Here are some of my often used tips on how to do cruise ports on a budget.
1. Book a cruise with private islands
The best possible way to save money on ports, is to arrive to a private island. There will be little to no cost, and you will be able to enjoy the gorgeous beaches all day long. In addition to that benefit, many of them offer a free lunch. This saves you time in case you were thinking you had to go back to the ship for food. Also consider brining your own beach umbrella, as some of these islands charge for them. I have found that shade can be an issue on some of the beaches. Just do your research before boarding the ship.
2. Explore the History of the Port
Some ports offer extensive history, and many within walking distance of the pier. While some museums are free, others charge a small fee to gain access. A quick google search on that port will reveal the historic places that you could explore.
3. Enjoy the ship
Port days are the best possible time to enjoy the ship. While most of the passengers disembark to explore the port, you are left with a nearly empty ship to enjoy. Just keep in mind that ship activities will be at a bare minimum and you will have to make your own fun. Personally, we enjoy relaxing by the pool, and having an occasional drink while people watching.
You could also keep tabs for discounted spa products. If you are planning to have a spa treatment, this is the best time to save some money. Cruise Lines will post the discounts on the daily paper.
4. Walk around port window shopping
While I admit this one is not for me, I am aware that many enjoy this activity. Most ports have an abundance of tourist shops right by the dock. While the prices might be a little high, it still offers some a way to enjoy their day.
5. Take Taxi or a ferry
If you’re set on a day at the beach, you can always get there by taxi or ferry. Do some research or ask the driver, you will find several options in most ports. You could also share a taxi with other people and save some money on the fare. While on the beach you can just bring a towel and enjoy an inexpensive day there. Some like to bring food from the ship (while usually not allowed), enough to keep them full until they board again.
6. Find local eateries and use their WiFi
The best approach is to ask the crew. Since they frequent these ports, they are aware of the best spots for inexpensive WiFi and local food. Some small restaurants, even offer free WiFi with the purchase of some food or beverages. We have done this often in some ports. Just to catch up with our family and report our current status.
No matter what kind of cruise you take, always make sure you’re traveling within your means. It is often that I see people struggling to figure out how they spent all that money at the end of the vacation. Keep an eye on your accounts and make sure everything is going as planned. After all, you want to make sure you have enough money left to book your next cruise!