10 Insider Tips For Saving Money On A Cruise (That Actually Work)

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One of the best trips of my life was my first cruise vacation to Alaska with my mom. It was so amazing that I want to go on the same exact cruise again. 

Cruising to Alaska is expensive compared to cruising to the Bahamas. Wherever your cruise goes, save some mone with these tips below!

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1. Book a cruise through Ebates

When booking your cruise online, make sure to go through Ebates before making your final purchase.

Ebates is an easy to use website that you must use if you’re an online shopper.

It’s easy – all you have to do is find which store you want to shop online and click on the website through Ebates and you’ll get cash back from the purchase you made.

You can save on pretty much everything.

Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and tons of other popular stores are on Ebates.

Currently, you can get up to 8% cash back when booking a cruise through Ebates, which is an insane amount since cruises can be pretty costly!

Create an Ebates account here. Make an online purchase of $25 and get $10 as a welcome bonus! So easy.

Ebates even has a free browser extension that automatically applies the best coupons to your purchases and activates cash back. There are so many times I forget to use Ebates when I’m online shopping – so the Ebates button reminds me every time I go online shopping. It’s a must. 

2. Take advantage of free things to do

There are so many free things to do on cruises and at ports.

I had the most fun on this trip when I was doing something free.

Visit the local visitors center and find out what are the best free things to do in town.

When I visited the visitors center, I made sure to ask where the best hikes were.

There’s so much valuable information there!

Before you leave for your cruise, create your itinerary of things you want to do at each port.

Look up free things to do in the ports on Pinterest.

For example, I’d look up “free things to do in Juneau, Alaska.” So many free things came up!

3. Get a reliable telephone line

I did not once need to turn off my phone or put it on airplane mode, and it’s because I have T-Mobile.

Though I didn’t get service at sea, I always got service at ports and was able to check in with family back home now and then.

If you have T-Mobile, make sure to verify with them that you will be covered during your trip.

I didn’t have to pay anything extra to get coverage on my trip.

Even better, you get the same coverage in Canada and Mexico as you do in the U.S. So while I was on my cruise from Vancouver to Alaska, I got free coverage the entire time!

Make sure to arrive at your cruise embarkation port at least one day before your cruise leaves.

This makes sure you aren’t rushed or late for your cruise.

To save money, I recommend using Airbnb, which is what we used before we left for Alaska.

This link will even give you $40 off your first Airbnb booking! 

4. Book during low season

Cruising during the peak tourist season is going to add hundreds to thousands to your cruise vacation.

To beat this, make sure you figure out when your destination is having its low season.

For example, the peak season for Alaskan cruises is June through August, which means it’s best to book in April or late fall.

SmarterTravel has a great article on when to cruise and how to save.

To save up for your cruise, I recommend using YNAB (You Need A Budget), which will give every dollar you make a specific job and category, so you never waste your money on things you don’t need.

5. Bring wine on board

Alcohol can get pretty expensive on a cruise.

Luckily, you’re able to bring a wine bottle of your own on your cruise.

Make sure to check rules and regulations about bringing alcohol on board since every cruise line is different.

When shopping for wine, groceries, and other travel needs, use Ibotta to get cash back off your purchase.

I’m not a fan of coupons, but Ibotta makes it so easy to save, so it’s silly not to use it.

The app is user-friendly, and it’s fun to see what items are listed for cash back. I’ve seen all kinds of things on Ibotta, such as groceries (that’s what it’s mostly known for), makeup, hygienic items, household necessities, and so much more.

You get $10 here just for signing up through my link.

If you’re downloading Ibotta on your phone, the app will ask if you have a referral code. Use my referral code: lwyxxrb and you’ll get $10 for signing up.

6. Book straight with a travel agency for shore excursions

When booking shore excursions, book straight with a travel agency.

You will save hundreds of dollars doing this because the cruise lines tack on extra fees for selling them on board.

Before you depart for your cruise, look up which excursions you want to do and book online through the travel agency’s website.

Or you can wait until you get to the port, where many travel agencies and adventure tours will be waiting to help you.

However, if you like to stay on the safe side, booking straight with the cruise means if the tour is late to get back to the cruise, the cruise will wait for you to come back. (This is how it was with Princess Cruises at least).

P.S. Sign up below for the free ultimate budget planner that includes printables like: debt tracker, income tracker, annual budget summary, savings challenges, financial goals, and debt thermometers!

7. Rebook with the same cruise line

Rebooking with the same cruise line can save you hundreds of dollars per person.

Cruises love loyal guests and will reward them for coming back, so take advantage of this.

Tip: Use Honey, a free money-saving service that connects to your internet browser for free. Honey tells you when a particular product is decreasing in price, on sale, AND it even finds all coupons online to give you the best coupon.

8. Book a repositioning cruise

A repositioning cruise is a cruise that has a different disembarkation port than the original embarkation port.

Cruises need to reposition because of season change, which means the cruises need to go to a different location.

For example, cruises in Alaska only run from May-September roughly, so when this season is over, the cruises will be repositioning somewhere else, possibly to Australia.

However, I know of people who still have a great time on these cruises, and they save hundreds if not thousands in the process.

9. Find a special occasion

When you book your cruise, tell your travel agent that you are celebrating something.

It could be a birthday, graduation, honeymoon, retirement, etc.

Doing this will give you special discounts and deals on spa packages and more.

You will also get special treats and surprises for your special occasion.

It doesn’t even need to be an event taking place during the cruise.

For example, my travel agent wrote that I was celebrating my birthday, even though I went on the cruise one month after my birthday.

10. Don’t book your spa appointment until a few days after embarkation day

It may seem tempting to book a spa appointment on the first day at sea. However, spa prices will be at full price during the first few days on the cruise.

During the last half part of the cruise, you will almost certainly receive a paper stating that spa packages are up to 25% off, which can become an estimated savings of roughly $50.

If you want to save even more money on spa packages, make sure to book your appointment on a day that the cruise is at the port.

You will save money because the cruise expects mostly everyone to not be on the ship, so the spa will be dead, resulting in less money for them.

If you haven’t been on a cruise yet, I highly encourage you to go at least once! I honestly thought I wouldn’t have a good time.

I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, so I’m glad I tried it out myself!

P.S. You must get a balcony.

It is worth it for the extra cost because there will be times when you want to hang out in your own space.

There’s nothing like drinking a glass of wine on a balcony overlooking snowcapped mountains at sea.

➡️ What to read next: 30 Ways To Cut Your Spending And Save Thousands Per Year

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Have you ever been on a cruise? Where did you go? 

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Janet

    I love this post! Doing an Alaskan cruise has been on my bucket list for a while!
    I did one cruise in the Caribbean and another in the Mediterranean. Both were splendid. When we were in the Caribbean, we didn’t book any excursions and just hired a tour guide when we got to shore. We ended up saving a lot of money that way. During our Mediterranean cruise we booked everything on board and it ended up costing us a couple hundred dollars more. Next time we will definitely wait and not book everything at the beginning.

    1. Alexis

      It was so much fun! I definitely recommend visiting Alaska via cruise. We got to visit cities that people cannot drive to and can only be visited by plane or boat, which was really cool!

  2. Ilana

    Hi Alexis,

    Great points about saving money while cruising. We often book a Future Cruise Deposit while on-board, and book the cruise once we’re home and can take time to choose. But it’s fabulous as we usually get about 100$ or more from the cruise line as an onboard credit on our next cruise.Totally worth it!

    1. Alexis

      That’s really smart!

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