After our recent cruise with the entire family, our oldest daughter decided she wants to take a cruise to Alaska for her 24th birthday in 2018. Of course her biggest concern is how to do this without turning her wallet inside out. I decided to compile a list of the best ways to save and book an adventure of a lifetime! With these 7 recommendations, every single person reading this can go on a cruise within 2 years.
- Set your goal: My best tip is to figure out exactly how much you need/want to save. Do a mock booking on your dream cruise to give yourself a dollar goal. If it’s your first cruise, this will also allow you to sign up for cruise line newsletters. All lines send out deal emails which will give you a heads up of an upcoming “money saving deal”. (I personally LOVE Carnival’s $50 deposit sale when it’s available) Also, while doing the mock booking choose your needs wisely. Do you really need that suite? How often are you truly going to use the balcony? Booking an inside room can dramatically cut down that final price tag.
- Choose a cruise port you can drive to that will eliminate the need for flights.We only spent $112 to park near the port on our last 7 day cruise.
- If you do have to fly, book on a Tuesday! Historically airfare is almost always cheaper this day of the week.
- Start putting the dollars away: Now you have your price, and you want to book the trip but feel overwhelmed with that big number? Saving small amounts daily, weekly, and monthly will mentally change your thought process and give you the motivation to put those pennies in a jar. Cruise fever recently released a 52 week challenge that starts by saving $1 the first week and increasing by $1 every week for a year. If your anything like me and love checklists then print out the challenge and check each week off as you go! You can find that here.
- My additional recommendation for the 52 week challenge- I suggest actually reversing it. Right now it’s the first of the year and you are feeling motivated. By starting with $52 a week and decreasing by $1 per week you end the year with the same amount, but you also know for the month of December you only have to save $10!
- Book EARLY: For our daughter, she has 18 months from now until sail date. 18 months away means that she has roughly 15 months to book and pay it off. Many lines offer perks if you book this far ahead of time. I told her to plan about $2,000 for the trip. 15 months to pay it off means she only has to save $134 a month! That $2,000 total doesn’t seem so bad now.
- If she follows my advice on reversing the weekly challenge, she would have enough saved to book the cruise in just 5 weeks!
- Pay it off a little at a time: As you start accumulating those pennies, set a goal of $25 or $50 and put it towards the cruise when you get there. This way you don’t stare at that jar full of shiny coins and be tempted to use it on something else. Added bonus, you see that “total amount due” number start dropping!
- Watch closely for price drops: For every cruise I have booked I check twice a week for price changes. You can check this by doing a mock booking for your exact room for your sail date and if the total amount due is less than what you will pay, you can contact the cruise line and request a fare change (or on board credit). Most lines will take care of this very easily, but the customer HAS to request it!
- Make use of the gift cards: This is one hidden gem that many people I speak with do not even know about! Verizon, AARP and many chain stores have cruise line gift cards for sale. I personally choose to use my Verizon smart rewards and purchase the gift cards whenever they are available! These gift cards can be purchased at a 10% discount so realistically you can save %10 off your entire cruise! Now my daughters $2,000 cruise is really only $1,800. Plus these gift cards can be used for anything on board as well. Hello drink package!
- Sign up for online rewards: Did you know there are websites that will give you money for basically doing nothing? There are many online reward programs such as inbox dollars and swagbucks that do just that. There are tons of options out there but these two are my favorite! Inbox dollars sends you .02 for every email you confirm you received. When you reach $30 you can submit a check request. It might seem like it would take forever to add up but if you think about it, it takes less than 3 seconds of your time, and you will be surprised how fast it accumulates. Swagbucks offers cash back when you shop online through hundreds of websites like Staples and Old Navy.
If you follow these steps, you can finally go on that vacation you have been dreaming about. I can’t tell you how many people comment on the fact that my husband and I choose to cruise as often as we do. The reason we can do this is that we have made the choice to put traveling, relaxation, and reconnecting at the top of our list. Then collectively we make an effort to not purchase things we can do without. (This is the exact reason my oven door has been held together with a bungee cord for the past year…. Seriously.)
Thanks for reading and happy cruising!