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Monday, May 31

How I Did on My Frugal Cruise

Last week my partner and I were on a 5 night cruise to the Caribbean. My goal was to spend less than $1,000 for the two of us. Since the cruise itself cost $775, that left just $225 to spend on every other aspect of the vacation.

By "every other aspect", I include 2 round trip flights to Tampa, one night in a hotel before the cruise, a one day car rental, alcohol, souvenirs, excursions, and all other extras.

  • $10 flight. Used Rapid Reward flight award on Southwest. I have a Companion Pass which enables my partner to fly free.
  • $18.78 rental car. I lucked out here by checking prices a few days before we left and found a rate of $12 + taxes. Even better, I received a free upgrade from economy to mid-size.
  • FREE hotel. I took advantage of an offer by Best Western for a $50 gift card with two stays in May. I used the gift card for our hotel, which covered the cost of the room. Like the rental car, I had checked a few days before leaving and found a better rate for our room. The total cost was $43.69, so the gift card was more than enough.
  • $135.51 on other travel expenses.
  • $100 tips onboard the ship
  • $91.82 entertainment onboard the ship
  • $87.01 food and drinks
Total: $1218.12 ($775 for the cruise and $443.12 on everything else)

I also spent $100 to purchase a future cruise certificate. Carnival offered an onboard credit toward my next cruise if I did this. Since the certificate is like cash and is fully refundable, I thought it would be smart to do this. The onboard credit ranges from $50 to $200 depending on the length of my next cruise.

I went over budget by $218.12. First, when I set my budget I completely forgot to include tips for my onboard cruise staff. I also spent much more on taxi fares. My neighbor kindly dropped us off at the airport on her way to work. I gave her $10 as thanks. But, the taxi home was ridiculous: $50! I don't use taxis that often so I figured it would be about half that... I only live about 15 miles from the airport. The other fares were to and from the Tampa airport to the port. The $91.82 we spent for entertainment was all gambling. It included $50 for 2 games of bingo and 10 scratch off tickets (the biggest ripoff of our cruise... 10 minutes of entertainment for $50 is crazy) and $41.82 lost in the casino. We spent several hours in the casino so this was reasonable.

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