One way or another, you got a great deal on a summer cruise. You might have used a travel agent or booked your sailing directly from the cruise line. The deposit was paid. Final payment has been made. Now it’s time to think about actually going. While a cruise vacation is an outstanding travel value and you do indeed have the lion’s share of the total cost out of the way, that’s not the end of spending. Uncontrolled, onboard spending can and commonly does equal or exceed the price of the cruise itself. Scary thought? It does not have to be. Post-cruise financial depression can be totally avoided with some forethought and good planning.
Prepay When Possible
Pre-paying gratuities we would normally have automatically added to our onboard spending account can cut a big chunk out of onboard spending. At an average of $12 per person, per day suggested by cruise lines, that’s $336 for a family of four.
Most cruise lines allow pre-paying a number of other onboard expenses too. Shore Excursions, Spa Treatments, Drink Packages and more paid in advance, can help control onboard spending.
Budget gurus commonly recommend that we don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. The same applies to walking on to a cruise ship. The very first day, cruise travelers’ face a barrage of buying opportunities that might be hard to resist. Know that crewmembers will be on hand to hard sell you packages and programs.
Many cruise travelers commonly rush to the spa or gift shop on the first day. They think there is no way they will get that massage scheduled at a convenient time if they don’t do it right away. They hurry to buy souvenirs from the ship’s gift shop for fear they will run out. Wrong on both counts.
Think Of It Like Holiday Spending
Anyone who gets into the swing of holiday shopping knows very well that financing that spirit on high-interest credit cards has it’s down side. The person in the family that pays the bills gets a post-Christmas depression headache that starts just about the same time that the last present is opened on Christmas Morning. Simply putting your brain in that same place can help reduce onboard spending.
Focus On Two Finish Lines
Back this up a bit and start thinking about onboard spending the same day we put down a deposit. As a travel agent I learned early on that my budget conscious clients were quite focused on when final payment was due. They got that and considered that date carefully, buying only if they thought they could make that payment on time.
What most missed was accounting for onboard spending, something that did not have a set-in-stone date but is a real expense of cruise travel. Many had great success estimating and having funds available to cover onboard expenses in advance, setting the day of embarkation as the “due date”.
Everyone Gets A Discretionary Spending Fund
A good way to avoid post-cruise financial depression happen by giving each person in the family a dollar amount that they can spend on whatever they want to. This is a good way to address unknown buying opportunities that might come up as clever cruise lines dream up more ways for us to spend.
Done right, this can also be a great way to encourage, support and promote the attainment of goals at home by all family members. Great grades, chores done, appropriate behavior= a certain $ amount in the discretionary spending fund for the kids. Eating right, sticking to an exercise schedule, etc = more $ for the adults in their own discretionary fund.
Best benefit for the person who controls the money: No nagging to buy something along the way. They have their discretionary fund. If they blew it on candy and now want a t-shirt, that’s their problem, not yours.
Regardless of how we go about it, considering upcoming expenses that will indeed happen onboard, amounts in excess of what we spend for the cruise fare, can help eliminate post-cruise financial depression. Believe me when I tell you, taking steps to keep that amount in check, before embarkation, will make for a far better travel experience.
Photo- Carnival Cruise Lines