The balmy ocean breeze blows through your hair, the clear blue water sparkles below, and the warm sun shines down on your back. Cruise ships. What amazing experiences. What costly experiences. If you want to go on vacation but you’re on a tight budget, a cruise ship just might be your cheapest option, that is, if you know the insider tricks.

“How could a cruise possibly be a cheap way to travel?” you ask. It depends on where you’re going and what you want to do. When you pay for a cruise you pay for transportation, lodging, and food. When you stay at a hotel you pay only for lodging. By the time you factor in the additional cost of transportation and food, in many cases, a cruise actually comes out cheaper. If you plan on seeing several different places, such as scattered islands or parts of Europe, a cruise is the way to go.

On a cruise ship there are ways to save money. Most cruises don’t include tours, or else sell them in expensive packaged deals. Don’t fall for them. You can save tons of money by conducting your own tour. Research what you want to see, or find out where the cruise ship tours will go, and then go there. You might miss out on a matching yellow hat, stopping continually for restroom breaks, or having the freedom to explore, but hey, it will be cheaper.

Another thing you can do to save money would seem obvious. Only do the free things on the cruise ship. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun; just don’t do those extra things like paying to see a movie in your room, requesting special services, or eating at the upscale restaurant on board. When you are booking your cruise make sure the things you want are included, swimming pools, rock-climbing, food, live performances, whatever it is you need. Once on board, don’t do any additional things. Many cruise ships have all you can eat buffets that will allow you to take food. You can to save the food, and then eat it later as you are on your own tour. That way, you can save money by not eating at costly restaurants on shore.

A cruise can be the highlight of the year and a relaxing and refreshing time. Don’t let anything wreck that precious time. Once you step foot on the ship don’t worry about anything you left at home. If you’re concerned about the security of your home, one good way to relax is to install a cheap, but secure, home monitoring system. That way, once you are on the ship you’ll have nothing to worry about and you can enjoy your cruise.

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