How To Book A Cruise On A Budget

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Cruises have a reputation for being luxurious vacations. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay a luxurious price to enjoy everything a cruise vacation offers. With a little insight and effort, you can book a cruise on any budget. In this blog, I’ll share the best tips and tricks for sticking to a budget when planning your next cruise vacation.


Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

When it comes to booking a cruise vacation, there are many budget-friendly options available. To start, it helps to be as flexible as possible with the dates and destinations of your vacation. Granting yourself this flexibility will allow you to pick and choose between the most affordable itineraries available. For example, if one week-long cruise through the Caribbean costs double the amount for a two-week cruise around Patagonia, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell which vacation is the better choice for cruisers on a budget. 

Furthermore, the earlier you book your cruise, the better. Not only does this give you more choices of cabins and staterooms, it also ensures that you secure your spot on the cruise before prices go up. And speaking of cabins and staterooms, even the cheapest of accommodations aboard state-of-the-art cruise lines come with the essential amenities. These are the perfect, affordable options if you’re trying to stick to a tight budget.

Before commiting to a specific cruise line, be sure to take advantage of travel websites such as Expedia Cruises or Cruise Direct. These platforms help to compare and contrast different cruise packages from different companies, allowing you to make an informed decision according to your unique budget. 

Another way to find budget-friendly cruise packages is to sign up for email lists and newsletters that compile the best deals and send them straight to your inbox. If you have specific cruise lines in mind for your vacation, check their website to see if they offer email newsletters. The exclusive discounts and special offers included in these newsletters can save you hundreds of dollars. 

Now, once you’ve done your research and found a cruise you’d like to book, do one last Google search for special discounts that the cruise line may offer. These could be anything from $100 off your initial fare to discounted drink prices to a discounted cabin upgrade. While it may take some sleuthing to find deals applicable to your vacation, the effort can be well worth it in the end.

Food & Drinks

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Food and beverages can be some of the biggest expenses during a cruise vacation. And while it’s easy to lose track of how much money you spend on these necessities, it is possible to stick to an affordable budget. 

Our first tip is to research whether your cruise line offers any special deals on food and drinks when booking your trip. Oftentimes, cruises will give you the option to add all-inclusive deals to your fare when you book, allowing you to eat and drink as much as you want without having to worry about making a big dent in your wallet. And while some of these packages may look expensive, when you sit down and do the math, they can often save you hundreds of dollars in the long-run. 

If you don’t want to go the all-inclusive route, we suggest familiarizing yourself with all of the food and beverage options aboard your ship before setting sail. While most cruise ships come equipped with specialty, gourmet restaurants, there are always budget options available, typically in the form of a buffet-style restaurant. Often included in the initial fare price, these restaurants are the perfect options for travelers looking to stick to a budget. 

Furthermore, it can be tempting to dine out in every port destination you visit, but this habit can quickly start to break the bank. In order to save some extra money, consider returning to the cruise to eat during port excursions. Another great option is to find a local grocery store in port and buy snacks and food to create your own personalized picnic while enjoying the local sites. Not only does this allow you to spend less on food, it also gives you a more local, authentic port experience, and it lets you support local grocers in the process. Talk about a win-win situation!

Port Excursions

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Port excursions and packaged tours are typically some of the most expensive parts of booking a cruise vacation. It’s easy to convince yourself that these tours are once in a lifetime experiences worth any price tag, but if you’re willing to be a little thrifty, you can save money while still getting the most out of your port excursions. 

It’s a good idea to do your research and book any tours and excursions well in advance. Once you get the itinerary for your vacation, try and plan out which activities you want to do in each port location and find local tour companies or travel agencies that offer special deals and discounts. It is often much more affordable to book directly with local companies than booking with your cruise line as it cuts out the middleman. 

Furthermore, if you book far enough in advance, you not only have a better chance of scoring the best deals, but you also ensure that you secure a spot on popular tours and excursions that tend to sell out quickly. 

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

Here at Porthole Cruise & Travel, we firmly believe that cruise vacations are accessible to any type of traveler with any type of budget. By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a luxurious cruise experience without having to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. By sticking to a vacation budget, you can spend more time enjoying your well-earned vacation and less time worrying about how much money you’re spending. 

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