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Cruise 2016 Planning


In February we made our final payment for Cruise 2016. At this point our cruise has been paid in full, my plane ticket has been paid in full, and a few cruising essentials have been purchased with cash (e.g., new swimsuit, floppy sun hat, and a snorkel set so far). In addition to these, the remaining items for us to pay include transportation for hubs and the girls, all cruise-related gratuities, and a few more clothing items for the fam. Plus, I’d still like to have a nice little big stack of cash for while we’re actually on the cruise. All food is included in the cruise price, as well as water, tea, and lemonade. But if we want any other drinks, any souvenirs, want to gamble, etc. etc. etc….all that costs money.  My mom generously paid for a couple excursions for all of us as our Christmas gift in 2015, so the actual excursions have been paid (but, again, possibility of off-boat meals or souvenirs).  All in all, though, I think we’re in pretty good shape.

Even after paying for the things listed above, we still currently have $2400 in our Cruise 2016 savings (I save for different goals in various Capital One 360 savings accounts < refer a friend link). I’d anticipate maybe $200-$300 in our remaining expenses (things like new swimsuits and sandals for the girls, and I’d like us each to have at least one new outfit, plus the obligatory trashy magazines and some snacks for our room, etc.). And there’s still 1 month until our sail date so there’s still time to save up some more.

My goal is to have plenty of money for our trip, and still have plenty leftover at the end. I really want to just have a good time and enjoy our vacation while we’re there without worrying about money so I’m not imposing strict limits on spending (with the caveat that, obviously, we’re paying cash so we can’t go over our cash limit). I hope to still have plenty of money leftover once the trip ends so we can throw it toward our debt and play a little catch-up since the first part of this year is going to be spent mostly in savings-mode (building back up our EF and saving for a house down payment).

But even though this is a get-out-of-debt blog, I just can’t feel guilty about this trip. We’ve been planning and saving for it for over a year (since February 2015). This was NOT a light-hearted decision made on a whim. We’ve carefully carved a little money from our budget every single month to make this goal a reality. The trip comes at a great time, as we finally declared our freedom from consumer debt! But, really, the point of the trip was to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. Having lived through the completely unexpected turn of events in the past year that ended up with my Dad being laid off from his job, declared permanently disabled, and being diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration (a rare form of dementia), I’ve really stopped to reflect on my life and my relationship with my family. It’s hard not living near them and having them in my daily life. And there’s no promise of how much time we’ll have together. So as much as this trip is a celebration of our passing the critical consumer debt-free threshold, it’s also a celebration of family, love, and life. An opportunity to cherish the moment, even when we still have a lot of work to do on the get-out-of-debt front. Basically, it’s my way of claiming some balance in this crazy life of mine; one that’s totally changed in the past 2 years while I’ve been blogging. I wouldn’t change a minute, but I don’t take it for granted either.

I know that many readers are still deep in the trenches of debt reduction and I’d hate to feel like I’m bragging or rubbing our success in others’ faces. So I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the cruise, but I do want to acknowledge that it’s coming up in a few weeks and to talk a little about how we’ve been able to scrimp and save and actually afford the trip by paying in all cash (Cliff’s Note version:  basically, we planning and saved for a looooong time).

Hubs and I used to love to travel. Since our wedding in 2010 we haven’t traveled anywhere other than to visit family (which is still travel since we live out-of-state, but it’s not the exotic, beach-laying or mountain-skiing type of travel/vacations of the past). I’m so excited to have our first vacation as a family of 4 (+ extended family) and to build some memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I can’t wait!


  • Reply Jay |

    Dont feel guilty about this for ONE SECOND! Have a great time – you’ve earned it, you are making great progress, and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your debts. Plus the times you can spend with your family are not infinite – enjoy them. They will enjoy time with your kids too.

  • Reply SB |

    – Make sure they don’t automatically add the gratuities to your bill. Most do, even when you say not to when you sign up.
    – Buy cute badge holders before you go to hold your room card. They sell them on the cruise for more, but you need something to hold your room card in as most people don’t carry a purse or wallet around on the boat. We stick our room card and small ship map in ours. You don’t need cash or a ccredit card on the boat as it will all sink back up to the credit card you put on file (or to cash if you pay it out in cash at the end). Just put that stuff in the room safe.
    – They will have one formal dining night, so prepare for that.
    – They get you mainly with lots of different pic opportunities in the different areas. I’m guessing you will do some of that with your kids, extended family, etc. They turn out nice and you don’t get them often, but are a bit pricey.
    – They have daily sales on different things throughout the cruise, if you spa, do it one of the days that it is in port as they will offer a great spa deal that day because most people are doing excursions. You can book it super early or late that day and still get the discount. Otherwise, there are sales on watches, jewelry, liquor, art, and perfume different days.
    – Nightly movies on the deck are great. Watching a movie, eating popcorm, etc. They have a kids day usually with a first run kids movie.
    – Cruise shows are great, and all of the little mini shows (some are not kid friendly, but super funny)
    – Drinks are not cheap, but they do have deals I think it is the first day if you are going to drink throughout the cruise. It is a drink pass, and they usually have an alcohol and non alcohol one available. It is more costly up front, but cheaper in the long run if you drink. And remember, EACH PERSON can bring on a certain amount of non alcoholic drinks according to the cruiseline you are on. You have four people, so you can bring on quite a bit of water and soda. They will fill an ice bucket for you on the cruise each day if you tip your person. You can bring an empty cooler on if you want, but no ice.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Have fun! Don’t worry about the cruise…you have made so much progress and as you have realized, life as we know it is short. You need to spend this time with your family! Take lots of pictures.

  • Reply Megan |

    Don’t regret for one minute this investment you are making into your family and happiness. It is a real value you are adding to your life and you are doing it an eye on your responsibilities. I hope you post about how it goes!

  • Reply Malady |

    My advice – take advil or pandadol with you, because buying it onboard costs an absolute fortune.

    Also – take a highlighter. The daily menu of activities is vast, and its fun to sit as a family in the evening and plan the next days activities.

    Feel no guilt – I hope you have a wonderful time knowing that you’ve saved and prepared for this exciting trip.

  • Reply Jan |

    Enjoy your cruise! life is short and you’ve saved and planned ahead for this so no guilt. I’ve found cruising is the cheapest way for us to travel.

  • Reply Lisa |

    You might already know this but… don’t forget cruises are cashless (except the casinos). You’ll pay for everything with your room cards. Usually they have a minimum amount that has to be on the card like $50 so if it gets to that level you will have to deposit more money.

So, what do you think ?