Top 7 Ways NOT to Save Money on a Cruise

Although I’ve already blogged over a dozen tips and tricks to save money on a cruise, what about ways to totally blow your budget unintentionally? I’m not talking about splurging on a cabana, a massage or swimming with the dolphins. I’m talking spending (way) more than you have to on things that are unnecessary and in a few instances spending some cash in order to give Murphy the boot (or just keep from missing an awesome experience!)

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How NOT to Save Money on a Cruise? Let me count the ways…

Skip Trip Insurance

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like we could possibly miss our travel window and the ship would sail without us. It’s not like I’d ever break my leg and need to pay to be airlifted off of the ship. It’s not like I could have a relative get sick and need to reschedule at the last minute. Besides, aren’t we trying to save money? The truth is once you are within 15 dates of your sail date any cancellation will mean a total loss of the cost of the vacation. Save money on your cruise, but please consider buying trip insurance.

This falls under the better safe than sorry category for me. DCL offers trip insurance as part of your trip package or you can find another company, just don’t miss the boat on this one. I’ve seen the price tag of a helicopter evacuation (to be taken to shore for medical treatment) quoted in the neighborhood of $30K. Makes the trip insurance seem like chump change in comparison, doesn’t it?

Skip Palo

There is a TON of food on the cruise that is already included in your fare. Paying an upcharge for an exclusive adults only restaurant is clearly a waste of time, right?

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If you’re a platinum Castaway Club member, you get a free night at Palo. If not, it’s still worth the splurge!
Sorbet. Mmmmmm.

Hold on a second. If you want a romantic evening with quiet romantic music in leisurely lush surroundings, this is well worth the $25 $30 (as of 2015) upcharge. Still need convincing? Between the Palo Beef Tenderloin and chocolate soufflé, it’s a must try. If you have a super special occasion to celebrate, try out Remy on the Dream class ships for a unique night out. If your little Mousekateers are anything like mine, they’ll be thrilled to enjoy a kids evening eating and playing in the clubs. The club is free, so at least on that you help save money on your cruise.

Fly in the Morning of the Cruise

You don’t need to worry about hotel room costs when you fly in the morning of embarkation! I can save so much money on my cruise this way, but…

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Even the cuteness of tiny airline salt and pepper can’t allay the stress of last minute air travel.

…if your flight is delayed and your trip insurance doesn’t cover travel delays and the flight to the next port of call (and your hotel stay for the nights until the ship reaches it’s first port) it’s probably wiser to fly in the night before and enjoy a plane free pre-cruise morning.

I’ve flown in the morning of our cruise exactly once.
It was not relaxing.
It was not enjoyable.

Our flight ran perfectly smoothly with not a single delay or hitch. If you’re flying from a location that receives snow or other storms that mess with air traffic, the peace of mind alone is worth the extra day to absorb delays.

Rely on a Birth Certificate for Customs

Yes, some cruisers on closed loop cruises board with only a certified birth certificate and official photo id. Assuming your cruise is one of those this is true for, please check that you are not on one of the several port adventures which require a passport.

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Besides, passports are just cool.

I know of at least one dolphin excursion where you cross from St. John’s to St. Thomas (thus possibly needing a passport) and a couple Alaska excursions that cross into Canada (passports please!) It’d be a real shame to pony up the money for a lovely excursion that you can’t attend because of paperwork. You can double check the port adventure information ahead of time, of course. (Murphy’s Law: what if you need to fly back at some point during the cruise?)

Skip Room Service

Room service on land is often associated with arm and a leg costs. Thankfully room service is mostly included (alcoholic beverages, sodas and packaged snacks are extra, check the room service menu for details.) For no more than the tip, you can enjoy breakfast (lunch, dinner, midnight snacks and mickey bars) in the comfort of your stateroom. All while still saving money on your cruise.

Ignore Major Holidays

You scheduled your cruise over Easter week, not because of school schedules but just as a coincidence and ended up paying twice the cost of the week before.

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Christmas décor is up for much of November through New Years. It’s much cheaper to enjoy the holiday cheer the first week of December rather than the week of Thanksgiving!

We just saved $1,600 bumping our cruise back by one week from Thanksgiving to the week after. We will still enjoy all of the Christmas décor and activities but without paying extra for the holidays.

Book your Cruise for this Summer

You want to book your vacation for this summer and you want to book it now. Basically we are in the dead zone for most of the summer dates. Last minute *GT rates haven’t come out (if they will) and due to tier pricing, the staterooms currently available are selling at rates several thousand dollars higher than when they initially went on sale sometime last year. Either get a good Disney authorized TA or devote some time (and persistence) to keep an eye out for the last minute deals which may appear in the 45-30 day range yourself.

Other options? Consider booking for summer of 2015. All of those dates were released last month and haven’t jumped much yet. Just think of how long that paper chain will be!

So in review:

1) Buy trip insurance, it’s worth it.
2) Palo is definitely worth it (and a steal) at $25.
3) Fly in the day before, your peace of mind is worth it.
4) Passports are worth it.
5) Room service (included!) is worth it.
6) Paying attention to the school calendars is worth it.
7) Patience (or persistence) is worth it.

Want to know how to actually save money on your cruise or what is already included in the cost of the cruise? You’re in luck, I already blogged on those!

4 Replies to “Top 7 Ways NOT to Save Money on a Cruise”

  1. Thank you for these tips! We are taking our first cruise in 15 years, and feel so clueless. SO FAR, according to your rules, we're in a good place. Terrific information!

  2. #2 and #3 are two things we will never not do or skimp on. At Palo, you're only paying 25 for a meal that would probably be well over 100 any place else. And also, having almost missed a cruise flying in the day of, we will never do that again. Better to be safe than sorry!

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