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Genuine curiosity of your lifestyle

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I've been on this board for several months now after I booked (and officially paid in full) my very first cruise! Sailing in Jan,2020 on Symphony of the Seas OVC.

After interacting and receiving so many positive feedback/advice/suggestions from this blog I'm already addicted to cruising before it even started.

I see A LOT of fellow experienced cruiser with so many cruises under their belt and some with 20+ cruises already lined up for the future. (Back to back cruises as well)

I want to also be part of the cruising lifestyle and was curious if there is a better way or something i'm missing in order to afford so many cruises.

The question (I apologize ahead of time if it's too personal):

Fellow cruisers who have sailed countless of times and have even more cruises booked ahead in the future, how do you afford it?

How did you manage to take time off from work?

Are most retired therefore enjoying their life on cruises?

Is there bulk booking for a significant discount or something similar I'm not aware of?

Any tips and advice to integrate cruising as part of a lifestyle when it comes to finance?

Sorry if this is too personal, I'm just extremely curious and eager to follow the same lifestyle.

Thank you in advance!

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Just now, TJ! said:

I've been on this board for several months now after I booked (and officially paid in full) my very first cruise! Sailing in Jan,2020 on Symphony of the Seas OVC.

After interacting and receiving so many positive feedback/advice/suggestions from this blog I'm already addicted to cruising before it even started.

I see A LOT of fellow experience cruiser with so many cruises under their belt and some with 20+ cruises already lined up for the future. (Back to back cruises as well)

I want to also be part of the cruising lifestyle and was curious if there is a better way or something i'm missing in order to afford so many cruises.

The question (I apologize ahead of time if it's too personal):

Fellow cruisers who have sailed countless of times and have even more cruises booked ahead in the future, how do you afford it?

How did you manage to take time off from work?

Are most retired therefore enjoying their life on cruises?

Is there bulk booking for a significant discount or something similar I'm not aware of?

Any tips and advice to integrate cruising as part of a lifestyle when it comes to finance?

Sorry if this is too personal, I'm just extremely curious and eager to follow the same lifestyle.

Thank you in advance!

We are retired and take about 14 days worth of cruises each year, so two 7-day or one longer cruise.  For awhile I was a reemployed annuitant so my extra salary paid for the cruising as well as my son's college tuition.  When I worked, I could schedule two weeks' worth of vacation without difficulty.  If we lived in Florida, we would take several cruises each year because the cost per day is less than a "resort" vacation.  We save $$ by booking in advance, using our Crown & Anchor status to get discounts, and virtually eliminate alcohol purchases by using Diamond Lounge or happy hour coupons.  We avoid expensive suites and leverage "free" stuff on the ship.  I don't know if we are typical or not, but we have definitely decided that we prefer cruise vacations to driving long distances or flying long distances.  We find that we can purchase an outside view room for about $100/person/day (about $700 for 7 night cruise) when we book in advance at the ports that are convenient to us.  We have paid 20-30% more for balcony rooms or for special family vacations, but that is our guide.  When it is outrageous -- slay $200/day/person, we avoid that particular cruise.  Some ports/itineraries always run higher.  For example, the Med isn't discounted much, and Southampton is more expensive than other European ports.  We avoid peak season.  Matt has videos which discuss getting the most out of your vacation $$, whether drink packages, itineraries, or port selections.  Whatever you choose, remember it's about you and what you want out of life.  We enjoy meeting other people and experiencing other cultures as opposed to getting inebriated and acting silly.  But I admit to doing that in my younger days.....

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1 minute ago, ChessE4 said:

We are retired and take about 14 days worth of cruises each year, so two 7-day or one longer cruise.  For awhile I was a reemployed annuitant so my extra salary paid for the cruising as well as my son's college tuition.  When I worked, I could schedule two weeks' worth of vacation without difficulty.  If we lived in Florida, we would take several cruises each year because the cost per day is less than a "resort" vacation.  We save $$ by booking in advance, using our Crown & Anchor status to get discounts, and virtually eliminate alcohol purchases by using Diamond Lounge or happy hour coupons.  We avoid expensive suites and leverage "free" stuff on the ship.  I don't know if we are typical or not, but we have definitely decided that we prefer cruise vacations to driving long distances or flying long distances.  We find that we can purchase an outside view room for about $100/person/day (about $700 for 7 night cruise) when we book in advance at the ports that are convenient to us.  We have paid 20-30% more for balcony rooms or for special family vacations, but that is our guide.  When it is outrageous -- slay $200/day/person, we avoid that particular cruise.  Some ports/itineraries always run higher.  For example, the Med isn't discounted much, and Southampton is more expensive than other European ports.  We avoid peak season.  Matt has videos which discuss getting the most out of your vacation $$, whether drink packages, itineraries, or port selections.  Whatever you choose, remember it's about you and what you want out of life.  We enjoy meeting other people and experiencing other cultures as opposed to getting inebriated and acting silly.  But I admit to doing that in my younger days.....

Thank you so much for the insight into your cruise life!

The key point I got from that is just to budget and finance according to your personal cruising frequencies.

This makes a lot more sense than me assuming there was some sort of bulk purchasing haha.

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1 minute ago, TJ! said:

Thank you so much for the insight into your cruise life!

The key point I got from that is just to budget and finance according to your personal cruising frequencies.

This makes a lot more sense than me assuming there was some sort of bulk purchasing haha.

Back-to-back cruises, which we haven't tried, does save extra driving or flying expenses.  I'd like to do that, but it just hasn't worked for us.  Other members here do it all the time and really like it.

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I home school our kids and don't work a 9-5 job. I do live in a state that has a generous cottage food law though, and I make wedding cakes from my home kitchen. I've been in business for 10 years now, and while I don't produce what a commercial bakery does, I generally have a wedding 3 weekends of every month and run my business like a business. DH's salary covers the ordinary expenses (bills and savings), so we can use my business profits for fun stuff like cruising. Since I set my own schedule (and the kids for that matter) we can cruise when it's cheapest. We took a long 9 year break from cruising and started back just this past September. We want to cruise twice a year now that we've started again, and we like to stay in suites, so I don't see me closing shop in the foreseeable future. Right now we have a 5 day booked for February,  a 7 day in November 2020, and are for sure doing Alaska in 2022 for DH's 50th birthday. We want to save for flights, excursions, and a land tour in Alaska, so we think will do just do a 5 day sometime in the spring of 2021 as well. If those plans all hold, we'll be diamond after the Alaska cruise so we can take advantage of greater discounts too. 

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15 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

I home school our kids and don't work a 9-5 job. I do live in a state that has a generous cottage food law though, and I make wedding cakes from my home kitchen. I've been in business for 10 years now, and while I don't produce what a commercial bakery does, I generally have a wedding 3 weekends of every month and run my business like a business. DH's salary covers the ordinary expenses (bills and savings), so we can use my business profits for fun stuff like cruising. Since I set my own schedule (and the kids for that matter) we can cruise when it's cheapest. We took a long 9 year break from cruising and started back just this past September. We want to cruise twice a year now that we've started again, and we like to stay in suites, so I don't see me closing shop in the foreseeable future. Right now we have a 5 day booked for February,  a 7 day in November 2020, and are for sure doing Alaska in 2022 for DH's 50th birthday. We want to save for flights, excursions, and a land tour in Alaska, so we think will do just do a 5 day sometime in the spring of 2021 as well. If those plans all hold, we'll be diamond after the Alaska cruise so we can take advantage of greater discounts too. 

That's extremely interesting, guess there is no one right way to go about this cruising lifestyle.

First step for me is to start cruising and building up the points to get higher status for the discounts then.

Thank you for the input of your life!

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Just now, SpeedNoodles said:

Tons and tons of forced OT (which pays for the cruise) on top of about 320 hours of PTO a year (which buys me the time off, hopefully), allows me to plan for 3-4 sailings a year now.

That was one of my strategies!

My company is very lenient on "OT" so i wanted to push it and use the excess for all my cruises.

320 hours of PTO is insane, I envy you.

 

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Some of us are fortunate to be have flexible schedules so that we can cruise off-peak.  Like any travel activity there are peak times that cost more and off-peak times that cost less.  

Flexibility and willingness to make small compromises can translate into a less expensive cruise.  Like any travel activity supply and demand influences pricing.  Bucket list destinations in the peak of travel season come with bucket sized price tags.  A similar destination at a different time of year can cost a fraction of that.  

Some people prefer more expensive balconies or suite cabins and choose to put their travel funds towards a higher standard of accommodations over cruising more often.  Staying in cheaper cabins equates to cost savings that can be applied to additional cruises.  Once outside of an interior cabin the ships looks the same as it does for someone staying in a suite.  I've been fortunate to stay in some very nice suite cabins but I don't require them every cruise.  In some cases I can take two, three or four cruises for the price of one cruise in a suite.  

In some cases a guest may be in a position to cruise once every few years so going big and splurging on an incredible over the top experience makes sense.  The "dream vacation".  Frugality and containing cruise expenses leaves more money for future cruises.  If you've got it, spend it.  

Loyalty pays.  If you spread you spend across different cruise lines it will take longer to reach the point where loyalty discounts really help on any of them.  

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6 minutes ago, twangster said:

Some of us are fortunate to be have flexible schedules so that we can cruise off-peak.  Like any travel activity there are peak times that cost more and off-peak times that cost less.  

Flexibility and willingness to make small compromises can translate into a less expensive cruise.  Like any travel activity supply and demand influences pricing.  Bucket list destinations in the peak of travel season come with bucket sized price tags.  A similar destination at a different time of year can cost a fraction of that.  

Some people prefer more expensive balconies or suite cabins and choose to put their travel funds towards a higher standard of accommodations over cruising more often.  Staying in cheaper cabins equates to cost savings that can be applied to additional cruises.  Once outside of an interior cabin the ships looks the same as it does for someone staying in a suite.  I've been fortunate to stay in some very nice suite cabins but I don't require them every cruise.  In some cases I can take two, three or four cruises for the price of one cruise in a suite.  

In some cases a guest may be in a position to cruise once every few years so going big and splurging on an incredible over the top experience makes sense.  The "dream vacation".  Frugality and containing cruise expenses leaves more money for future cruises.  If you've got it, spend it.  

Loyalty pays.  If you spread you spend across different cruise lines it will take longer to reach the point where loyalty discounts really help on any of them.  

Thanks for the information, I guess that is where the phrase "loyal to royal" comes from haha.

The budgeting and compromises that needs to be made is definitely well worth it for cruising.

Getting great perspective into everyone's daily life and how they make it happen is quite wholesome.

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Be careful not to get too caught up in the hype.  Cruise lines offer many additional items to enhance your vacation experience.  They are great and there is no question some of them are very popular but...  do you really need them to enjoy a great cruise?  Photo packages, dining packages, drink packages and so on.  They are nice, no question.  However they are not required to have a great cruise.  

Some people come away from a cruise with a large bill from everything they chose to add once onboard.  Some people come away with a very small bill at the end of a cruise.  Nothing wrong with either approach but one can save you lots of money to spend on another cruise.

Watch for sales in the cruise planner and check often.  I frequently save significantly on excursions by catching price drops. Excursions help you experience a destination.  Some destinations lend themselves to an inexpensive self-explore approach, some destinations really warrant a professional excursion.  Don't cut yourself short by trying to do everything on your own but be smart in researching and knowing the best approach to experiencing a destination.  

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42 minutes ago, TJ! said:

That was one of my strategies!

My company is very lenient on "OT" so i wanted to push it and use the excess for all my cruises.

320 hours of PTO is insane, I envy you.

 

This too. Any OT DH works we immediately transfer into a vacation savings account. His thought is he has to take time away from the family to earn that money, so it should be spent on something that we do together.

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Just now, melmar02 said:

This too. Any OT DH works we immediately transfer into a vacation savings account. His thought is he has to take time away from the family to earn that money, so it should be spent on something that we do together.

Efficient and effective even when away from the family. 

I think that is a great investment of DH's time.

It's adorable how you both make it work with the hands you're dealt with.

 

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2 hours ago, TJ! said:

I've been on this board for several months now after I booked (and officially paid in full) my very first cruise! Sailing in Jan,2020 on Symphony of the Seas OVC.

After interacting and receiving so many positive feedback/advice/suggestions from this blog I'm already addicted to cruising before it even started.

I see A LOT of fellow experienced cruiser with so many cruises under their belt and some with 20+ cruises already lined up for the future. (Back to back cruises as well)

I want to also be part of the cruising lifestyle and was curious if there is a better way or something i'm missing in order to afford so many cruises.

The question (I apologize ahead of time if it's too personal):

Fellow cruisers who have sailed countless of times and have even more cruises booked ahead in the future, how do you afford it?

How did you manage to take time off from work?

Are most retired therefore enjoying their life on cruises?

Is there bulk booking for a significant discount or something similar I'm not aware of?

Any tips and advice to integrate cruising as part of a lifestyle when it comes to finance?

Sorry if this is too personal, I'm just extremely curious and eager to follow the same lifestyle.

Thank you in advance!

I notice it says you Live in California.. That hurts you slightly because airfare must be a killer.. I am only 32 years old BUT I live in Ft. Lauderdale about 15 min from Port Everglades, 30 minutes from Miami, and 3 hours from port Canaveral. Also I am self employed and can do work on any cruise ship that has good internet. I also really enjoy gambling and because of this I get offers for comped cruises all the time and those are the ones I choose to go on. Because of the combination of offers sent to me, the fact that I live so close to ports and don't have to pay for airfare, and that I am self employed and can go whenever I want I go on about 8 cruises a year. I also LOVE cruising. it is my #1 passion in life so to me I have made it super important. The only other trips I take are to Vegas and Disneyworld. So for me I can use all my spare vacation money to mainly focus on cruising.. Also having children is not in the cards for me so I have a lot more disposable income than other people do.. In short I think you will find there really is no one magic way to be a dedicated cruiser you just have to go with what your given and make it work for you. But I am happy that we have a new cruising convert on these boards.. Symphony is a fantastic ship you will love her!!! 

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1 minute ago, AGSLC5 said:

I notice it says you Live in California.. That hurts you slightly because airfare must be a killer.. I am only 32 years old BUT I live in Ft. Lauderdale about 15 min from Port Everglades, 30 minutes from Miami, and 3 hours from port Canaveral. Also I am self employed and can do work on any cruise ship that has good internet. I also really enjoy gambling and because of this I get offers for comped cruises all the time and those are the ones I choose to go on. Because of the combination of offers sent to me, the fact that I live so close to ports and don't have to pay for airfare, and that I am self employed and can go whenever I want I go on about 8 cruises a year. I also LOVE cruising. it is my #1 passion in life so to me I have made it super important. The only other trips I take are to Vegas and Disneyworld. So for me I can use all my spare vacation money to mainly focus on cruising.. Also having children is not in the cards for me so I have a lot more disposable income than other people do.. In short I think you will find there really is no one magic way to be a dedicated cruiser you just have to go with what your given and make it work for you. But I am happy that we have a new cruising convert on these boards.. Symphony is a fantastic ship you will love her!!! 

I envy you so much to be located near the port! I heard some news about royal caribbean adding ports to California but at the moment there is majority Carnival. Never tried carnival or any cruise ships for that matter but i'm "loyal to royal"

Emphasis on slightly for airfare, since it's me and my S/O round trip for the both of us is quite hefty. Close to $1,000 if not more for the both of us round trip.

Also want to get there the night before in case of any hiccups so we booked a stay in a hotel nearby.

But we work with the cards we're dealt and as long as we enjoy the journey/cruise it's all that matters.

I've noticed so far not one person has the same lifestyle for their cruising habits which is amazing.

I get a lot of information and feedback on how to make it work with different scenarios.

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In my previous life, as a software manager, the money was good and my wife and I would take 2 vacations/year, 1 cruise and 1 not a cruise.  After a forced early retirement 2 years ago (a fancy term for "you're approaching 60 and we have younger people to do your job cheaper"), the income is greatly reduced as I started a new career make half of my previous income.  So going forward, it will be one cruise every 2-3 years (just finished one in Sept, so looking at spring of '21).  Also, our kids live in other parts of the US, so we try to fit in visits to them every couple of years, funds permitting.

Perhaps when we reach true retirement, and presumably more debt will be paid off, we will get back to once a year.

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41 minutes ago, PatsFanBrian said:

In my previous life, as a software manager, the money was good and my wife and I would take 2 vacations/year, 1 cruise and 1 not a cruise.  After a forced early retirement 2 years ago (a fancy term for "you're approaching 60 and we have younger people to do your job cheaper"), the income is greatly reduced as I started a new career make half of my previous income.  So going forward, it will be one cruise every 2-3 years (just finished one in Sept, so looking at spring of '21).  Also, our kids live in other parts of the US, so we try to fit in visits to them every couple of years, funds permitting.

Perhaps when we reach true retirement, and presumably more debt will be paid off, we will get back to once a year.

I've met a young couple not too long ago who does not work and have a family.

Their income is supplied by their wealthy parents, they are very humble and are amazing people though.

Just crazy how people from all over with all types of lifestyle comes together in one ship.

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2 hours ago, TJ! said:

I've been on this board for several months now after I booked (and officially paid in full) my very first cruise! Sailing in Jan,2020 on Symphony of the Seas OVC.

After interacting and receiving so many positive feedback/advice/suggestions from this blog I'm already addicted to cruising before it even started.

I see A LOT of fellow experienced cruiser with so many cruises under their belt and some with 20+ cruises already lined up for the future. (Back to back cruises as well)

I want to also be part of the cruising lifestyle and was curious if there is a better way or something i'm missing in order to afford so many cruises.

The question (I apologize ahead of time if it's too personal):

Fellow cruisers who have sailed countless of times and have even more cruises booked ahead in the future, how do you afford it?

How did you manage to take time off from work?

Are most retired therefore enjoying their life on cruises?

Is there bulk booking for a significant discount or something similar I'm not aware of?

Any tips and advice to integrate cruising as part of a lifestyle when it comes to finance?

Sorry if this is too personal, I'm just extremely curious and eager to follow the same lifestyle.

Thank you in advance!

I am fortunate enough to get to pick about 8 weeks of leave per year after working for the amount of time that I have, the wife does not get this much off but she gets about four weeks and we usually cruise two weeks at the absolute most. We both work in healthcare and are able to afford it by just working one extra shift per month or cutting back on our expenses such as Starbucks or one of our favorite fast food restaurants Chick-fil-a!😃 We afford it by booking in advance when they first roll out the itinerary and pay monthly. As far as the tips go I can tell you that there is a spot on here that should be within the first page or two that has FAR MORE tips than can fit on this page! Lets just say that there are a few on there that I actually put in my own toolbox! I hope that you have one absolutely AMAZING cruise!!  

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As many people here know, I am a teacher and my cruising schedule is pretty much dictated by the school calendar.  My contract with board does not allow time off for vacations other than those designated times over the holidays.  Hubby's schedule is 100% flexible but that doesn't help as I am the planner and mine is not.  Because of this, we unfortunately fall into the category that @twangster mentioned, we pay a premium to cruise because we can only go during the high season.  

My strategy is to book early.  We take at least two cruises each year.  One over the summer, and one over March Break.  I book these two as soon as itineraries get released (often that is almost two years out).  From that point, I watch prices and often re-price multiple times before we pay final payment at 90 days out.  We have saved thousands this way.  I usually book direct with Royal (because I know exactly what I am looking for) and then I transfer to an agent for further savings.  

Because we can only take a limited amount of cruises each year, we do splurge a bit when we cruise.  We like our suites and the benefits that come with it.  The mentality that, "We can take this money and take more cruises," does not apply too much to us because we cannot take more even if we tried.  So that makes us unapologetic suite snobs.  Last but not least, this is the home of "YOLO Book It!" so we have totally run with that motto over the last few years! 😉

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We used to book one nice vacation every year and a half.  But then I realized, our son was already 9 and we barely travelled.  Now he is in high school and we won't be having many years with him left in the house.  So....we've started cruising twice a year....to have these precious memories and family time together, the four of us. 

DH and I are both have IT jobs so as long as we book our vacation outside of major releases, we are flexible .  Plus we  put in our vacation requests early so we ensure to get the time off.  Having said that, as our children are getting older, we decided that we no longer wanted to take them out of school.  So like lovetocruise2002, we travel March break and summer (last week for us as it fits in well with camp).  And as we are not in driving distance to the port, and it's prime vacation time, it does cost us fly to the there (from Toronto), but we've made it a priority.  And so we do watch our budget in other ways such as booking interiors (had 2 promenade rooms on Navigator which worked out great), or the four of us in a room such as balcony.  It depends on the stateroom costs  We are also pretty low key when it comes to excursions, dining, etc.

DH and I also try and take short vacations together.  Our common trip used to be NYC, but last Dec and this year, we were able to sneak in a cruise.  

Oh and like others, we book at opening and I monitor prices almost daily.

I think people at my work or our families think we're strange with the question "Another cruise???" , but we really love cruising.  It has everything we need, entertainment, food, things to do, places to visit, etc etc, and well, I don't need to explain it to anyone here as you all get it...lol.

 

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While I don't have some of the high cruise numbers that others have, we do have 4 upcoming cruises booked, and as soon as the next round of Caribbean sailings open it will be 5. We (DW) and I love to cruise and have decided to make this our primary way to vacation. We are lucky enough to have careers that pay well enough that we can do this.

Schedule wise, I'm a firefighter and I work 24 hour shifts, so this results in a schedule where I can easily have large blocks of time off. Throw in a few OT shifts at 24hrs each time, the ability to pay for a cruise happens quickly. My wife works in health care and is able to take time off easily enough as well. What limits our cruising is that we have 2 kids still in school, so this mostly limits us to taking cruises on school breaks. We do have 2 booked without the kids though.

Since we mostly cruise on school breaks, like @Lovetocruise2002 said, we book early, and reprice, reprice, and reprice. I personally would be perfectly happy sailing in interior or outside view rooms to keep prices really low, but the wife is an unashamed "suite snob" so therefore, I am too (not that I am complaining). With having limited times to cruise, we take and fully enjoy the benefits of a suite. Thankfully our career choices allow us to be able to do this. 

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In my previous career the base pay wasn't all that great, but there was a lot of overtime which we never counted as main salary so it was extra income, plus I had a few weeks of vacation time (think 3 but forget). However, our vacations were restricted to January and Summers as both wife and I were pursuing degrees late in life, so we cruised most January's and took summer vacations to NJ or MD beaches.

Fast forward, we both finished degrees (Software Developer & RN) and have more disposable income, our vacation time is decent too, wife gets 4 weeks off and I get 3 weeks and 4 days. We try and do at least one cruise a year and some other week long vacation, in addition to weekend trips here and there. This year, I visited friends in FL and NC and had two guy weekends in LV, in addition to a 5-day cruise and land trip to London. Next year we have two 7-day cruises booked and a weekend LV trip, nothing else yet.

We are also 41 & 38 with no children, a low mortgage payment and average bills. Our only debt besides the mortgage are student loans (which I cannot wait to just tackle them) and they are not that horrible thanks to tuition reimbursement and family assistance.

I'll admit, outside of an emergency fund, our savings accounts aren't anything to brag about... BUT, we make sure to invest for retirement first. We also have a separate "fun" account where each check we put a few dollars ... it adds up quick.

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