The global pandemic brought many businesses to their knees, and the cruise industry was no exception. Almost overnight it seemed that cruising was put on hold, and the large shipping lines like Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, P&O and Princess Cruises had to virtually moth-ball their ships while they waited out the COVID storm.
But the long wait is over - cruising is back! So, if you’ve been dreaming of getting on board and enjoying a cruise for your next family break or romantic getaway, here’s how to make the most of it (and pay for it).
If there’s a golden rule of thumb for any travel, it’s to book early. Since cruise lines want to get back on track as fast as possible, many of them attract advanced planners with enticing offers, such as lower fares, value adds, and upgrades if you book well in advance.
Also, be on the lookout for free dining experiences, bar packages, shore trips, free amenities, or maybe even a cabin upgrade.
Pro tip: It pays to keep an eye out for the early bird specials, but cruise lines will also offer deals close to the sailing date if they aren’t full. While leaving it to the last minute can lead to disappointment, if your holiday options are flexible, you could just bag yourself a bargain.
Arrive at the port ahead of time
If you're flying to your cruise’s departure destination, it’s a good idea to get there at least a day before the cruise commences. Late or missed flights can turn your holiday dreams into a nightmare, and that ship isn’t going to wait for you if you’re not there come sailing time.
Likewise, if you’re driving to the port, plan to get there several hours before your scheduled boarding time. That way you can drop your bags and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or lunch at a nearby café before you board. And it’s worth noting that unless you’re travelling in a suite, you’ll have to board during the time slot allocated to you.
Check out offers once you’re on board
Once you board, check out any offers – you’ll be surprised how cheap it can be to upgrade your cabin or grab some value for money vouchers. For example, some cruise lines offer day spa and fitness class passes that let you enjoy multiple sessions for one flat fee. Don’t forget to check out the internet access offers as well.
Bring your own wine or champagne
If you like a tipple or two, it’s a good idea to invest in a drinks package, but did you know that many cruise lines allow you to bring a bottle or two of wine or champagne? The good stuff isn’t usually included in a drinks package and to buy it on board can set you back quite a bit. You may also be charged a small corkage fee, but most operators will only charge you if you bring it to the dining room.
So, if you want to enjoy your cruise with some sparkling bevvies, it’s best to bring your own. You can always borrow bubbly glasses from one of the ship’s bars or restaurants, bring them to your cabin, and celebrate to your heart’s delight. Check with your cruise line before you bring it on board though.
Plan your shore destinations
If you didn’t find a free or cheap shore excursion package when you booked your cruise, it’s best to plan your shore destinations before you board the cruise ship, so you can still make the most of your trip.
Going on a cruise is actually an excellent way to explore places without much commitment except to be back on the ship before it sails again. So, learn the ship’s itinerary and research the best locations to visit while you’re in port.
Enjoy your cruise!
Cruising isn’t for everyone, but it can be a jam-packed bundle of fun and excitement, and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. With our tips and tricks, we’re sure you will be able to afford and make the most of it. And don’t forget - if you need additional funds to make your dream cruise come true, we’re here to help. Just take a look at our cash loans to $5,000 to find out how quick and easy it is to get your hands on some extra funds. Once a loan is approved, the cash is usually in your bank account within a few hours – so you can start checking out the best cruise options for you today!