I have a couple of girlfriends who cruise twice a year, and they don’t skimp. My make-up artist Tasha and her husband love a mid-winter cruise. I had heard so many good things that I checked into taking the kids on a cruise once, but backed out when I added up all the extras. Here’s what I learned so you can save if you decide to take a floating holiday.
1. Book through an agent
While you can research to your heart’s delight online, the only way to be sure you’re getting the best deal – and any insider discounts – is to book through an agent who is experienced with cruises.
2. Plan ahead
Believe it or not, the top rooms on the top ships book up to two years in advance.
3. Book your flight separate from the cruise
If you can find a cheaper way to get to the port of departure, booking your flight separately works as long as your air hasn’t been bundled into the price of the cruise. Since liners have to book so far in advance, you might actually get a better deal if you DIY.
4. Know that “all-inclusive” isn’t always
While the basics are covered, there’s lots of stuff you have to pay for. Cruise dining tends to be a formal affair, so you may have to spring for some fancy duds. If you don’t want to factor in a new wardrobe, make sure your cruise allows for casual dining.
5. Don’t feel guilty about not tipping
There’s a gratuity fee built into your ticket price, so only tip if you get excellent service or really, really love your server.
6. Beware the excursion
Cruise lines make a fortune off guided tours in foreign countries. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, this is another place to DIY. Do some research online before you set sail and save your money.