Cruises are a fantastic way to see a number of places quickly and affordably. You meet new people, eat, drink, party, and see the world. But the bill can run up quickly on a cruise. And one key way that the tab gets higher is when people head ashore for shore excursions. So how do you see the best of the island/country/destination without breaking the bank? Check out these tips on how to save money on cruise excursions.
Resort Day Passes
If you just want to enjoy a nice day on the drinks with some food, some libations, some sun and some sand, perhaps you can forgo the expensive cruise excursion to the beach and come up with your own option. One such way to do that is via a resort day pass. Some resorts will cater to docking cruise ships, offering day passes that will allow ship passengers to enjoy the facilities, pool, restaurants, and beach lounge chairs. This may end up being much cheaper than a pricey excursion that gives you a beach chair and a ride.
Buy the Same Tour…Just Not Through the Ship
Cruise ship excursions are the same excursions you can find on tour websites like Viator and other tour websites. First, scout out all of the tour offerings through the cruise website that you may be interested in and list out the names of the tours and stops. Then head on over to a tour or cruise excursion website and comparison shop. You will see that most of the tours will either be identical or very similar with a smaller price tag. But do note that if your tour is late getting back to the port, you are in trouble. Cruises will typically only hold the ship if their own excursions booked through them are late, so bear that in mind.
Find a Local Tour Guide at Port
On the last cruise I went to, we had some success in this. When we were visiting Barbados, we found out the top attractions, including the Mount Gay Rum Distillery and a popular local restaurant, and found a tour guide to take us on the same tour. We saved well over 50% of the price of the tour, had the same rum tasting, and chilled on the same beach as other guests from the cruise. It was perfect. The key is to go with your gut and try to find someone who is trusted and/or appears trustworthy before taking off. We also got recommendations from our server on the boat as to where to go and what to ask for when we reached the port. And don’t forget to have cash to pay.
Form a Group for Discounts
This is a great technique for cutting down costs. If you befriend others on the tour or you are traveling with a large group, trying setting up a tour with a tour guide with a huge van. They will often give you a discounted rate since there are a large number of people and they want the business. We happened to be looking for a tour at the same time another couple was in St. Lucia so we paired up. We ended up on an extensive tour of the entire island. And in fact, an official tour from the cruise ship was at the same stops the same time we were; we were pacing each other. Again, try as best you can to make sure that you are with someone trustworthy before taking off.
Save on the Spa
Here is one last tip for saving on excursions and on-board activities. If spas are you game, be sure to check into rates on spa services on days that the ship is at port. Cruises often offer discounts on days when people are checking out the stops to entice people to book treatments. This can easily save you 10-20% on your bill.
So those are a few tips on how to save money on cruise excursions. How do you save money on your shore activities.
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Great tip on the spa! I’m always down for a massage but often get deterred because of the expensive cost.
Donna Shana says
Great tips. My family usually takes a cruise for our family reunions every couple of years and we need to stop buying tours through the cruise. Good one!!
I have actually never been on a cruise so I will have to keep this in mind for whenever I actually make it on one.
Camesha | Mama Motivator says
Well this is right on time! We were just talking to our friends about doing a couples cruise!
Perfect timing! I have done a couple and they were great. Great way to see a bunch of places in a short time period!
these are great tips. I have yet to go on a cruise. I love Viator. There are always free walking tours available in any city. Or you can walk around and explore on your own if you’re adventreous. lol
T. Espinoza says
Cruises are definitely my vacation of choice. I love the fact that I don’t have to think about anything and that there’s food, food everywhere LOL
T, I do love that there is copious food and the transport between stops is covered.
Great info! Makes sense to get a spa treatment while everyone is out exploring
I think going as a group is a great tip. Plus, you’re sure to have a ton of fun if you’re going with friends.
Mimi "MimiCuteLips" Green says
Great tips, I know a lot of folks who find a trusting local and tour that way. Most of the time that is better than the fancy organized tour.
These are great tips! I’m thinking about going on a cruise. This was very helpful.
Valerie Robinson says
I wish my husband were more open to the idea of a cruise. He is terrified of being out on the water. May have to go without him lol. Great tips and will keep in mind in case I ever go on one.
Great Advice!! We have been looking into taking our first cruise as a family and these will definitely come in handy for keeping us on budget…
Depending on the country you are visiting, you may be able to save even more money on spa treatments by finding a luxury spa on shore. For example, Pelican Eyes Resort & Spa here in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua offers massages at around half the price of the spas onboard the ships that visit the port – and it is one of the most luxurious hotels in the country!
Noel Gaines says
Great tips for people looking to save some coin while cruising! As a Travel Agent and avid cruiser, I can also add a money-saving tip on alcohol. Never purchase wine by the glass, buy a bottle! You can have it delivered to your stateroom or to another bar. Also most cruise lines let you bring a bottle of wine per person onto the ship!
making cruises in Italy you can visit exceptional art cities such as Florence, Venice, Pisa and many other beautiful places.