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How to save money on a cruise

It goes without saying that taking a cruise isn't the cheapest way to holiday. Some tickets can cost several thousands of pounds, and once on board, there are lots of additional costs for services and amenities. According to some sources, the average American spends around $630 dollars on services and amenities once onboard for a four-day domestic trip.

Here are a few tips on how you can save money whilst on your cruise, and enjoy your trip without having to re-mortgage your home afterwards.

Take advantage of first day discounts - there are tons of first-day discounts on offer, especially in the spa and gym areas, gift shops, restaurants and liquor stores. This is because most passengers are just familiarising themselves with the ship on the first day, and shops, bars and restaurants are eager to secure loyal custom. Port day prices are also discounted on many services, so if there is a port that you aren't so interested in, you can book time in the spa or gym areas.

Tours and excursions - there'll be a host of tours and excursion offered by the cruise operator, and these will be bookable for an additional fee. While it might seem like the logical option to stick with your cruise provider for tours and activities, there is no law against booking your own private tours. The benefits of a private tour are two-fold; you get to spend quality time with your family rather than being herded around with 50 other fellow cruisers, and there is also the potential to make significant savings. Check the cruise itinerary before-hand to book your tours and excursions in advance.

Drinks and alcohol packages - most cruises will not allow you to bring large quantities of alcohol on board, and this is because they'd rather you spend your money in their clubs, bars and restaurants. Many cruise operators will offer the chance to purchase special alcohol and soft drink packages, which include a certain number of drinks. While these packages may seem attractive, it's good to calculate roughly how much you are likely to drink in reality and compare this to the price you'd have to pay for the drinks package. If you're not a big drinker, you may find that it's actually not worth purchasing the package after all.

Think twice before booking hold luggage - If you are flying to your cruise, then you'll know that most airlines will charge around 25 dollars for a large suitcase in the hold. For a family of four, that's an extra $100 on top of your holiday expenditure and for most cruises under 7 days, you can easily get by with just carry on luggage.

Bring cash with you - there may be occasions when you'll need hard cash (say for tipping housekeeping) and when this happens, you really do not want to be at the mercy of the onboard ATM's which have notoriously high usage fees. Bring a few hundred pounds/dollars with you, and stick to paying by card when and where you can.

Book cruise travel insurance - You should always make sure you have a cruise-specific travel insurance policy in place. Many cruise lines have the option to add travel insurance cover to your booking for an additional fee. However, this is not always the best option as policies provided by the cruise operators are often more expensive than booking with a specialist travel insurance provider and generally, the cover is very limited. It's much more sensible to take out cruise travel insurance with a specialist provider to save money and ensure you're properly covered for your trip.

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