Cruising for less

Though many of us dream of someday taking a cruise, sometimes our wallets don’t stretch that wide. Luckily, MSNBC has brought us 13 tips to save money on your next cruise.

  1. Now’s the time to buy: We’re about to hit the cruising high season, so the best deals are available right now.
  2. Buy your own airfare: Though the all-inclusive deal may be tempting, you may get a better itinerary, fewer connections, and a smaller price tag if you book your own flight.
  3. Use a preferred agent: A travel agent who specializes in your preferred cruise line will be the best-connected, bringing up to a 20 percent discount.
  4. Use logic: Booking an inner cabin (no window) on the shoulder season will be your least expensive option. And keep in mind, you only spend nights in your room, so you don’t really need that window, do you?
  5. Buy some shares: Share holders get cabin discounts, so if you buy 100 shares of Carnival or Royal Caribbean, you’ll end up saving a bit.
  6. Don’t be shy: Ask for a discount. Military, AAA, student, senior, you name it. If you think you might qualify, it never hurts to ask.
  7. Private tours are great for groups: When traveling with a group (6+), a private tour on shore will probably cost you less than the generic individual tour.
  8. Cruise often: Frequent cruise travelers are often offered perks like room upgrades, priority dinner reservations, etc.
  9. Call yourself a VIP: Have your travel agent play you up, calling you a VIP. If the cruise line knows you’re a good customer, they’re likely to give you an upgrade.
  10. DIY: Instead of hopping on the bus that meets passengers at the docks, opt for your own transportation. It’s less crowded, less confusing, and often costs less.
  11. Buy a soda sticker: If you’re going to drink a lot of soda, buy the unlimited drink sticker and save a bundle.
  12. Bring your own booze: Bring your own wine to dinner and pay the uncorking fee – you’ll get better quality wine at a better price. If you like the hard stuff, fill up a water bottle and take it with you.
  13. Plan for your next cruise while you’re on this one: When you’re onboard, the cruise will offer special deals that you can’t get elsewhere. If you want to cruise again, take advantage now.