Why We Love Cruising On A Budget

January 2011 - Vacation on Grand Cayman - Cruise Ships at AnchorI don’t know about you, but in my family we are all horrible for going back and forth with the “I dunno, what do you wanna do?” conversation. What may seem like being flexible about activities turns into stress and bickering about what to do for fun. This is no way to spend your well deserved vacation!

With today’s inflation and the rising cost of gas, it seems like the traditional vacation of the average middle class American family is slipping away. Until about a year ago, Lance and I had never really considered cruising as a vacation option. From the way it is advertised, it always seemed to us to be way out of reach as far as affordability was concerned.

After Lance’s parents started cruising, they convinced us to seriously consider it. It shocked us when we realized that it was much more affordable, and much less stressful to go on a 7 day cruise than it would be to go travel someplace for the same length of time.

Breakdown of Budget for Traditional Vacation – Gas/Travel

Your very first item to put in the budget is gas. This summer gas has been hanging between $3.30 to $4 per gallon. You will easily spend a hundred dollars or more just on traveling to and from your destination, not to include the driving around at your destination.

Lodging

This can vary in cost depending on where your destination is, and the quality of room you book. This will be around several hundred for the entire week. There are some alternatives like renting an RV or staying with friends or relatives, but for most people they will opt for the hotel room.

Food

We all love food! Eating out for all 3 meals for the average family of four can really rack up the budget! With a little bit of planning you can save some decent cash by packing simple meals before you go, or finding the local grocery store at your destination to buy snacks, breakfast, and lunch items. This would leave just dinner to dine out. You could try to find a hotel that offers a kitchenette to allow for more variety in the “at home” meals. Even with lots of stressful planning, food still costs a lot, and you gotta have it!

Entertainment

What’s a vacation without entertainment? This budget category can vary so drastically that I don’t even know where to begin! It really depends on what type of vacation you are taking, what you enjoy doing, and how much down time you want. Variables like this make budgeting VERY difficult.

Budget for Cruising

What we love about cruising is that we know exactly how much we are going to spend before we even leave! The first cost is ticket price per person. We have paid on average $300-$450 per person. This may seem like a lot at first, but it includes all you can eat food, entertainment, excellent service, a fun and very relaxing atmosphere.

There are other fees besides the ticket price such as taxes, port fees, gratuity, alcohol, other extra items on the boat or in port and parking at the port. The next cruise we are going on is costing us approximately $2,000 which includes gas to get the port, some spending money, and two excursions. This may seem like a lot of money for a 7 day vacation. In reality we feel the most comfortable vacationing this way because it is a very controlled budget that we can easily plan before, leaving for a completely stress free vacation!

Have you ever gone on a cruise? Were you able to budget accurately based on the research you had done in advance?

photo by: pmarkham

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