Cruise holidays have many misconceptions, one of the biggest and misleading is that cruises are, and must be, really expensive! If you're a regular cruiser, you'll probably know this isn't always the case.
We caught up with cruise blogger and Youtuber, Emma Le Teace, who is an expert when it comes to cruising on a budget! She's been cruising since she was just 11 years old, and is always finding amazing deals to allow her to cruise to amazing destinations.
How do you start searching for a cheap cruise holiday?
The key to finding a really cheap cruise holiday is to be flexible when it comes to destinations and timings. Not having a set cruise in mind means that you are ready when a cheap cruise deal comes along as they usually don't last for long. Often the best way to find cruise deals is to sign up for as many cruise agency newsletters as possible and to look at lots of travel agency websites. These websites don't just have to be where you are from either, I'm from the UK and get a lot of ideas from US websites. Finding a good travel agent helps a lot too. I work with travel agencies in the UK/US and my agent will message me when she finds a deal she thinks I'd be interested in.
What’s the best way to save money on board?
Not taking cruise line excursions is a great way to save money when cruising, I usually use the cruise lines excursions as research but then book independent excursions or just visit by myself. It can often be half the price to do the same thing just without the cruise lines involvement. If you are somebody who wants to do specialty meals or have spa treatments it's worth looking for deals in the cruise lines daily schedule and possibly booking on port days.
Are drink packages really worth it?
For some people, drinks packages are worth it, but for many, they are not. To work out if they're right for you you have to look at the prices of drinks on a cruise (I have an article about this if of help) and estimate how much you'll be drinking per day. The danger is that you'll book a drinks package and constantly be trying to drink enough to justify it, I've been in that situation before and that isn't much fun! I tend to book a non-alcoholic package and they purchase any extra drinks if I want them.
What about shore excursions?
Oops I already answered this one above ha ha.
Is there anything you think you shouldn’t have to pay for on a cruise?
Personally, I don't like to pay for cruise lines' laundry services as they can be very expensive. I'll often use the self-service laundry if a cruise line has them or if not I'll wash a few items in the sink using travel wash. Almost all cruise lines have washing lines so that you can dry your clothes and it doesn't take long at all.
Can you only cruise with mainstream cruise lines on a budget, or luxury lines too?
I just got back from my first ever 'Luxury' cruise with the cruise line Azamara. It's definitely more difficult to find a more luxurious cruise on a budget but it is possible, cruising out of season and starting your cruise in a different place from where it ends are great ways to reduce the cost. I stuck to my £100 per night budget for my Azamara cruise which for a luxury line I was very impressed with.
Do you have any tips for solo cruisers on how to save money?
The key to solo cruising on a budget is flexibility, cruise lines like P&O and MSC often have no solo supplement cruises but these come up, and go very fast so being flexible about where you want to go is key. It's also worth checking the price in other cabin categories and not just solo cabins, sometimes it'll be cheaper to cruise in a balcony cabin for 1 than a designated solo cabin!
What about families, any tips on saving £££s?
If you are cruising as a family and can share a cabin this is the best way to get a cruise on a budget. The 3rd and 4th passengers in a cabin often cost a heavily reduced rate. I'm doing exactly this in a couple of months and as the third person in the cabin, my cruise fare was only £99 for 7 days!
What is the cheapest cruise you’ve been on?
The cheapest cruise I've been on with a mainstream cruise line was a Costa cruise that cost £38 per person per night based on two sharing a cabin. It would be difficult to stay in a budget hotel on land for that price and that's without adding in any food or entertainment! I've just booked another Costa cruise and that one cost me £279 for a week. Incredible.
Do you think you’ll ever find a budget world cruise?
Absolutely! I recently saw a world cruise with the new British cruise line Ambassador which was very cheap. The cruise is 120 nights long and comes in at a little under £67 per person per night. There are gratuities to add on top of this, but still, that's a fantastic deal. Of course, this is reflective of the fact that Ambassador are a new cruise line with relatively old ships, but still, it is possible.