The idea of taking a cruise might seem unattainable if you’re on a tight budget and have many expenses. However, it can become a reality with a little bit of planning and saving. Here, we’ll discuss some tips and tricks for fitting a dream cruise into your budget without taking a toll on your finances.
Create a cruise fund
The first step in planning your adventure is to create a cruise fund. The final amount required for your trip will be largely determined by research. Find out where you would like to go, the typical price for a cruise to this destination, and additional expenses that are not part of an all-inclusive package, as well as the cost of airfare and the location and size of the cabin.
Set a budget specifically for onboard spending, as all-inclusive cruises usually don’t include everything. Be mindful of costly extras that you might not use and pre-you’re your souvenir purchases ahead of time. Taking into consideration all of these variables will help you to obtain a ballpark figure of how much you will need for an unforgettable dream cruise.
After you finish researching the total cost of your trip, compare that number to how much time you have to save up before your target vacation date. Creating a timeline will enable you to establish a solid foundation to build a cruise fund wherein you can save gradually and meet your goal without affecting your lifestyle too much. You can save weekly, biweekly, or monthly, but the point is to contribute a predetermined amount and to do so on a fixed schedule in order to make it easier.
Developing a vacation fund can prove challenging for those who aren’t used to budgeting, and according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 60 percent of adults don’t keep a regular household budget. However, a vacation fund is a great way to get in the habit of saving, so it is beneficial to start sooner rather than later.
Use rewards programs strategically
If you are not enrolled in a frequent traveler program, it might be a good idea to do so. These programs allow participants to earn points for each trip taken and redeem them later for future trips. You can also consider using travel rewards credit cards that grant points based on your purchases, many of which offer bonus points within the first few months of opening an account. With some of these cards, points are worth more when used for travel bookings.
Additionally, you should determine whether you can obtain airline miles from your current credit cards or through membership in special clubs via airline websites. Saving up frequent flyer miles can significantly defray the cost of your vacation, particularly if you live further inland and will need to make a long commute in order to reach the point of departure. Many people do not live near the most popular cruise ports, which makes air travel a necessary part of most cruise vacations.
Conduct thorough research
Without conducting thorough research first, it can prove difficult to determine how much to budget for your dream cruise vacation. You can check out official tourism websites for your destination of choice, as well as online forums where travelers share good and bad experiences at that location. Not only can you find a lot of information online, you can also consult with a professional cruise planner.
Cruise industry insiders also recommend researching other expenses that some people might not consider when planning a cruise vacation, such as passport renewal fees, roaming and data charges through their cellular provider, and additional baggage fees. Additionally, you can look for tips on how to properly pack for onboard activities and offshore excursions.
Don’t forget to review the available entertainment options while aboard the ship and at your destination, as well. Many extras like onboard Broadway shows and various land excursions are not included in most cruise packages, so you’ll need to incorporate the ones that interest you into your cruise fund.
Work with a certified cruise planner
As previously mentioned, working with a certified cruise planner is one of the best ways to plan your dream cruise vacation. While the Internet is a useful tool, it can only do so much. Travel agents and cruise planners have a breadth of professional knowledge about various cruises, popular excursions, little-known fees, and ways to save more money on a trip. Furthermore, these professionals can work with you to create a vacation plan that fits your budget. In some cases, cruise planners also have access to special deals that are not available to the general public, so it’s a good idea to consult with one when trying to get the most for your money.