As you guys know, I spent last week cruising around the Western Caribbean. It was extremely hard to get off the ship. I received a suggestion to come up with a few frugal girl tips while I was away and here they are:
Selecting a cabin: If you aren't claustrophobic, I suggest booking an interior room in order to save money. You won't spend too much time in your room unless you are sleeping anyway. If you don't think you will go crazy without a window, this is a great way to save money from the start.
Airplane Mode: When traveling, using your phone or computer is extremely expensive. In order to save money, do not sign up for a WiFi package on-board and do not use your phone unless it's an absolute emergency. If you do need to communicate with someone back home, talk to your phone carrier prior to departure to see what international packages are available for you to purchase. I opted for an international texting plan, just so I could shoot my mom a few texts to let her know I was still alive! Other than that, I instagrammed a few pictures when WiFi was available. I absolutely loved not relying on my phone and leaving it in the room most of the time. Talk about a technology detox!
Pack Accordingly: Check with your cruise line to know the expected dress code beforehand and make sure you pack accordingly. If there are two formal nights, make sure you bring two formal outfits! Also, make sure you pack the essentials in your carry on bag. It can take hours for your luggage to arrive at your room after embarkation. It's important that you have anything and everything you may need during the day, including your bathing suit! Remember to pack a bookbag that you will use to bring your daily essentials off the ship when at port! I also packed a duffle bag inside of my suitcase to use on the way home. Everyone knows that your clothes don't fit quite the same on the way back and you have probably picked up a few new items along the way.
Eat: Save money by dining at the places included in the initial cost. Most ships have specialty dining options that will cost you extra. Yes, it may sound nice to go to the on-board steakhouse but you have already paid to eat in the dining room every night (and they serve steak in there!). If you are celebrating a special occasion, go ahead and splurge. Otherwise, stick to the freebies. There are so many different dining options included so you should have no problem finding something delicious to eat. I know I didn't.
Free Room Service: Hungry at 3am and don't feel like walking to the Lido deck to get pizza or ice cream? Take advantage of the room service offered and have food delivered right to your room, free of charge.
Drinking: Calculate how much you will spend on drinks and compare that to the price of the drink package. It's important to remember that you will be busy and drinking might not always be your number one priority. If you don't opt in for the drink package and will be paying for drinks individually, check out the daily drink specials. If you drink soda, consider switching to water, tea, or lemonade for the duration of your trip in order to save money. I took a Nalgene water bottle and filled it up every day during the trip. PS: our cruise line allowed each person to bring on a bottle of wine and a 12 pack of soda or water on embarkation day - take advantage of this!
Activities: Look at your daily ship newspaper for free activities taking place on-board. There are so many "free" things taking place each day; you will never run out of things to do. We played trivia, watched a "dive-in" movie, went to a mardi gras party, attended comedy shows, and so much more thanks to our "Fun Times" paper. Also, EXPLORE THE SHIP! We found a life size chess board and corn hole boards ready to be played with.
Enter Raffles & Drawings: There are so many raffles and drawings taking place, the possibilities of winning are endless. My boyfriend won a hat by watching and calling in to our cruise director's morning show. Jewelry, excursions, and spa packages were also given away throughout the week.
Shopping at Ports: I highly recommend setting a shopping budget before your cruise. It's easy to spend money when you see cool t-shirts and souvenirs but try to decide if you really need it. The shops on the ship had half-priced item on the last day of sailing so if you have had your eye on something all week, wait until the last day to make a move.
Excursions: In Cozumel, our excursion included paddleboarding and snorkeling. In Belize, our excursion included zip lining and cave tubing. At our other two stops, we did not plan excursions. Instead, we took advantage of the beautiful beach in Roatan, Honduras and explored the town in Costa Maya, Mexico. Although it may seem expensive to book excursions, they take care of everything for you! You do not have to worry about arranging and paying for a taxi to and from the ship. You also do not have to pay individually pay for activities you participate in. If you book excursions through the cruise line and your activity is delayed or does not finish on time, the ship will wait for you! If you venture off on your own, you may be left behind if you do not board the ship on time.
HAVE FUN! You will never have the exact same vacation twice so enjoy every second of it and make the most out of your adventure!