How to Save Money on Your Dream Cruise Now

Cruising is expensive, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be at all. In fact, it can be the most economical way to travel for couples and families, even for multi-generational groups. We have taken numerous cruises now and just returned home from our most recent. Each cruise vacation I learn a little bit more.


You saved a lot of money for your cruise. Maybe you also had to save a fair chunk of the trip budget for air travel. That alone can be a budget killer, especially if you are Canadian as we are. Flights from Canada are expensive often. But there are many ways to save on your dream cruise.

On this particular recent Carnival cruise I returned home and was super impressed with myself. Why? Because this was the cruise I spent the least money on. We travelled on a smaller, older ship which was way more affordable than the newest in the fleet. And, we have figured out several simple ways to save money on a cruise. So I thought it was time to share that information.


Here are 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Dream Cruise:

  • Just Say No To On Board Excursions:

  •  Don’t buy on ship excursions. Oh to be sure we have done this in the past and enjoyed them. But, as a travel blogger I feel pretty confident directing my own schedule, exploring and finding fun affordable ways to build a great cruise vacation. So this time I didn’t book any of the cruise ship excursions. Instead we hopped off the ship at each port. In Nassau we shared a cab to Atlantis and paid for admission for the day. Then taxied back. That saved a minimum of $100. In Key West we went into the city and hopped a tour bus. Saved money there too.  dream_cruise
  • SKIP The Drink Packages

  • Say no to the cruise drink package. I like a celebratory drink and I enjoy a good bottle of wine with a well thought out meal (that I didn’t cook) but we simply do not ever drink enough to get out money’s worth out of the drink package. We have learned this one. On the first cruise we did we bought a drink package. I did the math and we didn’t get our money’s worth. Never again.
  • NO Need for POP packages

  • On that same note say no to the kid’s pop packages. There’s juice and milk and water available everywhere. That is healthier anyways. We paid for pop one night. The kid’s clubs often had soda pop and snacks so they got it there anyways.
  • NO EXTRA Meals – Say no to the extra restaurants.

  • There are more than enough options on board that are included in the price you paid to be there. No need to spring for the un-included restaurants. Literally you could eat almost all day and night somewhere without paying the extra fees for the premium restaurants. Unnecessary.

  • Skip the Extra Tips

  • Check your invoice every time you buy something extra at dinner, or at the bar. Tips probably already included on there so don’t double tip – unless of course the service was extraordinary.
  • One MODEST Wireless On Board Package

  • Go ahead and get one of the wireless on board packages for Internet. ONE. Just one. Do not buy them for everyone ever. Also you don’t need the premium. If you can get away with it don’t bother at all. But I need to check my emails on occasion. This time I got one slim package for $60 and I let the girls use it once or twice. One at a time is the rule and that saved money. Also it saved me extra worry about roaming fees.
  • No Extra TV or Movies:

  • Don’t indulge in the extra movies and shows on TV.  Stick to the shows that are included. All the little things add up and you don’t need a massive bill at the end of your dream cruise. Plus honestly you shouldn’t be in your room that much.
  • Skip the Pictures:

  • You know that photographer that follows you around? It’s their job to try and gather as many pictures as possible and then sell to you throughout the cruise. Pick a couple at most. There’s no real need to buy any of them. Your phone probably takes photos that are just as good or better. Trust me I have learned from this one. On our first cruise I couldn’t bear to leave any behind. BUT, where are they now? I still don’t have them framed. However I did use some of the ones from my own phone and had those turned into framed canvases that hang on my gallery wall. That makes me happy and so does saving money for my next dream cruise.
  • NO Signing Privileges for Kids:

  • DO NOT attach your credit card to your kid’s room keys. Do not give them signing privileges. TRUST ME. Nobody needs to pay for $50 of THE CLAW in the games room trying to win a MINION. There might be a story there. (WINKS) Only the adults get signing privileges on my dream cruise.

Cruising is one of my all time favourite family travel options. Why? It’s very affordable, when you do it properly. That means saving for your dream cruise and planning, then following some simple rules while there. Now I am not suggesting that you never take an on board excursion again. But there are dozens of ports where you will be just fine to do it on your own. Use good judgement always.


Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Monica

    I have actually never been on a cruise, but it is something I would like to do at some point. Love all of your great tips for saving money and have pinned it for future use!

  • Joely Smith

    Excellent tips! Thank you! I have only taken one cruise in my life and it was only a 4 day cruise. By the time I was feeling comfortable, had my sea legs and knew the lay of the ship it was nearly over! I want to take another cruise soon!

  • Jen

    This is perfect timing!! I am hoping to go on a cruise soon and I’m brand new to this experience so I have no clue what to expect!! These are great tips and good to know!

    • Paula

      They really don’t save you money unless you are a big partier. We can’t even begin to drink enough alochol to make it worth while. Thanks for the comment!

  • Ricci

    A cruise is at the top of my list of things to do. I can’t believe I am almost 35 and have never been on one! I will definitely use these tips when I finally get to go!!

  • Victoria Heckstall

    I have never been on a cruise but that is what I am dreaming of. Such a great guide to on how o save money on my dream cruise .

  • Claudia Krusch

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! I love to cruise, but they can be expensive. Last time we skipped pictures and my son didn’t; have charging privileges, so we didn’t spend much on board!

  • Cherri Megasko

    I’ve only been on one cruise, but there’s one of your tips that I follow for ALL travel I do or tours I take … Do not buy the photos! The prices some places charge for a single photo (or photo disk) is just not worth it (imo).