Travel tips

Independent parking lots offer cheaper cruise parking

Driving to the port? That means you have to find somewhere to park your car while you’re gone. The cruise ports all have on-site parking, usually located within steps of the cruise ship. While it’s extremely convenient, you’ll pay for that convenience. Official port parking lots are always the priciest. Instead, look for off-port parking that can be as much as 50% cheaper.

It’s so much cheaper to drink in port

Want to know the cheapest place to drink on a cruise? It’s in port! If you want to get a good buzz going, check out the bars and restaurants in the area. Many of them not only have cheap drinks every day, but offer drink specials to entice cruisers to stop in. If you plan on drinking, get your fill in port and then walk back to the cruise ship that afternoon/evening. It’s a lot cheaper to pay $2-3 bucks for a beer in port compared to $6-8 on the ship. For more tips on drinking cheaper, read this article.

Cruise line transfers from the airport are a terrible deal

When you fly in for your cruise, you have to also arrange for transportation from the airport to the cruise port. We usually recommend a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. What we don’t recommend is taking the transfers offered by the cruise line. Cruise line transfers seem like a great idea — after all, if you’re getting a ride from the cruise company to the port, you know you won’t miss your ship. However, the cruise transfers only run on the day of the cruise. That means if you fly in a day early for your trip, you are out of luck. They are also expensive. For example, Carnival charges about $30 round trip per person to get you from the Miami airport to the Port of Miami — a 10-mile ride. Compare that to a taxi or Uber, which will charge you about $35 round trip for up to four passengers. Meanwhile, with a taxi or other transportation, you aren’t tied to the cruise shuttle’s schedule.

Cruise prices are the same on every website

Think you have to search site after site to get the best cruise deal? Think again. We’ve discovered that the cruise prices are actually the same across all websites. That’s not to say that prices won’t change (they will), but when a price moves, you’ll see it reflected everywhere. Just pick your favorite spot to search and stop worrying if another website has it cheaper. (Hint: Costco usually has great incentives.) Here’s a roundup of prices that we recently found:

There is free booze at the art auctions

If you want to snag a cheap glass of champagne, head down to the art auctions that are held on the ship. These auctions serve up flutes of the bubbly to set the mood and entice you to spend a little dough. While the art costs money, the booze is free.

You’ll pay for premium brands, but not generics

If you want that special gelato or the Starbucks coffee, then it will likely cost you a few bucks on the ship. What many people don’t realize, however, is that you can get the generic versions of these foods elsewhere on the ship (and sometimes even at the same location) for free. For instance, if your ship sells Starbucks for a fee, just ask if they have any free coffee. If they don’t at that location, they will point you to where you can get it for no charge.

Cheaper interior cabins mean more money for more cruises

Many people claim they couldn’t sail in anything other than a balcony room. But interior cabins can get you on the ship for hundreds — or even thousands — less than paying for a balcony room. Considering that many people are rarely in their cabin other than to sleep, it doesn’t make sense to pay a fortune for a room that you won’t use. Instead, you can sail a lot cheaper with an interior room… and potenti ally cruise a lot more!

Some cruise lines allow you to pay to skip lines

Stand in line to check-in. Stand in line to get off in port. Stand in line to talk to Guest Services. You may think that going on a cruise is just taken over by having to wait in line with other people. The cruise lines know this and some — namely, Carnival — offer special packages that allow you to skip many of the lines. Carnival’s Faster to the Fun package costs between $50-100 per trip for your entire cabin and lets you be among the first on the ship when you arrive, have a special line to speak with Guest Services, and much more. If you’re the sort of person who wants to spend more time on vacation and less time in line, then you’ll appreciate this deal.

Think twice before buying cruise insurance sold by the cruise line

While we think travel insurance is a good idea to give you peace of mind, think twice before buying the insurance that the cruise lines offer when you book your trip. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but third-party cruise insurance is often a much better deal. The insurance offered by the cruise lines typically has lower limits and is priced high from what we’ve found. It also often doesn’t offer as much protection as insurance offered by a third party. Be sure to check what is covered by any policy before buying.

American dollars are widely accepted in cruise ports

Don’t worry if you don’t have pesos, or any other local currency. In cruise ports American dollars are widely accepted (and often preferred). That’s a huge help for cruise passengers who don’t have to worry about having different currencies. Credit cards are also accepted in many places, but you definitely want to use cash for most transactions.