3 Big Places to Splurge on a Cruise…And Where You Shouldn’t

From the moment you step on a cruise ship, there is no shortage of things to spend your money on. In fact, with programs like Carnival’s Faster to the Fun package, the opportunity to spend some extra dough starts before you even board.

With so many things to spend your money on, it’s easy to go over budget on your vacation. The good news is that not everything offered by the cruise line is worth the extra money. There are definite items that you can splurge on and definite items you want to avoid. This makes it much easier to resist the temptation to break the bank on your trip and get your money’s worth when you do spend the cash.

Where to Splurge

Balcony Cabins
There are definite advantages when it comes to booking an interior cabin. However, if you are the type of person that will spend any meaningful time in your cabin, then it’s worth the extra money to upgrade to a balcony cabin. From having fresh air in the cabin to amazing views of the ocean, the benefits of balcony are substantial. Best of all, the extra cost compared to an interior cabin are usually affordable.

Cruise ship balcony

Excursions
At first glance, the price of excursions seem outrageous. It’s not unusual to see costs of $100 or more per person for an excursion that lasts just 3-4 hours. However, they are almost always worth it. Cruise excursions offer a chance to do something that you’d never have the chance to do back home.

From seeing ancient ruins in Mexico to scuba diving world-class reefs in Belize or wildlife tours in Alaska, these side trips add so much more to your vacation — and are much more exciting than simply walking around a port. At the conclusion of the excursion, you won’t think of the money you spent, but rather the memories that you made.

The Cruise Ship
Today’s cruise ships are simply amazing. There is seemingly no limit to the sort of features they can offer. Royal Caribbean’s newest ships even have a viewing platform that lifts you out over the water, giving you a one-of-a-kind experience you can’t get anywhere else. But cruise ships are like cell phones — the updates come fast and furious.

Ships built just a decade ago are nothing like the ones built today when it comes to amenities. That’s why it’s well worth it to splurge to sail on a newer ship, especially considering that so much of your time is spent on board.

Where to Save

Drink Packages
The idea of “all you can drink” packages seems great. The issue is that they are almost never worth it. Drink packages have to be purchased for every day you are on the ship. That means if you are in port for the day, you’re still being charged even when you aren’t on the ship to take advantage of the package. As well, the packages are priced to the point where you have to drink a lot each day to make it worth your while.

If you don’t plan to drink 6-10 drinks every single day you are on the ship, the it’s better to simply purchase drinks on an individual basis instead.

Alcohol bottles in a cruise bar

Additional Dining
Want to go for a special meal in the ship’s steakhouse? It will cost you. Prices usually run between $35-40 per person. It’s a cheap price for a world-class meal, but definitely one of the places where you can save money. That’s because the food in the main dining room is also fantastic… and it’s included in your fare already. It’s better to save the extra cash and simply eat what you’ve already paid for.

Casino
Want to gamble big? Head to Las Vegas. The casinos on the cruise ship have a captive audience and their payouts reflect that. Blackjack tables usually pay 6 to 5 on blackjack, compared to the normal 3 to 2 payout you’ll see in land-based casinos. And while some people do win jackpots on slot machines, our personal experience is that they are notoriously tight.

If you want to spend a few bucks passing through the casino, it’s no big deal. But if you are the sort of person who really likes to gamble, your pocketbook will be a lot healthier if you head to a land-based casino instead.

Do you have suggestions on where people should spend or save on their cruise? Let us know in the comments below.