Cheap Caribbean Vacations

By Danielle Leshin

Cheap Caribbean vacations, they do exist! I love the Caribbean and my children have many fond memories there.

Places like Aruba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, San Juan, St. Thomas, they are all accessible, affordable and family friendly! When I say affordable, I mean around $350 per person for an all inclusive vacation.



Curacao
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Curacao

Here are the important things you need to know in order to book your own cheap Caribbean vacation cruise:

  •  Cheapest times to go on a cheap Caribbean vacation cruise:   We chose the first part of December to go on our cruise. November, December and January are some of the lowest priced months to travel to the Caribbean. The bonus for travelling this time of year to the Caribbean? The temperature in the Caribbean in wonderful, unlike the summer time when you walk outside and it's too hot to even lay in the sun, the ships are usually decorated for the holidays and are beautiful, also a bonus, not allot of children. This means your kids will have a lot more fun in the childrens center and the pools.Another tip for travelling this time of year, incorporate the trip into the kids Christmas or holiday gifts. For example, we always ask the kids if they want to go on a cruise for Christmas and they get 2 gifts because the cruise is their big gift, or do they want 5 gifts......my family always picks the vacation. My kids love to travel and a cheap Caribbean vacation cruise always hits the spot.
  • Gratuities on board the ship:   The gratuities will vary from cruise line to cruise line. The good news, you can change them to whatever you want. Just go to the customer service desk and adjust them as you see fit. We like to call our cabin steward in when we first board the ship and give him or her $20 and ask for the extras we need. This usually ensures us great service the rest of the cruise.
  • Drinks on the ship:  You can bring your own bottled water! I put duct tape around a case of water or 2 and put a luggage tag on it and check it in at the port. Next, alcohol...if you’re a drinker, they do let you bring wine on the ship, it has to be sealed. We usually bring 2 or 3 bottles of wine. Your steward can supply you with wine glasses, ice and a bottle opener. If you are a soda drinker, they usually have a soda card you can purchase for around $25 for unlimited soda during the cruise. 
  • Parking at the port:   Parking at the Miami port is $20 a night, there are other places you can park for $7 a night. We splurged so we could start the drive home right away. Check your hotel too, sometimes they let you park there for free and have a free shuttle to the port.
  • The Ocean view Room:   We chose an ocean view room on board the ship, again another splurge. We could have saved another $225 total if we choose an interior room. We love to be able to watch the sun rise and set, so the window is always worth it. Look for the "Early Saver Rate" on Carnival, you choose your room and they offer price protection, so if the price goes down, you get the cheaper rate.check the prices often, you may save even more money. They also offer a "Pack and Go" rate if you’re travelling within 30 days, you can score some great rates on last minute cruises.
  • The Hotel: We chose a hotel that offered free breakfast and free internet. That alone saved us on the cheap side $30. Since were only staying one night before the cruise, we opted for a cheap hotel. Make sure to look for a hotel that has free parking, breakfast and internet, you will save a bundle.
  • Excursions:   Sometimes we splurge on shore excursions. The last cruise,  we did not. We sat on the beach and swam at the pools at Carnivals Margaritaville Beach Club on Turks and Caicos. We wandered thru downtown Nassau and window shopped, then walked to a nearby beach. On Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Carnivals Private Island) we laid in the sun, spent time snorkeling and ate lunch for free courtesy of Carnival. If we do splurge on an excursion, we look for excursions under $50 pp, and make sure they are kid friendly.
  • Souvenirs:  We are not much for souvenirs. I think a great family photo of your vacation is the best souvenir you can have, and it lasts forever! My kids like to get something, so I have them save their money. If they want souvenirs, they buy them with their own money. This eliminates buying useless things and the kids learn the value of a dollar. My youngest one is very frugal and would rather save his money than buy a tee shirt he wont wear!
  • Sign up for cruise line special Offers: You will be one of the first people to know about the sales and that makes it much easier to find the good deals. The good sales dont last long.
  • When you find a good deal, BOOK IT! : Dont wait, it may not be there when you go back.
  • Look for Kids Cruise Free Specials or 3rd & 4th passenger deep discount specials. Check out our Kids Cruise Free page to see what cruise lines offer these specials and how to find them.

In order to make the Caribbean affordable you need to set a realistic budget and go from there. For a 5 night vacation, on the low end, I would set your budget at $300. You're really going to have to work to get it for $300, but you can do it! I would recommend budgeting $350 per person for a 5 night Cheap Caribbean vacation.

My family of 4 was able to visit the Caribbean for 5 nights. We were able to see Turks and Caicos, two islands in the Bahamas and spend 1 night in Miami, Florida, 6 nights and 7 days total, all for $1405, this was for an Ocean view room, an Interior room would have saved us $225 for a total of only $1180 for 4 people. Now that's what I call a cheap Caribbean vacation! We cruised on Carnival for this vacation. 

How??? Here's the secret

Carnivals Private Island Half Moon Cay
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Half Moon Cay

The cheapest way to travel to the Caribbean......a cruise! Yes a cruise! If you can drive to a cruise port and there are plenty in driving range to almost everyone. You can avoid paying for airfare to the Caribbean. It's very hard to find cheap Caribbean vacations if you have to include airfare. Airfare alone is a big time budget buster, and unless you’re flying first class, it really is no fun for anyone. Yes, gas is expensive, but the cost is nothing compared to airline tickets and parking at the airport, plus baggage fees. Drive if you can, you will save money.

Here's the thing about Caribbean cruises, you can go from 2 nights to 15 nights plus. To stay within the budget we discussed, I would recommend looking for a 4 or 5 night cruise. Most of the time, you can get a 5 night cruise for the same price as a 3 night, the ship may be a little older, but it will have most of the same basic amenities. Don’t expect to be on the Oasis of the Seas for this Cheap Caribbean Vacation, the ships will be older.

The Good news

Here is the good news about travelling on an older ship; most have been updated to include more pools, waterslides, outdoor movie theaters by the pool and newer kids play areas. The other great thing is that the ocean view and interior rooms are usually a lot bigger on the older ships, that is one of my favorite things about Carnivals older fleet...bigger rooms.

Yes, Carnival has had their fair share of ship issues lately, but this is only going to force them to start taking better care of their ships and updating them so they don’t have further issues. So on that note, start looking for some smoking deals coming from Carnival. They are going to need to pay for those updates and their ships will need to be full to do that. Start looking for your cheap Caribbean vacation cruise now!

Carnival Destiny Waterslide
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Carnival Destiny Waterslide

Carnival Destiny Outdoor Movie Screen
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Carnival Destiny's Outdoor Movie Screen

Here's Our Budget For Our Last Cheap Caribbean Vacation:

Five night Carnival cruise on the Carnival Destiny room 1188 Ocean view for 4 people including taxes and port fees:  $290pp

Gratuities on board the ship: $100

Drinks on the ship: $0 

Gas: $200 (3 tanks total there and back/20 gallon tank)

Parking at the Port: $100 (there are cheaper places to park, see below)

Hotel for 1 night: $80 (La Quinta Inn Miami Airport North, free breakfast and internet)

Food: $120 (dinner in Miami and fast food while driving)

Total= $1760...wait a minute, I’m not done. Now I have to subtract my normal weekly expenses that I budget for:

 Minus -$180 for my weekly grocery budget, I won’t need groceries if I’m not home!

And

 Minus -$175 for my weekly gas budget

 The new total: $1405 for an Ocean view or $1180 for an Interior room

 You have to remember, if you stayed at home, you would have spent your grocery money and your gas money; this is the justification for subtracting my weekly budget from what I spent on my cheap caribbean vacation. The only additional money we needed to go on this vacation was $1305, not bad at all!

I hope you enjoyed our cheap Caribbean vacations page and you are well on your way to the vacation you have been dreaming of!

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