As I thought about the price of a Carnival cruise and the fact that it is underpriced for the value it provides, "There must be some additional ways to shave some more of the cost of this cruise. So, today I want to give you budget cruisers some ideas on how to save even more on your Carnival cruise. By the way, much of what follows will apply to any cruise line. Since your Carnival cruise has been purchased at less than its market value the cruise line must make up the difference in order to achieve a per diem that allows them to put the ship to sea and make a profit. These are the very same things that can more than double the "real" cost of your cruise experience.
Truth is by minimizing your use of these "extra cost" items you can bring the cost of your cruise in line with your limited budget. Remember, your cabin, food and entertainment are largely included in the price of your cruise ticket. However, drinks, specialty restaurants, Wifi, telephone, laundry, shore excursions, the SPA and shops are not. So here are some ways to keep your cruise budget balanced.
The first thing I noticed about my Carnival cruise was that If you're a big soda or bottled water drinker you don't have to spend the $5 per day per bottle of water for your room or for that Diet Coke you just can't do without. Carnival (as well as Holland America and Celebrity) will allow you to bring a twelve pack of water or soda per person onboard without charge (Size control is 12" x 12" x 12") .
Depending on how much you drink, a pre-paid soda/water package (special pricing for kids) is another option. The other option is to simply switch to the free stuff — such as iced tea, lemonade, coffee and juice from dispensers in the buffet area.
Another place to avoid is the bar. Alcohol on a cruise ship is expensive and everywhere. Frequent too
many bars and your cruise cost will soar. On distilled alcohol you have no choice. If you're going to drink it you will have to purchase it onboard. So, if you can't say "No," then plan ahead for a set number of drinks each day/night. You are generally not allowed to bring your own liquor onboard (if you try it may be confiscated). Also, don't forget that gratuities are added to all alcoholic drinks purchased.
Another popular feature and one that adds to your cruise costs is "Alternative" or
"Specialty" dining. The alternative restaurants on cruise ships are a bonus for foodies. It's your choice whether it's worth it to you to pay $10 per person for a delightful Italian meal in the Cucina Del Capitano, or enjoy a great meal at the Prime Steakhouse ($35 per person) and a lot more for a gourmet Chef's Table experience ($75 per person upcharge). To cut cost stick to the free options. The main dining rooms are still great (though not as good as in the past) and the Lido deck is a great option as well. Scope out a quiet corner in the Market Place on the Lido deck for a date-night.
We live in a "smart phone" age and everyone feels naked when they don't have phone access or internet service. Use of shipboard phones and internet is expensive. In both cases you will pay by the minute and the internet will often be very slow. Avoidance is your best bet. Per-minute fees for calls from your cabin phone are exorbitant. If your plan is to use your cell phone, check with your provider on international roaming charges. Horror stories abound of cruisers unwittingly racking up huge charges because they didn't turn off cellular connections. We turn our phones off.
By in large you should avoid the Onboard gift shops and ignore the ads that are delivered to your cabin promising all sorts of deals. Be aware, though, some of the pricing, such as for take-home bottles of booze, is actually quite good. Everyone on a cruise ending at a Texas port and not just Texas residents will be hit with a alcohol tax when you return to a Texas port. If you're looking for trinkets such as magnets and t-shirts, you may do better at onshore shops.
The Casino an eat your money faster than any other place on the ship so beware. There's a reason for th old saying, "The house always wins." It is because the house always wins! This is a profit area for the cruise lines. Enter at your own risk. If you simply must gamble set a daily limit for yourself and live within it.
The spa is my favorite place on the ship but have just about priced me out of using them. Prices here are high and additional gratuities are expected (15% or more). Your ship's spa will be a lovely oasis for relaxing, with facilities including sauna and steam (sometimes even complimentary) and a full menu of soothing treatments – at prices often higher than at home. Be prepare for what may be a heavy post-treatment pitch for expensive take-home product.
Another area where you can spend a lot of money is on photographs. Everywhere you go on the ship you'll find photographers. This is especially true when boarding and disembarking the ship. You'll also stumble over their makeshift sets on formal nights. You'll certainly want some special photos but don't fall into the trap of buying every picture they take. Decide ahead of time what you want and limit ourself to those photos.
Carnival cruise lines began in an effort to make cruising affordable to the average family. When it comes to cruise fare they have largely succeeded. However, they can be the source of financial pain if self-discipline is not practiced. Just understand you will pay for just about everything.
Let me courage you