Cruise on a budget

One of the most common misconceptions about cruise holidays is that they are more expensive. But, just like any other type of holiday, they can be as affordable or expensive as you make them.

If you’d like to make the most of your holiday, but without breaking the bank, then read our top tips below for advice on saving money...


If you don’t have little ones, and aren’t tied to going on holiday during the school breaks, then we recommend you look for cruise deals at off peak times.

Off peak times are usually outside of school holidays, yet there are also other times that are also classified as ‘off peak’. Opting to cruise to destinations such as Mexico in the spring is thought to be out of season - simply because the weather may be a few degrees cooler.

However, don’t be put off. Cruising during spring (or even autumn), will still see plenty of sunshine - and another bonus is that the ports and cruise ships tend to be quieter over all.

Cruise liners will see a decrease in bookings during these times, and will be more likely to offer fantastic bargains and budget prices for the exact same cruise you’d pay hundreds more for in the peak season - so make the most of this opportunity!


If you do your research before you go on your cruise and take the time to decide what you’d like to see at each port, then you won’t need to spend money on excursions provided by the cruise liner.

Although they are likely to be fun voyages, excursion prices can add up incredibly quickly - especially if you have a large family with you.

With this in mind, we recommend you do your research and venture out alone - just make sure you’re back in plenty of time before the ship sets sail!


Choosing to cruise on an older ship doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise on quality, entertainment, facilities or the space available. However because demand is high to sail on the new ships, often the price is higher too.

If you find a cruise line which suits you, try comparing the prices of their newer ships with their older ships to see if you can find yourself a bargain.

There are exceptions to this rule however. The Carnival Vista is set to launch in 2016 and at the time of writing it has the most competitive prices in the market for Mediterranean cruises.


If you enjoy gambling, yet you want to save as much money as possible on your cruise, we recommend setting yourself a budget for hitting the casino. Your money can be better spent in other ways such as exploring the ports or finding the perfect souvenirs to remember your trip by.


Whilst your food is always included in your cruise, drinks aren’t. If you’re on a sea day, the cost of drinks can quickly add up, especially if you’re holidaying as a family. An all-inclusive deal enables you to get a package which also includes drinks, saving you potentially hundreds of pounds. If you’re interested in an all-inclusive offer, check our deals page for the latest available.


If an all-inclusive deal isn’t available for the dates you’d like to sail, then it’s worth considering adding a drinks package to your cruise. These represent excellent value for money and you’ll find that you will quickly get your money’s worth, even after just four drinks. With a drinks package you’ll also be free to relax in the knowledge that your drinks bill is taken care of, so you can say “yes” to that extra cocktail!


Here at Cruise Nation we specialise in providing low-cost cruise holiday packages which we refer to as Smart Packages. Our Smart Packages make planning a holiday simple and they ensure that you get the most out of your vacation. We tailor cruises by adding on flights from your selected airport and pre/post cruise stays so you get more time to explore. Often you’ll find that these packages are the same price as just a cruise, that’s because we believe in offering value for money and keeping our prices as low as possible for our customers.


Most cruise lines will automatically set up tipping for your bill when you check in. This might add a certain percentage each day or a final amount on your departure. However you can take these gratuities off of your bill by visiting reception to ask. The only cruise line where gratuities are compulsory is Costa Cruises who will automatically add 8 euros per person per day to your bill. Even if you’re not travelling on a Costa Cruise it is still worth considering a daily budget for tipping, this will ensure you don’t get carried away tipping as you go and you still have enough to thank your room steward or any other helpful employees at the end of your stay.


With cruises available all over the world, chances are good that the exchange rates will work out better in some destinations than others. It could be worth considering a cruise to a destination where the exchange rate is particularly good. This will save you money whilst in port if you decide to purchase anything. It’s also worth downloading walking tour apps to your phone for any of the ports you’re visiting. Again these will save you money on guided excursions.

We hope you found these tips for saving money on a cruise holiday useful. If you have tips of your own we’d love to hear them. Why not share them with us in the comments below?