If you’re like just about everyone else these days, you’re looking for ways to save money. You don’t necessarily want to give up your vacation or stay at home for one of those pretend “stay-cations” though. Fortunately, there are still ways to take a trip somewhere exotic without breaking the bank. Believe it or not, a cruise can be a very affordable vacation… if you know how to do it! cruise booking

Save Money on Booking Your Cruise

You should never ever, ever pay the brochure price for a cruise. If you do your research, you can save a lot of money. My mom and I are about to take a 7-day cruise to Mexico, and we are paying less than $250 per person. That includes 7 nights of lodging on the ship, all our meals, and all sorts of free entertainment, in addition to the excitement of traveling to a warm climate and escaping our rainy Pacific Northwest winter. theprerollguys

There are two key times when you can save money when booking a cruise:

Book very early or book very late.

When a cruise is first scheduled (a year or more in advance), you can save money by booking right away. The cruise lines like to get cabins booked as soon as possible and reward those willing to sign up early.

You can also get awesome deals by booking “last minute” cruises, which is what my mom and I did. When the sailing date is only a month or so out, the prices start dropping a lot. Cruise lines don’t make any money off of empty cabins, so they will drop their prices drastically to get bodies in those rooms. After all, they know people are likely to spend on some extras during the cruise, so they can take the loss when it comes to accommodations. (Don’t worry-we’ll talk about those extras and which ones you might want to avoid to save money.) meridianshrooms

Save Money by Cruising Close to Home

If you’re lucky enough to live near a port where cruise ships depart, you can save a lot of money by avoiding airfare.

In the United States, lots of cruises leave out of the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area. These cruises typically swirl around the Caribbean Islands and the east side of Mexico and sometimes visit other countries on the east side of Central America.

Also, the San Diego/Los Angeles area features a lot of cruises to the Mexican Riviera (the Pacific Coast side of Mexico). slot gator

If you don’t live in California or Florida, you can still save money on airfare by picking the closer of the major ports. For instance, west coasters might want to take a Hawaii cruise leaving from Los Angeles while east coasters might want to do the Caribbean.

Save Money by Being Frugal on Board the Cruise Ship

You don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy on saving money booking your vacation only to run up the credit card onboard. Some of the extras that you will pay for on a cruise ship include alcoholic beverages, sodas (for frequent soda drinkers, save money by buying an unlimited soda card), shore excursions, “alternative restaurants,” and shopping at the onboard mall.

You probably want to enjoy some of the activities, but know that you can have a great time simply lounging by the pool, eating at the buffet or free restaurants, enjoying the onboard entertainment options, and going ashore to explore on your own instead of booking expensive shore excursions. universalblogs

Also, check the balance often on your room card (which is used like a charge card aboard the ship) to make sure you’re not spending more than you want to. It’s easy to lose track when you’re simply swiping to pay everywhere you go.

Okay, that’s it for my recommendations on saving money on a cruise vacation. Do some research on your own, and you’ll likely find that a cruise, even with extras, gives you a great vacation for your money. Remember that room, unlimited food, transportation to various ports, and entertainment are all included in the cruise price!