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Has Pandemic Changed Your Frugal Mind on Cruising / Vacation?


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By the time they can sail again Royal will be so in debt from all the borrowing to cover operating costs while they have been shut down I expect prices will have to go up because of this new debt service on the company.   So being frugal maybe the only way to afford to cruise.

 

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Pretty frugal. Wife & I did a Junior Suite our honeymoon, and we've done balcony before. My approach:

 

1.) Fly coach, preferably on Southwest with 2 free bags/person if possible.

2.) Inside stateroom. Ain't paying a few hundred for a window when I can stare at the ocean for free up top, several hundred for a balcony (ditto; the wind in my hair's free up top, too) or a Junior Suite (over double the cost for the cruise!). Have paid a little extra for promenade inside staterooms so wife and kid could people watch.

3.) Neither I nor the 7-year old drink alcohol; wife might have 2 booze drinks or so the whole week. We get the soda package...and I milk those freestyle machines hard. 

4.) We do ship excursions, and see/experience things we otherwise wouldn't in a nicely packaged trip with capable handlers. Worth the money. 

5.) We do souvenirs - nothing majorly over the top, but we collect magnets, keychains and thimbles for the kid, and occasionally a carved wooden figurine or similar. 

6.) We do some speciality dining. Really good food, diversify the experience, I like to show my wife some extra special things. The kid could care less. 

7.) Our child loves the arcade. I do not love paying for it, but as we're blessed with the means, I load her up some gaming money. 

8.) Yes, we did one of those 'build a bear' things, and waste money in the Boardwalk candy store. We've also done Johnny Rockets before...as wife liked it, I didn't see the point. 

9.) We do the unlimited digital (have added prints before but seldom use) photo package and I aim to harass almost every photographer we see.

 

So I aim to avoid blowing several hundred + on things like sitting on a balcony, and to avoid 'death by a thousand cuts' hemorrhaging money too freely, but we enjoy ourselves. 

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I think we're pretty much over the "excitement" of our next cruise that got bumped to June next year. After this mess, it's just missing out on something to look forward to. I doubt that we will remain cruisers, might even cancel this one.

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I tend to be frugal, but it really is in comparison to similarly priced things.  We general sail in interior rooms, but have done Balconies in the past when we got decent or free upgrades.  We don't care about the room, but we do care about location of the room.  We have never sailed in any suite, even a jr. suite.  This is where our frugality seems to bite us.  I'm MORE reluctant to sail in a Jr. Suite then I am in a Grand Suite.  The reason is that Jr. Suites, other than space, have no real advantage over a balcony room, but are priced higher.  In Grand Suites, at least you get the suite benefits, but those seem to cost double or even triple the price of an interior. 

 

Here's the rub when i say frugality is in comparison to similarly priced things.  I recently had to cancel my Disney trip in September.  The amount of money I budgeted for the two of us, cost LESS than a grand suite on my 9 night trip for next year to Canada on the Freedom, and I was staying at Disney for a week.  So less time, more money.  Here I am, willing to budget over 6K for a week vacation, and my booked 9 night cruise (on an interior) came out to 1760.  Oh, the 6K was not taking into account airfare I would have to had to get to Florida.

So no, the Pandemic has not made me less frugal.  But my frugality has its own logic which may not make sense even to me.

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4 minutes ago, Rogueperson said:


But my frugality has its own logic which may not make sense even to me.

I think this says it all. As I read through the posts, everyone is "frugal" on certain things where they do not see the value, but others "splurge" on that category but are "frugal" on others. It's all about perceived value, not necessarily the actual dollar cost. Cabin, meals, drinks, excursions, photos, games, casino, shopping, art, --- that's one reason I like cruising --- so many options for everyone, and none of them is wrong!!!

 

I guess frugal is in the eye of the buyer.😉

 

 

mac_tlc

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Frugal is means different things to different people.  For me it's looking for the best deals and not necessarily having my heart set on going to one particular place.  I've traveled all over the world that way and have checked off many of the bucket list locations.

I never buy a drink package, but as we have gotten older we spend more on shore excursions than when we were younger and just went out on our own.  We do very few speciality restaurants - too much food and we go to very nice places at home - just doesn't seem worth the extra money. I hate Bingo - so no money spent there and we don't gamble either.  I  usually go to the spa for a massage even though it costs more than home.

I only threw caution to wind one time and that was a safari to Africa I took in 2017.  I spent freely figuring I might not ever do that again.

If and when cruising starts back up I don't anticipate my spending habits to change but if cruising changes too much then I will pass and do something else.

Edited by mek
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1 hour ago, Newleno said:

I was right with you until you said you went to cinque terre from Naples.  This has nothing to do with frugal, it has to do with bad choices.  I mean say what?  How many days were you in port in naples?  thats about an 8 hour train ride.

 

See posts 12 & 13.

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When it comes to my cruises...frugality doesn't enter into it for certain things but I do watch once I'm booked and take advantage of any sales or price drops that apply to us.

 

When we started cruising in the mid 80's we opted for balcony cabins (usually taking along our 3 teenage kids). We quickly continued to keep them in balcony cabins but we started booking JS's for us. We at times progressed to RFS when we wanted to all be together but as they married and we had to add 3 more adults...back to balconies for them. We continued with JS's for many years but in the last few years we've moved up to GS's & OS's. Now that we have grandchildren we tend to book either JS's, GS's or 2 bedroom GS's for them.

 

We try to take them all on at least one cruise a year with us and the other 2-3 per year we go it alone.

 

My frugality comes into play when it comes to never buying drink packages, specialty dining and ship excursions, but

I am guilty of the occasional cabana and internet pkg. if needed.

 

I'm excited to get back to cruising (we have 3 booked for 2021 and 1 so far for 2022) and have no problems with any changes we may be required to do so. 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, mac_tlc said:

I think this says it all. As I read through the posts, everyone is "frugal" on certain things where they do not see the value, but others "splurge" on that category but are "frugal" on others. It's all about perceived value, not necessarily the actual dollar cost. Cabin, meals, drinks, excursions, photos, games, casino, shopping, art, --- that's one reason I like cruising --- so many options for everyone, and none of them is wrong!!!

 

I guess frugal is in the eye of the buyer.😉

 

 

mac_tlc

 

Totally agree! 

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1 hour ago, Newleno said:

I was right with you until you said you went to cinque terre from Naples.  This has nothing to do with frugal, it has to do with bad choices.  I mean say what?  How many days were you in port in naples?  thats about an 8 hour train ride.

 

Screenshot_20200721-152833_Chrome.thumb.jpg.be008217b8a29edd09d5362ca3d795d1.jpg

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We fly a day to get to the east coast for a cruise so when we cruise it is first class.  We got hooked on Star Class our first Oasis cruise when there was a huge misunderstanding about the A3 which they kept telling us was a 2 bedroom when in fact it was 1 bedroom with a pull out couch.  That led us to a great deal on a Sky Loft (Star Loft now) and then the next year to an A1.  March this year we book Liberty Presidential Suite and found that if we added in the extra things, like dining, internet, drinks, it was cheaper to book a Star Class room.  So we are frugal when we look at excursions and what we buy but since we have to fly across the country we spend the money on a great suite, with some extra benefits.  We will not change what we book or what we do when cruising resumes.

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Since we are missing cruises, and realize that life is short and getting shorter, we will always take the best accommodations we can.  We aren't frugal at all, and also do not overspend, but we will always get a suite as the perks make the sailing so much more enjoyable!  

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We always book with club Royale, and depending on the cabin upgrade price we may do a balcony. We did Alaska last year out of Seattle and got a balcony for $1700. That was a no brainer. We love Chops, but don't book specialty dining on every cruise, and now with social distancing and masks we are not sure what we will do when cruises start back up. I don't want to give any money to an industry that is in such financial trouble right now!

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What I have learned from this pandemic is I can live without cruising, which is saying something considering the options of things to do at home are pretty limited these days. After going on 27 cruises the last three years, it has been a big change this year with only 1 cruise and lots of cancellations.  While we (my wife and I) will continue to cruise in the future when cruise lines resume operations, we will definitely not cruise as frequently as we have been the last several years. 
 

This has been mentioned already in this thread, but the longer cruise lines go without cruising, the greater the likelihood cruise fares will increase in the future. I think initially cruise fares will be attractive to get people cruising again, but eventually cruise lines are going to have to increase revenues to pay back the massive debts they are accumulating right now. Being frugal may no longer be an option in the future and cruises may no longer be the relatively inexpensive vacations of the past. 

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33 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

They can only increase to what the market will bear - how much debt they have doesn't matter.


Of course it matters. If a cruise line can’t pay back its debt, it’s going to have to declare bankruptcy and possibly no longer be in business. I understand your comment about what the market will bear, but I think the days of cruise lines being an inexpensive vacation that most people could afford are going to disappear. 

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I wouldn't say we are frugal, nor are we over-spenders either. We always book a balcony cabin on cruises 7 days or longer

(we might do inside on a weekend cruise), usually mid-ship on a higher deck. It costs whatever it costs. We always get the unlimited drink package (not because we drink a ton, mostly for the convenience of it). We do try and save money on excursions by searching out a similar type of excursions that the cruiseline offers, only through a private, reputable company. I learned many years ago the hard way (my first time to Europe to go on a cruise) if I see something that we want to do, just put it on a credit card and pay for it when we get home. I say this because once you get home and start thinking about what  you should have done while you were there, it is a lot more money to go back to Europe to try and do it next time..

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While I may be frugal concerning the ship and itinerary, what I spend on everything else depends on our budget at the time. One thing won't change for us, is always taking at least a balcony, non obstructed. I always book excursions through the cruise line even though i know I'm paying more because I don't want to miss the ship by accident. Specialty ding is nice, and that's a sometime thing for us, as is he drink pkg.

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4 hours ago, Biker19 said:

They can only increase to what the market will bear - how much debt they have doesn't matter.

 

Your right they can only increase to what the market will bear but if you look at the pattern of all big companies that go under you will see, lower revenue,  borrow money to stay alive while they try to improve things, increase pricing to cover debt,  market won't pay,  Bankrupt.   The probability of this death spiral happening increases with each month they go with out cruising. RCL's debt for this is around 10%-11% which will add burden on the financials.

 

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Frugal? I prefer the term "balanced" LOL

 

Drive to the port from Southern Ontario, stay at a reasonable, not premium hotel (Holiday Inn, La Quinta etc)

Thus far we'd book inside rooms (2 adults, 2 small kids)

No to the pay dining

No to the drink packages 

No on board excursions through the cruise lines

No to trinkets and trash

 

However:

Usually a small photo package (3 or 5?)

Splurged on a galley tour/breakfast last time out

Excursions through local vendors (researched at length on this board and others)

 

As someone else said, we try to avoid death by a thousand cuts and keep things simple. We may in future upgrade to OV or Balcony for fear of the quarantine, but TBD at this point.

 

If we stay balanced we can vacation like this once a year and give the kids experiences of a lifetime.

 

 

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On 7/21/2020 at 4:18 AM, tx121 said:

I've always been in a way, not a cheap but a frugal cruiser.  I'm one to look for great deals but never splurge on anything above a balcony, even if it only cost $100-200 more per person. Im in the crowd that says, "well you're never in your room anyway, so why pay more to upgrade?"

When it comes to doing specialty dining, I'm in the crowd that says "Whats the point, I can get this type of meal back home, why pay more? Ive already paid for food in the dining room. Or no Ben and Jerrys, we can get free ice cream up at the pool deck"

When it comes to using the spa services and amenities, Im in the crowd that says "Wow these prices are overpriced and I can get a massage cheaper at home"

When it comes to excursions, I'm in the crowd that says "sheesh I'm not paying these inflated prices for shore excursions! I'm not taking a private tour, I will just use the public transport and explore on my own"

*Lesson learned, on our last attempt to do Cinque Terre on our own from Naples, it was a mess and almost missed the ship because of the inconsistent times of trains and crowded trains". 😳

 

You catch my drift. Well this pandemic has changed my frugal mind. When you realize these days when something like a vacation seems so out of reach, you appreciate things more. Life is short and we should pamper ourselves especially when on vacation (within your budget of course). 

 

Have you been a "frugal cruiser" like myself or have always been the type that says "I'm on vacation, spend the money"? Do you think your spending habits will change once you are able to travel again?

 

 

 

Nope.  I'm still the same "iCheap" as my younger son would put it.  What I'm doing differently now is making sure I keep up to date on the Cruise With Confidence policy, so I know how they affect my bookings.  I have 3 bookings with NRD, and I'll make sure RCCL cancels those before I do.  I don't want to cancel them, so I'll just stay put on them next year.  

 

One thing we are doing differently is with Princess cruises.  Their Princess Plus package is actually a money saver, and it surprises me.  I calculated what I would spend on drinks of all kinds, tips, and wifi out-of-pocket, and their package is actually less with the Preimier Drink Package included.  It also includes the drink gratuity.

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7 hours ago, PhillyFan33579 said:

What I have learned from this pandemic is I can live without cruising, which is saying something considering the options of things to do at home are pretty limited these days. After going on 27 cruises the last three years, it has been a big change this year with only 1 cruise and lots of cancellations.  While we (my wife and I) will continue to cruise in the future when cruise lines resume operations, we will definitely not cruise as frequently as we have been the last several years. 
 

This has been mentioned already in this thread, but the longer cruise lines go without cruising, the greater the likelihood cruise fares will increase in the future. I think initially cruise fares will be attractive to get people cruising again, but eventually cruise lines are going to have to increase revenues to pay back the massive debts they are accumulating right now. Being frugal may no longer be an option in the future and cruises may no longer be the relatively inexpensive vacations of the past. 

 

I don't see any real deals coming when/if cruising returns. The lines have already said that all ships will not sail right away and the ones that do will be at a reduced capacity. That should drastically reduce the supply in the supply vs demand theory. I think with all the fccs being used, you see that already in 2021 pricing.

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On 7/21/2020 at 7:18 AM, tx121 said:

I've always been in a way, not a cheap but a frugal cruiser.  I'm one to look for great deals but never splurge on anything above a balcony, even if it only cost $100-200 more per person. Im in the crowd that says, "well you're never in your room anyway, so why pay more to upgrade?"

When it comes to doing specialty dining, I'm in the crowd that says "Whats the point, I can get this type of meal back home, why pay more? Ive already paid for food in the dining room. Or no Ben and Jerrys, we can get free ice cream up at the pool deck"

When it comes to using the spa services and amenities, Im in the crowd that says "Wow these prices are overpriced and I can get a massage cheaper at home"

When it comes to excursions, I'm in the crowd that says "sheesh I'm not paying these inflated prices for shore excursions! I'm not taking a private tour, I will just use the public transport and explore on my own"

*Lesson learned, on our last attempt to do Cinque Terre on our own from Naples, it was a mess and almost missed the ship because of the inconsistent times of trains and crowded trains". 😳

 

You catch my drift. Well this pandemic has changed my frugal mind. When you realize these days when something like a vacation seems so out of reach, you appreciate things more. Life is short and we should pamper ourselves especially when on vacation (within your budget of course). 

 

Have you been a "frugal cruiser" like myself or have always been the type that says "I'm on vacation, spend the money"? Do you think your spending habits will change once you are able to travel again?

 

 

We're sort of in the same boat as you (no pun intended). We enjoy cruising and usually take three 7 day cruises a year. We are retired in our mid 70s and on a fixed income so we take the best deals we can get from RCCL, HAL, MSC, Celebrity and Princess  usually inside cabins but have had some great deals on veranda cabins.

We only cruise in the Caribbean as we refuse to get on an airplane. Over 50 of our 62 cruises have been to the Caribbean so we don't do tours as we've been everywhere many times, 30 times to St. Thomas alone. We also shun the specialty restaurants as we feel the food that we've had in the MDRs down through the years has been very good. The lousy virus period we are in hasn't changed our minds about our spending habits as we still want to do 3 cruises a year.

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I agree that we splurge on some things and save on others.

 

My hotels and rooms I tend to save the most on, we do ov and insides a lot unless the price difference isn't much. We stay in hotels father away from the main tourist areas and walk or take public transport to save money. 

 

Public transport is my friend. Rarely do we take a taxi or uber unless it costs the same or less, but if it is really inconvenient then we take the cab/ uber.

 

I get drinks from the grocery store and not usually at restaurants, but we like to go get coffee or hit up happy hours, too.

 

I don't do specialty restaurants, except once when everyone left the ship ( during covid) we had an opportunity to do the captain's dinner for a discount, so we decided to try it.  Fun to do once probably never again.

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