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Welcome to Tightwad Cruising - What Do You Do?


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I work hard to find the best deal for our cruise. We sail on Princess and they allow a TA to discount. I usually save 10 to 15% off the Princess rate.

 

I then do everything to maximize the other benefits offered. We always use the Future Cruise Credits and get the OBC for using them. We own stock in Carnival Corporation and get OBC for that. We have said enough with Princess to get their Loyalty OBC. Our last cruise, a 49 day b2b2b around South America, these totaled $1400 in OBC. We got another $205 from our TA. As Elite passengers with Princess, we get the intenet credit ($900 on our SA cruise), a mini bar setup on each leg ($50 each), free laundry and free wine tasting. These totaled about $2500.

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Why is carnival so much cheaper than all the other cruise lines? Are the ships not as nice? Food not as good? Service issues?

there more of a party boat, plus theres a chance of pooping into a bag

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The crew to passenger ratio I think is a tad higher on carnival than on some other mass market lines. The buffet on HAL & Celebrity is better, as is the room service menu. But service I think is comparable - that's just my opinion though.

 

Haven't cruised other lines a lot but I think carnival crew work very hard to be accommodating, I've had some crew service issues on HAL I never had on carnival. I think most cruise ship employees work so hard, but there can always be the one bad egg.

 

And it isn't always the case that carnival offers the cheapest cruise for the itinerary. My transatlantic on Celebrity would have cost more, for a balcony cabin, if I had been able to keep my booking on carnival. Same # of days, same itinerary. Carnival cancelled the cruise & decided to keep all their ships in the US for that time period. I booked a concierge class cabin for cheaper than a reg balcony on carnival.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for all the tips. I am enjoying this thread.

I am careful about the cost of the cruise and look for OBC when booking. We usually use frequent flyer miles from our credit card for the flight.

This time I found a great time/price by using ITA software for the flight.

It was less expensive to book a hotel with parking and a shuttle to the ship than to park at the airport and take a shuttle to the hotel.

Like many of you we don't do the casino (cough!), spa, art, soda cards, or shore excursions.

The exception is if the cruise shore excursion is the only way to see a lot and be sure of getting back on board, e.g. in Naples seeing Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast.

We use the Internet very little. In the US we can go to a local library every couple of days. In Europe we have used Internet cafes. I have an IPad, but am afraid it would get lost.

I enjoy researching the places we visit, and we do DIY sightseeing. We've also enjoyed going sightseeing with others we met through the roll calls, especially in Europe.

In the US we brought our own soda, but the soda card is more cost effective in Europe.

I hand wash some laundry occasionally, but I love the laundry special for the two of us.

I have gone overboard on the ship's pictures in the past, but on our last cruise we just bought the two best pictures. (They were really great!)

If you are a new cruiser, remember to bring your camera charger (or batteries) and plenty of space on your memory cards. It is a pain and a bigger expense to run out of room or try to buy these items away from home. Also we bring an extra camera because sometimes Murphy's law applies...

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I've been reading this thread for a while.. We do a bunch to lessen the money crunch...

 

We use our Disney card to buy everything, and then use our Disney reward dollars to pay for airfare.

 

Once we have something booked, we give up Dunkin Donuts, and dinners out for the time leading up to our cruise.

 

We look around the house for things to sell online. For this cruise, we have made almost $700 selling stuff. I've come to realize that experiences with my family are often more valuable than what we sell.

 

We use Groupon for hotels, tours, etc....

 

We save all of our spare change between vacations.

 

We sometimes book excursions outside the cruise line offerings to save a little.

 

I think that's it. We do have a decent bill from our on board charges, but we know ahead of time how much we have "saved up" and budget accordingly.

 

 

 

 

~Suzy

Cape Cod

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Dows anyone know if a ship will let you use your own computer as a hotspot so your spouse and you can share 1 internet connection ?

 

From what I have read, you can, but you will pay for in double minutes.

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Personally, I'm a tightwad up until we reach the ship. I do my research, and typically we decide where we're going by the deal we wind. After booking a frequently check pricing to make sure there hasn't been any price drop. I have no problem switching cabins several times before departure. We've been on 23 cruise and have had 22 inside cabins. The one time we didn't, we paid $535.00 p.p. for an aft balcony cabin on Radiance...it was too good of a deal to pass up.

 

Once on the ship we do what we want to do to enjoy our vacation...that's why we work hard throughout the year. I don't drink, but my partner does. My partner doesn't gamble, but I do. We don't do art auctions or spa treatment as we have no interest. We may or may not do a specialty restaurant. We typically do shore excursions on our own or with a private tour company as they are cheaper and better.

 

Everyone spends or saves their money in their own way. I just hope it makes everyone happy.

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  • 1 month later...
I don't know that I'd necessarily call you a tightwad. Like me, I just don't think you have a lot of desire to buy all that "stuff." I don't buy wine or drink cards or bingo or art or internet services or specialty dining, etc. It's not that I'm trying to save money, I just don't find any of that stuff to be the least bit enticing. If I had zillions of dollars I still wouldn't buy it. If I want a drink at dinner however, I order it without worrying about what it's costing me. If I want a box of chocolates from the gift shop I'll walk down and buy it. And I do book ship excursions (yes, even the expensive small group tours) because for me the convenience is worth the cost. I'm amused by the people who will spend $500 on drinks they won't remember in the morning but they won't spend half that amount to see a spectacular port that will stay in their memory forever. They definately have a different reason for cruising than I do! I save money so that I can spend money. I think that's different than being a tightwad.

 

Great response!!! I totally agree with you.

I consider cruising as one means of traveling and seeing the world in a comfortable and relaxing way. I too book shore excursions, but select carefully. I do tours with independent drivers or tour companies in a port as well. If DIY is practical, I will use local transportation in combination with walking; I always stop at the Tourist Information office first for maps and a free recent visitors' guide. I do whatever works best for me and fits my comfort level. I never pinch pennies when it comes to having a unique and memorable travel experience. A travel experience for me is a learning experience. Expanding my horizons, experiencing the local atmosphere and culture are important elements of my travels.

People do have different reasons and expectations for cruising.

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I agree - I just read a review from someone who took the Allure and it stated - "Gratuity was automatically charged $12.00/pp/day. I made them take it off, as did our friends from the same table because it should be given to whom I feel deserves the tip, and not how the ship wishes to divide it. I found out that the distribution of the tips were given to people that we never see, and in my mind should be a salary that the ship should be paying directly. Thus, I paid $3.50/pp/day=$7 (for 2 people)/day = $50.00 to our Stateroom worker, and the same to our Waiter, and $2.00/pp/day=$4 (for 2 people)/day = $30.00 to assistant waiter."

 

I believe you should tip according to service and, if you wish to make it in cash or automatic is your choice, but to be so stingy with tips for the hard working people who work many many hours a day at different jobs is not fair. $3.50 pp per day for stateroom & waiter has been raised and rightfully so and AW should get more than $2 pp. We usually put the tip money aside before we get on board and think of it as part of the expense of cruising. We cruise as often as possible and believe service is part of the cruise.

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I agree - I just read a review from someone who took the Allure and it stated - "Gratuity was automatically charged $12.00/pp/day. I made them take it off, as did our friends from the same table because it should be given to whom I feel deserves the tip, and not how the ship wishes to divide it. I found out that the distribution of the tips were given to people that we never see, and in my mind should be a salary that the ship should be paying directly. Thus, I paid $3.50/pp/day=$7 (for 2 people)/day = $50.00 to our Stateroom worker, and the same to our Waiter, and $2.00/pp/day=$4 (for 2 people)/day = $30.00 to assistant waiter."

 

I believe you should tip according to service and, if you wish to make it in cash or automatic is your choice, but to be so stingy with tips for the hard working people who work many many hours a day at different jobs is not fair. $3.50 pp per day for stateroom & waiter has been raised and rightfully so and AW should get more than $2 pp. We usually put the tip money aside before we get on board and think of it as part of the expense of cruising. We cruise as often as possible and believe service is part of the cruise.

So, no tips to the people that wash your sheets and towels? The people who clean and prepare your meals? Take a Behind the Fun tour and see everybody that works so you can have a wonderful cruise.

 

I don't think the waiter or room steward work any harder than the hundreds of others that get part of the standard tip package. If your waiter or steward do a great job, yes, give them extra. Thats EXTRA.

Off my soap box now..

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  • 2 weeks later...

That is exactly how I felt about this cruise to Alaska. This is my 60th birthday cruise and no way was I going to cruise to Alaska without a balcony. This has been very interesting reading I must say and I am with almost everyone on the things I can do without. I am also a person who does not buy souvenirs for friends and family. This is my vacation, not a shopping trip - lol. I have never spent over $250 on any cruise for this reason but like most of you I do have some must haves and one of them is I go to the coffee bar every day for my special cup of coffee so on this next trip I will be buying the coffee card.

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Its vacation and I work hard all year so I want to enjoy it.. So when Im on vacation I dont think twice about the price.. If there is something I want to do / see or eat/drink I will do it. Life is too short.. Just enjoy it!!:)

Edited by TinaT
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I would be stunned if the entire amount I was charged in my pre-paid tips payment actually went to the employees!!!!!

 

I've only been on one cruise to date, but I gave addtional tips.

 

I can afford a cruise, and a lot of these people are working practically for room and board alone.

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I cruise Because I AM a tightwad.

 

A weeklong stay at the beach in my home state will cost us more than a cruise. It will be more work for me too, and just isn't woth doing when the seas are calling. To save money whilst traveling we've done the following:

 

We waited until we were off ship and negotiated excursion prices with vendors on the street in Alaska. It worked out to half the price the ship was charging. Now we usually skip a special excursion altogether and walk, take mass transit or a cab to a beach or area of interest.

 

We'd underpacked one year, needing a few shirts for DH and some sunscreen. Not wanting to buy too much on ship, we befriended some crew and found how to get to the nearest wallmart in the next port. They know the cheapest ways to get around. They are the ones taking the free or low cost shuttles and now we do too.

 

We bring our Rick Steves clothesline and do laundry onboard so that we don't need to check luggage with the airlines if we are flying in. We have gotten by for 3 weeks on land in Europe this way. It's even easier onboard. Never heard a complaint that the same little black dress was worn on 2 formal nites.

 

We have three nearby airports to try from for low fares, and we take our local commuter rail service to the airports to save on parking fees.

 

We bring along our own snorkel gear and don't have to rent. This is as much for hygiene as it for frugality.

 

When I drank, we brought wine onboard from port to supplement what we would get onboard, but I quit. So that plus any pricey cocktails are no more on the sea pass account. Sobriety is far cheaper than the alternative!

 

If we're in port on a Sunday, we'll ask the ship for directions to the nearest Catholic churches and a schedule of Masses. We happened upon the most wonderful concert at a beautiful old church in Sardinia this way. The experience was priceless and also free.

 

With the savings, especially from not drinking, we tip very well and in the case of the cabin steward, upfront. This has twice furthered a relationship with the crew who took us fishing and along with them for some other adventures on their hours off.

 

Most times our sea pass account is only the automatic gratuities plus a portrait of the two of us. For maximum savings, I try to book the next one while onboard.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I believe there are two things you can do. First don't go crazy with drinks, we bring on the accepted bottles of wine, have a drink of the day or something like it. Secondly we boom excursions on our own never through the ship. Big savings there. Don't be cheap with tips for crew as they make your cruise.

 

I also have a rewards credit card and use that for everything during tge cruise.

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My goal is to get off the ship without any bill on my credit card... BUT... Smile because I did EVERYTHING I wanted. Our last cruise we booked far in advanced... Paid it off each pay day. Then booked all my excursions... And paid for them...And started putting money on my OB account... We got a check the last night for 34.97!.... Not a ton but NO BILL! I'll take that as a win!

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My goal is to get off the ship without any bill on my credit card... BUT... Smile because I did EVERYTHING I wanted. Our last cruise we booked far in advanced... Paid it off each pay day. Then booked all my excursions... And paid for them...And started putting money on my OB account... We got a check the last night for 34.97!.... Not a ton but NO BILL! I'll take that as a win!

 

 

Wow!!! That is the way to cruise, enjoy yourselves AND be able to do it all again!

 

DH and I are both seniors and living on a fixed income. It is enough to allow us to cruise, to spend 3 or 4 months in the south every year and to enjoy our lives without scrimping. Our kids are educated, house is paid for, and because we are Canadians, we have great health care and free prescription drugs.We do not go overboard on spending but we do enjoy our cruise holidays.

 

We book either far in advance or last minute to maximize savings. Right now we are looking forward to a Celebrity Med cruise we booked in March '12 for a super price and have received OBC because we elected to stay in our outside room when prices for balconies dropped. Last month we booked a great 24 day Princess Med cruise when the prices started dropping and we got a great deal!

 

I look up airfare on the discount sites, but always book directly with the airlines and prices are not only comparable, but for that price we get tickets that can be changed ( albeit for a fee)which was fortuitous when we need to take a much later ( over 3 weeks later) when we booked the second cruise.

 

We usually book our own excursions with reputable companies, but will book a ship's tour if we are concerned about getting back to ship after a long, far distant excursion.

 

DH budgets $25 for the casino, plays nickel slots, and cashes out when he is up. this last him almost the entire cruise and the most he will be out is the original investment.

 

We usually buy a wine package and bring on the allotted bottles at embarkation. DH has a beer ( sometimes 2) each night. My indulgence is the coffee card. We took advantage of the 123 Promo on X this spring for the drinks package and prepaid gratuities.

 

We use our OBC to eat at specialty restaurants, and maybe buy something very appealing at a ship's shop.

 

We buy future cruise credits while on board but wait until we are home to book another cruise and then use them for the OBC and the low deposit without tying up the large deposit usually required.

 

DH is a people watcher so prefers to be in public areas to watch the antics and get views of both sides of the ship as we are entering or leaving a port. Because of this we choose either inside or outside cabins and are perfectly happy to save that extra money for another cruise.

 

We always pack a collapsible water bottle and use the ship's water for our shore excursions.

 

By following these ideas, we can take a great European vacation every year and add a cruise to it using only one airfare. So far we have spent a week in each of Paris, Prague, Madrid, Malaga, Rome, Brussels, Portugual, and this year will do Paris again for a week and spend another week in Normandy as well.

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I give myself a budget for the whole trip, limit gambling. No spa treatments or specialty restaurants. I enjoy people watching while sitting near the adult only pool relaxing. also bring a few dryer sheets to help with static especially after all of the clothes have been in suitcase for a while. The best item I have found for smell in cabin bathroom is a gel air freshner. For those small items I use small l snack bags for qtips and little things, for hair pins, earings. dont waste your money on sample sizes.

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So, no tips to the people that wash your sheets and towels? The people who clean and prepare your meals? Take a Behind the Fun tour and see everybody that works so you can have a wonderful cruise.

 

I don't think the waiter or room steward work any harder than the hundreds of others that get part of the standard tip package. If your waiter or steward do a great job, yes, give them extra. Thats EXTRA.

Off my soap box now..

 

I only wish all of the money collected for prepaid tips actually went to the workers...

 

Love your name. I went to a performance of "Woody Says!" last night, so I am feeling a bit soap boxy myself today. And there was a gal there who played a mean dulcimer!

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If you're sailing with NCL and you buy pictures, only buy what you want, then call them when you return to get a copyright letter. Take them elsewhere to print off as many as you want. At this point, they can no longer make money off of you so they will email you the letter without a problem.

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Here's how to "TIP" with no cash, and it goes directly to the workers. I've done this for years. All ships have comment cards at the "front desk" (whatever it's called). Early in the cruise, when someone pleases you, remembers you, does a kindness, you go ask for one of those cards and write a fulsome thanks and appreciation. This is forwarded to the supervisor and put in the employee file, and is a BIG PLUS with the employee. This is how they get better decks, better locations, etc. The next time they see you, they are immensely grateful and you get "top shelf" service from then on. The director of passenger service writes you a letter of thanks. You are id'd as a great passenger. Everybody wins!

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Here's how to "TIP" with no cash, and it goes directly to the workers. I've done this for years. All ships have comment cards at the "front desk" (whatever it's called). Early in the cruise, when someone pleases you, remembers you, does a kindness, you go ask for one of those cards and write a fulsome thanks and appreciation. This is forwarded to the supervisor and put in the employee file, and is a BIG PLUS with the employee. This is how they get better decks, better locations, etc. The next time they see you, they are immensely grateful and you get "top shelf" service from then on. The director of passenger service writes you a letter of thanks. You are id'd as a great passenger. Everybody wins!

 

Nice Gesture -- truly appreciated by crew

I've done the same on many cruises, but I usually give a small $ tip along the way also. A little kindness goes a long way.

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