The Australian to US dollar exchange reached a decade low this month – and it will have real impacts on the cost of your cruise travel.
But here are 10 tips for you to stretch your dollar, so you can still travel in luxury and style even when our dollar is looking weak.
Cruise from home
The obvious workaround is to entirely avoid paying for the difference in exchange.
You can do so if you cruise with P&O Australia and Carnival Australia as their onboard currency is the Australian dollar.
On Princess Cruises, all prices onboard Golden Princess, Emerald Princess, Diamond Princess, Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Majestic Princess, departing from and returning to Australia are also in Australian dollars.
They have plenty itineraries sailing around Australia or to nearby destinations such as New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Asia and Papua New Guinea to choose from.
Pre pay for as much as you can in AUD
Another expert tip to avoid the difference in exchange is to pre pay for as much as you can in Australian dollars before you sail. Kathy Pavlidis, manager of Travel Associates says this can include things like paying for onboard credits, shore excursions, drinks packages and gratuities.
“The onboard credits can be used to pay for shore excursions, and for destinations like Alaska, the excursion can range from USD$100 to $400 per person,” she says.
Choose your destination wisely
Cruising to popular destinations like Alaska and renowned capital cities is very attractive. But consider the cost saving to have when cruising to countries with more favourable exchange rates like Asia as it would translate into a lower average spend when you go on shore.
Princess Cruises offers a 14-night cruise in January 2020 that sails the coast of Asia. Departing from Singapore, sail on Diamond Princess to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan before arriving in Japan.
Visiting emerging cities would also help with your travel budget. According to Skyscanner, the average daily spend in Paris $362, more than the average in Amsterdam, Munich or Milan.
This is significantly higher than other European destinations such as Athens and Rome that would only set you back $227 and $254 per day respectively.
Research destinations that are still relatively below the tourist radar. For example, Royal Caribbean has a seven-night Italy and Adriatic cruise that brings passengers around Spain, Italy and Sicily but moves away from overcrowded Dubrovnik to see other parts of Croatia such as Split.
Travel during the off-peak season
Traveling during the off-peak season of various destinations will also open travellers to discounted fares. If you are planning to visit Alaska, book between May and September, when the weather is colder. The off-peak for the Caribbean is September through November as it is after the summer school holidays and the peak of hurricane season.
Early bird deals
This applies to both flights and cruise fares and it is a top piece of advice given by many cruise lines.
It’s a sure and easy way to guarantee savings. Skyscanner estimates that you can save up to 44 per cent on the cost of a flight to Europe by booking early which can bring passengers savings of hundreds of dollars. Also be open to new destinations and flying into quieter airports such as Düsseldorf or Zürich as they often have cheaper fares.
A travel expert from Expedia, Demi Kavaratzis, breaks it down to the day to get cost savings while you make your booking. She tells The New Daily, “for really savvy travellers, when planning, being mindful of the day you book and the day you start your trip … our research found that from Australia to London, in terms of cost, travellers are best to book on a Saturday, not a Thursday, and to commence their travel on a Tuesday over a Saturday.”
Look for cruise lines offering complimentary perks and add-ons
Cruise lines also attract budget conscious travellers with complimentary perks and add-ons. Look out for deals for onboard credits, drink packages and Wi-Fi packages.
Norwegian Cruise Line is currently running a ‘Free at Sea’ offer – which includes access for guests to up-to five free offers including free speciality dining and beverage packages (with the beverage package alone seeing a potential saving of up to $178 USD per day).
Another bonus to seek out is ‘free’ cabin upgrades. Cruise lines occasionally offer special promotions in which two different cabin grades are priced equally so you’re theoretically getting a free upgrade.
Be flexible when selecting a cabin
Especially when you are planning to travel with a large family or part. Consider alternative room configurations such as getting two connecting balcony staterooms instead of an expensive suite to get the space you need.
Get on older ships with recent upgrades
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas made her debut in 2001 but has since received two updates. Her 2016 upgrades include the addition of a new waterpark that features water slides and a flowrider surf simulator. There is also a new two-story golf course on the ship.
It is a good way to get a taste of the amenities of the newer Oasis class of ships at a cheaper price.
Lunch rather than dinner at specialty restaurants
Eyeing the specialty restaurant onboard? Consider dining there at lunch rather than at dinner as the cover charge could be less.
The lunch menu is also usually offered at a lower price and only on sea days. These include Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill and Royal Caribbean’s Jamie’s Italian.
Some lines will also offer a deal on dining on the first day. For example, Celebrity offers reduced cover charges, and Carnival provides a free bottle of wine.
Spa on port days
If you are planning a spa visit, they often discount services on days in port or put together packages of mini-treatments during slow times. Ask at the spa, or check your daily newsletter for special offers. Also, look for discounted packages of multiple treatments.
Take a gamble
If you are set on visiting a popular destination during its peak season, perhaps you would like to take a gamble on a few things.
Book early and keep and eye on the prices. Check your line’s terms and condition but most lines only require a refundable deposit to hold your cabin, so if your plans change in the following months, cancelling could be an option.
Passengers have also been able to upgrade to better cabins at lower prices a few months before the final payment is due.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.