More people are sailing than ever before, and the numbers are expected to continue rising in the coming years. This may not mean that everyone has more disposable income. It could mean that they are spending their money a little more shrewdly.
Budget cruises are one of the key options travellers use when looking for a vacation. Beverages, fine dining, shore excursions and photo ops are some of the big money draws on a typical cruise. Guests travelling on budget cruises look for ways to drop their expenses on these elements.
Cruise passengers can reduce their expenses on holiday by opting for an inside room on board. This means they will not have the luxury of a balcony or view that staterooms on the outer portion of the vessel enjoy.
These rooms are smaller and cheaper, but for guests who prefer spending much of their time on activities, this rarely poses a problem. Booking at least six months in advance also brings the advantage of early bird deals, lower prices to certain off-beat destinations, free upgrades or even discounts for senior citizens.
Some budget cruises offer all-inclusive deals too, with food and beverage paid for in the cruise ticket price.
Food and beverage
This is one of the highest wallet busters on a cruise ship. Cruise ships offer free buffets in the main dining room but specialty restaurants are typically highly priced. Budget-conscious cruise goers may splurge on one or two fancy meals and enjoy the rest at free food and beverage outlets.
Cruise ships offer a multitude of free services and deals to attract customers to spend more. One of these is room service that is complimentary during the day, but chargeable at night. Ordering off menu could also invite an extra charge.
Alcohol brings in a lot of money for cruise ships. It is more expensive on board than land-based pubs, and this also applies to soft beverages such as sodas and even bottled water. To make indulging more attractive, cruise ships offer beverage cards, although these often include only select alcoholic drinks and most soft drinks.
To reduce these costs, passengers often keep their consumption in check on board and splurge in port. Refilling reusable water bottles at the main dining area allows them to save on bottled water.
Gratuities are an important part of cruising. A sizeable portion of eventual take home pay for many cruise ship jobs including service and housekeeping comes from tips. So it presents a moral issue as well to guests.
Tips are often included in bills at places like bars and premium dining, but guests are expected to spend about US$15 a day for wait staff, room stewards, bistro service staff and cooks, altogether.
There is also a customary gratuity envelope filled in at the end of the cruise. The charge card given to each guest allows them to pay for tips as well. Instead of paying the recommended amount up front, budget travellers keep the tip figure at zero and add gratuity as the service merits.
This is why it is important for people with cruise ship jobs to be at the top of their game and consistently deliver good service. At the end of the day, it reflects in your paycheck.
There are several other ways travellers enjoy cruises on a budget. Some of these include booking their own shore excursions, using spa facilities and internet cafes in port, visiting local restaurants, using loyalty programme perks, etc.
All of this keeps more people cruising and the industry booming, which in turn means excellent employment prospects for those looking for cruise ship jobs.