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This is a great thread, and full of good (and great) advice....however (and you knew that this was coming, didn't you?)

 

My bride and I work hard all year. Our cruising is our lifeline to sanity.

We found that if we book early, we can skrip and we can have the cruise and airfare paid for well before the actual cruise.

 

We find it a lot easier to save our money while anticipating the trip, then while on it.

 

If we save a few dimes a day, if often adds up to way more than we can save by doing without while cruising.

 

On our cruise on POA in August, we did what we wanted, when we wanted. We ate steak and Maine Lobster. We ate in specialty restaurants 5 of the seven nights, I had untold number of buckets of beer delivered to our suite, and we had an absolutley wonderful time!

 

Our shipboard fees were $600. Less than $2.00 per day for ten months....but darned well worth it for those 7 days aboard ship!

 

Just my $0.02 worth.

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Hello,

 

Most likely , you will become addicted to cruising. There are several reasons for this, none of which involves spending money. Have you ever seen a moonbeam on an ocean at night, or a sunset where you have a 180 degree view of the sky? How about a laugh and a smile with young people from all over the world? Or maybe see a show with an entertainer whose show you really enjoy and he or she will stop and chat with you. Maybe you like to go for long walks...with the wind at your back as you walk around the ship. You might meet someone from a very different part of the country or the world than Idaho (my DW and I going to Sun Valley on 6/8/2008), that you enjoy talking with. And then there is romance...get dressed up a bit and have a very nice dinner on formal night and so on.

 

As a first time cruiser, it is very important that you arrive at your port of departure at least the day before, or even two days as you are going on your cruise in late October. Have a back up plan if your flights are cancelled.

 

Do not hesitate with any questions, no matter how unimportant or trivial they may seem to you.

 

Have a great time (I am sure that you will).

 

Fred

 

Now this comment totally sums up my feelings. There's something about walking that deck that just brings you closer to the wonder of the universe. Ditto for "moonbeams on the waves." "That's what I'm talkin' about. . ."

 

However you pay for it, GO. . .

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I'm not sure if this has been mentioned yet.

Eat on board; drink in ports.

On port days, DH and I eat a good breakfast before leaving the ship and/or reboard for lunch (since we've already paid for the food). But once in port we do enjoy finding an interesting bar or cafe and having a drink or two (drinks usually cost less than those on board, plus we enjoy the local color).

 

I ,being a newbie, find a lot of great tips here on CC. Thanks for a keeper. This sounds exactly like something that DH and I would do. Already told him I'm looking forward to a few umbrella drinks.:cool:

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We find it a lot easier to save our money while anticipating the trip, then while on it.

 

If we save a few dimes a day, if often adds up to way more than we can save by doing without while cruising.

We live modestly at home and spend moderately onboard. We have a few splurges, but we certainly don't buy everything that's offered to us. We've found that going all-out on "extras" during a vacation doesn't bring us more enjoyment, not at all.

 

Moderation allows us to have MORE vacations, which certainly brings us more enjoyment!

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Why would I be frugal in some ways, but book a balcony?

So I can enjoy seeing us pull into port early in the morning.

I think I sense our slowing down and get up and out on the

balcony to watch us get closer and closer, see the island

or shore up close. On my last cruise I watched from the

balcony as we left Miami at night - watched the "Moon Over Miami".

I also enjoy watching the pilot boat deliver and pick up the pilot.

Another early morning we slowly approached Gibralter in a heavy fog -

freighters would suddenly appear nearby through the fog.

A drink on the balcony as the sun sets --- magic.

So I would rather pay for a balcony than bingo cards or slot machines.

My choice - different than your choice - may we each make the

best choice for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

I have to say that my DH and I booked an OV originally, when Early Cruiser deals were happening. I happened to check the cruise website and they had discounted balconies that day, so I called and we were bumped from a 6B category room on the 3rd level to an 8F balcony suite on the Spa deck. I have to say we got a pretty good deal. You can have a balcony for an OV price

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Gonna go out on a limb here, but...

1. We use our annual cruise to re-charge as a couple

2. We book a year in advance, use the military discount, and find the date of the least expensive cruise for our itinerary, ports, etc.

3. We buy OBC every paycheck, so the tips & fun stuff are already paid for

4. We do our own excursions

5. We never buy photos

6. We buy liquor in advance for in room enjoyment & bring mixers

7. We bring our own wine for dinner & pay corkage

8. We bring $20/day/person for the casino (slots) & stop if we win over $100 (we've won something EVERY cruise, from a high of $1100 to a low of $350)

9. We only use the spa once, on a port day

10. We don't worry about money onboard

11. We try to book suites, but definately book balconys

12. We tip $1 extra to drink staff & never worry about service

13. We use a SeaMiles CC for cruise payments, pay off each month and cruise & OBC are paid for before cruise

14. We enjoy local cuisine and ambiance in port

15. We wouldn't do it any other way - it works for us, but is as frugal as we would like

People can't believe we did/had/enjoyed as much as we did with what we spent, but we believe a year of planning, pre-paying and this website have allowed us to have a VIP cruise for much less than VIP $'s.:D

Edited by patrice1
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This is a great thread, and full of good (and great) advice....however (and you knew that this was coming, didn't you?)

 

My bride and I work hard all year. Our cruising is our lifeline to sanity.

We found that if we book early, we can skrip and we can have the cruise and airfare paid for well before the actual cruise.

 

We find it a lot easier to save our money while anticipating the trip, then while on it.

 

If we save a few dimes a day, if often adds up to way more than we can save by doing without while cruising.

 

On our cruise on POA in August, we did what we wanted, when we wanted. We ate steak and Maine Lobster. We ate in specialty restaurants 5 of the seven nights, I had untold number of buckets of beer delivered to our suite, and we had an absolutley wonderful time!

 

Our shipboard fees were $600. Less than $2.00 per day for ten months....but darned well worth it for those 7 days aboard ship!

 

Just my $0.02 worth.

 

I never thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing.

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Wow, $429 was the exact amount on our last sign & sail card too. I guess we must have bought the same things. We always seem to find a few pictures and used our 2 for 1 drink coupons, plus other coupons in our book. We do spend some (cash) in the casino, I'd never put that on my card for fear of a heart attack at the end of the cruise. :eek:

 

Where do you get coupon Books? IM a first time cruiser... Please help!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I buy drinks but since I drink long island teas and only 2 per day my bar tab isn't too high.

 

I have bought the art at the auctions since I'm a Thomas Kincaid fan and they have numbered prints at reasonable prices. Much less that the local Kincaid gallery.

 

I don't buy a soda card but only because you get only fountain drinks on the card and I don't like the Sacarine that is used in fountain diet drinks.

 

I don't use the laundry service. I have usually packed so much that I end up not even wearing 1/3 of what I bring so why do laundry?

 

I must use a computer in my work and don't go near one when on Vacation so no nasty internet fees.

 

I sadly usually have a significant bill at the end of the cruise but less so since I have started trying to stay away from the Thomas Kincaids!:D

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I love this thread! Sometimes I feel so cheap onboard! I'm glad I'm not the only one.

 

What we don't do at all

 

1. No gambling

2. No coke, juice card, etc.

3. No major onboard purchases, except postcards, magnets, and forgotten toiletries.

4. No pay per view movies

5. No specialty dining

6. No nightly alcohol purchases

7. No Art Auctions

 

What we do sometimes

 

1. Alcohol

2. Couples Spa w/ C&A Discount

3. Book excursions with food, if it's special

4. Laundry service if need spot removal

 

 

What we usually do

 

1. Book inside stateroom unless, it's a special occasion, or we get a really good price.

2. Book Way in Advance, unless it's a good price

3. Visit the library, again, again, and again

4. Book Air Via Cruise Line

5. Book insurance via travel agent

6. Pre-book excursions w/o food

7. Pay Suggested Gratuity

8. Buy postcards and magnets on shore excursions

9. Don't bother with Merchant partners

10. Usually wash laundry in sink and dry in shower

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My credit card company that I get frequent flyer miles on is doing a two-month promotion where they give you double points on dollars spent at grocery stores. My grocery store is also running a promotion on double gas points on gift card purchases. I will purchase gift cards (they have a huge variety, including VISA cards with no additional fee) and use those for shopping at other stores and restaurants, and for paying my bills online.

 

I figure with holiday gift and food shopping coming up I'll be able to purchase and use quite a hefty sum and get double the miles and save some extra money at the pump! (And I am one of those people that pays off the card each month - so no worries about excess interest charges!)

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So many great and different ideas. I suppose we fall somewhere in the middle. I am much more frugal than my hubby, he's the work hard...play hard type so I do a lot of pre-planning and it balances out.

 

Where we save:

1. Book early and usually an interior room unless there's a great offer.

2. I love good wine, so I bring it with me for about 60-70% less.

3. Usually independent tours

4. Free laundry!!!! (my favorite platinum perk)

5. Bring a few diet sodas and ginger ale, no soda card

6. Try to avoid internet, but sometimes hubby wins. I just hate the distraction, but it's sometimes necessary

 

Where we spend:

1. Several DOD's, worth every penny

2. Specialty restaurant, but usually only once per trip

3. Casino, need I say more

4. Shopping, have bought a few nice pieces which truly appraised for twice as much once home.

5. Spa specials

6. Gratuities, well deserved by those who make our cruises the awesome vacations we experience

7. Photos, can't help myself

 

I've never felt deprived, we just do what we feel like doing. My days at sea are usually FREE, I am a sun worshipper with a good book. Sometimes our S&S has been very little and sometimes, well...more than expected.

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we use our airline miles and hotel points. my wife travels for her job and we have not paid out of pocket for the last 4 cruises. we used hotel points.

 

we always dine in the regular dinning rooms

i do fill empty water bottles with rum and pack it, never had a problem.

we buy bottled water at the ports and bring it on board.

we never shop onboard

try not to impulse buy anything. we plan what we want to get in advance and then shop online for it before we leave. then you know what it should cost and can bargin for it at the shops in whatever port you are in. i bought an expensive watch that way. saved a bundle.

 

we always book an inside cabin, we have been upgraded every time. we have been lucky with that. i watch the price of our cabin very closely and call for an upgrade whenever there is a price drop.(5-6weeks prior to sailing is the time to watch the prices) our next cruise went from an inside to a picture window.

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We took our first cruise July 2009 and now we are hooked.

So all you "tightwad" cruisers out there - tell me- when is the least expensive time to cruise to the carribean?

Is it better to book in advance or grab a last minute special?

We live within driving distance of several ports- Mobile and New Orleans- 6hrs

Galveston about 10hrs, Port Canaveral about 12 hrs.

I am looking at Freedom of the Seas ..... So what is the best way to snag a deal?

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I book my cruise almost a year in advance & directly with the cruise line.

That gives my the time to work out a "cruise/flight/hotel/tips/tours budget" lol

 

I love the idea of saving/planning for the cruise. I work hard and this is my reward to myself. :D

 

I purchase the soda card.

I shop in the ship stores, if there is something I like.

I have bought art on the ship once and might again if I see something I like.

I eat in the main dinning room and have tried the specialty resturants.

I have used the ship spa for my pedicures

I have use the ship coupons while on board.

 

Everything is paid for way in advance, long b4 I ever step onboard the ship. This includes cruise/flight/hotel/tips/tours.

 

What I can say for sure is.....with alittle saving & planning all I ever have to do when I get home is plan for my next cruise. Life is good. :D

Edited by shandryl
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  • 2 weeks later...
we use our airline miles and hotel points. my wife travels for her job and we have not paid out of pocket for the last 4 cruises. we used hotel points.

 

we always dine in the regular dinning rooms

i do fill empty water bottles with rum and pack it, never had a problem.

we buy bottled water at the ports and bring it on board.

we never shop onboard

try not to impulse buy anything. we plan what we want to get in advance and then shop online for it before we leave. then you know what it should cost and can bargin for it at the shops in whatever port you are in. i bought an expensive watch that way. saved a bundle.

 

we always book an inside cabin, we have been upgraded every time. we have been lucky with that. i watch the price of our cabin very closely and call for an upgrade whenever there is a price drop.(5-6weeks prior to sailing is the time to watch the prices) our next cruise went from an inside to a picture window.

 

 

Can you tell me more about upgrading? You just call if the price drops and they put you in a better room?

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Just got my cell phone bill which included text messages back and forth to the ship while on a Med. Cruise. Athens, Rome, Egypt. They charged me for ** Int'l roaming 5 sent for 2.50.** That's 50 cents apiece. and ***Int'l roaming rcv'd 7 for .35 cents.** That's only 5 cents each.

 

Ship was the Princess Grand and provider was Verizion. I called ahead and had Verizion allow international calls. Couldn't get through on land, just at sea.

 

Felix

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we are going on a 7 day cruise in September of 2010 and want a idea of how much more i need to save.. thanks for your help

 

 

We have a good time and usually have wine with dinner plus whatever other drinks we may choose to have. I look around for non ship tours unless they are under $50 then there's not a lot to be saved. usually spend about $50 - $60 a day per person and that's with the staff included tips. About $800-$1000 for a week or ten days. Our Med cruise was about $1500 for the trip for the two of us. Wine drinks speciality dinners no photo's or boat trips. Look up my Princess Grand review for details.

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Thanks for sharing great tips on how to save. This will be our honeymoon and first cruise! We are absolutely on a budget and look to figure out the best way to enjoy without feeling like we're missing something great as a result of our spending restrictions. Here are some rookie questions:

 

  • BEVERAGES
    • How much does a typical 'watered-down, smokey bar' cocktail cost (understanding they add an automatic 15%)?
    • I've read people say they bring their own bottled water and soda in packed luggage, is that allowed?
    • They have free coffee AND coffee at cost? pretend starbucks?
    • Can you buy liquor on board and take it to your cabin?

    [*]FOOD

    • Which trip night is best to choose a specialty restaurant-first port night, last cruise night, etc?
    • Is it worth the 40 bucks considering its our honeymoon?
    • What is the best way to avoid cattle call lines when it is time to ea?
    • Do they serve breakfast in the main dining room in addition to the windjammer buffet?
    • Early dining or late? We are 36 and 37 so look forward to checking out the 'night life' on the ship.
    • I've read late dining means missing shows and being full for midnight buffet?
    • This formal stuff. Is it just getting dressed fancy for dinner or are there parties to accompany the dress

    [*]TRAVEL

    • If I bring medications on board, do they give me a hard time about the container or prescription?
    • We live in Napa and plan to fly to LGB. Would it be safe to fly in that early morning and avoid a hotel room night before?

    • Any recommendations on where to stay in LGB?
    • Has anyone stayed in a promenade room?

    • I'm hoping promenade would give feeling of not so trapped with the 'window' overlooking the mall
    • Not sure though if I will feel like there is nowhere to 'get away' with my honeymooning husband and have heard the tips to close the drapes...
    • Most importantly, we are on a very tight budget and I have no shame about it. I would like to know ALL the best ways to have a great time while spending the least. I excitedly await your replies! I can already tell this is going to become a part of my blood...

 

Napa JuicyG:rolleyes:

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Thanks for sharing great tips on how to save. This will be our honeymoon and first cruise! We are absolutely on a budget and look to figure out the best way to enjoy without feeling like we're missing something great as a result of our spending restrictions.

 

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon! Cruising is a great value vacation if you plan ahead :) I've gone on two cruises now and both were done on a budget - and both were still wonderful experiences. You can have a great time without spending too much money!

 

How much does a typical 'watered-down, smokey bar' cocktail cost (understanding they add an automatic 15%)?

-Figure about $4 for a beer, $6 for a basic cocktail (rum & coke, etc.), $2 for a soda, $7+ for a glass of wine (the sky is the limit), $8-10 for a martini. For frozen drinks (pina coladas, for example), ask for the drink in a regular glass rather than a souvenir glass to save about $2. Sometimes there are "drink of the day" specials also.

 

I've read people say they bring their own bottled water and soda in packed luggage, is that allowed?

-Absolutely, but remember how many people will have to handle your luggage and for their sake, please bring reasonable amounts. You can always buy more soda in port if you run out. If you are a huge soda drinker, perhaps look into buying a soda card where you pay a set cost for the week for unlimited sodas.

 

They have free coffee AND coffee at cost? pretend starbucks?

-Depending on the cruiseline, often the "free coffee" is made from concentrate (some cruiselines still serve brewed coffee for free whereas others charge for brewed coffee). However, it is standard to charge for cappucinos, lattes, etc. Again, if you are a big coffee drinker, look into "coffee cards".

 

Can you buy liquor on board and take it to your cabin?

-No, if you buy liquor in the duty-free shops, it will be held for you until the end of the week. If you want to buy bottles of liquor for your cabin, you might be able to order a bar setup BEFORE you get onboard, but even then the liquor price per bottle will be marked up considerably from what you would pay at a local store.

 

Bonus Tip: If you want to indulge in a drink, it is almost always cheaper to get drinks in port than on the ship. For example, a beer at a beach club will probably only be $2-3 vs. $4-5 onboard.

 

Which trip night is best to choose a specialty restaurant-first port night, last cruise night, etc?

-Everyone has different opinions. For a lot of ships, you may be able to find the menus online ahead of time to see if there is a night where the menu doesn't interest you as much. Otherwise, pick a night that seems to fit your schedule best :)

 

Is it worth the 40 bucks considering its our honeymoon?

-In my opinion, yes. It guarantees a quiet meal with a table for two with attentive service. Do it at least one night for a really special experience.

 

What is the best way to avoid cattle call lines when it is time to eat?

-At dinner, if you have traditional dining (assigned tables), you won't have a problem with a cattle call. For other meals, try off-peak hours (i.e. a 1:30 lunch rather than noon) or look for alternative venues other than the buffet (maybe the pool grill, room service, or other eateries onboard).

 

Do they serve breakfast in the main dining room in addition to the windjammer buffet?

-Yes, though usually for a shorter amount of time - the buffet may have breakfast 6am-10am while the main dining room may only have 7am-9am. Set a wake up call accordingly if the MDR experience is important to you.

 

Early dining or late? We are 36 and 37 so look forward to checking out the 'night life' on the ship.

-Neither will interfere with the nightlife onboard, but early dining tends to attract more families. If you'd rather dine with a more adult group, choose late. If it doesn't matter to you, pick the time that works best with your port schedules and personal dining preferences.

 

I've read late dining means missing shows and being full for midnight buffet?

-My experience has been that shows will be offered twice per night - usually roughly 7pm & 9pm, and are about 45 minutes long. If you have early dining, you'll eat at 6 and see the show at 9. If you have late dining, you'll see the show at 7 and eat at 8. Sometimes there is another show at around 10pm, for both early & late diners - these shows tend to be more "adult" shows (comedians rated PG-13+) rather than a typical singing/dancing production show. You'll be full for the midnight buffet no matter what...they feed you a ton! If it's important to you, just skip dessert that night.

 

This formal stuff. Is it just getting dressed fancy for dinner or are there parties to accompany the dress?

-Mostly just dressing up for dinner and shows. Most people also remain dressed for pre/post dinner cocktails.

 

If I bring medications on board, do they give me a hard time about the container or prescription?

-I've never had a problem but I've never traveled with more than one prescription.

 

We live in Napa and plan to fly to LGB. Would it be safe to fly in that early morning and avoid a hotel room night before?

-You are always taking a chance that there will be delays to weather, mechanical problems, airline strikes, whatever. If it is an EARLY flight and NON-STOP in a time of year not known for weather delays, I'd chance it. Other people wouldn't...that's your call.

 

Sorry I can't help with your other questions.

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Thanks for sharing great tips on how to save. This will be our honeymoon and first cruise! We are absolutely on a budget and look to figure out the best way to enjoy without feeling like we're missing something great as a result of our spending restrictions. Here are some rookie questions:

 

  • BEVERAGES
    • How much does a typical 'watered-down, smokey bar' cocktail cost (understanding they add an automatic 15%)?
    • I've read people say they bring their own bottled water and soda in packed luggage, is that allowed?
    • They have free coffee AND coffee at cost? pretend starbucks?
    • Can you buy liquor on board and take it to your cabin?

    [*]FOOD

    • Which trip night is best to choose a specialty restaurant-first port night, last cruise night, etc?
    • Is it worth the 40 bucks considering its our honeymoon?
    • What is the best way to avoid cattle call lines when it is time to ea?
    • Do they serve breakfast in the main dining room in addition to the windjammer buffet?
    • Early dining or late? We are 36 and 37 so look forward to checking out the 'night life' on the ship.
    • I've read late dining means missing shows and being full for midnight buffet?
    • This formal stuff. Is it just getting dressed fancy for dinner or are there parties to accompany the dress

    [*]TRAVEL

    • If I bring medications on board, do they give me a hard time about the container or prescription?
    • We live in Napa and plan to fly to LGB. Would it be safe to fly in that early morning and avoid a hotel room night before?

    • Any recommendations on where to stay in LGB?
    • Has anyone stayed in a promenade room?

    • I'm hoping promenade would give feeling of not so trapped with the 'window' overlooking the mall
    • Not sure though if I will feel like there is nowhere to 'get away' with my honeymooning husband and have heard the tips to close the drapes...
    • Most importantly, we are on a very tight budget and I have no shame about it. I would like to know ALL the best ways to have a great time while spending the least. I excitedly await your replies! I can already tell this is going to become a part of my blood...

 

Napa JuicyG:rolleyes:

 

What ship are you going on and where do you stop? That will help answer some questions. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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bqkali-thanks for taking time to give such detailed answers. you're hired.

 

Fact is, before I began reading these threads, I imagined we would spend 1oo bucks onboard. Armed with ten pages of spending tips, my eyes have certainly opened! At least I am learning before the end of my first cruise with the final bill...

 

Gratuities- I would MUCH rather our money go to tip those providing excellent service than on an inflated bar tab. Although he and I are not drinkers, we are going on our first vacation in 14 years (and three kids later), so I imagine there will be some indulgence, just in a way that is smart. I will be mentally calculating each and every purchase, I have no choice, but this is not a bad thing. I could not enjoy our cruise if I had no idea what our bill would be after.

 

-Can someone please explain bringing our own wine aboard and paying corkage? That sounds legit, but potentially expensive?

 

It would be wonderful to read any opinions on a promenade room? I do want a balcony so badly yet it is our first cruise and we are on a budget. I have this feeling I am going to long for one though. As for the prescription, I am a Cancer survivor and have a couple of vitamins I keep in a M-F thing old school style, just wasn't sure how the embarkation process goes with luggage being checked. I figure I will be flying with everything I bring onboard, so it should be fine. Its not like they open each bag and stuff is spilling out all over the dock. My husband is teasing me for my new cruise obsession...I cant get enough! 83 days until sailing...

JuicyG in Napa

Edited by JuicyG
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hi! mariner of the seas, cabo san lucas, mazatlan, puerto vallarta. we want to do the zip line and the all inclusive resort, but they are both in puerto vallarta. I didnt really see any excursions that looked amazing in cabo or mazatlan and the thought of getting off the ship and onto a bus doesnt sound like my idea of vacation. We would like to go to the beach and eat some good food, thats all! Being our honeymoon, it would be cool to do something special, but we are really on a tight budget, so i am all about finding the freebies and bargains, no shame!

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