As many of you know, I love traveling the world with my family – on a budget, of course. As of today, one of the best trips we have ever been on was a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas. I took my (spoiled) husband on the cruise for his birthday, and he absolutely loved it. Obviously, the kids had a blast – and in all actuality, the Bahamas was the first country they had ever visited outside of the United States. To this day, my daughter still talks about how we visited “Pocahontas,” which makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t even bother correcting her – it’s just too cute!

Related: Carnival Sensation Review

Why Cruising Is a Good Deal for Families

Here are a few of the reasons I think cruising is such a good vacation option for families:

  • Cruises are all-inclusive. Aside from alcohol and some special coffee drinks, the cost of your meals is included in your cruise fare. For a family of four, going all-inclusive not only saves money, but also makes meal times a lot less stressful. I hate feeling like I have to pull my wallet out my entire vacation, and going all-inclusive solves that problem.
  • Entertainment is free, too. All cruises come with free, on-site entertainment – including nightly shows, game nights, and more. However, some cruise ships come with additional or unique perks as well. The particular cruise ship we were on, for example, had a large pool/hot tub area and a separate water park on the top deck.
  • You don’t have to fly international – or maybe at all. With customs and immigration to deal with, flying international – especially with kids – can be a huge pain. Fortunately, cruising can spare you that headache altogether. And depending on where you live, you may even be able to drive to a cruise port and skip the airfare altogether.

See also: 11 Easy Ways to Save Money on Flights

How to Cruise for Cheap

While cruising isn’t all that expensive to begin with, there are plenty of ways to save on both your airfare (if required) and your cruise fare. As someone who gives free credit card rewards and travel advice, I am constantly helping people earn their cruises for free – or simply save on the full sticker price. Here are my top tips:

Smuggle alcohol on board.

I have done this before, and it totally works. All you have to do is buy some opaque wine bottles, drink the wine, and rebottle your favorite booze inside. I managed this feat after I bought 30 Black PVC Shrink Capsules off of and used my mad skillz to repackage the rum-filled bottles so they looked like new. Since you’re allowed to bring a bottle of wine on board for each adult, this is an easy way to beat the system. Is it ethical? You be the judge. 

Sign up for your favorite cruise line’s mailing list.

Since I’m frugal-cruiser, I signed up for Carnival’s weekly deals. Although I haven’t taken advantage yet (too many other places to go!), I am constantly getting really awesome cruise deals via email. If you plan to go on a cruise anyway, signing up for a mailing list is a great way to get insider tips on new sales or destinations.

Use credit card rewards.

Whether you want to pay for part of your cruise or score almost-free airfare, credit card rewards can make your dreams happen. In truth, we pay for the vast majority of our travel with points and miles, and it’s not hard to do. The particular cruise we went on left from Port Canaveral, so it was an easy (and cheap) flight to book with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points. If you want help figuring out the logistics of your credit card plan, email me or contact me through my free travel advice page.