Cruising on a budget – a luxury and value for money vacation

At the beginning of the 1990s cruising exploded into one of the fastest growing industries in the travel world. As cruise lines ordered new and refitted old ships, the cruising on a budget option was suddenly giving the luxury of cruising as a viable, value for money vacation. And it just keeps on getting better.

But with the onset of Covid-19 everything stopped in its tracks.

However, very slowly, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel – we can afford to be hopeful again.

And the cruise liners are learning their lessons from Covid-19. Now they are thinking safer as well as bigger, better and more luxurious.

Refit, reposition, rethink – and make safer

Since then new cruise ships have been built at an astonishing rate. Old ships have been refitted, renamed and repositioned. Itineraries have been developed, tested and perfected. Services on board get better and better each year. Modern has replaced traditional. And with new technology has come an impressive array of digital developments for smarter cruising.

Everything from touch-screens, online check ins and app downloads. And in light of the challenges of 2020 and 2021, cruise lines are scrambling to develop non-touch everything, and rather than space-savers they are creating space enhancers.

Both they and we are learning how to keep apart, whilst still together. All in the name of staying healthy.

These new, on board technologies are here to stay. Non-touch and social-distancing cruising will become our new normal. It really isn’t about saying “I’ll book a new cruise when things return to normal”. It’s about booking a new cruise vacation now and accepting the new normal.

Cruising on a budget can be a luxury as well as a
value-for-money vacation

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fantastic value for money that cruising offers to couples, families and groups alike.

Compared to other holiday options such as booking a rental car, staying in hotels and eating at restaurants each evening, cruising has become the number one best value-for-money vacation of our time.

Paying an all-inclusive price and being able to book with a small deposit and complete payment a month before you sail, means that you can plan in advance and save smartly for that dream vacation you’ve been waiting for. And paying up front for all your cruising costs means no unwelcome surprises once you are on board and trying to stick to your budget.

A luxury cruise vacation that also makes sense for your pocket!

The total cost for all elements of your vacation are packaged into one fare. When you book, you can include as much or as little as you want in your cruise package. When cruising on a budget you have complete control over how much your booking will cost you. Your base fare will be your cruise, your entertainment, all your meals and snacks, some drinks and service gratuities.

You can also opt to include an airfare if you need to fly to and from the port, hotel if you want to book pre or post cruise hotel nights, a beverage package which often offers great value for money, guided excursions and an internet package if this isn’t already included.

All this means that you have control over what you want to include and minimizes the risk of over-spending.

Planning cruising on a budget – less stress, save time

Part of the fun of booking a holiday is in the planning. But we all know this takes time and perhaps you don’t feel you can allocate a lot of time to creating your dream vacation. Knowing your cruise includes your transport, food and entertainment, you can focus on choosing your ship, your cabin and your itinerary. This is the fun part.

Discounts and reward programs to help your cruising on a budget

Most major cruise companies offer loyalty programs. Signing up for membership is free of charge. You get a membership number that you use every time you book your cruise to enable you to get the perks on offer. If you have been a loyal member of a specific cruise line for many years and decide to try a different cruise line, be sure to ask for the same level entry into their loyalty program.

The cruise lines are so eager for your booking that if you can prove for example that you are a gold member of MSC Cruises lines and want to switch to a cruise with Royal Caribbean, then you ask for a new membership with Royal at the same entry level. Your level of membership is dependent on how many cruises you have been on. So register when you make your very first booking!

Perks from loyalty programs include discounts of any future cruise you book, onboard credits to spend whilst onboard the ship such as in gift stores or booking excursions. You may also get freebies such as a bottle of champagne waiting for you in your cabin upon boarding, or special discounts on specialty restaurants onboard.

Here are the best loyalty program to ask about:

Eat what you like, when you like

You have heard many say that cruising is a sure way to pile on the pounds while on vacation. Well, it’s true to a point.

When cruising on a budget, what’s not to love that you have access to an array of food almost around the clock? But at the same time you also have access to fantastic activities and a fully equipped gym at no extra cost onboard. So our advice is to use these facilities so you don’t have to watch what you eat! 30 minutes of the treadmill, yoga or some swimming laps before breakfast is a fantastic way to start your day. Think peace, mindfulness and a killer view over the ocean. You not only will stay physically in shape you will also relax your mind.

Now you can head for the breakfast buffet.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered in the formal dining rooms during set hours each day. In addition, the buffet restaurants are open all day, every day. And then there are the many small eateries onboard for light snacks that are also included in the price of your cruise for a real value for money vacation. There is so much choice that you will never be far from a bite to each, at any time of day.

Cruising on a budget? Activities are included

Many are, some aren’t. For example if you want to ride the North Star observation pod onboard Royals Quantum class ships this will be an extra cost. But a perfect way to use your onboard credits!

But for the most part you will be able to keep up the fun with activities that are included in the price of your cruise. That is a fully equipped gym, water gym classes, quiz nights, nightclubs, theatre shows, casino entrance and so on. It’s all included. A great night out, every night, all included in the price you have already paid.

How great is that?

Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..