How to Save Money on Royal Caribbean Cruises (21+ WAYS!)

I’m always on the hunt for a good deal, and vacations are no exception.

Cruises can get expensive quick, especially if you want all the bells and whistles, like the drink or internet package.

But there are actually a couple of ways to save money on your next cruise without counting pennies and dimes.

Here are some of the best tips and tricks we’ve rounded up for an amazing trip with Royal Caribbean, on a budget…

Tips To Save Money On A Royal Caribbean Cruise

Icon of the Seas

Book Early for Savings

One of the best ways to save money on your Royal Caribbean cruise is to book early. The earlier the better!

When new itineraries are released, the most affordable cabins tend to get booked first.

So, reserving a stateroom that best fits your budget should be a priority. You can lock in a lower price, and your desired cabin choice will be most likely available.

Booking early also gives you the opportunity to reprice your cruise if prices drop after your reservation.

Keep an eye on any price fluctuations, and if you see a lower fare, contact the cruise line to adjust your rate accordingly.

This is an easy way to ensure you’re getting the best possible price for your vacation.

Monitor Promotions Regularly

Another effective strategy to save on your Royal Caribbean cruise is to monitor promotions regularly.

Cruise lines frequently offer discounts, promotions, and package deals to attract more travelers.

These offers can include anything from reduced deposits, free upgrades, beverage packages, or onboard credit.

To stay informed about these deals, make sure to:

  1. Visit the Royal Caribbean website: Check their homepage for any current promotions or deals. You’ll find information on any available Royal Deals directly on their main page. Look for banners and highlighted sections to stay updated.
  2. Sign up for newsletters and deal alerts: Visit the cruise line’s website and sign up for their email newsletter to receive notifications about upcoming discounts and promotions. These emails can provide early access or exclusive discounts that can help you save on your next Royal Caribbean vacation.
  3. Follow Royal Caribbean on Social Media: Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel to get updates on the latest deals and news. Social media platforms are often the first place cruise lines announce their offers.

To get the best possible price, you’ll want to stay informed and keep tabs on the best deals and promotions around…

Book A ‘Guaranteed’ Stateroom

Ocean view stateroom on Royal caribbean Ship

Opting for a ‘Guaranteed’ stateroom when booking your Royal Caribbean cruise can be an easy way to save a lot of money.

This option means you choose a cabin category (like inside, oceanview, or balcony), but Royal Caribbean selects the specific room for you.

These rooms are often offered at a lower price compared to selecting your exact stateroom location.

It’s an excellent choice for travelers who are flexible with their cabin location and are looking to enjoy the cruise experience at a more economical price.

Note: with a ‘Guaranteed’ stateroom, you won’t know your exact room assignment until closer to your sailing date, and requests for specific locations or room types can’t be guaranteed

Take Advantage Of Kids Sail Free Offer

Family on Vacation

For families, one of the best ways to save money is to take advantage of the Kids Sail Free Offer.

This enticing promotion allows children aged 12 and under to sail for free, typically applying to the 3rd and 4th guests in a stateroom.

However, it’s important to note that eligibility and specific dates vary, with the offer generally aligning with school holidays, making it the perfect choice for family vacations.

The fact you can combine this offer with other promotions, such as onboard credit or discounted packages, further enhances its appeal.

Plus, the wide array of family-friendly activities onboard, many of which are included in the cruise fare, means entertaining children won’t significantly add to the budget.

Pack Wisely

Although Royal Caribbean provides a range of toiletry items for purchase on their ships, the prices are usually higher than what you would pay at a local store.

To prevent spending excessively on items like toothpaste, sunscreen, or medicine, it’s advisable to pack ample quantities of these essentials to ensure you don’t run short during your cruise.

Make sure to pack all your essentials and double check you don’t forget anything so you don’t have to pay a premium onboard.

Join the Crown & Anchor Society

Joining the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society is a great way to save money on your cruises. As a member, you’ll earn points based on your cruise experiences.

The more points you accumulate, the higher your status within the society, granting you access to exclusive perks and discounts.

Some of the benefits of the Crown & Anchor Society include:

  • Onboard discounts: Members can enjoy discounts on drink packages, Wi-Fi, and even shore excursions.
  • Priority embarkation: Avoid waiting in long lines by receiving priority check-in and boarding.
  • Complimentary amenities: Higher tier members receive complimentary dinners and other special services.

Earning points in the Crown & Anchor Society is relatively straightforward, with various tiers granting you the perks and freebies mentioned.

The higher your tier, the better the benefits. So, as you continue to cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’ll reap more rewards.

Get A Dining Package

Fine dining

To experience specialty dining at a reduced cost, consider purchasing a dining package with Royal Caribbean.

These packages offer a predetermined number of meals at specialty restaurants for a substantially lower price than the standard rate.

Often, you can save up to 50% off the regular per-person price with a dining package.

It’s advisable to buy this package before your cruise begins and make your dining reservations as soon as you embark.

This proactive approach ensures you get to enjoy the finer dining experiences onboard without overspending.

Use Your Credit Card Points

Many credit cards offer travel rewards to their customers, and these points can be redeemed for discounts on cruises, flights, and accommodation.

To make the most of this, you should:

  1. Choose the right credit card: Find a credit card that offers travel rewards and is compatible with Royal Caribbean, to ensure you can redeem your points for discounts.
  2. Maximize your earning potential: Use your credit card to pay for all your expenses, from groceries to bills, so you can accumulate points quickly.
  3. Look for promotional offers: Sometimes, credit card companies offer bonuses for new customers or special promotional periods where you earn extra points. Take advantage of these offers to boost your point balance.

By using credit card points to pay for your cruise, you can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, making your Royal Caribbean vacation more budget-friendly.

Remember, the key is to stay informed and make the most of the opportunities available to you.

Skip Specialty Restaurants (If You Don’t Book A Dining Package)

Specialty Restaurants

If you aren’t a foodie, one easy way to save money is to skip specialty restaurants that often have extra charges.

You might feel tempted by their exclusive menus and intimate settings, but there are plenty of delicious options included in your cruise fare.

Focus on enjoying meals at the Main Dining Room or seek out other included dining venues on board.

For a more casual atmosphere, try the popular Windjammer Marketplace, where you’ll find plenty of buffet-style choices.

Alternatively, you can opt for a quick meal at Sorrento’s Pizza or El Loco Fresh, which also come at no additional cost.

Take Advantage of Included Dining

Maximizing your dining options within the complimentary venues will definitely help you save on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Here are some tips to make the most of the included dining choices:

  • Rotate between venues: Switching between the Main Dining Room, Windjammer Marketplace, and various casual eateries ensures a fresh dining experience each time.
  • Visit during off-peak hours: To avoid crowds and enjoy a leisurely meal, try visiting the dining venues during non-traditional meal times.
  • Check daily menus: Each day, the Main Dining Room will feature a different menu. Keep an eye on these enticing options as they may offer your favorite dishes.
  • Attend special events: Sometimes, Royal Caribbean will host complimentary food-related events, like themed brunches or chef demonstrations. Look out for these in your daily planner to enjoy a unique experience!

Take Advantage Of Free Drinks

Your cruise fare includes some free drinks, which include coffee, teas, lemonades, and hot chocolate; to name a few.

If you don’t plan on purchasing a drink package, taking full advantage of the complimentary beverages is a smart move.

Don’t Double Tip

When you purchase a beer or any alcoholic drink on Royal Caribbean, a gratuity is automatically included in your bill.

Therefore, unless you feel the bartender or waiter provided exceptional service, there’s no need to tip them again.

Many guests, accustomed to adding a tip, often overlook this detail on their receipts, not realizing that a gratuity has already been added.

Pre-Book Shore Excursions

One way to save money on your Royal Caribbean cruise is by pre-booking your shore excursions. This not only helps you secure your spot in popular tours and activities but can also earn you discounts.

For example, booking another cruise while onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise at the NextCruise office can qualify you for up to 10% off future shore excursions when pre-planned them onboard1. Here’s a breakdown of the potential savings:

  • 5% off the first two excursions
  • 10% off three or more excursions

Come up with a list of must-do activities at each port in advance, and keep an eye out for pre-booking discounts the moment they become available on the Royal Caribbean website.

Book Third-Party Excursions

Beyond pre-booking excursions, booking through a third-party is another great way to save money.

Venturing beyond the cruise line’s offerings to book with third-party operators can be a very cost-effective alternative.

These independent companies often provide similar, if not identical, experiences at a fraction of the cost charged by the cruise line.

Plus, they frequently offer more personalized and diverse options, allowing travelers to explore less crowded, off-the-beaten-path destinations.

However, it’s always important to have a couple of tabs open and compare apples-to-apples. Although they may seem very similar, they can have little differences that make a big difference, like offering transportation to and from the port.

Ask About Residency Discounts

Before finalizing your cruise booking, ask your travel agent about potential exclusive rates for residents of your state.

It’s quite common to find special residency deals, and they’re not limited to states from which cruise ships depart.

Royal Caribbean frequently offers unique rates for various regions in the United States and globally, targeting different areas with these special offers.

Ask About Vocational Discounts

Military Discounts

Royal Caribbean often provides special discounts for individuals in certain professions, such as active or retired military personnel, educators, police officers, and others.

These vocational discounts are among the various savings opportunities available.

Make sure to inform your travel agent about your occupation and whether you are an active or retired member of the military to potentially access these exclusive rates.

Look For Onboard Deals

Royal Caribbean offers a multitude of onboard activities that cater to all tastes, from thrilling experiences to relaxing events.

To save money on these activities, pay attention to the available deals and discounts throughout your cruise. Some of the ways you can save money during your trip include:

  1. Daily Promotions: Make sure to check the daily newsletter or your stateroom television for promotional activities and discounted events during your cruise.
  2. Onboard Booking: Some services, such as spa treatments and dining, may offer discounts if you book them on embarkation day or at specific times during the cruise.
  3. Package Deals: Look for package deals on activities and amenities you plan to use frequently, such as drink packages, dining packages, or internet packages, which could save you money compared to individual purchases.

As you board the ship and settle into your cruise vacation, remember that paying attention to the available discounts and pre-booking options for shore excursions and onboard activities can make a significant difference in your overall cruising budget.

Choose Off-Peak Travel Times

Cruise cabins view from above

Cruising during off-peak travel times is another great way to save on your Royal Caribbean vacation.

Peak season varies by destination, but generally speaking, you’ll find the highest demand and prices during holidays, spring break, and summer months.

To get the best deals, consider these off-peak travel times:

  • For Caribbean cruises, travel during the fall months of September, October, and early November. Be mindful that it is hurricane season, so prepare for the possibility of itinerary changes.
  • For Alaskan cruises, consider sailing in May or September when demand is lower, but weather is still relatively mild.
  • For European cruises, aim for the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October to avoid the summer crowds and enjoy more pleasant weather.

By carefully planning your flights and choosing off-peak travel times, you can significantly reduce your travel expenses for your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you plan your unforgettable vacation.

Set a Cruise Budget

To save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise, start by setting a budget. Consider factors like transportation costs, stateroom selection, dining preferences, shore excursions, and additional onboard expenses.

Here are some tips for each category:

  • Transportation: Look for affordable flights to the departure port or consider driving if it’s within a reasonable distance.
  • Stateroom: Opt for an interior cabin, as these tend to be the most budget-friendly options. Booking early can also help lock in the lowest possible price.
  • Dining: In addition to complimentary dining options, track the prices of specialty restaurants for discounts or bundled packages.
  • Shore Excursions: Research independent tour operators or plan your own excursions instead of booking through the cruise line.
  • Onboard Expenses: Set a limit for miscellaneous expenses, like Wi-Fi, drinks, and spa treatments.

Track Onboard Spending

To stay within your budget, it’s essential to keep track of your onboard spending.

Royal Caribbean offers a few ways to monitor your expenses during the cruise:

  1. SeaPass Account: This account tracks all your onboard charges, from purchases at the onboard shops to drinks at the bars. Keep an eye on your balance by checking it at one of the ship’s kiosks.
  2. Royal Caribbean App: Download the Royal Caribbean app on your smartphone to access your account and monitor your spending.
  3. Room Stewards: For a more personal touch, ask your room steward for a printout of your account statement to review your expenses.

Staying aware of your spending will help you stay within your budget and avoid surprises at the end of your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Remember, being conscious of your expenses doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury or enjoyment.

With some extra planning and research, you can find great deals and still have a memorable cruising experience.

Book A Cruise On Older Ships

Cruises side-by-side
Source: Anders Frossn

Booking a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s older ships can be a budget-friendly option, offering a comfortable and enjoyable experience without the higher costs associated with newer vessels.

These ships provide a classic cruising experience with ample amenities, dining options, and activities, but at a more affordable price.

Ideal for budget-conscious travelers, they offer a quieter, more intimate atmosphere compared to the bustling environment of the latest mega-ships, like Icon of the Seas.

While these older ships may not feature the newest innovations, they maintain high standards of service and comfort. Perfect for those who value exploration and relaxation over cutting-edge features.

Enjoy A Spa Day On Port Days

If you plan on enjoying a luxurious spa day oor treatment, the best deal can be found on port days.

Since most passengers are off exploring, the spa typically offers enticing discounts to encourage onboard bookings.

Be sure to review the daily spa specials on your port days to discover what’s being offered.

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