Many of you are probably planning your next Royal Caribbean cruise and we want to help you save money so your trip costs less. To help you get the most of out of your vacation dollars, here are 10 money-saving tips for your next Royal Caribbean cruise.
Regardless of your budget, it is never a bad idea to consider ways to save more money. For some of you, cutting spending may be the only way you can afford a Royal Caribbean cruise. For others, saving money might not be strictly necessary, but rather a way to fund that second (or seventh!) Royal Caribbean cruise of the year.
Here are some of our recommendations for saving money on your Royal Caribbean cruise. Not all of these tips may be relevant to everyone. We each value different aspects of our cruises differently, and what is unnecessary for some might be make or break for someone else. These are just possible ideas, not across the board recommendations for everyone. Cost-cutting is not a good idea when it’s at the expense of the fundamental experience–if you cut things that are important to you, don’t be surprised if the amount of fun you have is negatively impacted.
10. Credit cards
Personal fiscal responsibility aside, proper use of a credit card can definitely save you some money on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Royal Caribbean has its own branded Visa credit card, which allows guests to earn points that can be redeemed for onboard credit on future cruises (as well as other rewards too).
For each purchase made with the credit card, you can earn points that can be redeemed for onboard credit or even free cruises.
Of course, there are lots of other credit cards out there with various reward programs that can help offset the cost of your cruise. Credit card reward programs with cash back bonus are popular options.
9. Skip the drink package
Whether a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth the money is an age old debate (well, at least as old as the drink packages are). Yes, the drink packages can save you money if you can drink enough, but it assumes you can drink enough every day of your cruise to make money on it. Many guests who buy the drink package often report back with a phenomenon known as, "drink fatigue", where after a few days of drinking 5-6 drinks per day (or more), they start to feel they are drinking just for the sake of drinking to utilize their drink packages.
Even in today's age of drink package popularity, the truth is there are still plenty of drink specials around your ship that are worth considering.
Guests who skip the drink package can still save money on their drinks by taking advantage of drink specials found around the ship. This includes the drink of the day, bar specials, Crown and Anchor Society coupons, Diamond drinks and more.
If you are looking to save money, the question to ask here is, "how little could we spend on drinks and still have a food trip?" compared to the cost of the drink packages, not, "how much would the same amount of drinks we would get with a drink package cost if we paid for it out of pocket?".
8. Bring your own wine
Hot on the heels of the last tip, there is no question one of the best ways to save money on your cruise if you enjoy wine is to bring your own.
Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring their own bottles of wine onboard, up to two per stateroom.
In addition, Royal Caribbean rescinded the corkage fee to open bottles of wine a few years ago, so it is a great strategy for enjoying the wine you really like, without the markup.
7. Take advantage of Crown and Anchor discounts
Once you are at least a Gold member in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor society, you will receive automatic discounts that are pre-loaded onto your SeaPass card to be used on your cruise.
These discounts allow guests to save money off the regular cost of the services and products. Buy one, get one drinks, discounts on the spa, photo discounts are just a few of the usual discounts.
As you move up the Crown and Anchor Society ladder of levels, you will get better benefits that can really help bring down that bill at the end of your cruise.
6. Consider low-cost excursions
The ports of call your Royal Caribbean cruise ship visits is usually the highlight of any vacation, but excursions are notoriously expensive. There are, however, good alternatives to research that can offer a taste of the place you are visiting without breaking the bank.
Many Caribbean islands have inexpensive (if not free) beaches that may not be as impressive as some other beaches, but still offer a great beach day. This includes Junkanoo Beach in Nassau or Emerald Beach in St. Thomas. Both are much closer to where Royal Caribbean docks than the more famous beaches, but both offer a fun beach day for far less cost.
While not as culturally enriching as other excursions, there are usually places to go right in the port area where your ship docks. The Margaritaville in Falmouth offers a complimentary pool, the El Cid resort in Cozumel is next door to the port area and both offer inexpensive ways to spend your day.
5. Onboard discounts for specialty restaurants
There is no question that one easy way to bring down the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise is to spend less, but that does not mean skipping all the fun.
Specialty restaurants have become a deeply ingrained part of the Royal Caribbean cruise vacation and there are ways to enjoy them without paying full price.
If a restaurant is open for lunch, often the cover charge is less to dine then, compared to dinner.
In addition, look for specials offered throughout your cruise that will knock down the cover charge or offer a discount on your bill. Attending complimentary events, like guacamole making demonstrations, will often come with offers to dine at the featured restaurant for less than the normal cost.
4. Take advantage of available discounts
In addition to the national sales promotions Royal Caribbean offers, there are also regularly available discounts for guests who may qualify because of their profession, affiliation or connection.
These sorts of discounts include
- Active and retired members of the military
- Crown and Anchor Society members
- Royal Caribbean shareholders
- Senior Citizens
- Airline employees
- Firefighters and police officers
- Residents of certain states
Not all of these promotions are combinable with the highly advertised promotions, but it is important to be aware of them and to always consider them if they do apply.
3. Spend your money on shore
If you want to enjoy plenty of drinks, eat at fabulous restaurants and buy some souvenirs for the family without breaking your budget, consider spending your money on shore, rather than onboard.
Generally speaking, the cost of drinks, food and souvenirs will cost less on shore. Competition and even the cost of living can save a bundle compared to paying the prices for the same or similar products and services onboard.
If you are in the market for a massage, getting a massage on land can save a lot compared to the Vitality Spa. Drinks at local bars almost always come out cheaper (and in greater quantity) at port.
If you followed the earlier tip to skip the drink package, drinking at the ports of call you visit can be a great strategy to enjoy a few drinks for far less.
2. Cruise off-season
If you really want to bring down the cost of your cruise fare and save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, then you need to cruise when others do not want to.
Cruising at times of the year when school is in session and most folks are not looking to vacation is a great strategy for saving tons on your cruise. For cruises out of North America, these times include
- January (except New Years eve week)
- First two weeks of February
- Late August
- First two weeks of November
- First two weeks of December
Many of the other tips we shared in this post are centered around saving a money here and there, but this strategy is the one suggestion that will really rack up the savings.
1. Use a travel agent
When it comes to saving money and ensuring you are getting the best possible deal, we are big fans of travel agents.
Travel agents provide great service to folks looking to take a Royal Caribbean cruise, whether it is your first cruise or your 100th, travel agents exist to make your life simpler. They are keyed in on the latest promotions and they can be your best advocate for finding promotions that help you, not just the day you book but every day until final payment.
A good travel agent will be able to assist with the booking process, and give you every single permutation of pricing to figure out which itinerary, stateroom or promotion makes the most sense for you. I cannot count the time I have saved by having the travel agent jump through the proverbial hoops for me to figure out what is the best deal for my family.
The reality is you only stand to benefit from using a good travel agent, both in convenience and time saved.
Do you have any of your own “quick tips” for saving money on a Royal Caribbean vacation…or saving for a Royal Caribbean vacation? Disagree with any of our tips? Hearing from you is half the fun, so share your thoughts in the comments!