Author Topic: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?  (Read 15024 times)

Nick_Miller

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #100 on: January 29, 2018, 07:18:18 AM »
@the_fixer, it was just personal preference. Numbers don't change a lot either way (below).

I wanted to cap cruise/fees/taxes + airfare at $5000.

Looking at the 7-days cruises out of Florida, they would have been about $4000 per cruise plus about $1200 airfare.

Looking at the 7-day cruises out of PR, they are about $3000 per cruise, plus about $1800 in airfare.

So the prices are similar; we might end up saving a few bucks going the PR route but it won't be much. We weren't going to drive to FL anyway (too far), and either way, we would have arrived a day early (as suggested by pretty much everyone), so either way we'd have a one-night hotel stay. This way, we get to see PR for an afternoon. Also, we've heard nice things about the Southern Caribbean, which you can only see on a 7-day cruise if you depart from PR.


Captain FIRE

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #101 on: January 29, 2018, 09:10:40 AM »
Why even bother posting if you are going to ignore pretty much everything posted?   As someone who did almost the same exact cruise within the past year, you got robbed.

That's where my frustration came from as well. Similar to someone posting a case study about how they can't save but they aren't going to drop a clown car payment or give up cable and a large cell phone plan.  Why post if you're not going to listen to the advice.

If this were a post about ANYTHING outside of travel that was for consumerism it would be getting lit up a lot more. There is a soft spot for travel around here.

I just didn't bother posting again since it didn't seem worth my time (and you seemed to be doing an adequate job of expressing disappointment).  I would analogize this to wedding advice: You tell the person to save the most money by inviting fewer people and having it not on a Saturday night.  The person declines to save the dollars and instead saves the pennies by making their own invitations or using an DJ instead of band (but not an ipod).  It's helpful, but not as useful as if they accepted the big ticket advice.

Here the biggest advice is to find a cheaper cruise: look a different month, get an inside, watch for cruise sales, etc.  And that was ignored, but don't worry, he won't gamble!  Which is fine, it's his dollars to spend (and cents to save).  But I'm not going to stick around and waste my time sharing how to save on farthings.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #102 on: January 29, 2018, 09:23:58 AM »
Why even bother posting if you are going to ignore pretty much everything posted?   As someone who did almost the same exact cruise within the past year, you got robbed.

That's where my frustration came from as well. Similar to someone posting a case study about how they can't save but they aren't going to drop a clown car payment or give up cable and a large cell phone plan.  Why post if you're not going to listen to the advice.

If this were a post about ANYTHING outside of travel that was for consumerism it would be getting lit up a lot more. There is a soft spot for travel around here.

I just didn't bother posting again since it didn't seem worth my time (and you seemed to be doing an adequate job of expressing disappointment).  I would analogize this to wedding advice: You tell the person to save the most money by inviting fewer people and having it not on a Saturday night.  The person declines to save the dollars and instead saves the pennies by making their own invitations or using an DJ instead of band (but not an ipod).  It's helpful, but not as useful as if they accepted the big ticket advice.

Here the biggest advice is to find a cheaper cruise: look a different month, get an inside, watch for cruise sales, etc.  And that was ignored, but don't worry, he won't gamble!  Which is fine, it's his dollars to spend (and cents to save).  But I'm not going to stick around and waste my time sharing how to save on farthings.

this forum really needs like buttons.

Cassie

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #103 on: January 29, 2018, 10:52:12 AM »
The Op is limited by his kids school schedule. we are semi-retired so can go anytime so of course we get better deals.  We take a paid excursion at every port because that is the point of taking the cruise.  We have taken re-postioning cruises because they are a lot cheaper but they are longer-usually at least 2 weeks and have a ton of sea days.  Neither of these are ideal when you are traveling with kids.  Plus the ones we have taken have been while school is in.  He is doing the best he can with what he has to work with.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #104 on: January 29, 2018, 11:06:06 AM »
The Op is limited by his kids school schedule. we are semi-retired so can go anytime so of course we get better deals.  We take a paid excursion at every port because that is the point of taking the cruise.  We have taken re-postioning cruises because they are a lot cheaper but they are longer-usually at least 2 weeks and have a ton of sea days.  Neither of these are ideal when you are traveling with kids.  Plus the ones we have taken have been while school is in.  He is doing the best he can with what he has to work with.

i strongly disagree - the exact cruise can be booked much more affordably.  adding in flexibility further brings it down. 

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #105 on: January 29, 2018, 12:20:42 PM »
Yup, my wife is a teacher and I'm stuck to the school schedule.  There are still good deals to be found.  I don't agree with booking as early as possible for the best price.  The best cruise deals I've found were about two months out. 

Cassie

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #106 on: January 29, 2018, 12:28:08 PM »
Boarder, so at what price can you find that exact cruise when school is out?  My kids are long grown but we never took them out of school for vacations either.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #107 on: January 29, 2018, 12:34:08 PM »
I was ninja'ed by @Cassie!

But yes, obviously we are already booked, but if anyone can find a much cheaper rate for a comparable summer-months cruise, please post away! Maybe someone else will learn something from it.

To ensure that it's apples to apples, we have an Outside Cabin (we got it because it's slightly larger than Inside Cabin) and we are cramming four people into the room, including my oldest daughter who is already 5'2") with RC. The exact cruise price for four people for seven days is $2,952.16 not including gratuities. And plus we get a $275 OBC.

Okay, someone beat the price I have, especially since boarder said he could book the "exact same cruise much more affordably." Go ahead and post your significantly more affordable quotes.

But no more "take a cruise during the school year" arguments! That ship has sailed!  (see what I did there)

« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 12:41:13 PM by Nick_Miller »

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #108 on: January 29, 2018, 01:39:04 PM »
its easy i dont even have to change what you booked
1. 2 southwest cards each - use MS to meet the spend - now you have 0 dollars in airfare cost - plus other free flight if you want em
2. one SPG/marriott/hilton/hyatt card MS again - now your hotel is free
3. 2 capone cards MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 1952
4. 2 barclay cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 952
5. 2 capone business cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now you have 48 bucks to put towards gratuities.

or you could have taken the advice of the earlier poster who recommended getting the Chase Ultimate rewads cards to drop the price of the cruise. 

same cruise 0 dollars. 

now i'd have shopped around and found better deals on the price of a summer cruise - probably waited til later just knowing it may not happen this year vs shell out 3k for a summer cruise with no plan.

but you came in here with a very inflexible schedule then in very little time chose to just pull the trigger on something before you had analyzed everything and come up with a game plan.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #109 on: January 29, 2018, 01:59:04 PM »
@boarder42,

I AM going to travel hack as much as possible, with the limitation that I won't use the cc to make purchases that might be made simply because I'm using a cc, if you get what I mean. Trust me, I am! But you're into this next-level of hacking called "manufactured spending," which I'm just not there yet. I read your links and I think I sorta get what you are doing, but you're buying stuff with money orders and all of this stuff, and I'm just not there yet.

It's hard to believe you're being so adamant about things when it turns out your biggest objection is that I'm not doing manufacturing spending. Geez.

I'll let everyone know how many travel miles we end up earning beforehand, but again my monthly spend has decreased in the last year or so, and again (I've said it many times), I will not put anything discretionary on cc's. Even NerdWallet acknowledges that you are very likely to overspend enough to cancel out your travel miles unless you are very strict.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #110 on: January 29, 2018, 02:24:31 PM »
no my biggest objection is to booking that cruise period.  but since the question was how do you get this specific thing i want cheaper thats what i answered.  my issue is that the cruise really shouldnt have been booked at all and other options should have been explored or there should have been more flexiblity around where you visited and when you booked to obtain the best overall cost.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #111 on: January 29, 2018, 02:42:40 PM »
I'm still curious if anyone (over the coming weeks or months even) finds a better quote for that same exact cruise, or a very similar one. I think $2950 is pretty freakin' good for four people for a whole week with a window, but who the f knows, maybe someone will post an amazing deal!

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #112 on: January 29, 2018, 02:49:54 PM »
its not the caribbean but we were in a balcony with booze and 14 days and 2 people for 2500 a few year ago in europe - which usually costs more - also had gratuities covered in that price. 

The approach to booking a vacation should change its a different mindset - rather than i want to go on a southern caribbean cruise on royal caribbean out of san juan in june 2018 ... you should say we are going to take a vacation in june we'll shop for deals each year and pick the best and coolest one with the thought that a cruise could be a choice in the future if the right deal presents itself.

2950 for 4 people for a week with a port hole is never going to be in the pretty freaking good deal category for a week long cruise when you put them all in an ocean view room.  add drinks and make it two couples with a balcony and you have a deal - add gratuities and it gets better - get it down to 70-80 per person a day with all that and you've got a pretty good deal - needs to be sub 50 per person a day to add the word freakin'


marion10

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #113 on: January 29, 2018, 04:45:29 PM »
We have been very happy with cruisecompete and been very satisfied. Even if the price is the same, we get onboard credit from the travel agency- that pays for excursions or some drinks or souvenirs.

the_fixer

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #114 on: January 29, 2018, 04:59:21 PM »
It is your money and none of my business how you spend it,  I hope you and your family have the time of your life and make some great memories.

One last tip for you :)

There is a Fort that is an easy walk from the cruise port, it was fun to walk around it and cost very little (US park so if you have a pass free) and they give the kids a ranger badge and activity book. On the way back to the cruise port walk through the old part of town and check it out.

**********************************************
For future people that read the thread looking for advice if you look around a bit you and are flexible it is pretty easy to find a nice cruise for less money. The ones listed below are from San Juan. If you are open to locations you could even get a 7 day for less for example western Caribbean or mexico and you could probably save some money on flights as well. The more flexible you are the more options you have.   

Found in aprox 5 min looking on Expedia $419 per person.

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Carnival Fascination, 3.8/5 (12 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 1010, Jun 2424
Ports of call: San Juan; St. Thomas; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Saint Kitts; St. Maarten; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
Sale! Early Saver Rates & Reduced Deposit - Ends 1/31
Early Saver Rates + Reduced Deposit & $50 Credit- Ends 1/31
Show less

----------------------------------------
$472 per person

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Carnival Fascination, 3.8/5 (12 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 1010, Jun 2424
Ports of call: San Juan; St. Thomas; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Saint Kitts; St. Maarten; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
Sale! Early Saver Rates & Reduced Deposit - Ends 1/31
Early Saver Rates + Reduced Deposit & $50 Credit- Ends 1/31
Show less

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Guessing this is the one that you booked?

$639 per person

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Freedom of the Seas, 4.1/5 (40 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 22, Jun 2323
Ports of call: San Juan; Philipsburg; Basse Terre; Saint Johns; Castries; Bridgetown; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
30% Off All Guests - Ends 1/31
Up to $100 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
EXCLUSIVE! $25 Onboard Credit
Show less
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 05:02:32 PM by the_fixer »

secondcor521

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #115 on: January 30, 2018, 12:49:56 AM »
It's too late for the OP, but based on his most recent comments, it sounded like he didn't know what exactly would happen if he took his kids out of school because he mentioned a best case and a worst case scenario that were different.  If he had called the school and/or the teachers to find out exactly what would happen and if there would be any way to minimize the zero's or mountain of homework, he might have found something that worked.  Sometimes schools are surprisingly flexible and willing to negotiate creative solutions that work for everyone (and sometimes not).  If people on this thread are correct about the seasonality of pricing (and I think they are), that one thing could have possibly saved several thousand dollars.

OP, I would be curious about your assessment of the islands' recovery from the hurricanes.  I am considering a trip to that region but in my case will probably wait longer until things are better just based on my personal preference and the timing of it all.

Villanelle

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #116 on: January 30, 2018, 04:06:37 AM »
No one is saying go and don't see anything.  You don't need shore excursions to see things.  You can go off on your own and/or hire a taxi for an hour or two. 

Some time spent researching (Cruise Critic would be very helpful here) will show you what ports are reasonable to self-explore.  (Keep in mind that it is a somewhat spendypants group and many of them will have bought in to the cruise lines' ZOMG YOU MUST BOOK EXCURSIONS nonsense.)  They will likely even also give you tips on how to do it.

You can also find people on your cruise and  share private tours.  When my sister and I cruised with my mom, mom was determined to do excursions (and was paying).  My sister found people via Cruise Critic with whom we shared tours.  They were slightly cheaper than the cruise excursions but we had 7 people instead of 40 and could customize them.

robartsd

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #117 on: January 30, 2018, 08:37:55 AM »
its easy i dont even have to change what you booked
1. 2 southwest cards each - use MS to meet the spend - now you have 0 dollars in airfare cost - plus other free flight if you want em
2. one SPG/marriott/hilton/hyatt card MS again - now your hotel is free
3. 2 capone cards MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 1952
4. 2 barclay cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 952
5. 2 capone business cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now you have 48 bucks to put towards gratuities.

same cruise 0 dollars. 
I don't think OP is comfortable with manufactured spending (MS) - sign up bonuses and MS are the real key to getting travel for nearly nothing. And MS is not quite free - at least I don't know of any methods that don't have nominal fees (typically about 2% which is just enough to make MS too expensive for regular rewards). Assuming each of the 9 cards you suggest has a spend requirement of $3000 and your average fee for MS is about 2%, your total is about $540 (9 * 3000 * .02).

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #118 on: January 30, 2018, 10:29:58 AM »
OP, I would be curious about your assessment of the islands' recovery from the hurricanes.  I am considering a trip to that region but in my case will probably wait longer until things are better just based on my personal preference and the timing of it all.

There's been a lot of discussion about this on cruise critic.  The islands have done a massive amount of work to get the tourists back, because without tourists, many of them have no economy.  While not everything may be up and running, there is still a lot to see and do.  Whether it's the right time for any individual to go would depend on what particularly they want to do while there.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #119 on: January 30, 2018, 11:25:59 AM »
its easy i dont even have to change what you booked
1. 2 southwest cards each - use MS to meet the spend - now you have 0 dollars in airfare cost - plus other free flight if you want em
2. one SPG/marriott/hilton/hyatt card MS again - now your hotel is free
3. 2 capone cards MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 1952
4. 2 barclay cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now its 952
5. 2 capone business cards - MS again - 1k off the cruise now you have 48 bucks to put towards gratuities.

same cruise 0 dollars. 
I don't think OP is comfortable with manufactured spending (MS) - sign up bonuses and MS are the real key to getting travel for nearly nothing. And MS is not quite free - at least I don't know of any methods that don't have nominal fees (typically about 2% which is just enough to make MS too expensive for regular rewards). Assuming each of the 9 cards you suggest has a spend requirement of $3000 and your average fee for MS is about 2%, your total is about $540 (9 * 3000 * .02).

2% i make money MS(ing) see the link in my signature - even if i werent making money it wouldnt be 2%

2% is an insanely high cost to MS - even without the 2% TCB kick back it would be arond 1% to MS the way i do.

27*7.63 = 206 bucks to MS with that above - but its not quite 27k b/c the SW cards are 2k minimum spend
Looky there we just found 206 more dollars enough to cover one excursion for 4 people booked properly off ship with some cruise critic peeps.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 11:28:34 AM by boarder42 »

Cassie

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #120 on: January 30, 2018, 12:12:59 PM »
I am curious to see what people come up with that are not travel hacking, etc. Someone listed 2 cruises that were cheaper but we won't travel on Carnival anymore or Princess due to bad experiences.  We did get a cheap deal on a Dec caribbean cruise 40 days before it left for 400/person. It was Royal's oldest and smallest ship. Because we are retired we can go on short notice as long as we can line up a doggy sitter.

libertarian4321

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #121 on: January 30, 2018, 12:25:02 PM »
1.  I read through maybe 25 posts, and no one mentioned "alcohol smuggling?"

Yeah, I know.  It's  "wrong" to hit Carnival's profit center by bring your own alcohol on board rather than paying $15 for a drink.  But apparently, lots of people do it, given by the number of items you can buy on Amazon designed specifically for getting alcohol past the screeners.  But I would never recommend this.  Because it's "wrong."  Or something. 

2.  Become a connoisseur of art.  On Carnival, at least, this is a great way to get free alcohol without the guilt of smuggling.  Go to the art auction.  They serve as much free cheap champagne as you can drink.

However, last time I did that, I ended up buying a $500 painting after my 7th glass of champagne.  So my free champagne got a bit expensive.

This plan clearly has some flaws.  I'm still working on it.

3.  Military/Vet discount.  Many of the cruise lines give discounts for military and vets.

4.  Cruise when other people don't.  For the Caribbean, this means late in the fall and early winter, during the school year.

Side benefit.  Cruising to Jamaica in December is not only cheaper, but a heck of a lot cooler than going during peak summer months.  As long as there are no hurricanes that week, you win! 

And if there is a hurricane, you get to test your mettle by trying not to toss your cookies as the ship rides the waves.  Good times!

Even better side benefit:  Cruise during the school year, and you'll have a lot less children on board.  With a low cost cruise line like Carnival, the ship will be teeming with loud, annoying children during the summer.  But in mid-January, because of school (and parents being largely broke from buying toys for their little darlings), you will have a near child free existence.


penguintroopers

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #122 on: January 30, 2018, 12:33:41 PM »
1) Where do you save the most? By cramming 4 people into a small cabin? By booking a budget-line like Carnival? By avoiding or limiting the "for $" restaurant meals onboard?  By taking 4 or 5 day cruises? (I know they use the older boats for those and don't service the Eastern Caribbean much with those). How do you try to get your most bang for the buck?

Hubby and I took a cruise with Norwegian last May for less than $3k total. I'd say our biggest splurge would be us booking a balcony room, but when we booked we could choose other perks: one of which was 3rd and 4th guest in the same cabin for free (not applicable to us), free wifi (nah, we're on this to get away) or free alcoholic drinks (we don't drink). The perks we chose were free meals at the upscale restaurants (but to be honest, the main dining rooms were great too) and $ discounts on shore excursions. I'd say the biggest savings we had were pre- and post- cruise transportation. We took a local train and then a bus to our port of departure, and a bus and train back home. You would easily shave $1,000 off by not flying, but there are costs associated with driving/parking, so I would see what lines go out of local ports to you and where they go. Also, you are going to pay more simply because June is a prime month. Traveling in the shoulders of the season will have a corresponding drop in price.

2) Does anyone actually put 4 people into a standard cabin or is that ridiculous? The AAA lady said that our two kiddos would be about 50% less each if we did that. But it seems like it could be super crowded and the restroom situation would be less than ideal. But it might save us $1000 or so, so that's a big deal.

Yeah, but don't do this if you plan on spending an appreciable amount of time in your cabin. If you feel like your family would be by the pool/eating/playing games 90% of the day and you're in the room just to sleep and change clothes, it would be ok.

3) Any awesome ports that you'd recommend in the Caribbean? Has anyone been to St. Thomas, St. Rita, etc? Impressed or not?

Hubby and I liked Great Stirrup Key (but its exclusively owned by Norwegian). Nassau was nice, but we could see how much the local economy was dependent on tourists and we weren't a big fan of that.

4) Any "insider tips"? I've read about bringing binder clips to keep curtains closed and about which lines will let you bring some cokes/wine onboard, but I'm sure there are 1000 tips that folks like me would never think about.

Don't open your balcony door and stateroom door at the same time!

Norwegian states they don't allow cokes/waters on board. I got some on in a carry on, but all of the packed water bottles were found and confiscated. Some people advise bringing a reusable water bottle and refilling on the ship, but knowing I would probably get the stink eye from workers kept me from doing that.

Also, take the number of sunblock bottles you think you need, then add one. If you run out, your choices are overpriced sunblock on the boat, or overpriced sunblock at the tourist shop.

Pack your own beach towels.

5) Finally, would you recommend getting a passport book? I know that the cards or birth certificates will suffice most of the time in the Caribbean, but AAA said that they recommend go ahead and getting a passport in case there's a transportation issue and you have to fly somewhere unexpectedly. We'd be likely to get them eventually (would love to go to Europe in 2 years), but I'm not sure we need to incur the $500 expense right this second. Thoughts?

I would for you and your wife, but not for the kids. When I cruised as a kid there was no issues when my parents used my birth certificate. Just make sure you have the real one with the seal, and not the cute one they make at the hospital.

6) Any other recommendations about certain lines or boats? We would value at-least decent food, a slightly calmer atmosphere, excellent shows and entertainment, kid-friendly programming, and ports of call with a mixture of beaches and maybe a little history/sightseeing. We would prefer to avoid "party boats" and things like bars, nightclubs, and high-end restaurants mean nothing to us.

I would say Royal Caribbean or Norwegian then. Also, do know that an individual boat may attract the kind of cruiser a line typically doesn't attract. All depends on the layout/remodel/perks/destinations etc.

Ps. I would also recommend Norwegian because they were shifting their dining to be more "as you want it". I could make reservations for all of the dining rooms before we even left, and we could sit just the two of us at every dinner. We also wanted the nice feeling of eating out every time, so I think we visited the buffet like once. Highly recommend avoiding it.

Oh, and I have no idea how it would impact the budget, but Disney cruise line lives to give you the best vacation it can. Can't say I remember anything about the food or stateroom size though.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #123 on: January 30, 2018, 12:34:40 PM »
1.  I read through maybe 25 posts, and no one mentioned "alcohol smuggling?"

Yeah, I know.  It's  "wrong" to hit Carnival's profit center by bring your own alcohol on board rather than paying $15 for a drink.  But apparently, lots of people do it, given by the number of items you can buy on Amazon designed specifically for getting alcohol past the screeners.  But I would never recommend this.  Because it's "wrong."  Or something. 

2.  Become a connoisseur of art.  On Carnival, at least, this is a great way to get free alcohol without the guilt of smuggling.  Go to the art auction.  They serve as much free cheap champagne as you can drink.

However, last time I did that, I ended up buying a $500 painting after my 7th glass of champagne.  So my free champagne got a bit expensive.

This plan clearly has some flaws.  I'm still working on it.

3.  Military/Vet discount.  Many of the cruise lines give discounts for military and vets.

4.  Cruise when other people don't.  For the Caribbean, this means late in the fall and early winter, during the school year.

Side benefit.  Cruising to Jamaica in December is not only cheaper, but a heck of a lot cooler than going during peak summer months.  As long as there are no hurricanes that week, you win! 

And if there is a hurricane, you get to test your mettle by trying not to toss your cookies as the ship rides the waves.  Good times!

Even better side benefit:  Cruise during the school year, and you'll have a lot less children on board.  With a low cost cruise line like Carnival, the ship will be teeming with loud, annoying children during the summer.  But in mid-January, because of school (and parents being largely broke from buying toys for their little darlings), you will have a near child free existence.

see post number 10 item number 7 - i posted about alcohol smuggling its not hard you dont even need a special container.

SnackDog

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #124 on: January 30, 2018, 12:36:56 PM »
I donít see the big deal with pulling kids out of school for a week as long as they are pre high school. I imagine any MMM kids are smarter than average, so no consequence to having them out for a week. Ask teacher if they can take some homework on the ship. Good opportunity for some home schooling and tutoring from relaxed parents.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #125 on: January 30, 2018, 12:40:28 PM »
I donít see the big deal with pulling kids out of school for a week as long as they are pre high school. I imagine any MMM kids are smarter than average, so no consequence to having them out for a week. Ask teacher if they can take some homework on the ship. Good opportunity for some home schooling and tutoring from relaxed parents.

i agree - my parents pulled us from school for family vacations 1 or 2x a year and we took our homework with us to the ski slopes or the cruise or where ever - we finally screamed uncle on a 2 week vacation to hawaii in 8th grade/6th grade - two straight weeks away was too much to miss. and then all HS trips were in the off seasons. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #126 on: January 30, 2018, 12:47:15 PM »
I donít see the big deal with pulling kids out of school for a week as long as they are pre high school. I imagine any MMM kids are smarter than average, so no consequence to having them out for a week. Ask teacher if they can take some homework on the ship. Good opportunity for some home schooling and tutoring from relaxed parents.

In some jurisdictions this can run into truancy laws.  To do it, you basically have to disenroll your kids, call them homeschooled, then reenroll.

secondcor521

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #127 on: January 30, 2018, 12:49:02 PM »
OP, I would be curious about your assessment of the islands' recovery from the hurricanes.  I am considering a trip to that region but in my case will probably wait longer until things are better just based on my personal preference and the timing of it all.

There's been a lot of discussion about this on cruise critic.  The islands have done a massive amount of work to get the tourists back, because without tourists, many of them have no economy.  While not everything may be up and running, there is still a lot to see and do.  Whether it's the right time for any individual to go would depend on what particularly they want to do while there.

Thanks!  I haven't been to cruise critic yet, but will keep it in mind for updates.

I see the catch-22:  The islands need to repair everything so the tourists will return en mass, but they need money from the tourists to do so.  Part of the fun for me too is having enough other people around; it sounds like that isn't much of a problem now.  I'll probably go this upcoming fall.

the_fixer

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #128 on: January 30, 2018, 12:52:29 PM »
I am curious to see what people come up with that are not travel hacking, etc. Someone listed 2 cruises that were cheaper but we won't travel on Carnival anymore or Princess due to bad experiences.  We did get a cheap deal on a Dec caribbean cruise 40 days before it left for 400/person. It was Royal's oldest and smallest ship. Because we are retired we can go on short notice as long as we can line up a doggy sitter.
There were plenty of others as well the carnival matched his time and area best. I honestly spent more time posting the info than finding it.

Princess, Norwegian we're both about the same price as carnival but cruising different destinations.

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I'm a red panda

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #129 on: January 30, 2018, 01:21:47 PM »

Thanks!  I haven't been to cruise critic yet, but will keep it in mind for updates.


Cruise critic is my #1 tip for ANY area of cruising.  Get ideas for saving money, get ideas of best excursions, best ships, best rooms, best things to do, rip off activities, packing lists, ANYTHING. That place is where to be if you cruise.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #130 on: January 30, 2018, 01:28:08 PM »
Yes, RC had better reviews than Carnival. That was a factor.

And regarding taking the kiddos out, I DO know the process. I just chose not to go down that road. To paraphrase, you have to convince the principal that: 1) the trip has a core educational purpose, 2) that it has significant educational value, and 3) you must specifically link anticipated educational opportunities to specific parts of the core curriculum.

Would a standard Caribbean cruise meet those standards? I don't know; maybe, if you submitted descriptions of what the kiddos would learn of the cultures from the islands we visited. But you had better be thorough! And really, allowing a regular cruise to = "excused absence" seems like a big stretch to me.

Regardless, we didn't go down that path. Even if it HAD been approved, "students will complete all missed schoolwork, including homework." So hence, my earlier "shitton" of homework comment from earlier. Middle schools are pretty rigorous these days; at least ours is.



boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #131 on: January 30, 2018, 01:32:48 PM »
Yes, RC had better reviews than Carnival. That was a factor.

And regarding taking the kiddos out, I DO know the process. I just chose not to go down that road. To paraphrase, you have to convince the principal that: 1) the trip has a core educational purpose, 2) that it has significant educational value, and 3) you must specifically link anticipated educational opportunities to specific parts of the core curriculum.

Would a standard Caribbean cruise meet those standards? I don't know; maybe, if you submitted descriptions of what the kiddos would learn of the cultures from the islands we visited. But you had better be thorough! And really, allowing a regular cruise to = "excused absence" seems like a big stretch to me.

Regardless, we didn't go down that path. Even if it HAD been approved, "students will complete all missed schoolwork, including homework." So hence, my earlier "shitton" of homework comment from earlier. Middle schools are pretty rigorous these days; at least ours is.

kind of annoying the school has that kinda control over what you do with your own children.  kinda like the current nazi version of labor where you had better have your butt in a chair for 8 hours regardless of what you actually accomplish in any given day. 

kids who have proven to be good learners and who excel should be allowed more luxuries than students who struggle and do not make good grades. 

i had to do my homework on the road but it wasnt too hard to make up one week's worth of work.  my brother and i were both top performers - i actually did the wrong chapter one time on vacation and the teacher just gave me an A on the test i didnt take b/c its what i would have gotten anyways.

robartsd

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #132 on: January 30, 2018, 02:07:53 PM »
2% i make money MS(ing) see the link in my signature - even if i werent making money it wouldnt be 2%

2% is an insanely high cost to MS - even without the 2% TCB kick back it would be arond 1% to MS the way i do.

27*7.63 = 206 bucks to MS with that above - but its not quite 27k b/c the SW cards are 2k minimum spend
Looky there we just found 206 more dollars enough to cover one excursion for 4 people booked properly off ship with some cruise critic peeps.
Thanks for pointing out how you actually make money during the MS process by getting a reward for buying gift cards. OP's objection to CC churning seem primarily based on not wanting to use CC for discressionary spending and how it would psychologically affect their ability to budget.

boarder42

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #133 on: January 30, 2018, 02:21:13 PM »
2% i make money MS(ing) see the link in my signature - even if i werent making money it wouldnt be 2%

2% is an insanely high cost to MS - even without the 2% TCB kick back it would be arond 1% to MS the way i do.

27*7.63 = 206 bucks to MS with that above - but its not quite 27k b/c the SW cards are 2k minimum spend
Looky there we just found 206 more dollars enough to cover one excursion for 4 people booked properly off ship with some cruise critic peeps.
Thanks for pointing out how you actually make money during the MS process by getting a reward for buying gift cards. OP's objection to CC churning seem primarily based on not wanting to use CC for discressionary spending and how it would psychologically affect their ability to budget.

correct which is solved by MSing

secondcor521

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #134 on: January 30, 2018, 05:41:30 PM »
2% i make money MS(ing) see the link in my signature - even if i werent making money it wouldnt be 2%

2% is an insanely high cost to MS - even without the 2% TCB kick back it would be arond 1% to MS the way i do.

27*7.63 = 206 bucks to MS with that above - but its not quite 27k b/c the SW cards are 2k minimum spend
Looky there we just found 206 more dollars enough to cover one excursion for 4 people booked properly off ship with some cruise critic peeps.
Thanks for pointing out how you actually make money during the MS process by getting a reward for buying gift cards. OP's objection to CC churning seem primarily based on not wanting to use CC for discressionary spending and how it would psychologically affect their ability to budget.

correct which is solved by MSing

I thought he had a subsequent objection that MS was too hard to learn.  But I should let him speak for himself.

(I don't think MS is hard; did some today in fact as I was working my way to a net of $1300 in benefits on one card.  I have about six more in the queue that are not as valuable but still should net me over $450 in benefits on each of those additional six cards.  Plus another $900 in bank bonuses.)

JoJo

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #135 on: February 01, 2018, 07:23:21 PM »
Well, I was giving good advice here, mostly liking cruises, but now my opinion towards cruises has gone sour...  I just totally wasted a bunch of money to go to Samoa and they're not even going to stop at Samoa.

https://thehotflashpacker.com/princess-cruises-cancels-port/

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #136 on: February 01, 2018, 08:37:44 PM »
Well, I was giving good advice here, mostly liking cruises, but now my opinion towards cruises has gone sour...  I just totally wasted a bunch of money to go to Samoa and they're not even going to stop at Samoa.

https://thehotflashpacker.com/princess-cruises-cancels-port/

If you have your heart set on a certain location, cruising is definitely not the way to see it.

JoJo

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #137 on: February 02, 2018, 11:57:49 AM »
Well, I was giving good advice here, mostly liking cruises, but now my opinion towards cruises has gone sour...  I just totally wasted a bunch of money to go to Samoa and they're not even going to stop at Samoa.

https://thehotflashpacker.com/princess-cruises-cancels-port/

If you have your heart set on a certain location, cruising is definitely not the way to see it.

Yep, lesson learned the hard way.  I think my cruising days are done for awhile.  My mom still really wants to go on this so I'm stuck (not that I really wanted to cancel and be out $1100 or $3500).    Guess it will cost me $1500 in airfare to finally see Samoa.  Just really wish they had warned of construction...never would have considered purchasing this particular trip.

elaine amj

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #138 on: February 06, 2018, 07:17:26 AM »
It is your money and none of my business how you spend it,  I hope you and your family have the time of your life and make some great memories.

One last tip for you :)

There is a Fort that is an easy walk from the cruise port, it was fun to walk around it and cost very little (US park so if you have a pass free) and they give the kids a ranger badge and activity book. On the way back to the cruise port walk through the old part of town and check it out.

**********************************************
For future people that read the thread looking for advice if you look around a bit you and are flexible it is pretty easy to find a nice cruise for less money. The ones listed below are from San Juan. If you are open to locations you could even get a 7 day for less for example western Caribbean or mexico and you could probably save some money on flights as well. The more flexible you are the more options you have.   

Found in aprox 5 min looking on Expedia $419 per person.

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Carnival Fascination, 3.8/5 (12 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 1010, Jun 2424
Ports of call: San Juan; St. Thomas; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Saint Kitts; St. Maarten; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
Sale! Early Saver Rates & Reduced Deposit - Ends 1/31
Early Saver Rates + Reduced Deposit & $50 Credit- Ends 1/31
Show less

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$472 per person

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Carnival Fascination, 3.8/5 (12 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 1010, Jun 2424
Ports of call: San Juan; St. Thomas; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Saint Kitts; St. Maarten; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
Sale! Early Saver Rates & Reduced Deposit - Ends 1/31
Early Saver Rates + Reduced Deposit & $50 Credit- Ends 1/31
Show less

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Guessing this is the one that you booked?

$639 per person

7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan (Roundtrip)
Freedom of the Seas, 4.1/5 (40 reviews)
Sailing dates
Sailing dates in 2018 2018: Jun: Jun 22, Jun 2323
Ports of call: San Juan; Philipsburg; Basse Terre; Saint Johns; Castries; Bridgetown; San Juan
EXCLUSIVE! Up to $1000 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
30% Off All Guests - Ends 1/31
Up to $100 Onboard Credit - Ends 1/31
EXCLUSIVE! $25 Onboard Credit
Show less

Hmmm...I went through these options and I would have chosen the same cruise you did OP. I am a deal hunter (especially for travel) but I am also OK paying more for the amenities I value.

One trip we had the choice between a short Disney cruise and a longer RC cruise for a little bit more. We spent quite some time debating it but finally we decided it was worth paying more (per day) for the short Disney cruise. We ended up being thrilled with the decision and some years later, still don't regret it. It had the amenities and entertainment we wanted and while it wasn't a rock bottom price (definitely not under $45/night/person), we felt that the upcharge was worth what we got.

We also paid a bit more because we went during the school holidays and going in the spring (when we were longing to get somewhere warm) was important enough to us. Sure we were just like all the other lemmings. That's OK.

I always thought I would take my kids out of school. My mom routinely pulled me out. Had no qualms doing it in JK and SK. Then when they were around 8-10, I took them out for 10 days. No big deal. Two weeks after we returned they got sick - lasted for a week. That much time off was very challenging.  After that I have had no desire to pull them out more than 1-2 days. Unlike other MMM-prodigies, my DS struggles in school. And even my straight-A DD hates missing school. I'm OK paying more for vacations to reduce the stress in their lives.

I love travel hacking (but don't do serious MS - I have researched it and even tried it out, but it's just not for us right now. Maybe in the future) and hunting for the best travel deals. And often have no issues putting off a type of trip for a better time. On the flip side, I am also OK paying more if it is something I value.

For cruises, the food is generally similar enough between cruiselines. So the big difference is the ship's amenities.  And the ports they stop at.

In this case one of the choices you had was between Carnival Fascination (an older ship with all the basic cruise offerings but not much in additional bells and whistles) vs Freedom of the Seas (a very large ship with Dreamworks characters, Rock climbing, Flowrider, ice skating, a Broadway - quality show, etc, etc). To me, that's worth an extra $200/pp. Of course, not everyone values the same things and for someone who doesn't care about those extra amenities, it wouldn't be worth the upcharge. I've sailed on her sister, Liberty of the Seas and she was a great ship. It was a huge value to me to have evening entertainment I preferred (e.g. a Broadway - quality musical, really good ice show, etc vs  revues and comedians on Carnival).

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« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 07:19:12 AM by elaine amj »

Cassie

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #139 on: February 06, 2018, 12:00:46 PM »
Elaine, we actually are taking a trip on Liberty of the Seas in 10 days. I can't wait!  It is a bigger ship with more amenities then we have had in the past.  I am with you that you need to book what you want. One cruise we did go with cheap because RC sent us an offer to go on their oldest ship for 8 days for 499/person if we could go 40 days later. WE jumped on it as we are semi-retired and work from home so can work from anywhere.  But usually we try to book the most value on the ship we want to be on. Now that we don't work f.t. we take 2 cruises/year and we have been having so much fun:))

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Any tips for saving money on a Caribbean cruise?
« Reply #140 on: February 06, 2018, 01:55:55 PM »
Liberty is a wonderful ship.  We've been on her once and have another cruise booked on her for next year.

You will have lots of fun!  You MUST do the raft slide.  It's amazingly fun.