When people ask my husband and I how our cruise was or make any comment about us cruising, I can “hear” them wanting to ask the question, “ Soooo…..how do you afford to cruise every year?”…..but they usually don’t ask unless it’s someone who knows us well or they have no inhibitions about asking personal questions!
In 2007, it was our 25th wedding anniversary and we decided that we would go on a cruise. We saved, scrimped and re-worked the yearly budget until we came up with the moolah. It was going to be a once-in-a-life-time trip and that would be the end of it…..or so we thought.
When we were de-embarking the ship in ’07, I looked at my husband and said, “Guess what we’re going to do next year for our vacation?” Naturally, he is a good husband and just said, “What?” to which I replied, “ The same thing we just finished doing…..cruise!” He said, “OK” but that’s not where the dialog ended.
We started talking about how on earth we were going to be able to go every year on a true vacation that got us both away (far away) from work & home. We came up with some ideas and they’ve worked great for us since that first cruise.
For starters, we have a separate bank account for just our vacation. It’s a high interest (not that it makes that much but…..free is free) and there’s no charge for this account. Talk to your bank and see what they have. We’re in Canada and there are lots of freebie options for accounts.
We talked about our special days of the year and discovered that it was really stressful buying each other gifts sometimes!!! Sooooo…….ALL our birthday, anniversary, Christmas & Valentine’s money goes into the cruise pot! Now think about how much you spend on your spouse for presents….surprised? I know of people who spend the amount of a cruise for one person on just their spouse’s birthday but then say they can’t afford to cruise. We also put some of our birthday and Christmas money that family gives us towards our cruise.
We also look for extra income. My husband works elections, has an on-line business (it’s in American dollars so we use that as our cash flow while travelling) and he also gets a generous bonus at Christmas that always goes into the cruise pot.
We’ve cut back on certain things that we are now more careful in buying. If it can be purchased used rather than new, that’s a huge savings. We’ve down-graded our cars instead of upgrading to a higher-end model and we’ve not purchased any new furniture for a few years unless it was necessary. I keep a sharp look-out for bargains and we use coupons like crazy!
Lastly, if you’re like us, you have to fly to your cruise port and this can be costly unless you are handy to an airport that you can get super flight deals on. We’re in Nova Scotia, so not near the US border which means no cheap American flights for us. We fly from our local international airport but use air points with our credit card. This card allows us to make all our business & personal purchases which add up quickly for those air points. We have a card that pays for itself because of our flights and we pay it off before it comes due so they don’t make any money off of us! And with this card our flight is free AND we choose our flights instead of them choosing them for us.
You can choose to cruise “off season” during the less expensive months but take into consideration that they are less expensive during those times because of hurricane season (Autumn) etc.
Book a cabin you can afford. If you want a Jr. Suite, then you may have to save your pennies a little longer. We’ve had outside, balcony, extended balcony and inside cabins and as of 2017 we’ll just be doing and inside cabin for more affordability.
I know there can be other costs too but they can be done without if you really are serious about cruising. (rental car, expensive hotel the night before, meals out during that time etc.)