It’s no wonder cruises are popular. You get the convenience of being whisked from destination to destination and your transportation also serves as a hotel, restaurant and venue for entertainment. For travelers who want to plan an easy vacation, cruises have a lot to offer.

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But you typically don’t just pay one price. Taking a cruise may involves multiple expenses: travel to get to the port, excursions at each destination and even on-board drinks may come at an additional cost. If you’re not careful, the convenience of taking a cruise could end up costing you hundreds or thousands more than you expected.

Thankfully, there are some money-saving tips that may help bring the price down while not limiting your fun. It all starts when you first begin planning.

Save When You Book

Strategically schedule your booking. Some of the best deals come about three to six weeks before the departure date, according to CruiseCritic.com. So, if your travel plans are flexible and you can wait until just about the last minute, you might be able to score a great vacation deal. While taking a cruise in the off season (which varies based on the destination) can help you save, it can come with weather-related risks. Cruising the Caribbean during hurricane season (June 1-November 30), for example, might not be an ideal trip.

Stay close to home. The Port of Miami might be the busiest port in the United States, according to WorldMaritimeNews.com, but that doesn’t mean that’s your only departure city option. You can leave from cities like New York, New Orleans, Seattle and more. You may be able to save a lot by avoiding long-distance travel just to get to the ship.

Make sure enough is included. By choosing the least inclusive option, you might save on the base price of a cruise — but you may be on the hook for lots of additional on board expenses. Sometimes paying a bit more for a cruise package that includes more features can save you money, or be a better value, overall, says CruiseCritic.com.

Buy packages in advance. Certain spa and restaurant packages may be discounted if you buy them before your trip, and the cost can increase if you decide to purchase them on board.

Don’t book excursions through the cruise. While it’s convenient, it’ll typically cost you more, according to CruiseHabit.com. Do some research and book excursions directly through onshore tour companies where you may find more flexibility in schedules and pricing.

Save on Board

Pack lighter. Much like when you fly, some cruise ships may charge baggage fees. Keep your baggage costs low by packing only what you’ll really need.

Take advantage of freebies. There’s plenty to do that won’t cost you extra: fitness classes, ice cream, outdoor movies, surfing, Broadway-style shows, etc. Also, if you need to do laundry, you can likely do it yourself for free instead of paying to have it done.

Know when to BYO. Sodas and other drinks will quickly run up a tab. Some cruise lines allow you to bring along non-alcoholic beverages (some limit the amount, while others don’t). Check with your particular cruise line for the rules relating to your trip.

Buy the bottle. Ordering wine with dinner? Buying the whole bottle is typically cheaper than ordering by the glass. You may even be able to have your bottle corked and saved for the next night if you don’t finish it in one sitting. Check with your cruise line for specific rules.

Avoid the WiFi. You’ll typically have to pay for WiFi on a cruise ship which can be expensive and the connection can be slow or spotty, depending on the satellites, bandwidth, and even the ship’s course. You might consider avoiding the emails, text messages and internet for a few days.

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