to book tours is with viator

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

Mexico cruise packing list

25 Things People Forget to Pack on their Cruise

42 Banned Items you can’t take on a cruise

Check out: When to Book a Cruise to Get the Best Deal

Sharing is caring!

Scroll to Top