I’ve traipsed my way through a good 7 different cities in the past 2 weeks and while I’m out some money, I’m also well rested and my legs got some good toning up. As vacations do it flew by extremely fast and before I knew it I was on the plane flying back home. We flew out to Rome, Italy 2.5 weeks ago, hopped on the cruise ship and went to 6 different places. Crete, Mykonos, Ephesus, Athens, Santorini, and Katakolon! It was a big whirlwind and each day was a bit crazy but it was a nice way to see a lot without too much hassle.
This was actually the second cruise I’ve been on and there are things I learned the first time around to save money this time. I love cruises because they are all inclusive room and board, but at the same time I dislike how almost everything but the basics is an additional fee. We didn’t bother with modern niceties like internet because it was $25 a day! Yep, that’s a day. Not the entire trip. My internet bill for a month is about that much. That’s just one example. It’s the worst part about being on a cruise when they are trying to sell you things every single minute you’re on there, but if you know how to avoid it then the cruise experience is still pretty wonderful. We also made sure to stay a few extra days at our end port of Rome so that we can enjoy vacation sans cruise ship too!
Here’s a quick general cost breakdown of the entire trip to see how much we spent for both of us
$2600 for the 9 day Mediterranean cruise (for the third option up room-wise)
$2600 for round trip airfare plus 4 nights of hotel in Rome (we bundled this through Expedia to get cashback and basically the hotels were free after the bundling)
$1400 for spending money for food, gifts, fees and transportation
We also had $175 of onboard credit to use which we put toward an excursions we wanted. That’s a total of about $6600 that we spent on a two week honeymoon! There are certainly areas we could have spent less, and many many areas we saved money on.
Spending a little more for our honeymoon
We definitely could have spent less on the cruise itself with a lower cost room. The lowest priced room is small without any windows in the interior of the ship. We decided for our honeymoon to get one on the outside with a large round window to enjoy the view. Cost more but we figure for our honeymoon we could do it once.
Beware of buying extras on the ship
Going on a cruise with the mindset that nothing is free will help keep your money in your wallet. Everything costs something even if you “win” a prize. We didn’t spend any extra money on anything on the ship except for what was already included in the overall price. This means internet, drinks like alcohol and soda, special dining restaurants, bingo, casino, algae detoxifying cleanse, fitness classes, photos and more and more. The first day I had actually won a body composition test to tell me my body fat percentage and what I could do to work it off. After a long session I was told I needed to also detoxify my body and was presented with a special $300 algae cleanse. On sale of course at a special price only available on the ship.
Excursions can be a double-edged sword
We did book 2 excursions on the ship to use our on board credit. If we wanted to really save money we should’ve booked it off the ship with other companies. We chose the two that would’ve been more complicated to do so because of multiple destinations and far locations to the port. They are easy to take but what ends up happening is that you get taken to special shopping areas where prices are jacked up just for tourists. In Turkey we were even taken to a carpet presentation to buy hand-made Turkish carpets for thousands of dollars. Luckily we look young and were not approached by any salespeople.
Look straight ahead and walk quickly
While I loved being able to to visit so many places in a short span of time, it also meant I ended up in very touristy areas. The locals are used to this and will spend all their time trying to sell you their wares. They’re pretty aggressive and will be yelling at you to come in and some will even touch you. If you don’t want to buy anything then don’t even look around because that’s an invitation for several people to converge on you. If you wanna spend money them let them fight over you! Otherwise it can be a nuisance to have people trying to sell you things all the time.
Taking advantage of public transportation and other alternatives
The easiest thing to do of course is to hail a cab and pay obscene amounts of money for them to shuttle us around for half an hour. In LA cabbies are the best option if you don’t have a nice friend to bring you to the airport. Luckily in Europe they have great public transportation and we took full advantage of that to save some mula. We took the trains a lot to get from the airport and to ports. One thing I did wish I spent more money on was to get on the express train so we wouldn’t have to deal with our luggage and a lot of people.
In Santorini there were two options to get from the port to the main city. 5 euros for a donkey ride or a cable car. As much as I wanted to try the donkey ride I didn’t want to burn my clothes afterwards. I took the cable car.
This was most likely our last big trip for a while and we certainly tried out best to enjoy it while not spending all of our money! We had a wonderful time with what we had already paid for. The ships already have a ton of free activities that we took full advantage of. The first day we walked round and poked in every nook and cranny. There was mini-golf, rock climbing wall, billiards, shuffleboard, jacuzzis, pools, soccer, basketball, shows, a gym, buffets and nice dinnertime dining. There’s more but I won’t bother listing it all out. Our few days in Rome after the cruise was also amazing and it was great do things on our own schedule too.
What’s the biggest vacation trip you’ve ever done and how did you save money on it?