1. Take your own pictures
To start with the most obvious way to save money: Take your own pictures. You most likely have a state of the art camera in your pocket right now, so why not capture moments you want to remember yourself, even if the ship’s photographer is not around?
2. Stay off the grid
Spend your vacation on the cruise you paid for, not on social media. By disconnecting during your cruise you don’t only improve the quality of your travel experience, you also save a lot on overpriced on-board Wi-Fi and roaming charges.
If you absolutely need to connect, find free Wi-Fi spots at libraries, hotels, restaurants or the tourist information at the port.
3. Discover local cuisine
While on board, stick to the dining venues that are included in your rate. Instead of paying out of your nose for specialty restaurants of varying quality, rather visit local restaurant on port days. Not only will the prices be more budget-friendly than on board, but it is also a great opportunity to experience genuine local cuisine and hospitality. Norwegian restaurants have access to some of the freshest ingredients, harvested directly from the pristine nature of our beautiful country.
4. Book your own excursions
While you can book excursion on board, those are often priced at a premium and include a generous commission for every link in the supply chain. Often you can get excursions from local tour operators for a fraction of the price you pay at the shore excursion desk and with much smaller groups.
By booking your own excursion, you can either select a ready-made tour, or you can customize a tour to suit your interests and at a time convenient for you. As an additional benefit, a local guide will be able to recommend a restaurant for the experience you are looking for.
Most tour operators offer favourable group rates. If you want to save even more, why not try to find fellow passengers who may want to join your tour at your cruise’s roll call?
Wikitravel pages on cities often include a list of local tour operators for you to choose from. To make sure that you book with a reputable operator, you can check the reviews on their Trip Advisor page (make sure to leave one yourself after the tour!) and call their local tourist organisation to enquire about them.
5. Pay less for drinks than for your cruise ticket
Acknowledge your drinking habits and do the math. Do you really need to purchase a beverage package, or will you be better off with individual purchases?
During your stay on board, you are residing in a floating restaurant, which is also reflected in the prices for beverages. Check the terms and conditions. Can you bring your own bottled water? If so, do it and you will save at least enough for a fancy lunch at a local restaurant on shore.
If you start to become weary of drinking the same generic brand beer every evening, you may also want to look into booking a shore excursion which includes local food and drinks.
6. Travel on a smaller ship
While big cruise lines may have an appeal as well, they are also the very pinnacle of mass tourism. If you don’t want to spend your vacation on a floating mega-mall, getting everything from souvenir glasses to timeshares on Spanish islands pushed on to you, you may be better off looking for smaller lines with smaller ships.
In addition to a more relaxing experience, smaller ships often provide better value by offering a more special experience. Smaller ships can reach ports off the beaten path, and sometimes they even stay overnight, giving you more time to explore the life on shore.
Also cabins with ocean view are standard, and on the way perks such as a la carte dining and premium beverages are often included.
While the initial rate may be higher, you may still save money at the bottom line. Value is the key, what is included in the rate, and how much do you have to pay for extras?