There’s no such thing as a free lunch and this applies to cruising as much as anywhere else. Unless you go all-inclusive, cruise lines will find ways to part you from your money. There are, however, ways for the canny cruiser to pay less and get more.
Be in it to win it
Embarkation day is a great time to take advantage of offers like bingo promotions, spa ‘orientations’, on which you can usually enter for a prize draw, and gaming lessons in the casino, which often come with a coupon for a few free goes. Look out for prize draws in the beauty shops, too. While you’re there, why not have a free spritz of a new perfume?
Stake out the spa
Don’t book spa treatments as soon as you board. If you’re flexible, wait until the offers start appearing, usually on port days when everybody has gone ashore and the spa is quiet. Then, check your daily programme and take your pick of some tasty discounts.
If you enjoy free fizz (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) and really don’t want to pay, there are occasions where it’s on the house. The Captain’s cocktail party, for example. If you can bear the sales patter and the generally uninspiring art, the art auctions on board usually entice passengers with a glass or two (although don’t expect Dom Perignon), in the hope that the mildly inebriated are more likely to buy.
Don’t waste money on wifi
You almost always find free wifi in port, so don’t shell out for the ship’s internet, which is, generally a) expensive and b) slow. If in doubt, follow a crewmember with a laptop as you disembark; they Skype friends and family back home in port and know where the cheapest service is. In some ports, like Amsterdam, you can even pick up the free terminal wifi if you stand on deck.
Get it elsewhere
Some big ships have a cunning habit of selling things in one outlet that are often free elsewhere. Think about it. Do you really need to pay for a muffin with your ‘speciality coffee’ when there’s a mountain of them on the breakfast buffet? Do you really need the posh afternoon tea, when you may be charged a fee for the privilege of a string quartet and a waiter in white gloves? Afternoon tea appears on the buffet, every day, and like the muffins, is free. Just in a less dainty setting.
Exercise for nothing
Classes like yoga, spinning and Zumba come with a price tag. But why pay? Line dancing and salsa classes are usually free (check the daily programme), fun and will work off some of the calories otherwise spent on Zumba. Use the free exercise bikes in the gym rather than paying for spinning. Or just run up and down the stairs rather than using the lifts.
Look out for the cocktail of the day, which is usually on offer, or two-for-one deals in Happy Hour. Check out the drinks packages, too; sometimes, you can end up saving money. There’s often a last minute discount if you book it on board, as well.
Borrow a book
Save money on holiday reading by visiting the ship’s library on the first day and borrowing some books at no charge. Several ships have superb libraries, particularly those of Cunard, P&O Cruises, Saga and Celebrity Cruises.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: dpotera, nathanmac87 and Iglu Cruise.