For many older women, including myself, taking a cruise is the ultimate vacation. Cruising offers the opportunity to “shut off” from the world for a few days, or weeks, while you rejuvenate your body and soul.

There’s only one problem – cruises are notoriously expensive. This leaves many women feeling like they can’t afford a vacation on the open seas, no matter how hard they save.

Cruise Tips and Tricks from a Cruise Expert

I’m not going to argue that saving for a cruise is easy. At the same time, according to my amazing guest, Jane Archer, there is actually quite a bit that we can do to spend less and experience more on our next cruise. Jane is a travel writer and cruise expert and we were lucky to have her on the show.

If you want to get the most from your next cruise, this interview is for you!

Here are some of Jane’s top suggestions.

Keep in Mind that Shore Excursions Are a Big Expense

Most cruise lines offer shore excursions at every port. If you need a structured approach to exploring a city, shore excursions can work out just fine. Unfortunately, they are also super expensive. In addition, if you are a bit on the adventurous side, you may see more of each city by setting out in your own small group.

In our interview, Jane points out that excursions are the biggest expense that travelers face, beyond the cost of the cruise itself. She reminds us that it is possible to save a lot of money, just by doing your own research. Ask yourself the following questions.

Are there particular cities that I am not interested in exploring?

Are there cities that I feel comfortable exploring in my own group?

Would it be cheaper to hire my own guide? Could I split this cost with other travelers?

Make Friends and Share Expenses

For many women, including myself, making friends is one of the best parts of traveling. In our everyday life, we tend to be surrounded by people just like us. On a cruise, we have the opportunity to meet people with diverse backgrounds and fascinating perspectives.

Beyond the emotional benefits, making friends can help you to save quite a bit of money. For starters, you will feel more comfortable starting your own city tours if you are in a group. In addition, you can share taxi expenses and order family style meals.

Remember that Cruise Packages Can Save (or Cost) You Money

Many travelers think that they can save money by avoiding cruise “packages.” Sometimes this is the case. If you are disciplined enough to eat in your room every night and avoid the spa, skipping the package deals that cruise lines offer may make sense. But, unless your willpower is crafted from solid steel, buying a package can actually save you money.

Many cruise lines have multiple restaurants and offer “specialty food packages.” This allows you to try different tastes at a discount. In most cases, alcoholic beverages are not included as a standard part of the deal. The trick is to be honest with yourself about how much you will realistically consume.

Consider Alternatives to Onboard Spa Treatments

Who wouldn’t like to get a massage or beauty treatment on a luxury cruise ship? A savvy sailor… that’s who! There’s nothing wrong with spending $80 on a facial, if you can afford it. That said, there are often better options available in the cities that you will be visiting.

Do some research on each of the ports that you will be stopping at. Is your next city famous for its mud masks, hot springs or massages? On her last trip, Jane negotiated a $3 foot massage on the banks of the Mekong River. You can do the same!

For Wi-Fi Always Follow the Crew!

If you’re anything like me, the prospect of spending a week without Internet access is terrifying. I can feel a panic attack coming on right now, just thinking about it!

Jane offers some great advice for getting free Wi-Fi access. She recommends following the crew into the terminals whenever the ship docks. They want to connect with their families too – and many will be willing to share their password with you. Just give them your best smile and hope for the best!

I hope you found this interview useful and entertaining. Now it’s your turn. Please take a minute to join the conversation below.

What is the best cruise experience that you have ever had? What money saving tips would you like to share with the other women in our community?

Let's Have a Conversation!