Visit up to 7 different places and countries in one week. Relax and feast like a king. All this is also available at a very reasonable price. Sounds too good to be true? Wrong! Because a cruise makes it possible.
#1 Travel outside the high season
The first tip is probably the most obvious and applies to any type of trip: Book outside the high season and avoid vacations and public vacations. But since this is not possible for many due to children, don’t worry: even in the height of summer, cruises are not much more expensive.
However, if you can switch to the off-season, you will save about €100 – €150 per person. Moreover, in the off-season it is a little quieter and less chaotic both on the ship and in the ports visited. Not least because of the few children.
#2 Choose cheap cruise route
For us Europeans, the routes in the immediate vicinity are of course the cheapest; alone because the flight is already less expensive, compared to flights overseas. But the oversupply of cruises in Europe is also putting downward pressure on prices.
Canary Islands routes are particularly favorable in winter and Mediterranean routes in spring and winter. There are numerous offers for these two destinations, especially with AIDA and TUI Cruises – so ideal for European vacationers.
So there are 7 days cruise already from €375 per person, excluding flight. However, since you usually have to fly to the starting port, you can’t avoid the cost factor “flight”. How to book the flight as inexpensively as possible, you will learn in the next tip.
#3 Organize your own journey
AIDA and TUI Cruises offer their guests arrival packages; that means you pay cruise & flight together at one price. Advantage of booking through the shipping company: If the flight is delayed, the ship waits. So basically, the guest does not have to worry about anything and does not have to worry in case of any delays. For this, the flight is of course much more expensive than booking it yourself. How much more expensive exactly? We’ll get to that in a moment.
Because of the hefty surcharge by the shipping company, I recommend organizing the journey yourself. The big advantage of this is that you can plan your own time accordingly.
To make sure you don’t miss the departure of your ship, you should ideally arrive 1-2 days early. This way you even have the opportunity to take a closer look at the starting port. Normally, this is not possible, because the ship is rarely there overnight. With an early arrival you simply get more out of your vacation and also have a relaxed start.
#4 How do I find the cheapest flight?
Once you’ve decided on a cruise, I recommend checking Skyscanner to see what the flights would cost if you booked independently and compare it to the cruise line’s offer.
The advantage of Skyscanner is the transparency. So you can easily see on which days and from which airport the flights are the cheapest. So you can decide individually according to your own budget.
If you find that booking a flight on your own is financially worthwhile (it actually always is), you can arrive 1-2 days earlier, depending on airfare and interest, and invest the money you save in more vacation time and sightseeing.
How much do you save when you book your own flight?
For an inner-European flight you can easily save €300 per person. €300 PER PERSON! For overseas flights, the price savings are even greater. That’s a good chunk of money.
How I come up with the amount? I picked a Canary Islands cruise with AIDA and TUI Cruises and compared the airfares of the shipping companies with the flights found on Skyscanner for the same dates.
While flights with AIDA and TUI Cruises are usually between €350 – €450, you can find flights for as little as €120 on Skyscanner. This result speaks for itself. Only those who do not like the planning and who do not mind the hefty extra charge should book through the shipping company. For all others: Do it yourself!
#5 Book inside cabin
Frowned upon by some, but totally without justification. An indoor cabin is much more than just a windowless tin can. Well, you can’t just look out and see what the weather is like or notice if the sun is already up. But is it really that important?
In the meantime I know what it means to live in a balcony cabin (thanks to the parents). It is actually very pleasant to watch the departure or arrival from the balcony, or even the sunrise or sunset. Sunbathing on your own balcony is also very relaxing and saves you from searching for a lounger on deck.
However, if I want or need to save money, I would (currently) opt for the inside cabin. The price-performance ratio is simply unbeatable. After all, you have all the amenities like all the other guests on board (except for the suite guests).
You simply have to ask yourself the following question: How often or how long am I actually in the booth? Especially on country days, you’re usually only there to shower and sleep. So if you have few to no sea days during the cruise, the extra cost for a balcony cabin is not worth it.
Those who can do without sunlight and prefer to be on the ship and among people anyway, can confidently fall back on the inside cabin. This way you can save between €150 – €250 per person on a 7-day cruise. Everyone has to weigh that up for themselves.
#6 Occupy cabin with 3 or 4 persons
For small families, this is self-evident or at least obvious. But for friends and acquaintances who really get along well, this should also be worth considering: Occupying the cabin in threes or fours. The savings can be immense. For the sample calculations, I again used 7-day Canary Islands cruises from AIDA and TUI Cruises.
|2 Personen||Innenkabine 499€ p.P.||Balkonkabine 699€ p.P.|
|3 Personen||Innenkabine 366€ p.P.|
|Balkonkabine 499€ p.P.
|4 Personen||Innenkabine 299€ p.P.|
|Balkonkabine 399€ p.P.
As you can see from the table, you save between €133- €300 per person. That’s decent. For families with children it gets even better: children up to 15 years travel even free of charge. Only the flight has to be paid extra. If that’s nothing.
With TUI Cruises, the savings are comparatively small:
Beispiel TUI Cruises
|2 Personen||Innenkabine 645€ p.P.||Balkonkabine 795€ p.P.|
|3 Personen||Innenkabine 617€ p.P.|
|Balkonkabine 717€ p.P.
|4 Personen||Innenkabine 603€ p.P.|
|Balkonkabine 678€ p.P.
With multiple occupancy you can save between €28 – €117 per person. The lower price advantage is probably related to the all-inclusive concept of the shipping company. Nevertheless, there is also good news here for families with children: Children up to and including the age of 14 travel almost free of charge for a surcharge of a very modest €60. Who can say no to that?
#7 Plan shore excursions yourself
The more you put into your own hands, the cheaper it gets. This is generally a thumb rule in life and is especially true when it comes to shore excursions.
Anyone who has ever taken a cruise knows it well: the organized excursions of the shipping companies are overpriced – in some cases more, in others less. But overall, they blow a big hole in the vacation budget. For a reasonably interesting half-day excursion you pay at least €50 per person. For a family of four, that’s already enormous.
Are the shore excursions worth the money? According to my experience so far: No.
So far in my cruise career, I’ve booked three organized shore excursions; two out of three have disappointed me.
Characteristic of the excursions: Everlasting bus rides, endless waiting for other guests, little time at the beautiful places. The pace is just so not for me. Much too slow and inefficient. After all, you don’t have that much time on land anyway, and then you’re also constantly dawdling. It drives me crazy.
I prefer to take everything into my own hands: I find out about the port and the sights there and plan my own excursion. Thanks to Google nowadays absolutely no problem.
Public transportation – if you need it – is inexpensive and any entrance fees to museums or parks are also manageable. Thus, €50 quickly becomes only €10-€20 per person and excursion. Undoubtedly, the price advantage depends on where exactly the ship docks and how far it is to the city. However, a saving of at least 50% is certain.
In addition to lower costs, the self-planned trip has other advantages: Own time management, prioritization of own interests, more privacy and probably a less crowded environment – see the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Of course, there are also disadvantages: The organizational effort is high and there is a risk of missing the ship if you return late. Because on a private shore excursion, the ship doesn’t wait for you – at least rarely for more than 30 minutes.
Nevertheless, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Planning ahead is worth it because you simply get more out of your shore excursion that way. For the return to the ship you should plan a good 2 hours as buffer time. Better a little too much than too little. This way you play it safe and don’t have to wink at the ship.
#8 Plan for or avoid incidental expenses on the ship
On cruise ships, you can’t underestimate the additional costs that arise from drinks or paid restaurant visits.
Yes, TUI Cruises also offers drinks for which a surcharge has to be paid, despite the all-inclusive offer. However, these are limited to rather expensive and exclusive drinks like champagne.
With AIDA, as well as the international shipping companies, almost without exception all drinks are chargeable. Thus, the choice of shipping company already plays a considerable role in the incidental costs. With a price of about €2 for a soft drink or €7 for a cocktail, €20 per day quickly accumulate on the boarding pass.
Those who want to enjoy carefree, can book beverage packages in addition. These cost at AIDA between €11,90 and €29,90 per adult per day; depending on whether alcoholic beverages are to be included or not.
Whether the packages are worthwhile, each traveler would have to calculate once for himself. Maybe the free no-name drinks at meal times will do the job? Or maybe I usually only drink one cocktail a day?
So you should think about your own drinking habits before the trip and then, depending on your needs, book the appropriate beverage packages – or do without them. After all, there is nothing wrong with water. #Piggy Bank
Hopefully my money saving tips have helped you. At the very least, they have clearly demonstrated that cruises are affordable for everyone these days and need not be more expensive than a vacation at a land-based hotel resort.
In addition, cruises have a huge advantage: you visit a different place almost every day during your vacation and thus have plenty of variety; perfect for all adventurous and sightseeing lovers. And if you take as much planning as possible into your own hands, a typical package vacation becomes an exciting individual trip.
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