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Tips on finding affordable cruise holidays and saving money while you’re there

Web Admin 5th Feb 2016 No Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

MoneyMagpie is always trying to help you save money and not miss out on great holiday experiences.

Earlier this year we gave you advice on how to save money by holidaying at home and how to grab yourself a last-minute bargain.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about cruise holidays: how to find one in your price range and how to save money once you’re on board.


Choose a cruise destination closer to home

Cruise ship off the coast of Scotland

Many of the most exciting cruises are in far-off, exotic lands, which is usually what’s so appealing about them. The problem is that you have to pay for plane tickets to your cruise destinations on top of what you pay for the cruise itself. Choosing somewhere closer to home is a great way around this problem.

The River Cruise Line offers beautiful Thames river cruises and they also offer cruises in Germany, The Netherlands and France. Choosing a destination in Northern Europe is a great way to keep the travel costs to a minimum, giving you more to spend on the cruise of your choice. If you are flying to northern Europe, Flybe, EasyJet and Ryanair all provide relatively cheap fares.


Be flexible and wait for great last-minute deals

Flexible woman on cruise ship

Some of the best cruise deals come up at a moment’s notice, as no one wants empty cabins on their cruise ship. Keep some holidays from work aside so that you can pounce on any cruise deal that comes along.

If you need to request holidays from work at least a month in advance, you could have a chat with your work and see if they can be a little flexible. If not, why not book the time off anyway and buy whichever cheap cruise is available once your time off comes along?


Use Twitter to keep an eye out for the best deals

Twitter on smartphone

Lots of top cruise companies use Twitter to advertise their last-minute cruise deals. If you don’t have a Twitter account, here’s a guide on how to set up your own account.

Follow as many cruise companies and travel agents as you can and keep an eye out for attractive deals. If you’re vigilant and check your Twitter feed several times a day, you can find some incredible cruise deals.


Call up travel agents

Travel agent on the phone

As useful as the internet and comparison websites can be, you shouldn’t be afraid to give travel agents a call — some even specialise in cruise holidays. As travel agencies often buy cruise holiday places in bulk, having a conversation with a travel agent can be the best way to get the cheapest deals.

It’s also good to remember that most travel agents make their money by commission, so they’ll do everything they can to make the sale—they might even throw in some on-board credit for you!


Choose a cabin without windows

Windowless cruise ship cabin

The price of cabins on a cruise ship varies greatly, as some cabins have windows with great views and other cabins don’t even have windows. The prices of tickets are linked to which cabin you stay in.

So if you only want to use your cabin as a place to sleep, then get a cabin without a window, as you’ll be enjoying the bar, the restaurant and whatever else is on the ship yet you’ll be paying much less than many of the other passengers.


Organise your own excursions

Elephant trecking experience

Once you’ve found your cheap cruise, you can save a lot money by organising your own excursions instead of paying for your cruise ship to run them for you. Excursions can be a big added expense, and many holidaymakers feel obligated to spend a fortune on them because they don’t want to miss out.

If you’re very organised, you’ll be able to sort out your own excursions. Cutting out the middleman is always cheaper, but you must ensure you get back to your cruise ship before it sets off, as if you’re not part of the main excursion group, the ship might just leave without you.


Be mindful of included gratuity on your bills

Meal on cruise ship

You should always tip the appropriate amount, and a cruise ship is no exception. But many cruise ships often automatically include gratuity in your bills. Read the small print to check that you’re not tipping staff twice as much as you intend.


Saving money on drinks

Cocktails on a cruise ship

If there’s an all-inclusive package available, work out if it will be value for money. Expect to pay restaurant prices if you’re not on an all-inclusive deal — this can really add up over the length of the cruise.

A possible way to save money is to always drink wine by the bottle and not by the glass. And don’t worry about finishing the wine in one night, as the bar staff on many cruise ships will be happy to keep the bottle for you (though check with the bar to make sure this is possible).


Don’t use the ship’s WiFi

Someone using a phone on a cruise ship deck

Most cruise ships offer WiFi, but the costs are usually very high, with the counter charging you by the minute. Try to stay off the internet, as it’ll save you a lot of money by the end. If you’re very anxious about roaming charges you could put your phone into airplane mode. However, you can also go into your phone’s settings and turn off international roaming.

Also, if your network is 3, then you might have no additional charges in some or all of the countries you visit, as their Feel At Home scheme lets you use your phone as you would at home in a variety of countries.  If you’re not sure what roaming charges are, or how expensive they can get, read uSwitch’s mobile roaming charges guide, as it will tell you everything you need to know.


We hope this guide helps you find as cheap a cruise deal as possible and save a bit of money once you’re there. Cruises are a wonderful way to travel and a bit of savvy planning can make them much more affordable. Best of luck and bon voyage.

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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