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Has Pandemic Changed Your Frugal Mind on Cruising / Vacation?


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

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 are "comfortable cruisers". We have cruised for decades. We started out with inside cabins, main dining rooms, and avoiding any additional for-fee activities, cruising every 2-3 years.  

 

We are now/were cruising 5-6 times a year and have a balcony-minimum standard. Like 99% of the people in balcony rooms on a cruise, we hardly use the balcony, but it is there if we want to use it. And we'll occasionally splurge on a suite (as we would occasionally splurge for an upgraded room in a hotel to avoid a view of the dumpster). 

 

But, we are still of the mindset that if we can get back to the ship for lunch, we'll go there for "free food" vs. spending money in some overpriced restaurant at the port. The frugal mindset is still "we paid money to be fed by the ship, so we're going to eat there". 

 

And, sort Shore Excursions by price and try not to leave the first page of activities 🙂 

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We own our own business so it is hard to take a lot of time off work and finding an acceptable dog sitter is near impossible so we splurge on a suite. If the ship is our destination I love spending time in our room and the extra space is wonderful. 

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14 hours ago, chaswelf said:

Bankrupt.   The probability of this death spiral happening increases with each month they go with out cruising.

Yes, but that doesn't mean that affordable cruising will disappear once cruising resumes.

 

Biker, who would bet a D drink that $100 pppd sailings will still be readily available post COVID19 "restructuring".

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Not a frugal cruiser but not rollin' like Diddy either.

 

Cabin is very important because we DO spend time there.  We only cruise once every other year or so (part of that is because we still have a kid at home, in school, who plays a travel sport) so we "splurge" on suites when we can (owner's, penthouse-on NCL, grand).  That said, we've never done Star or Sky class and we have yet to be on an NCL ship that has a true Haven (although I'd love to try one).  Sometimes we'll opt for 2 balcony cabins in order to score 2 bathrooms.

 

We don't do dining packages but will eat in a specialty restaurant 2-3 times during a 7-night cruise.  I'm the only drinker and can certainly keep up with my daily limit if challenged - but when traveling with my family, don't feel the need to get crazy so I pay by the drink.  I'm a simple drinker - mainly light beer with the occasional vodka tonic.

 

We've always done a mixture of private & ship-sponsored excursions, depending on the port and our comfort level.  We never do photo packages.  Any single photos that we've purchased over the years - I couldn't begin to guess where they are.  Not big photo people.

 

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Right now we’re planning a land trip to Florida for the fall.  What I’ve been reminded ....one of the reason we cruise is because of the cost.  I estimate our trip of 13 nights will be over 5k.  This is more then our 11 night cruise was to be plus a couple of hotels nights. And we are not staying in suites!  These are average rooms ( although bigger then a cabin on a ship).  We will have to make lots of decisions on where to drive to eat and there will be little or no evening entertainment.  

 

We cruise because of the whole package.  We get on a ship and relax.  On a vacation there’s still driving and lots of decisions to make. We love evenings on the ship for entertainment and days at sea for relaxing.

 

We usually get a balcony or at a minimum if the cruise is expensive, an outside.  Our bar bill is rarely over $300.  We don’t do art auctions, bingo or visit the casino.  We do a couple of specialty restaurants each week, sometimes the chefs table.  We do ship excursions sometimes, depending on the port of call.  Often we go back to familiar places in the Caribbean on our own. 

 

I dont think our spending habits will change if we resume cruising.  But we had planned to do a lot more in the future so I hope it all resumes as soon as possible. We haven’t done an extended land trip in years so this will be interesting.

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10 hours ago, cruiselvr04 said:

Right now we’re planning a land trip to Florida for the fall.  What I’ve been reminded ....one of the reason we cruise is because of the cost.  I estimate our trip of 13 nights will be over 5k.  This is more then our 11 night cruise was to be plus a couple of hotels nights. And we are not staying in suites!  These are average rooms ( although bigger then a cabin on a ship).  We will have to make lots of decisions on where to drive to eat and there will be little or no evening entertainment.  

 

We cruise because of the whole package.  We get on a ship and relax.  On a vacation there’s still driving and lots of decisions to make. We love evenings on the ship for entertainment and days at sea for relaxing.

 

We usually get a balcony or at a minimum if the cruise is expensive, an outside.  Our bar bill is rarely over $300.  We don’t do art auctions, bingo or visit the casino.  We do a couple of specialty restaurants each week, sometimes the chefs table.  We do ship excursions sometimes, depending on the port of call.  Often we go back to familiar places in the Caribbean on our own. 

 

I dont think our spending habits will change if we resume cruising.  But we had planned to do a lot more in the future so I hope it all resumes as soon as possible. We haven’t done an extended land trip in years so this will be interesting.

 

I hear Galveston is lovely

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15 minutes ago, CSHS1979 said:

 

I hear Galveston is lovely

S Padre Island is nicer beach than Galveston, if beach is your main priority. Galveston has lots of other things to do though, especially if you have kids. Personally I prefer S Padre. Buy I really want to cruise!!

Edited by Etta1213
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11 hours ago, Etta1213 said:

S Padre Island is nicer beach than Galveston, if beach is your main priority. Galveston has lots of other things to do though, especially if you have kids. Personally I prefer S Padre. Buy I really want to cruise!!

 

Galveston is not Florida for water or beach. South Padre is a critical hot spot ( McAllen just  a few miles to the north).  They have sent in the military to care for covid patients there.  We had considered South Padre until their outbreak.  

 

I’ve lifted and shifted and cancelled several cruises.  Unless cruising opens sooner our next is November of 2021.  I definitely want to try the spring of 2021 but right now am unwilling to put down any more money to wait it out.  After all our refunds are back I might book spring.

 

 

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I'm curious on the correlation between the pandemic changing cruising habits forever. For me, I would say I'm rather frugal, but it depends.

 

- Food: I will do a mixture of deals I can find, something affordable, and probably 1 or 2 nicer meals. I don't need 5-star dining everywhere I go.

 

- Flights: I don't care about the actual experience here. Price is most important. The next most important is timing. I do not want to arrive at night, wasting the day, or extremely early, being too tired. Give me the cheapest flight with travel times between 8-2ish, preferably without layover, and I am there 99% of the time.

 

- Hotels: This is where I have evolved the most. I used to always go for price (not to go below a certain tier), but I am done with that. I used to stay in some off-site, boring, locations. After transportation costs + hotel, in some instances, I spent almost as much staying in a nicer hotel in the big city. Besides that, a big hotel, in a prime location is worth a small increase in price anyway for the experience. I'm not looking for the most expensive, but you can find great deals on some nice properties.

 

- Cruises: I'm frugal here because I want to do multiple of them, and I frankly just don't have interest in a lot of the other stuff. I've done a few balconies. They are no doubt nicer rooms. I cannot justify the extra cost. I have tried, we just don't use them enough. Definitely not at a cost of hundreds of dollars, if not more. I don't like staying in the room either. Drink packages don't make sense for me, but I'll buy a few drinks here and there. I don't use spas. Excursions every now and again. Maybe a specialty dining here and there. A final price tag at double the price doesn't double my memories. In fact, some of my most memorable cruises were the cheapest, lowest grade rooms.

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12 hours ago, JamesEM said:

I'm starting to suffer for cancel fatigue, who knows when cursing will start up for real.   

 

For me, cursing never stopped for real!  🤣

 

On 7/21/2020 at 2:34 PM, Rogueperson said:

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.

 

Double cruise points without suite gratuities!  And dinner in Coastal Kitchen, depending on the ship of course!

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5 minutes ago, KelJ said:

 

For me, cursing never stopped for real!  🤣

 

 

Double cruise points without suite gratuities!  And dinner in Coastal Kitchen, depending on the ship of course!

Is it really double points if you're paying double to sail in a Jr. Suite?

 

I've heard mixed reports about Coastal Kitchen.  One of these days, if i truly have the money to burn, I will splurge on a Jr. Suite (or if a decent upgrade rears its head) on a ship that has Coastal Kitchen.  But for now, I prefer to cruise twice and get the points that way.  Or, I will cruise solo on a cheap cruise to get the same double points.  (I did two 9 nights solo to hit Diamond quicker) and only paid 1K for each.

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On 7/21/2020 at 7:24 AM, shippmates said:

Before this pandemic and the passengers stuck at sea, we would only book inside cabins.  Our thinking was we are not in our cabin and we could cruise more.  Now we have upgraded to balconies just in case we have to spend time in our cabin.

Having been stuck at sea, I will not cruise again until it is safe. I was in a veranda Cabin, and used that veranda more than on any other cruise. It was nice to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. We weren’t stopping at ports. The veranda helped an otherwise bad situation feel better.  Land sounds like a safer choice when we feel safer to leave home. Cruising?  Still trying to get over that March cruise.  One thing that I learned was if you have any doubts about safety, do not cruise.  

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3 hours ago, Rogueperson said:

Is it really double points if you're paying double to sail in a Jr. Suite?

 

I've heard mixed reports about Coastal Kitchen.  One of these days, if i truly have the money to burn, I will splurge on a Jr. Suite (or if a decent upgrade rears its head) on a ship that has Coastal Kitchen.  But for now, I prefer to cruise twice and get the points that way.  Or, I will cruise solo on a cheap cruise to get the same double points.  (I did two 9 nights solo to hit Diamond quicker) and only paid 1K for each.

 

CK is better for breakfast and lunch than dinner. A JS won't let you experience that

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11 hours ago, cruiselvr04 said:

 

Galveston is not Florida for water or beach.

True. My problem is that my husband won't fly. So S Padre is the best option I have. First time to Galveston, I thought how dirty the beach was. A friend told me it's a different color of shell getting pulverized and creating the darker sand, also partly dirtier water. The sand is darker, so hotter, less reflective, according to my friend. 

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23 hours ago, Etta1213 said:

S Padre Island is nicer beach than Galveston, if beach is your main priority. Galveston has lots of other things to do though, especially if you have kids. Personally I prefer S Padre. Buy I really want to cruise!!

I loved Galveston when I vacationed there many years ago.I made sure to always include some time in Kemah.

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LEN - I really like the town of Galveston and would probably move there if DH agreed, for beach plus cruise port. I need to check out Kemah- new to me. (My fantasy is to move back close to the Atlantic coastline; my DH would never agree to move out of Texas though, in part age/medical.)

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I have always been frugal with everything I my daily life.  I use coupons all the time and amaze my Dh with how much I can save at food stores etc.  

When it comes to cruising we used to always get a OV cabin as we figured we are hardly in the cabin and this allowed me to cruise 2 or 3 times a year.  

When my Dh started receiving casino offers few years back we started booking balconies and jr suites by paying upgrade fee which is usually alot less.  2 years ago I became prime.

We use the balcony alot so I can easily justify the upgrade cost.  I love my morning coffee on the balcony.  Read and nap when pool is crazy busy.   Have my wine on balcony while getting ready for dinner.  Nightcap on balcony etc etc 

Now all our booked future cruises are for balcony or suites. 

I'm sure I will do an OV cabin again but probably only on short cruises of 5 nights or less.

We'll see what happens with club royale offers and post covid prices.

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We prefer inside cabins for the complete darkness.  Also, we only ever use our cabin for sleeping & showering etc.  Way too many areas on the ship to be explored, experienced, discovered & enjoyed having a drink or mingling etc.  We are never in bed before 11PM.

We always get the deluxe drink package.

We always get the unlimited dining package.

We never use the overpriced spa services.

We budget to spend $100 a night in the casino.

We always do our own tours/excursions.  Last year we did the exact same tour & route as offered by Royal in Rome, but, we used Rick Steves audio guide.  We took the shuttle bus, train & did the same walking tour.  Our cost $20 each, Royal wanted $350 per person!  Whilst we were enjoying our lunch, we saw the frustration of all the tour groups walking behind the leaders holding their paddle numbers up - that’s not for me on holidays!  Sipping my beer watching them was a real pleasure though.
Our thoughts are once we get on the ship, we don’t want to think about money, we’re here to have a great time & create wonderful memories.
Finally, on the last cruise we did get the Key & made great use of all the inclusions, especially jumping the queue on the tender ports.

I’m not sure if I’m frugal, but, I do want value for money.  However, with COVID we’ll definitely not be cruising for the first 3-4 months once cruising is given the green light to sail, we’ll let the die hard cruisers be the guinea pigs.

 

 

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On 7/24/2020 at 10:11 PM, Etta1213 said:

LEN - I really like the town of Galveston and would probably move there if DH agreed, for beach plus cruise port. I need to check out Kemah- new to me. (My fantasy is to move back close to the Atlantic coastline; my DH would never agree to move out of Texas though, in part age/medical.)

My friend John who I grew up with in Brooklyn was living in San Antonio.One day he said to me,Lenny,San Antonio is Gods country,I will never leave .Four years ago he and his wife moved to Nevada.

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The one thing I will spend money on is specialty dining.  After cruising for more than a decade, I have realized that I don’t like eating in the main dining room because I don’t care for the large amount of people and the noise.  The specialty restaurants offer more of the things I enjoy when dining: quiet atmosphere, smaller venue and generally, the food is better (not all the time). 

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My cruise habits depend on who I'm cruising with but it will probably change.  If I am cruising with my husband, we will be in a balcony or a Jr. Suite.  He only goes on one cruise per year and has his must have's in order to go.  We go on the RC excursions.  We will have the drink package and eat at at least two specialty restaurants.  We go on the RC excursions.  I plan the trip early and monitor the prices.  We use OBC credits from our TA and us credits from our RC credit card.  We get what we want but I am always looking for a discount so maybe I am frugal.  I don't use the spas on the ship.    

If I am cruising with my family or friends, we may stay in a balcony or OV but I've never stayed in an interior.  After COVID I am thinking I will only travel in a balcony even if it means I have to chip in more if the other person is short on funds.  I don't have an issue with the MDR but I am hoping they reduce the amount of people that eat at each setting.  Otherwise I will eat in the Windjammer or any of the other venues on the ship.  I am booked on the Symphony for the 17th of October and the 30th of January.  I am thinking the October one will be cancelled but am hoping that the January one sails.  For both of them I am in a balcony.  

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Since we cruise once or, rarely, twice a year, and it always involving flying, we "splurge" for balcony. We use it and the cabin, sometimes preferring to be "away from the crowds"....

 

We don't drink, don't gamble (unless we have to spend NR OBC😁), no spa, no RC excursions (unless it involves a ferry trip), no shopping on board, and we're quite happy to dine in WJ (with the exception of "lobster" night...).

 

Our next cruise (hopefully) on the newest ship Apex will cost 7K in a regular veranda, not cheap at all...

 

We "splurge" on private excursions or with other roll callers, since we cruise mainly for itineraries.

 

We have nice weather and wonderful beaches a mere 10 min drive from our home.

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