Cruise vacations can take you anywhere in the world, from a small ship adventure in Antarctica to a relaxing sojourn in the Caribbean Sea. For many women over 60, cruises offer good value as well as enjoyment. As you plan your next cruise, consider these 10 easy ways to save money and still have an excellent time.

Work With a Travel Agent

Travel agents are able to offer cruise discounts, special promotions, onboard credits and other travel incentives. When you work with a travel agent, you can access a wealth of cruise information you might not be able to find on your own. In addition, if something goes wrong during your cruise, your travel agent can help you.

Book Early Sailings

In some cruise markets, such as Alaska, you may be able to get a discount if you book one of the first sailings of the season. You might be trading money for cooler temperatures, but a jacket or sweater will solve that problem nicely.

 
 

Alaska Cruise

Set a Budget and Follow It

Decide how much you want to pay for extras and stick to your plan. Aaron Saunders, who writes the website From the Deck Chair, suggests, “Bring cash to pay your onboard account with. Having cash in hand helps develop a budget – and it helps you avoid going over and just putting purchases onto a credit card. Don’t be one of those worried-looking folks queued up a reception on disembarkation day!”

Downsize Your Wardrobe

Resist the temptation to dash out and buy new cruisewear. Instead, lay out the cruise-worthy clothes you already own. Create new outfits by mixing and matching pieces and adding accessories. Consider wearing the same skirt to every formal night; swap out evening tops and sparkly jewelry. Weeding out your wardrobe can also save you money on airline baggage fees.

Drink Free Beverages or Buy a Drinks Package

If your cruise line charges for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, you can save money by drinking water, iced tea, hot tea and coffee. Find out which drinks are free on your cruise ship. Ask about daily beverage packages, which can save you money on soft drinks and, on some cruise lines, alcohol.

Cruise expert Jason Leppert, founder of the Popular Cruising website, recommends, “Know exactly what is and is not included in your cruise fare prior to stepping onboard. For instance, consider just how important drinks are to you, because you can save a lot with a prepaid package if they are.”

Access the Internet During Port Calls

Onboard Internet access is frustratingly slow and extremely expensive. To save money, pre-write your emails and send them when the ship is in port. To send them, find an Internet café or bring along an air card or mobile hot spot. If your wireless plan does not include international access, call your provider and have an international plan added for the duration of your trip. You will save money and avoid the frustration of using the onboard Internet service.

Skip Premium Dining

Premium dining is enjoyable, but comes at a price – an addition to your cruise bill. Consider skipping the premium dining options on your ship; use the money you save for a memorable meal ashore.

Bypass the Spa

Spa treatments and specialized exercise classes are wonderful, but they cost extra on most cruises. Before you book a massage or facial, find out how much it will cost. Can you save money by postponing that spa experience until you return home? Exercise for free by walking the ship’s decks, swimming, using the onboard fitness center or walking or running during port calls.

Explore on Your Own

While some shore excursions should be booked through your cruise line, you can save money by spending a day or two exploring ports on your own. Hire a local guide, take a taxi to the center of town and wander the streets and squares or rent a bicycle and hit the road. Allow plenty of time to return to your ship; it will sail without you if you do not reboard on time.

Buy Travel Insurance

Your biggest cruise expense might be the one you did not predict – a medical emergency. Safeguard your cruise investment by purchasing a travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellation, trip delay, travel medical expenses, medical evacuation and, if possible, cancel for any reason coverage. If you are a U. S. citizen and Medicare is your only health insurance, travel medical insurance is absolutely essential; Medicare will only pay for treatment that takes place within the United States.

Have you discovered an easy way to save money on a cruise? Do you have money-saving advice to share with other women who love cruise vacations? Share your cruise cost saving tips with the Sixty and Me community! Join the discussion.

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Watch my interview with Nancy Parode for more senior travel tips.

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