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We love gorgeous beaches and couldn’t think of a better way to see them than taking a cruise! With a Southern Caribbean cruise, we sailed to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. And since I’m all about saving money while taking a fabulous trip, I’ll share all the details to keep it transparent on what it really costs to cruise. (Read my tips on saving money during your cruise.) Wondering what you can do during a port day in other Caribbean destinations? Read what travel bloggers found to be their favorite port day activities!
We booked a seven-day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. I really thought that sailing in May would be sufficiently off-season that we would get the ship to ourselves – was I wrong! Several categories of cabins sold out quickly after I booked, about two months prior to sailing.
And I can understand why – this itinerary is a big draw. I have a big birthday this year and I’d like to celebrate it by spending a week on some fabulous beach. But I have sooo many places that I want to see! Every time I looked at the internet and thought I had settled on a location (hello Bali Birthday Bash!), I would change my mind. But I really wanted to go to the beach and coming from the US, the Caribbean is a natural choice.
The Southern Caribbean cruise itinerary
Since I love getting my money’s worth, this particular sailing was a big selling point in tipping the scales in favor of going. Look at this itinerary:
- Saturday: Departure from San Juan, PR
- Sunday: St. Maarten
- Monday: St. Kitts
- Tuesday: Antigua
- Wednesday: St. Lucia
- Thursday: Barbados
- Friday: Day At Sea
- Saturday: Return to San Juan, PR
Because we knew we would be doing several shore excursions, we decided to save money by booking an interior cabin. We reasoned that with every day in port but one, the type of room wasn’t as important. (In case you’re wondering, we don’t regret it one bit!)
We’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean before but this was a different class of boat. I’ll admit that though I’m tempted by the huge floating cities, I’m a little afraid of them. (This from someone who has the floating residence “The World” on her dream board!)
We saved money on our Southern Caribbean cruise all along the way. We booked our cruise through Vacations To Go – a wholesale cruise vendor agency in Houston, Texas. Their prices were less than booking directly through Royal Caribbean or going through other vendors (Expedia, Cruises.com, etc.).
While sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, meant that we had to get plane tickets rather than driving, we got a good deal! We purchased our plane tickets through Expedia – which sent us to San Juan with American Airlines and returned us on Frontier. But on the other hand, we didn’t have to drive anywhere and pay exorbitant cruise port parking fees.
The cost of a Southern Caribbean Cruise
Here is what we spent on travel:
- Fare ($554 each) – 1108.00
- Government taxes – 137.76
- Cruise Insurance – 56.00
- Tipping (14.50 each/day) – 203.00
- Total Cruise $1,504.76
Flights (for two, not each – Expedia)
- American Airlines – 368.80
- Expedia booking fee – 4.17
- Frontier – 168.00
- Travel protection – 44.00
- Total Flights $584.97
Expenses in Departure Port
- Cab in San Juan – 24.00
- Hotel in San Juan (Hotels.com) – 177.93
- Uber to Port in San Juan – 12.00
- Total extra in San Juan $213.93
- St. Maarten ($44 each) – 88
- St. Kitts ($55 each) – 110
- Antigua ($16 each) – 32
- St. Lucia ($75 each) – 150
- Barbados ($48 each) – 96
- San Juan ($30 each) – 60
- Total Excursions $536
Extras onboard $256 (wine, drinks, lanyards)
I did not include any money spent during shore excursions, where we occasionally purchased a drink, and drink and food in San Juan before we left and at the airport. And while we left with $400 cash which was all spent, some of the expenses listed above were paid with cash (like the St. Lucia excursion), so, unfortunately, I don’t have an accurate list of how much extra we spent. (Note to self: keep track of everything next time!)
Could we have saved a little more money on our Southern Caribbean cruise? Absolutely!
Saving money on your Southern Caribbean Cruise
Here is what we could have done differently:
- Cruise – choosing a cheaper cruise itinerary; booking earlier (so that mandatory tipping is reduced), also traveling at a less popular time (lots of new graduates and Mother’s Day celebrations!)
- Flights – if we had spent more time searching or traveled on different dates
- Hotel – we could have saved some money by staying at an Airbnb or similar but we enjoyed the Casablanca Hotel
- Excursions – instead of booking tours, we could have hired a cab driver (like in Antigua)
Share your tips for saving money on a Southern Caribbean cruise in a comment below!
Annick, The Common Traveler