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How to Save Money on a Cruise in 2024

how to save money on a cruise
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It’s no secret that cruises can be expensive! While it’s nearly impossible to accurately calculate the average cost of a cruise because there are so many variables (such as where the cruise starts, how long it lasts, how many stops it takes, and more), the average cruise can easily be over $1,000 per person for a week-long excursion.

As seasoned cruise travelers know, the cost of a cruise doesn’t stop at the registration. While most cruises claim to be all-inclusive and include your lodging and food, there are many, many expensive (or even budget-breaking!) activities, games, and shops aboard the cruise line. Without realizing it, a cruising budget can get out of hand quickly.

Whether this is your first cruise or your hundredth, you may be wondering how you can save a few dollars from the total cost of a cruise. Check out these fantastic tips from seasoned cruisers for saving money while enjoying your vacation on the high seas!

5 Biggest Expenses On a Cruise

  • 1. Food & Drink

    Do your best to stick to the meals and buffet included with your cruise ticket and avoid impulse purchases from cafes and restaurants that aren’t included in your package. It can be tempting to grab that extra latte from the cafe or try out that high-end restaurant, but many people find that the quality isn’t worth the massively inflated price of cruise dining. Many cruises actually allow you to attend some fine dining sit-down restaurants as part of your cruise package! This can be a luxurious break from the deliciously abundant buffet.

    Planning ahead by bringing a refillable water bottle and even some snack food for your cabin will save a ton of money throughout your cruise. Also, having snacks for your excursion and port days will prevent you from paying exorbitant tourist trap prices. Cruise ships tend to allow guests to bring a decently generous amount of luggage on board, so take advantage and stock up on the essentials!

    Food & Drink
  • 2. Activities & Gambling

    Part of the fun of a cruise experience is that daily activities are available for your enjoyment, like bingo nights, live performances, game shows, and so much more. However, be careful because some of these can be extremely expensive and aren’t included in the cost of your ticket. Look at the cruise itinerary at the beginning of the week and identify one or two paid activities to enjoy instead of impulsively attending too many. This can save money over participating in games and activities that can rack up quite the bill.

    Many popular cruise lines will have an entire floor or even multiple floors dedicated to casinos and gambling. However, many people believe that casinos on cruise ships often payout at lower rates than land-based casinos, making a risky activity even riskier. If you do plan to engage in some gambling, be sure to set a strict budget and don’t let yourself get pressured into spending past your limit. Also, never, ever expect to win and avoid continuing to gamble to recoup any financial losses. Casinos are often centrally located and take advantage of cruise downtime to lure unsuspecting guests into spending too much money–don’t do it!

    It’s often worth planning ahead and bringing games and activities for children, books to read, and other projects and hobbies to work on while on the water. There are lots of fun and included things to do, like swimming and children’s play areas, but cruise ship boredom is a known phenomenon (which can lead to extra spending).

    Activities & Gambling
  • 3. Excursions & Port Days

    Your experience saving money on a cruise while on your “port days” will vary wildly based on the location, but often cruises port in highly touristy areas or cities designed to accommodate large influxes of cruise visitors. Whether you’re enjoying Bermuda or Alaska, odds are, your port day can cost a pretty penny if you aren’t mindful.

    There are ways to save on port days. Of course, you could just stay on the cruise ship and not take advantage of the dedicated days on land, but what’s the fun in that? Many people specifically choose their cruises to see new and exciting places. Be sure to pack all your essentials for your port days and excursions before you even set sail to avoid spending a premium on inflated prices both on board and at your destination.

    Many cruises will offer their own excursions and day trip packages while at port, which can be convenient. However, in our experience, these can often be more expensive than just embarking on your own or even booking activities with websites like Get Your Guide. Do your research beforehand and schedule activities in advance when you know you’ll be at your port destination.

    Excursions & Port Days
  • 4. Shopping & Miscellaneous

    Don’t miss out on the fun of on-ship shopping experiences, but be sure to set yourself and your party a predetermined budget to ensure you stay on track. While some cruise ship shops may offer duty-free rates and discounted deals, it’s important to do your research and compare prices with land-based stores to avoid overspending. By setting a budget, you can enjoy the excitement of shopping without any regrets.

    Remember, vacations are all about relaxation and having fun, so don’t let high-pressure sales tactics dampen your experience. Take some time to unwind and enjoy the many activities and amenities available on board, but always keep your budget in mind. And when it comes to purchasing pricey pieces like jewelry, it may be best to wait until you’re back on land where you can carefully consider your options.

    Overall, with a little planning and self-control, you can enjoy the excitement of on-ship shopping without breaking the bank. So go ahead and treat yourself to a little retail therapy, knowing that you’re staying within your means and making the most of your well-deserved vacation!

    Shopping & Miscellaneous
  • 5. Onboard Wi-Fi

    Embrace the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy some tech-free time on your cruise! While onboard Wi-Fi can be costly and slow, it’s the perfect excuse to unplug and fully immerse yourself in the present moment.

    Instead of wasting money on expensive internet packages, take advantage of all the amazing experiences and activities that your cruise has to offer. From relaxing by the pool to trying new foods and exploring exciting ports of call, there’s so much to see and do that you won’t even miss being online.

    Plus, without the distractions of constant notifications and emails, you can truly unwind and enjoy a stress-free vacation. So leave your devices behind and get ready to make some unforgettable memories on your next cruise adventure!

    It’s best to plan to unplug or use your port days to check your email. Services like Netflix allow you to save movies for offline viewing on iPads and tablets, and you can use an Amazon Kindle to read books offline. Wi-Fi prices can be exorbitant and should be avoided for the frugal traveler.

    Onboard Wi-Fi


Cruising, in general, can be quite expensive. But it can also be remarkably relaxing and entertaining. Cruising is one of the most fascinating forms of travel, and because of its all-inclusive nature, there are so many fantastic ways to save money when all of your basic expenses are bought and paid for already! So sit back, relax, enjoy your family time, and luxuriate in the amazing experience.

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