Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

The easiest of cruise ship dive trips is to plan is a three-nighter due to the limited number of dives and dive connections to be made. It’s a great cruise to “practice” on getting your cruise ship dive trip methods figured out and your routine practiced on a shorter route.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Main Items to Plan

Here are the main planning points for a cruise ship dive trip: travel to the port, parking and hotel or Airbnb at the port, choosing the cruise, booking the dives, travel to the dives, and return details. In order to plan a truly budget-mindful trip, it is going to take some planning to get the best deals.

For each, you will want to have a blank piece of paper. This is so you can create a grid of important aspects, and start researching!

I’ve read that part of the fun of travel is in the planning. I hope that’s true, because to score a budget dive trip, sometimes it takes a lot of research to get every single detail streamlined, affordable, and efficient. Have fun planning! Here goes… 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Scan for Good Deals

One of the first steps for planning a cruise and dive trip on a strict budget is to start searching for the best deal, at the cruise ship port closest to you. If the main goal is to get on a cruise ship, arrive somewhere and go dive, then which cruise line shouldn’t matter that much to you.

Check all the cruise search sites like Cruise Critic, Delta Cruises, and more. Your goal for a three-night cruise is somewhere under $300 per person. Remember, when comparing cruises, go almost all the way through the booking in order to see the final, final, very final cost after all the port charges have been added.

Use one sheet of paper to list all the best possibilities. Make columns for easy comparison – price of cruise, cost per night, cost per port, possible dives, distance to port, parking, and so on.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Travel to the Port

We are close enough to reach about five ports in a single day of travel. Two of the ports we can leave in the morning and board that same day! One is two hours away, the other three hours away. These are important factors to consider. The stress of a longer drive and the possible need or an overnight the night before the cruise.

I used to joke I can leave work a half day early, make it to a three-night cruise by Friday afternoon, then disembark Monday and make it to work by 9:00 a.m.! I’ve actually done that, but prefer now to leisurely return to work on Tuesday, giving me time to process and clean dive gear.  

The main details here are choosing how far you are willing to drive, which vehicle and which route to take, and getting the gear packed. Triple check everything.

One time, we got three hours away from home with another couple. They realized they had left their daypack with their passports on the seat of their vehicle at our home. We had carpooled to the port. We went ahead and boarded. Their daughter went by our house to get the bag and start driving it toward us, as they drove toward her. They met somewhere in the middle, transferred the bag, parked, and made it to the ship as the last ones to board. That was too  much stress on them!

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Consider Traveling a Night Before

Had we traveled the night before when our companions forgot their passports, there would have been slightly less stress. They would have had all night to drive back and return in plenty of time. Also, they most likely would have realized the mistake upon checking into a hotel or Airbnb.

Lucky for us, we had left very early in order to be the first to board and begin our vacation. That alone gave us enough time for them to drive toward home and back to the port and make it on the ship in time for the lifeboat drill. 

So, you see, going the night ahead is not awful. And, attempting to drive that morning can be stressful too. You need to leave early enough that if you have any mechanical trouble with your vehicle, you can recover and still make it to the ship on time. 

For a three-nighter, I choose one of those two ports that are a shorter drive, more often, the one two hours away. I look at the cruise price, and know my “break even point.” How much less expensive does a cruise need to be in order to inspire me to drive eight hours to a port rather than two – that’s the question.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Determining Break Even Point on Driving to a Further Port

By that, break even point, I mean if a cruise is $50 more expensive at the closer port, it makes sense for me to pay that $50 per person. It’s worth $50 more to me to avoid a longer drive, more fuel expense, and the cost of adding an overnight stay at at Airbnb (discount codes below) or a hotel.

The overnight would be in order to be able to avoid stress, and extend the trip a bit. Arriving a day in advance gives you time to relax and arrive at the cruise port in advance and board early. Then there’s the benefit of the padded time. Overnighting leaves a good cushion in case of delay due to traffic or mechanical vehicle delays.

Driving four or five more hours to the next port to save $100 each does not make sense. I’d spend more than that on a hotel. Then, instead of using a park and ride, it would take several more hours of research to find the best sleep and park solution. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

My Break Even Point

That breaking point might be different for everyone. Personally, I would not drive an additional five hours to save $200 total, because it’s only $100 savings after deducting hotel expense. But, I might for $300! That’s a couple dives paid for in savings! The added stress of the drive would be my main consideration there. Once on site, it’s actually much more relaxing to spend the night before a cruise in a hotel. This is because you are close to the port and not worrying about vehicle breakdown that could cause you to “miss the ship.” 

Also, it puts you in the holiday mood to be in the area with nothing to do but look forward to your vacation. No more laundry, housecleaning, dishwashing! You’re there! Ready to board! Plus, you are in a city with a waterfront. That means there’s probably cool places to see and things to do and great eating! So, if there’s a significant savings, I’d go for adding the overnight in order to already be at the port with no delays. It’s like getting two bonuses!

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Hotel at the Port

It’s good to look for a hotel with a great park, stay, and cruise package deal. Check to see that they have a cruise ship terminal shuttle, and that it transits in the times you wish. 

Sometimes your best budget option will be to book one hotel, the book parking elsewhere.

Recently I was booking a hotel in Tampa that has a park and cruise rate. We wanted to stay two nights; they simply doubled the park and cruise rate. That wasn’t fair – I had them charge me for one “regular” night so we could get military discount on that night. I requested they charge the second night as the park and cruise night. That was the best deal overall – always remember to ask for whatever discounts you are eligible.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Airbnb at the Port

Same as hotel – only perhaps better location, less expensive, possibility of leaving your car and the ability to cook for yourself, which means saving money. Drawbacks are no shuttle, but you could use Lyft or Uber to get to the port or the port parking and to get around town the night before. (discount codes below)

If the rides and the stay add up to less than the hotel, and you get to stay somewhere nicer and quieter, that’s always a good choice. Contact your prospective host to see if they will allow you to leave your car, and if there is a charge. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Parking Options

Another consideration! Another option is to book an Airbnb, then book parking at a lot near the port. The parking lot will provide the shuttle you need to the port. Usually you can book at Airbnb (discount codes below) for about half the price of a hotel for something similar or even nicer. Also, the added parking at under $10 a day still leaves you far below a hotel room expensive-wise. 

Three options; hotel parking or lot parking or cruise ship terminal parking. This is why you end up with several grids of comparisons. The price of the cruise alone does not give you the entire cost of the trip.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Cruise Ship Terminal Parking

Cruise ship terminal parking seems to be the most expensive. It is. Also, it seems to be the most convenient. But, it’s not. It actually takes about the same amount of time to park off-site and shuttle in to the port!

Cruise ship terminal parking is not always that close to the actual ship. So, you must carry or roll your bag a long way sometimes. Just like at airports, being dropped right off at the gate by a shuttle actually is easier than walking the parking garage.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Hotel Parking Considerations

Hotel parking is great if you are staying at a hotel and they have a complimentary shuttle. Be sure to check departure times, and know which cruise ship terminal is your destination. Always ask hotels for a “stay and cruise” or “park, stay, and cruise” deal. Some do offer those! Even if they charge, check to see which option gives you a better deal. Also, make sure to research which option is more secure – security, lighting, cameras. 

Once we stayed at a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale before a cruise. We passed through the lobby and realized they had cameras all over the parking lot, but we were parked just off camera. We made note of which spots were “covered,” and moved to one of those as soon as it become available. 

Lot parking can be a great deal. Many offer discounts for reserving in advance, and some even have deals for a free parking after so many paid stays. Also, they drop you off right at the baggage handlers; you may only have to roll or carry your bag a couple feet! 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Choosing the Cruise by Budget

Now that you’ve thoroughly considered the expenses and details of hotel, Airbnb, parking, shuttles, it’s time to revisit the original choice – the cruise.

Now that you are armed with a ton of ideas and prices and details about the whole operation of getting to a port, back to cruise selection.

This is a whole article in itself. There are so many websites to consult. I often use the Delta Cruises website to check prices and cabins because their format is so easy to use. Then to verify, I check the RCCL website.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

The Last Step in Booking

Last, once I know exactly what I want, I email my personal agent. Well, she’s been my “bookie” for about 20 years now. Because she’s that good. It does cost me $24.99 more to book through her. But, I receive frequent flyer miles and she’s able to negotiate all my discounts. Even when I forget to remind her, she makes it all work. In addition, she scores a bit of on board credit for me. That’s virtual money on the ship that I can use for purchases like a shore excursion to scuba dive!

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Search for Route or Price?

Sometimes I’m looking for a specific route, and I just keep searching endlessly. I set up alerts, I check several websites. Yes, there are cruisers who look every single day at the prices. Every day. They scan all year long for great deals. The more familiar you are with the regular prices for routes, the more confident you are. That familiarity means you can immediately book something that comes along when you know it’s the best deal ever.

Some times, I’m simply looking for a bargain, any cruise at all, so I sort prices from low to high at the port I think I might want. I can make note of any great deals. Next I consider, reconsider, compare, and thoroughly evaluate. That’s why you take the time to keep lists – so you can make an informed decision and have a true cruise ship dive trip.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Booking the Future Cruise

Usually as I am going on a cruise, I bring with me a couple options for our next cruise, and I go ahead and either register for an open booking, or a specific booking while on board.

This is a good plan because you can earn additional on board credit or more savings from doing that. Plus, I leaned ages ago; go ahead and plan the next vacation so you have something to which to look forward all year! 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Which Comes First – Dives or Cruise Itinerary?

There’s so much to choosing the cruise for a cruise ship dive trip. Often, once you have chosen a really great deal for a cruise, you’ll just plan dives wherever and whenever it lands.

Other times, you might want to go to specific places to dive – then you must keep checking for that itinerary.

Don’t forget; itineraries change, so just keep that in mind. There’s not a 100% guarantee that you will go to the ports you have planned if something changes. Also, weather may preclude you from going to a certain port. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Sometimes Flying Is a Better Choice

We knew that for sure when we were looking to book a cruise to dive Cuba recently. Things were getting shakier and shakier. So, we opted to fly in to Havana rather than cruise. Our trip began on a Thursday.

On that Tuesday, with no notice, cruises were immediately forbidden to dock in Cuba, and had to divert. Thankfully, we had not booked the back-to-back cruises we initially planned for our diving in Cuba. If we had booked, the cruise would still have gone, just with a different destination on those days, or, additional days at sea.

We would have been disappointed, but, that’s life. Just enjoy a last-minute, impromptu dive elsewhere, or take a day off diving. If that happens, sometimes you get a bit of refund or discount for the disappointment. When that occurs, remember, it’s a boat and things happen – so be flexible and understanding. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Booking the Dives

Now for some more fun! Choosing the dives! This is worthy of an entire article! To know you got the best deal, this also will take a lot of checking, cross-referencing, and note-taking.

I head to several sources – I check online through Padi and Naui and DAN and anywhere I can find good reviews of dive shops.

The first step is to assemble a list of every dive operator in the area.

Then if there are more than two choices, I put together a “conflict resolution” grid. It’s more of a grid full of the cool options, but it’s designed to help make the decision of the best match for us and diving. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Ship Time in Port

First, be quite careful to write what time the ship will be in port, and if that is recorded in ship’s time or local time. Then look for dives that can logically happen during that time. Make sure you leave enough time for transit to and from the dive shop or site. It can’t be a cruise ship dive trip if the ship is not in port long enough to travel to and from a dive.

Any conflicts in available dive times or short stays in ports might strike a few options off your list. Crew Center has a good listing of all ships and ports, and which vessels will be in which ports on what days and at what times.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Recommendations of Operators

I consult with our local dive club about who has been where and if they have any recommendations. Also, I look for reviews online and sift through which are actual legitimate praises and complaints, and which are superfluous. 

In my grid, I usually have a column for each of the following: price, depth, dive times, length of dive, special features, and taxi costs.

Once you narrow your options down to the ones that are the best matches, all that is left is to select the one with the best reviews or features.

Your goal here is to find the best value. However, you will find that dive operators in a cruise ship port pretty much all charge about the same rates. Then it comes down to the small things. Do they offer water only, or water, soda, and snacks? Maybe one has shade and one does not. Or one boat takes six divers, while another takes 20. It’s up to you to determine which features are most important to you.

When you are still stuck, there are even more important considerations to help you narrow down your selection to your best choice.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Distances From the Port

Next is to consult a map and evaluate how far from the port each dive operator is, and how you will travel to the dive shop or site. This can influence our choice of companies, or even dictate at which of a companies’ locations you will meet them. 

For example, diving with Dive Paradise out of Cozumel, Mexico, there are three locations to meet with their boats. Cozumel has a north and a south cruise ship pier. It’s best to research to which pier your ship will arrive, and plan to meet Dive Paradise at the closer of the three pick up points. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Contact the Dive Shops Personally

If the grid alone, or the time the ship will be in port does not immediately reduce my choices, I will contact the companies. If you have a group of six divers, that can allow you some leeway. You can ask for quotes for six divers, or for an entire chartered boat.

Sometimes, like in our upcoming Cozumel dives, it was about $42 more to have a boat to ourselves rather than put the six of us on with four other people on a ten-passenger boat. If you prefer to meet other divers; stay with the group reservation. If you like the idea of a boat to yourselves, that might be just as economical. 

Then I start emailing the dive companies with whatever questions I still have. Taking note of how quickly they respond, and in how much depth sometimes will sway my decisions on which one to choose. 

Always, I’m up front that we are putting together a cruise ship dive trip. Sometimes people turn their nose up at divers coming off a ship, as if they aren’t experienced, or seldom dive. When you turn in your divers’ resume, the dive operator will see that you are not “once a year holiday divers.”

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Travel to the Dives

One thing to be sure to calculate financially and time-wise is the method of transfer from the ship to the dive location. You can easily research online the fares for a taxi in most points. If not, you can email and ask the dive shop, and they probably have current figures as well. 

An upcoming dive in Roatan where we had a couple options, interestingly, it turned out to be the most economical if we went with a charter with Wikkid Divers. Instead of paying the taxi fee each for all six of us, both directions, they provide transportation. The savings on that alone paid the difference between being on a higher volume dive boat versus being on our own sailing catamaran with open bar and endless conch salad. Oh yeah.

That proves that the bottom line on cost can be a bit hard to pin down – that’s why you keep scrupulous track on all your lists of every aspect!

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Customs With Large Dive Bags

Coming off a cruise ship with a large duffel bag is a bit unusual, so don’t be surprised when you have an extra stop at customs – in both directions! In Nassau, for instance, you will go through the main entrance, then take a detour and go to another building to be inspected and have an inspection sticker put on your bag.

It’s important to understand that normally, cruisers do not get off the ship with a large bag. They might return from shopping with several large bags, but not the opposite. It’s an unusual situation, so just be calm and polite.

On the way back, you go through again for a quick check. You’re in their country, they are being careful, so just smile, enjoy meeting a few more locals, and relax.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Customs Etiquette

Last time we were in Nassau, our police force guard started out addressing us very formally. We were friendly, and before we left, we were all smiling and trading fishing stories, and he really wanted to know what fish we had seen and where we dove. He planned to go fish there the next day!

Going through customs anywhere is always another opportunity to show foreigners how friendly Americans are! Act as an ambassador for your country; represent it well, be respectful and friendly, and you’ll make friends wherever you travel. Plus, your experience will be more fun and your friendliness will make the return easier when they recognize you. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Dive Bag Width and the X-ray

A note on this – your bag might have to go through an x-ray machine in both directions. We learned that Bill’s Blackhawk rolling dive bag is so wide that we had to remove the fins every single time to pass through the x-ray machine. It’s a great bag. Just a bit wide for a cruise ship dive trip. It’s still a first choice for road trips.

Not to mention, it’s width is a bit of a problem in narrow cruise ship hallways. Our large and tall Akona rolling backpack bags go through the x-rays without having to remove the fins, and they also navigate the cruise ships’ narrow passages far more easily. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Your Dive Gear on the Cruise

You will need a plan what to do with your gear. This is not a budget consideration, except… it sure is easier in a balcony cabin!

However, even in the smallest interior cabin, there are solutions!

First, head up to the pool deck and discreetly rinse off all your gear in the pool shower. Next, avoid displacing sunbathers and swimmers – you don’t want to be asked to leave. The goal is to get your gear rinsed and spread out just a bit in the sun to drip before taking it to your cabin. 

Later, in your cabin, most of the bathrooms’ entire floor are actually one huge draining surface. This means you can put all your gear in the shower, get in with it and rinse it all thoroughly, then place it outside the shower stall and on the floor to continue dripping. Then hang wetsuits and whatever works on the little string in the shower, bcd’s from the towel racks so you can use the shower stall for your own shower.

Finally, once your gear is not dripping, you can move everything to the cabin and hang items to continue drying out in the climate controlled environment. If you have a balcony; that’s a perfect spot to put items to dry. Just make sure nothing is going to blow away. 

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

Dry Bags – Use Ultra Lightweight

I always thought you were supposed to put all your wet dive gear into the dry bag to keep everything else dry. Nope. Just the opposite. All your damp gear goes right into your large luggage bag, and the small bit of clothing that you want to keep dry goes into the dry bag! Who knew?! Brilliant! Test this out before you leave your house, I would suggest. Just to make sure your dry bag is large enough. 

We picked up these Sea to Summit dry bags because they weigh less than an ounce, and fold up to the size of a piece of photocopy paper.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

You Can’t Bring Toxic Sunscreen

But you can bring reef-safe Sunscreen and Mask Defog that’s safe for water, marine life, and for humans! Stream2Sea have the only reef-safe sunscreen tested on fish. Plus, it comes in biodegradable sugar cane resin containers, so it’s a double win for us and the environment.

No matter where you plan to dive, whatever you put on your body will eventually find its way into a waterway, river, lake, stream, or ocean.Paragraph

Here’s an easy way to do your part in saving our oceans. Do your research! Then order reef-safe mask defog, sunscreen and hair products at Stream2Sea.com, use my code “KimW” for 10% off. AD: affiliate links used.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

To Extend the Vacay, Reduce Stress

Stay at an Airbnb at your port the night before! This is not the time for rushing around, possibly missing your boarding time due to a delay.

So, here are two Airbnb discount codes. Try either one! The offerings from Airbnb change every couple months, so use whichever gives you the best deal. You can only use a code one time, so compare, choose whichever gives you the best deal since they change periodically, and make it count!

As of today, this one, Airbnb http://bit.ly/dwhAIRBNB says, “Kimberly gave you up to $55 off your first trip.”

Also today, this one, Airbnb http://bit.ly/dwhAirbnb2 says, “Deep gave you up to $415 off your first adventure. I’m ready to book from this one right now! I’m thinking it’s a computer glitch – so jump on it fast!Paragraph

Today, this one from Uber: http://bit.ly/dwhUber This link currently is for $2 off first 3 rides, however, this also can change – sometimes it’s $5 off your first ride.

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

What to Read Next

How We Cut Our Dive Gear Weight by 38 Pounds for Travel

Dive Gear Luggage // Worth the Expense? // Pros and Cons

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

cruise ship dive trip, Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips
About

    Leave a Comment

    WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com