Personal Finance

How Do Cruises Work

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 7 minute read

When it comes to vacations, nothing beats a cruise. In a single day, you can go on a guided tour of an island, relax on the beach, and swim with stingrays. Nighttime activities include dining at five-star restaurants, seeing shows, and dancing with a special someone.

My mom has always had a soft spot for cruises, so I’ve been on quite a few of them throughout the years. They’re a lot of fun for singles, couples, or families. 

From the time the ship leaves port until the time it returns, passengers will be treated to nonstop shows, an unlimited supply of delicious cuisine, and a never-ending parade of fascinating new sights. When the ship returns to port, you probably won’t want to get off.

The cruise experience has its benefits, but it is not without its drawbacks. Consider the pros and cons of cruising before making plans for your next holiday.

5 Pros to Take a Cruise

1. Simplicity and Practicality

Taking a trip to a busy tourist spot like Las Vegas requires meticulous preparation, including research into transportation options, lodging options, activities, and dining options. When you purchase a cruise, though, the majority of the planning is already done for you. 

When deciding on a cruise, you can prioritize departure time, cruise length, or final destination. All of your dining needs will be met by the ship’s convenient restaurants. The cruise promises nonstop fun for passengers of all ages. Many lines will even assist you in choosing which shore excursions to participate in.

2. Many Destinations for Travel

Whereas a stay at a resort keeps you confined to one spot, passengers on a cruise can visit multiple destinations. The number of ports of call you visit during your cruise vacation may reach five depending on the length of your trip. 

On a seven-day cruise, you can pack in a lot of new destinations if you’re a travel enthusiast. Also, since you’ll already be in transit, you won’t have to worry about booking separate transportation to each destination.

3. Bundle Offers

Regular discounts are available on some of the most sought-after cruise itineraries. It’s possible to save a lot of money on a cruise vacation by going during the off season, but you’ll have to put in some effort to make it happen. 

Cruise lines typically have seasonal price categories for their packages. You might expect a small stateroom, your cruise, and maybe one or two shore excursions from the most basic cruise package. 

A more all-encompassing package will include round-trip tickets, a hotel in the port city the night before the cruise departs, transfers to the ship, and a comfortable stateroom on the ship.

You should be prepared to book several weeks or months in advance and do some digging on the travel websites to find the greatest offer. Orbitz, Travelocity, and Kayak are some of the greatest travel websites that showcase low-cost cruise deals.

4. A Variety of Experiments

Staying in a resort or visiting a single city means restricting yourself and your family to a smaller selection of activities. Entertainment on cruise ships is plentiful. Each day of your trip will be packed with exciting events, both during the day and the evening. 

You can dine on delicious food while strolling through a variety of shops, watching an auction of works of art, participating in a ping pong competition, relaxing by the pool, watching a bingo game, gambling in the casino, or learning to dance the tango. 

On a cruise, you may keep busy even while you’re not seeing any ports of call, which is great news for the adventuresome traveler.

5. Getting to Know Others

We became fast friends on a trip and kept in touch for years after we parted ways. There will be many chances to strike up conversations with strangers at the buffet tables and during the organized group outings. People from various walks of life join together on each voyage. 

A cruise is a wonderful method to meet new people if that is something you enjoy. And if you’re unattached and looking to have a good time and maybe meet someone special, singles cruises are just what you need.

5 Cons of Cruise Vacations

1. Hidden Expenses

The total price of a cruise vacation will be far higher than the sum of its component parts, such as flights and travel arrangements. Beverages, tours, souvenirs, and tips will also add up quickly. Small purchases made on board could quickly add up to more than the total cost of the cruise.

Here are a few money-related items to think about:

  • The Credit Card for Cruises. Cash and personal credit cards are not accepted on board. Instead, you’ll be issued a branded plastic card that’s linked to your own credit card by the cruise line. The cruise line’s card is used for everything from purchasing alcoholic beverages to making spa appointments. It’s really simple to lose track of the fact that you’re spending your own money when using these cards.
  • Day Trips for Vacationers. Everything you do while docked will incur costs. A travel bureau run by the cruise operator will be on board so that passengers can arrange shore excursions. This is the simplest method, but it also has the highest price tag.
  • Sightseeing excursions in port might easily cost several thousand dollars. It is recommended that you prearrange your excursion with the company. You can save a lot of money by booking the excursions you want on your own and skipping the cruise line’s official booking service.
  • Tipping. There are one hundred people on board who will serve you. Each morning, a maid will come to clean your room. There will be one main server, one wine server, and several other waiters at your table in the dining room. Additionally, the cruise company provides the services of a concierge, a travel agent, a photographer, a bartender, a casino dealer, and a room attendant. Tipping is not strictly required, although it is anticipated. On the final day of your vacation, the cruise line will leave a list in your room with suggested amounts and names of people to tip. It’s not uncommon to spend several hundred dollars on tips.

2. Taking Kids on Vacation

For families, there are cruise lines like Disney Cruise Line. The Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines focus increasingly on singles as a passenger demographic. 

There are activities for kids of all ages on every cruise, but if you have young children, you may want to be selective about the ship you sail on. If you book a cruise with a line that caters to adults, your kids will probably be bored by the second day. 

This is especially true if they aren’t old enough to partake in the ship’s many events for adults only. Parents have a hard time when their kids are bored, which is no secret.

3. Time Limits

A cruise might not be for you if you prefer to see as much as possible in a certain area and learn as much as possible about its history and culture. 

On most cruises, you’ll have the morning to explore each port and the rest of the day to return to the ship before it docks for the night. Especially if you develop a strong attachment to one of the port cities, all the constant movement can make you feel like you’re never staying in one location for long enough.

4. The Tourist Traps

Ports are designed to accommodate cruise passengers because that is where the ships dock, hence most shore excursions are standard tourist fare. 

Because of this, getting a real taste of the local culture can be challenging, as tourist traps tend to charge exorbitant rates for everything from meals to souvenirs to excursions.

4. Motion Sickness

While cruising on a massive cruise ship is vastly different than spending the day fishing in a small boat, there is a good reason that Dramamine is handed out like candy at the cruise ship’s welcome center. Even if a cruise ship is as heavy as a small island, the waves will still be able to sway it back and forth.

I have enjoyed several successful ship vacations. I didn’t feel nauseous at all, and that made me feel superior. It’s possible that I made fun of individuals around me who were clearly struggling. 

A tiny tropical storm forced the cruise ship I was on to make its way through the night, and let’s just say karma got me for all the snide remarks I’d been making to other passengers.

You could have a bad day on the cruise even if you’ve never gotten seasick before. Before committing to a weeklong vacation, you may want to get some practice on the water. Don’t find out 100 miles offshore, with six days left of your vacation, that your stomach can’t tolerate waves.

Bottom Line

A cruise trip is unlike any other, with its onboard casino, midnight buffet, and visits to exotic ports. You may save a lot of money on your vacation if you plan ahead and shop around. 

Once you’re on board, it’s important to practice extreme frugality in order to maximize your savings. However, not everyone enjoys a cruise. Don’t go into debt on a vacation you won’t enjoy.

Could you tell me if you’ve ever been on a cruise? How much did it cost you and how was the experience overall? Which online travel agency do you recommend most for finding cheap cruises? Use the space below to elaborate on the statement.

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