If your goal is to have a fun vacation while sticking to a budget, cruising is a smart option to consider. Cruises offer lodging, food, and entertainment for a single price. And since you get to avoid the costs of trains or air travel in between destinations, cruising is one of the most affordable ways to visit multiple cities (and even countries) in a single trip. If you’re lucky and can drive to your departure port instead of flying, cruising can even be downright cheap.
There are plenty of ways to save even more on a cruise. For example, booze lovers can buy a drink package or look for cruises that offer drinks for free. Planning your own excursions can also help you save, since day trips are often cheaper when booked off the ship. Having a credit card that earns cruise rewards can be a big money-saver, too, allowing you to earn hundreds of dollars worth of discounts on cruises. (See also: Are Cruise Line Rewards Programs Worth It?)
Then there are things you can bring with you to save money. But what can you bring and what can’t you? We reached out to frequent cruisers and travel experts to find out.
1. Laundry detergent
If you’re going on a long cruise, you might need more clean clothing than you want to pack. In this case, it can help to bring your own single samples of detergent for hand washing.
“Packing your own detergent helps to save money in two ways — it allows you to do laundry in your cabin bathroom without the need to pay to use onboard laundry services, and it also helps to cut down on the amount of clothing packed, to help save on any baggage fees for those flying to port,” says Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of Cruise Critic, an online publication featuring advice and member cruise reviews.
Also be sure to throw in some wrinkle release spray, says Lori Sheller, vice president of cruise development at Tourico Holidays, a wholesale travel brokerage company. “Most cruise lines have banned bringing travel irons on board for safety reasons, and on-ship prices for ironing are almost always exorbitant.”
Bill Hirsch, founder of the online publication CruiseHabit.com, says one of the best ways to save money is by bringing some of your own drinks – if you’re allowed, that is.
“Most cruise lines don’t permit you to bring a bunch of liquor on,” says Hirsch. That said, most lines do still allow you to bring a little something. For example,…
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