Budgeting for a cruise

Are you looking for a way to budget for your cruise vacation?  Today we will talk about the total cost of a cruise. Calculate how much you will need to save and figure out ways to save.

Budgeting for a cruise

First, we need to take into account the cost of a cruise. There are ways to save by sailing during off-peak times.  We do have an article about the cheapest times to cruise. Remember, typically, the whole amount is due 90 days before sailing, so keep that in mind when working on your budget.

The second highest cost will be air travel (and accommodations before and after the cruise). If you fly out and live far away from the airport, you may want to consider adding parking costs. Living in Iowa, I often travel to Chicago or Minneapolis to fly Internationally.  One way to save on parking is using Park and Fly promotions that many hotels in big cities offer.  Sometimes you will pay less for accommodation and parking than just paying for parking alone.

Another expense that you need to account for is Travel Insurance.  You can get this through the cruise line, buying it independently, or getting it as a benefit through your credit card.  I go more in-depth about those options in other articles.

I recommend flying in the day before your ship departure, so you will want to get either a hotel, Airbnb, or other accommodation. If you arrive a day or two before departure, renting a car might be a good option. Some car rental places have drop-off points near the port with a free shuttle.

Budgeting for a cruise

If you plan to drive to the port, you will need to find long-term parking for your car, which can be pricey. You may want to investigate other options near the port as they may offer Park and Cruise promotions as well.

The next expense is gratuities onboard the ship.  You typically are expected to pay around $14/per person/per day.  The values can vary depending on the cruise line and the type of cabin you have (Suite passengers pay more).  While there is sometimes a great debate about gratuities, the general rule is that you shouldn’t reduce this amount.  Many people who work on a cruise ship are from developing countries, and tips/gratuities make up a large amount of their pay.  These people work VERY hard to make sure you have a great cruise vacation.

One other expense item is the amount you will spend onboard. While cruise fare includes food, accommodation, and entertainment, alcoholic beverages and soda are not typically included.  If drinking soda or adult beverages is important, you can either buy a package or pay per drink individually. Packages range between $50-$90 per person per day and usually have to be purchased for all adults in the room (you have to buy this package for the duration of the cruise). This can drastically increase the cost of the cruise.  If this is not in your budget, there ways to save.  Many cruise lines allow you to bring a wine bottle (or two) on the embarkation day.  Also, adult beverages are typically cheaper in the ports of call.

The last item in the budget is the cost of post-cruise accommodation. If you are going on a European cruise or n a Caribbean cruise during the winter months (especially if you live in a colder climate), you may want to extend your vacation for a few days.  Make sure you account for the cost in your calculations.

You can view the budgeting calculator below.  For it to work you will need the following:

  1. Calculate fare
  2. Calculate airfare
  3. Calculate gratuities (average $15/person/day, so typically $210/per couple on a 7-day cruise)
  4. Calculate travel insurance
  5. Calculate accommodations
  6. Calculate cost of excursions (I would budget $50/person/port)
  7. Calculate parking and estimate transportation expenses

You can use the calculator below to estimate the amount you will need to save per month.  I hope you will find it helpful.