Ready for an vacation but think you can not afford it, here are 5 tips to an Affordable Cruise.
For the past 4 years Rick and I have taken a cruise in January for our anniversary, each year the cruises get better and better. Why, because we do a lot of planning ahead. We have already booked a Southern Caribbean 12 day cruise for 2017
Planning ahead and customizing our trips to make them enjoyable and affordable is what makes the trip an adventure. Here are 5 tips to plan a great cruise for you and your family.
5 tips for an affordable Cruise:
Tip 1 – Create a Cruise Savings Account
Tip 2 – Book a Getaway
Tip 3 – Book an Interior Cabin
Tip 4 – Limit your Excursions
Tip 5 – Enjoy On-board Cruise Activities
More bang for your buck
Often times people ask, why do we like cruises, with no hesitation I reply we get more “bang for our buck”. A cruise offers variety in entertainment, food and an opportunity to visit multiple islands. Rick and I are a good example of opposites who attract. This has been great for our personal development however sometimes it is a challenge when picking fun activities. On a cruise we both can find activities that are fun and entertaining. An added bonus of a ship is we can venture off individually and still feel safe.
Another great thing about a cruise is the all inclusive meals. There is no time, day or night where food is not available. My number one priority each morning is to determine what is being served in the dining room at dinner. My husband will always joke and say we plan our day around your eating adventures.
We also enjoy the fact that our vacation is paid in full before we leave home and we have no credit card bill 30 days after our trip. When we add everything up; travel, food and activities, a cruise was the way to go for us.
Cruise Saving Plan
Tip 1 – Create a Vacation Savings Account
Several years back my Aunt Ann introduced me to the 52 week savings plan. The idea is simple … Save $1 for the first week you start and every week add a $1 for the corresponding week. Sounds easy but 6 months in, I fell off the wagon.
I loved the concept (vacation savings) and having that extra money put aside was a big stress reliever. I adjusted the savings plan to meet my needs and lifestyle.
For my “vacation saving plan” I took the yearly ($1378 if you do the 52 Week Challenge) amount divided it by 26, (bi-weekly checks). This year since I booked my trip in January, I know the exact cost of the cruise, so I budgeted accordingly.
I have it automatically withdrawn from my paycheck and put on my American Express BlueBird card. The American Bluebird is a prepaid American Express Card offered by Walmart. This card provides me the security of having access to the money for emergencies but stability of saving for our vacation. I also set the account up to get notification on deposits and daily balance via email. I love watching my vacation nest grow. Personalizing my “vacation savings plan” worked for me and I made it the entire year, the second time around.
Book a Getaway
Tip 2- Make it a quick get away
Most cruise lines offer a variety of cruise vacations that range from 3 to 30 days cruising to Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean and so much more. For that quick getaway book a 3 or 4 day cruise to the Bahamas.
I had taken a cruise many years back but my husband had never cruised. I wanted to test the waters so we took a 6 day cruise to see if he would like it. Can I say, 4 years later he is hooked. Each cruise helps us determine what we like and dislike. We have added some things and eliminated others, but each cruise has been unique and special.
Choosing your Cabin
Tip 3 – Book Interior Cabin
To save money and explore our options we booked an interior cabin. The room was small and dark. I am like a bat, I love sleeping in the dark. Between you and me I think Rick is afraid of the dark, he needed a nightlight. We had to keep the bathroom light on so he would not run into things in the dark.
The interior cabins are small and dark but minimum time is spent in the room, besides you should be on deck having fun in the sun anyway. Look at it, like this, we would all love to ride first class, but the plane doesn’t land without coach, save some money for a little inconvenience. This year we had a balcony, a free upgrade but I’ll tell you about that later.
Tip 4 – Limit your Excursions
I know people say if you are going to go, you must do the shore excursions. To make the trip affordable we do 1 shore excursion and on the other island stops we enjoy going into port. Yes it is true, you really do not get the joy of the island by seeing only the port. However, I would rather have 1 excursion and fun on the boat than wait until I could afford excursions on every stop. Excursions can range from $50 to over $200 per person.
If you are a real planner take advantage of booking excursions ahead of time. First, it will ensure you get to do the the one you really want, secondly the cost can be added into your vacation budget.
On-board Cruise Activities
Tip 5 – Enjoy cruise activities
Take advantage of the free stuff. Each day there are tons of free activities. You really can have a blast and never leave the ship. I have seen some great shows, zipline and done indoor water surf. At night there is Karaoke, Theme Parties, Trivia night and so much more depending on your activity/fun level.
If you want to pamper yourself there is the spa (additional cost) and other indulgent activities to choose. If you like to gamble there is the casino that is always open when you are out to sea. How about learning something new; I took a sushi class on one cruise, it was a blast. For those who are a couch potato, no worries, just grab a lounger, margarita and people watch on deck in the sun.
Cruising can be fun and affordable if you plan. My experience has been with Royal Caribbean but I am sure other cruise lines are just as fun. I love freebies and upgrades so we have chosen to stick with this cruise line and join their Crown & Anchor Society. On our last trip we received a commentary balcony upgrade. Like all companies that are trying to keep your business you can get some great perks by joining their loyalty program. The program is complimentary earning 1 cruise point for every night you sail and double if you book a suite.
If a cruise is on your bucket list use these 5 tips and book your cruise today. If you have a cruise tip, please share we would love to hear from you.
Thanks, and have a great cruise.
Roxanne Wilkening MS Ed.