Although cruising is undoubtedly one of the best-value holidays you can choose, some of the extras you have to pay for on board can undoubtedly put a dent in your wallet. So if you’re hitting the high seas for your next holiday, how can you stretch your dollars during your cruise? If activities such as snorkelling are on your holiday to do list, bring your own gear to save the cost of hiring it. Also pack all essentials including sunscreen, toiletries, and over-the-counter medications as they can be expensive to buy on board. Some cruise lines will also allow guests to bring a small amount of wine on board to enjoy in their stateroom, as well as soft drinks and bottled water, so check with your cruise line before you travel. Many ships have self-service launderettes with washers, dryers, irons and ironing boards, and they provide washing powder free of charge or for a nominal fee. If you really don’t want to DIY, keep an eye out for laundry specials, often towards the end of a cruise, where you can fill a laundry bag for washing and drying only at a special rate. Drinks packages are increasingly popular among cruise guests, covering specialty coffees and teas, soft drinks, juices and alcohol, but do your sums to make sure you will get the full benefit, and read the fine print. Also check the daily ship’s guide for any happy hours, cocktail or drink of the day offers, and buckets of beer where you buy four and get the fifth bottle free.
When it comes to food, you can eat as much as you want for free in the main dining room, the buffet and usually at the pool grill if your ship has one. Some ships also offer complimentary room service, and basic drinks including filtered water, filter coffee, tea and lemon squash in unlimited amounts. If you want to try a for-a-fee restaurant, keep an eye out for special offers. They might include two-for-one dining on the last night, a free bottle of wine on embarkation night, going for lunch on a sea day when the cover charge is cheaper. If you want to stay connected, many cruise ship terminals have free Wi-Fi hotspots, or there will be an internet café nearby which will be considerably cheaper than onboard. If you need to call home, use an app such as Skype from a mobile or tablet. Most ships sell duty free goods, and hold special sales at various times during the cruise, usually on sea days, with the best bargains often on offer on the last day of the cruise. While most activities on board ships are free, yoga classes, wine-tasting events, and behind-the-scenes tours come with a fee. And finally many cruise lines automatically add a daily gratuity to your shipboard account, and bar bills often have an automatic 15 or 18 percent gratuity included, so resist tipping pressure, and if the gratuity line on the bill for something is blank, leave it that way as you’ll be tipping twice.