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Cruise Vacations on a Budget - Plan a Cheap Cruise

How to Plan a Cheap Cruise Vacation - Without Feeling Cheap

Without question, cruising offers the best value for your vacation dollar.  The all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation...fine dining, transportation, lodging, room service, non-alcoholic drinks, entertainment, etc. for one low price, makes it easier to stick to a budget. has some suggestions to keep your vacation spending in line:

Drive to your Port - Gone are the days when Florida was the only option to leave on a cruise vacation.  Today, cruises sail year round out of ports such as New York, NY  Baltimore, Maryland  Charleston, South Carolina  Mobile, Alabama Galveston, TX and San Diego, CA and many other cities.  Avoid the high cost of airfare, and the stress of lost luggage and flight delays.  Over the years, has come to find that driving in the day before your cruise and spending the night in a coastal city will make for a stress free boarding for your cruise vacation.  Carnival Cruise Lines estimates that 50% of Americans live within a 6 hours drive of a cruise vacation port.   Find Cruise Ports

Don't Pay for Parking - Most ports charge $15 per day for to park at the cruise on a 5 night cruise you will pay $90 for parking.  Instead, book a hotel that offers a free shuttle to the cruise ships.  These hotels will allow you to keep your car safely at their lot while you cruise...stay the night before your cruise and then park for free.  You can search hotels that offer "park and cruise" using the Orbitz link at the bottom of this page.  If you have a handicapped parking pass in your vehicle, most cruise terminals will offer you free premium parking.  Go to your ports website to confirm. Find Cruise Ports 

Don't Buy Drinks on the Ship - There are a few ways to accomplish this.  First, you could take a vacation from drinking.  If that is not your idea of a vacation, though...try to limit your drinking to the local bars in port where drinks will be less expensive.  Most ships will allow you to bring a reasonable amount of wine and champagne on board.  Make a Mamosa in your room by mixing orange juice (from room service) with champagne.  Pour a glass of wine and carry it with you to dinner.  To make a drink for shows or sunbathing.  ShipOuts has found that a small bottle or two of liquor in your checked bags will probably not be a problem...just don't go "overboard". 

Share a Room - Although staterooms are very small, most cruise lines now offer rooms that accommodate 4 or 5 guests.  These rooms are equipped with beds that fold down from the wall or ceiling, in addition to the normal floor beds.  Your steward will raise the beds in the morning and then bring them down for you in the evening.  This is a very economical way for a family of 3,4, or 5 to cruise.  It will be a little cramped, but on a cruise you will spend very little time in your room anyway. tip - Remember, on most cruise ships, you are also allowed to use the showers in the SPA for free...

Free Drinks on the Ship - Most itineraries will offer a Captains Cocktail party with free drinks.  Waitresses will bring around pre-made drinks, but in that same room, order whatever you like at the bar and it will also be free.  Attend the Art Auction where free champagne will be offered on most ships during your cruise vacation.

Pack Smart
- If you do, you will not need to purchase common items at inflated prices while at sea on your cruise.

Stay out of the Casino - Gaming laws allow cruise ships to offer the lowest payouts in any controlled gambling.  You have a smaller chance of winning in a cruise ship casino than anywhere in Vegas or Atlantic City.  If you must have the thrill of chance...go in for one of the daily bingo games. has paid for a cruise vacation or two with our bingo winnings.

Dine on the Ship
- Even when you are in a port, come back to the ship to eat a great lunch. has found that the dining on-board usually surpasses what is available in the islands anyway. 

OnBoard Shopping - Your ship will have a mini-mall.  There are some good deals to be found, but has found that most items will be discounted at the end of the cruise we window-shop at the beginning and then buy our items the last day of our cruise vacation when they are on sale.

Book your Cruise Online - has found the best cheap cruise vacation deals are always available online.  You will find the prices are equal or lower to anywhere else + you will receive free excursions, on-board credits, and room upgrades if you choose wisely.  This is also a great way to view prices, itineraries, reviews, pictures, etc. for all cruise vacations.   *See the Cruise Vacation Deals* Logo
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