Ok, so you’ve chosen your perfect cruise (preferably with us at Conexo Travel 😉 ), you’ve packed your speedos and your sunhat, and you’ve picked your preferred pillow type. You’re ready to set sail on the cruise of your dreams, but before you do, have a browse of our top 10 tips to be sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare for your bank balance!
DON'T: Spend too much time in the Casino
If your cruise ship offers a casino as entertainment, be careful to not spend all your free on board time there. You will have gambled all of that $200 complimentary on board spend you got with your cracking cruise deal, before you can even perfect your Poker face! There are plenty of other great ways to enjoy your time on board, and whilst a little cheeky flutter in the Casino won't hurt, it's better for your wallet not to make it a regular visit.
DO: Wait to add on the drinks package
Some cruise operators like to offer a drinks package and insist it is best to pre book this. This really depends on the customer, as if you don't drink that much, it really isn't worth it. You could save a lot of money by waiting until you get on board the ship to get an idea of how much drinks are going to cost you. If after a day or two on board, you find it would benefit you to book a drinks package so you can hammer that Martini Bar you spotted on deck 6, you can add it on with the concierge on board.
Do: Book spa treatments on port days
Cruise ship spa treatments are generally pretty pricey -- about what you'd pay at a top-notch resort (rather than at a day spa). Never fear: There are strategic ways to save. Spas often discount services on days in port or put together packages of mini-treatments during slow times. Ask at the spa, or check your daily newsletter for special offers. If you're a spa junkie and plan to spend lots of time being pampered, look for discounted packages of multiple treatments. If you don't see one listed, talk to the spa staff about all the appointments you'd like to make and whether they can offer you a bulk rate.
DON'T: Stay connected at sea
Make ship-to-shore call has always been pricey, whether you're using your cabin's phone or your mobile on roaming rates. Most cruise ships these days have onboard internet centres and Wi-Fi, though connecting at sea is still quite expensive
If you're really cost-conscious, tell family and colleagues that you'll be out of touch for a week or, if you're on a European cruise, save the calls and social media posts for port. Since June 2017, an EU-level agreement came into play to end mobile roaming charges. We are uncertainly that this will remain in place once the U.K. leaves the EU, but for now, British holidaymakers benefit from the agreement, which means they'll pay the same price for call, texts and mobile data wherever they go in the EU.
Do: Book your own Shore excursions
We get it. You're excited you have just booked your perfect cruise - now you want to make sure you plan your cruise the right way and get those shore excursions booked. But, more often than not, you can save quite a bit of money actually organising those yourself once you arrive in port. From experience, we know that there are plenty of tour guides and vendors waiting for you to dock and disembark for the day and they all want to sell you the same thing, which means they have to be competitively priced, which in turn is better for you. By all means do your research before you go, or ask your travel agent what you can do in each port of call so you know what you're asking for, but make sure you're getting the right deal for you.
Don't: waste the wine!
If you order a bottle of wine with dinner and don't finish it (yes there are people who do this, shocking), don't give it up for lost. Ask your waiter to cork it and save it for you for another night. The bottle can be accessed from any restaurant onboard; simply request it the next time you're ready for wine with with your meal. If you're paying for a full bottle of Chardonnay or Cabernet, you can at least get your money's worth by drinking the whole thing.
DO: Book restaurant packages
You can always save money by eating in the free dining venues (main dining room, buffet venue, outdoor grill and more), rather than splurging on speciality dining restaurants that charge a supplement. But if you like the intimacy and varied menus of the alternative venues, look for dining packages that will save you money. Some lines, like Celebrity, bundle together multiple dinner reservations at discounted rates from booking the same tables individually.
DON'T: Forget your cruise program
Most, if not all, cruise lines issue you with cruise program for your stay. Some issue them daily, and these programs have a contact number for your port agent or the cruise ship itself. This is important information to have with you if you go off the ship, just in case anything happens to you or you are delayed heading back to the ship. If your cruise doesn't offer a programme with the port agent details on, make sure you request this information before you venture off the ship. The consequences for missing the ship departure time could be quite costly for you.
Do: Consider booking a guaranteed cabin
Ok, so this is one to consider before you actually book your cruise, but your travel agent can talk to you through the pros and cons of this. You won’t be able to pick a cabin number or deck location, but the majority of cruise lines will sell cabins at a discounted rate if you’re happy to book on this basis. Although you could end up anywhere, the less fussy amongst you will be happy to have a cheap cabin, regardless of whether you’re nearer to the theatre or the buffet!
DON'T: Get caught out with currency
It is important to be clued up on the exchange rates of the ports you are visiting. There are some great apps you can get on your phone to know the exchange rate in each country before you go, so you know what to expect in each port.
Above all, it is always best to book your cruise with a travel agent. Not only does it give you that peace of mind and someone to sit and talk to about your cruising options, it does not cost you a penny more to book with a travel agent. We would love to help you find your next cruise holiday, so get in touch with Conexo Travel today.