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Yay for a Cruise Paid for Months Ago – I Need a Vacation…

You may remember, Mr. BFS and I found a cheap cruise deal a few months ago that was just too good to pass up.  We booked a 5 day cruise from August 31-September 5 with our friend Isabelle and my younger sister for $280 per person (including the travel insurance).  I think the prices were super low because Carnival Cruises had a whole bunch of bad publicity right in a row.

Our Cruise Plans

We are going to need to live as inexpensively as possible for the upcoming months to help replenish our emergency fund from the dental expenses I wrote about yesterday.  That means that we will only be going on trips that were already paid for and saving where we can on normal stuff like our overall food bill.  That means that I totally need to max out my enjoyment factor on the things we have planned already without running up a big bill.  Here are the things I am looking forward to the most.

Food

First, the food on cruises just blows me away.  The sheer quantity is astounding, but so are the amount of options that are already included with your ticket.  The Lido deck has free juice in the mornings and free lemonade, water, iced tea, and hot chocolate all day and night.  There is always at least one buffet or food place whipping out something, and during the day, the grazing options are plentiful.  Oh, and we went to an afternoon tea party last time that was just a blast!

Plus, my favorite part of the evening is getting a little snazzy and eating in the dining room.  Mr. BFS and I each pick a couple of options off of the appetizers, main courses, and desserts and enjoy tasting it all every night.  Yeah, a girl on a diet shouldn’t be talking about food this much, but I swear I’ll be enjoying it and working it off too.

On Board Activities

And that’s because of my 2nd favorite thing – all of the activities I end up doing!  On our first cruise (5 days) in 2009, I didn’t do a lot except walk around, gamble. and join in on scavenger hunts and trivia challenges.  I also really enjoyed bingo.  It’s not as easy as online sites like Butlers Bingo, but it is still a ton of fun.

But by our second cruise in 2010 (7 days), I figured out how to get into everything!  I walked the track a couple of times and took pictures of the view.  I also visited the library and joined in on the scavenger hunts.  In the evenings, we watched the on board entertainment shows, late night comedy shows, and karaoke.  Then we danced a couple of times afterwards.  I even swam a couple of times despite my crappy swimming abilities.  Since Isabelle will be there this time around, I assume dancing at all of the clubs will become a priority (and there are a handful to hit for free it seems).  :-)

Ports

Lastly, I love days in port.  We will be snorkeling in Cozumel for sure (since Xcaret’s lazy rivers aren’t an option for the short bit of time that we are in the port).  We figured out on our first cruise that you can split a $10 taxi between 4 people to get to Chankanaab park pretty quickly.  Then we can get in, rent cheap snorkel gear (all of the stands bid each other down), and snorkel for as long as we want.  Plus, we can take our own pictures, which is a big deal to me.  Some of the official shore excursions don’t allow you to take your own underwater cameras.

For Mr. BFS and me, it will probably end up being about $40 each for the whole day.  The taxi will be $5 each both ways, $20 to get into the park, $10 for the snorkel gear, and $5 for a couple of sodas when we get thirsty if our own water runs out.

Total Projected Cost

If we play our cards right, we could technically get through the whole cruise for as little as $200 – the Cozumel day plus the mandatory tips (it’s like $11 a day per person).  But I am realistic.

I bet I will end up drinking sometime along the way, and I have a tendency to buy cheap souvenirs when I’m in Mexico.  There’s $100.  Plus, Mr. BFS and I will probably spend some time in the casino.  So there is another $250 if we lose it all.  Overall, I am shooting for $540 or less on the cruise itself.  That plus the original tickets should keep us at $1100 for 5 days of pure fun.  Fingers crossed.

Do you have any upcoming plans?  Any cruise suggestions?

PS  If you are an actual blogger, please feel free to email me at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail *dot* com to submit a guest post for the week I’ll be away.  :-)

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10 comments to Yay for a Cruise Paid for Months Ago – I Need a Vacation…

  • Sounds like tons of fun, enjoy! I never get that mandatory tipping thing, if it is mandatory why not build it in the price? It makes it quite hard to calculate the real cost of the cruise. Good that there are 4 of you, you can save a lot organizing your own excursions.

  • I can’t wait for our Carnival cruise! It’s 3 weeks away. So close to our first vacation this year!
    Have fun!

  • Kara

    I know you already got a great deal on the cruise, but keep checking the Carnival site to see if the price drops and if it is cheaper now. If you do notice a cheaper, last minute price (take a screenshot), you can call and they may give you an on-board credit for the price difference if you ask nicely and speak to the right person.

  • Hi Crystal,

    I’ve considered going on a cruise before, but the price of cruises in Europe are quite a bit higher than in America. So I’ll have to see how the budgeting goes.

    Friends say it’s worth the money, even if you do have to dress up for dinner.

    Have a great time.

  • While the food options are vast, I’ve found on our two cruises that it was low quality, sometimes complete inedible. I swore off cruises until the too good to be true deals came out and we desperately wanted a family vacation. Sooo I caved and we’re off to the Bahamas for 7 days in October, also on Carnival. I’m hoping all the bad publicity made them step it up! Like someone else said – keep checking prices!! We’ve been able to knocked off nearly $400 and get $160 onboard credit for price matching.

  • Still have yet to go on a cruise! Have fun!

  • @Pauline, technically you can have your tips changed if you were unhappy with the services. So I guess that is why they separate it…but that’s just a guess.

    @Savvy, hope it’s a blast!!!

    @Kara, oh yeah, thanks for the reminder!

    @Stuart, I am one of those people who would tell you to go for it sometime! ;-D

    @Angella, hmmm. Well, I don’t have an amazing palate, so that could be it. I eat all sorts of junk. But I was super impressed with like 70% of the food on our last two cruises. There were a few dishes that I was like “ummm, nope.”, but I ate the vast majority of others very happily. ;-) Hope your cruise goes super well!

  • @Lisa, thanks! You should totally fit it in sometime!

  • Catalina Island and Mexico Riviera Cruise out of L.A. is supposed to be really good. I think I am going to try it next year. My friends said it’s really beautiful and they had tons of fun. Wow, those prices that you described in your post are super low. I would take advantage of it in a heart beat!

  • That sounds like you’re going to have the time of your life! Are you planning on possibly picking up a side hustle to replenish your emergency fund?