Frugal travel tips for cruises

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Cruises are one of my favorite ways to see the world. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in another, not having to do and unpack. Cruise lines offer a range of prices ranging from value to very expensive. For frugal travelers, here are some tips to cut spending.

Consider all routes

When most people think of cruises, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and maybe Alaska. However, name a seaport and there’s likely a cruise ship going there. And some of these routes can not only be great deals, but a pleasant surprise. We once booked a 12 day Baltic Sea cruise from London to St Petersburg and come back for less than the plane ticket from New York to London. This remains one of our favorite cruises.

Bring your own non-alcoholic drinks

Food is normally included in the price of a cruise (except for meals at exclusive restaurants). However, drinks other than water, coffee, tea, and lucky iced tea have an additional charge. So what we do is buy soft drinks at the ports (allowed – for alcoholic drinks there is often a capping fee) and then pour them into glasses.

Take your own tour

We have been on over a dozen cruises around the world and have only been on one organized boat tour (on our first cruise). They are expensive, move at the pace of the slowest traveler and restrictive. For a well-organized traveler, it is best to make their own arrangements.

One trick we use is to look at the sites that the boat tours cover and include them in our “tour”.

Note: Travel directors often tell horror stories about passengers who do not get back to the ship on time. The solution? Leave a little extra time and do the remote places first.

Big breakfast, late dinner

For the frugal traveler, maximizing time spent in port is a must. This means if possible to choose the late seats at dinner. Additionally, we tend not to eat large breakfasts (if at all). Instead, we eat a hearty breakfast on the boat (where breakfast is free), nibble on bits of local food ashore, and then end the day with a late dinner.

Cruising is one of this frugal traveler ‘s favorite ways to see the world. And by using these tips, it’s a luxury that can fit into a traveler’s budget.

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