My husband and I took our first cruise in 2017 to celebrate our anniversary, but we were not flush with cash when we boarded the Carnival Paradise. Therefore, we were careful about what we were spending, but we still managed to have a memorable time. If you are thinking about taking your first cruise and want to keep to a budget, here are some ideas for you to try.
- Keep Your Cell Phone Home – Using your cell phone or mobile device on the ship is expensive. I want to connect to the Internet while on board, you could blow your whole budget just on the phone usage. You can use your phone in aeroplane mode, but that doesn’t give you access to much outside the ship. We had tried to send our daughter a text from my husband’s phone. It never sent until we arrived home. Leaving your phone at home gives you the added benefit to enjoy all the ship has to offer, and you truly can relax and recharge.Studies have shown that Americans are too attached to their mobile devices. Even when they are on vacation, they don’t relieve their stress. Phones and mobile devices are starting to impact our health because we are always connected. I didn’t miss having my phone. The cabin has a television, which you could turn to Cable News Network if you really want to know what is happening elsewhere in the world.
- Be Active – Cruise ships have entertainment for all tastes. You can choose the activity that fits your personality. If you are on a budget like we were, you will want to choose the free activities or the ones with low cost. There are a number of events. We experienced a little of everything but looked for the ones that we would like. Our favourites involved singing and trivia. We took part in the TV theme trivia game and the 80s music trivia game. With both of these, the cruise director held a sing-a-long after the questions were answered.He pulled someone on stage to sing the 80s songs. I got to sing my favourite 80s tune, Material Girl. My husband sang The Word. The event that had me laughing so hard I was in tears was the Love and Marriage show. The cruise director brought on the stage the couple married the longest and the shortest and a couple somewhere in between. We were nearly chosen for that. The questions ranged from innocent to risque, and the answers were funny. The other evening shows were good too.
- Drink Complimentary Beverages – The cruise ship gives you lemonade, ice tea, water, hot tea and hot coffee. If you stick to those beverages, you won’t blow your budget on alcohol. Because we were celebrating our anniversary, our steward provided us with a bottle of wine, which we drank prior to dinner. Our travel agent also gave us a bottle of wine. We bought one at the supermarket before we left and brought that on board.Thus, with three bottles of wine, we were able to consume a few drinks without spending any money. You are allowed to bring one bottle of wine on board each. You can bring to the dining room, but you will have to pay to have the wine decorated. We drank in our cabin with our own corkscrew. At dinner, we didn’t order alcohol, except on our actual anniversary. This was a huge saving, but we still enjoyed an occasional drink. We also got the fancy alcoholic drinks, such as the Cayman Punch, in port, which was cheaper.
- Limit Gambling – I will be the first to admit that I enjoy playing blackjack, betting on horse races and other gambling. To stick to our budget, we limited what we spent each night in the casino. I like blackjack because the odds are better than other casino games. Also, I know how to play so that I win occasionally. Every night, my husband and I played blackjack and roulette, but when we reached our limit for the night, we left the casino.We also played bingo, but again, we didn’t play all the time and picked the bingo package that fit our budget. We were one number away from winning the largest bingo jackpot which made the game more exciting. Whether we won or lost, we enjoyed ourselves and stuck to our budget.
- Limit Shopping – During the cruise, we probably went over our budget the most by shopping. We justified the expense because we were buying Christmas presents, which saved us money in December. However, if you want to stick to a budget, you should keep your purchases to a minimum.We had hoped to do all our shopping in the ports, but we quickly found out that the shops in the ports wouldn’t take all of our available credit or debit cards. Therefore, we couldn’t spread out the purchases as we had hoped. We ended up buying more on the ship than we had wanted. For example, the options for alcohol were greater in the ports, but we bought them on the ship, so we could charge the purchases to our cabin.We still managed to complete our shopping without breaking our bank too much. The shops on the ship constantly held raffles and special events, such as rum cake tasting, which brought people to the stores. This lure could be damaging to your budget if you aren’t careful about what you spend. Also, these events made the hallways crowded at times. I noticed the shops did not carry books. If you like to read on vacation, you should bring your own books.