Cruising: booking a cruise to match your budget

Simple ways to make the most of your cruising dollar.

Cruising: booking a cruise to match your budget

Regardless of your spending limit, there are ways to make the absolute most of your cruising dollar. Jeremy Bourke has some suggestions that will help to get you started.

Budget berths
When you look at what’s included in your fare – accommodation, meals and onboard activities – cruising is great value. You can still have an amazing holiday on a modest budget by carefully choosing your destination, ship and berth.

Competition is great for the consumer, so start with places where there are lots of players. Many big companies cruise from Australia to New Zealand and the Pacific, and offer fantastic ports.

And consider sticking to bigger ships, as they have more options in terms of food, activities and cabins. An outside stateroom, especially with a balcony, is nice but never essential, since you’re usually only in it to shower and sleep. So, save your cash and opt for an internal cabin. Even on full ships, you can still find a quiet place to yourself in the library or a lounge.

older couple smiling as they stand in front of a cruise ship

Middle ground
Perhaps you’ve tried cruising before and want to take it up a level, or you’ve heard that a little more cash delivers a much greater experience? If so, this is when you opt for the balcony cabin, plan a few spa treatments, sample the extra-cost restaurants and do a bit of damage to the shore excursion list.

You could also be more adventurous by flying overseas to pick up a ship in, say, Hong Kong to cruise China, or Vancouver for the Inside Passage to Alaska. You could also try cruising the Caribbean out of Florida, diving into the fjords of Norway or taking the unique Aranui in Tahiti. And if you can cope with really rough water, consider heading to Antarctica via Argentina.

The sky’s the limit
If you really want to splurge, there are ships and itineraries that can show you an incredible level of service and spectacle – usually in places that the big cruise liners can’t visit.

In Australia, it starts with the Kimberley Coast route, which is served by small purpose-built ships that take you right up to incredible waterfalls and unique coastal formations. You can even take helicopters from the ship to rock art sites.

An all-inclusive ship, as the name suggests, means everything is paid for – wine and spirits (premium brands excluded), gratuities and caviar parties on a beach, lessons with a professional golfer and even the services of a butler. Companies specialising in such luxury experiences include Crystal, Seabourn, SilverSea and Regent Seven Seas.

If you have time as well as money, you may wish to consider a round-the-world cruise. Given you’ll be on board for 100 days or more, you’ll want a suite if only to hang all of your clothes – including the designer threads you find in the boutiques on board.


    Jeremy Bourke loves planning travel experiences as much as he enjoys taking them. He reads a map in the way some people read a novel, and he prides himself on never having been lost – well, not for long anyway.


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    26th Aug 2016
    Nup, a balcony cabin or I don't go. It is a holiday after all and waking up in in the black hole of calcutta is not for me.
    Old Geezer
    27th Aug 2016
    I have been in all types of cabins and I like the inside ones lower down in the ship the best. They are the quietest and darkest for a good night or day sleep.
    28th Aug 2016
    Friends of mine took an inside cabin, both got ill, both confined to their cabin for 5 days.

    At least in a balcony cabin you can go outside in the fresh air and you have daylight.

    27th Aug 2016
    My wife and I cruised on the Pacific Aria a few weeks ago and will never go with P&O again! The cabin was dirty, food mediocre, entertainment minimal, and was the SAME price as the lovely Princess Line. Choose wisely.
    Old Geezer
    27th Aug 2016
    I liked the Aria and the Eden as their cabins were bigger than normal. I didn't find the cabins dirty. The food was good although it was not hot enough. The entertainment was good with a couple of different shows each night. Price was so much less than the Princess and not as many wheelie walkers and gophers getting in the way all the time.

    27th Aug 2016
    Floating around on a boat with a bunch of people for weeks at a time is not for me.

    Definitely not a cruise type person.
    27th Aug 2016
    Doesn't have to be like that just depends which cruise you pick. We like ones where we wake up in a different port each morning.
    27th Aug 2016
    We found it is cheaper to get as many inclusions as possible. Eg beverage package, gratuities and cabin spend. I have know people that have gone gone for the cheap option and had $3000 bill at the end of their cruise.
    27th Aug 2016
    Absolutely love cruising and last year sailed on Serenade of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. Picked up the ship in Copenhagen and sailed up the west coast of Norway stopping at five Norwegian cities/towns which were intriguing with their history and of course saw the beautiful Norwegian Fjords which was my aim. Only a five day cruise but coupled with two nights in Copenhagen and three nights in Dubai homeward bound it was an excellent trip.
    27th Aug 2016
    P & O is not a 4 star shipping line. Royal Caribbean has won the best cruise line award this year and as I have travelled with them on Rhapsody of the Seas I can only agree. We could not fault our cruise in any way shape or form from the food, to the accommodation, to the friendly staff.

    I would not go P & O at all...I would spend the extra and go on a better cruise line.
    28th Aug 2016
    An inside cabin is fine until the ship loses all its power and lighting! This happened to us some years ago on a cruise around New Zealand. The ship had no lighting or power for a whole day - this meant that the public toilets were overflowing, and the inside of our cabin was so pitch black we couldn't find our own private toilet. So if you opt for an inside cabin make sure you take a torch!
    8th Oct 2016
    On OPAL GOLD card, cruise Circular Quay to Manly and return.

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