There is something magical about opening an email that says, “It’s 100 days till your embarkation.”
Yeppers, me and my co-author and travel buddy Alisha are taking another cruise! In this “Tips for Trips,” post, I would like to take a moment and share how I save up for big cruise trips! On our next trip, we will be heading south again and taking a bucket list cruise from San Diego to Florida via the Panama Canal. But folks ask me all the time, “Why do you like cruising?” “Isn’t that for ‘Old Folks’?” and most often, “How do you afford that?” Right: That’s me with Alisha and my Mum walking from the port to downtown Mazatlan.
Cruising is a Great Travel Value
Dollar for dollar, taking a cruise is a great way to stretch the travel budget. I’ve been on six cruises and I find it very easy to budget and plan for a cruise vacation. Cruising isn’t for everyone, but if you like the water, unpacking only once and yet enjoy waking up and exploring a new city each day, a cruise vacation might be right for you! Every cruise line is different with its own unique point of view and clientele. Some are adults only, others are geared for kids and families. There are mega ships with tons of things to do or smaller ships who’s ship-board vibe moves at a slower pace. If you like the idea of cruising, there is a probably a cruise line, ship, and vibe that is right for you.
Nidart – Shop Courtyard in Mazatlan, Mexico
Pre-Pay your cruise like a monthly bill
I’m living on a pretty tight budget, so I like to save a little each month towards travel. When I’m prepping for a cruise, it’s relatively easy to calculate the expenses. You know long in advance the fare, port fees, and daily gratuities. Once I have this total fee, I divide that by the number of months between me and when full payment is due. Then I “pay it like a bill” each month. Generally, cruise lines will ask for a deposit and set a due in full date. Paying it like a monthly bill means I’m not scrambling on the “due by” date to get the payment together.
Holland America Veendam – A smaller ship with an older crowd and delicious food.
Build a Travel Nest Egg and Make a budget
If this my cruise bill is less than my “monthly travel budget,” then I will slip the difference into my main travel savings. In the time between paying for the cruise, and the date of sail, I will put all of my travel funds into this savings to build a nest egg. From this nest egg, I will pre-buy essential excursions, products I need for the cruise, and for my daily budget. I like to set up a “sea day” budget and a “port day” budget. Depending on what I have saved up, I will plan my days.
Pre-planning and preparation make trips more affordable. Here’s the “Portable Pharmacy” that I take on every trip. Not having to buy essential products on the road saves tons of money. Read the blog post here.
Make Sea Days Free Days!
Sea days offer a lot of time to explore the ship and just hang out and relax. I frequently spend nothing on sea days, enjoying all the benefits the ship has to offer. This varies wildly from ship-to-ship, but always includes at least three different kinds of dining, multiple live-music venues, a show on the main stage, as well as lots of group activities like trivia contents, informative talks, cooking demos. I also enjoy doing easy-to-pack crafts I bring with me like coloring with pencils or watercolor painting with water pens or pencils in a small art journal. Of course, just lounging around, hitting a hot tub, reading a book, or making a puzzle are also ways to have fun on my own. Cruise itineraries with a higher proportion of sea days tend to be less expensive too!
Cruise ships sea days allow for plenty of time to just relax and unwind.
Sticker Shock? Consider the Daily Cost!
While this cost of a cruise might seem super-high, take your total cost and divide it by the number of days of the trip. This represents the daily cost of the cruise. Let’s imagine that a cruise costs $120 a day. What does this $120 a day fee include? It includes lodging, food, entertainment, and transportation. By comparison, my last trip to Las Vegas cost me $310 a day for food, lodging, and entertainment.
Cruising offers delicious food and views like these from Cabo San Lucas
Research and Planning
Thinking about taking a cruise vacation? I recommend spending time doing some research on all the parts and pieces of this style of travel. From cruise lines and their particular ships to possible ports and itineraries, there are so many many variables to consider when planning a cruise vacation. I’ve started a Pinterest board dedicated to this style of travel.
An investment in cruise research time will save you tons of money!
I also highly recommend picking up this affordable book by travel blogger/vlogger Gary Bembridge from TipsForTravellers.com. I really enjoy his practical advice, knowledge earned by doing, and his YouTube videos are fantastic.
If you would like to see some photos from some of my past cruise adventures check out this post. If you choose to buy any of the craft items or books I recommend in this post, I want to say thank you for using my Amazon affiliate links! For every purchase you make using these clickthrough links, I get a tiny commission that helps support the expenses of this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated! ~ Dawn Devine ~ Davina – September 4, 2018