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On a cruise ship is one of the most magical ways to see the world, but if costs are left unchecked – it can get pricey. If you’re looking for an affordable adventure at sea, these top tips are guaranteed to help you squeeze every penny out of your travel budget.

Go all-inclusive

These types of cruises are popular and for good reason – nothing beats knowing in advance that your accommodation, food, soft drinks and entertainment are all paid for. You can add on an alcoholic drinks package, which means you get to enjoy all the onboard signature cocktails without the worry of having to work out how much you’ve spent. A more all-inclusive deal could include your air fare to and from the cruise ship’s port. From basic to all-out luxury, there’s a package to suit every budget – it just depends how much you are willing to spend.

Pre-pay your onboard spend account

A cruise ship is generally a cashless environment. You are allocated a card linked to a personal spending account which is used for expenses and purchases onboard. Instead of linking it to your credit card you can opt for a cash account and set a daily limit, making it easier to keep track of what you spend. Like a piggy bank, you can also begin to pay into it months in advance until you make the final payment on your cruise fare. Exchanging your local currency for the one your ship trades in is a good move as you can then load up your account as soon as you board. This also helps you avoid using the onboard ATM which is expensive and best of all you get any leftover money back at the end of the cruise.

Travel off-season

Cruise lines offer specials on their popular destinations all of the time. If you travel in the off-season, you can bag yourself a cruise package at a major discount. Popular destinations in the Mediterranean or Red Sea offer good weather conditions, fewer tourists and friendlier prices. Egypt, for example, scorches during the summer with highs of 40°C, while off-season temperatures hover at a more comfortable 18°C which means you get to explore the desert sands, pyramids and sites like Luxor and Aswan along the Nile without the sizzling heat and throngs of tourists.

Independent shore excursions

Cruise-sponsored shore excursions can be dramatically higher in price compared to a local independent tour operator which is a popular choice as they cost less and cater to private or smaller groups. It’s even cheaper to organise your own shore excursions. You could rent a bike or hire a car to explore a new city, or maximise your shore leave with cost-free activities like wandering around quaint shops and market stalls or soaking up the sun on the beach, swimming and snorkelling (remember to pack your own snorkelling gear!). Just make sure you get back to the ship with time to spare as it will leave without you.

Pre-book spa days

You look forward to your sunny escape all year so a luxurious spa treatment should definitely be on the menu. Onboard spas however, rival the rates you would pay at an upscale spa on land. There are exceptions, though – rates can drop by 30% on port days and on the day you embark. If you can’t forego any of your port days, a well-deserved indulgence on embarkation day is the perfect way to unwind after a long day of travelling. Make sure you reserve your spa treats when you book your cruise.

Do a social media detox

Internet access and Wi-Fi are among the more expensive amenities at sea; so, you may want to combine your holiday with a social media detox. Escaping the social media deluge means you have more time to focus on your holiday and make those all-important memories. By leaving it to the end of your holiday, posting all your favourite pics will keep you reminiscing for hours on end. If you can’t go cold turkey, save your online surfing for port days – this way you can avoid racking up a hefty bill, and depending on your itinerary, you might even get mobile coverage.

It’s always important to obtain more information on hidden extras or unexpected costs before you book your dream cruise holiday, making sure you consider everything from laundry charges and gratuities to babysitting costs. Setting sail with all of your ducks in a row means you can enjoy life on the high seas with complete peace of mind.