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10 Ways to Save Money on Your Cruise to New Zealand

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Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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How to Save Money on a Cruise to New Zealand

Cruises are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about “budget travel” in New Zealand. However, with accommodation, transport and often food included, exploring New Zealand by cruise is often a lot greater value for money than what you think. What’s more, there are some easy ways to make extra savings while on your New Zealand cruise. We’ll go through some of the best ways to save money on a cruise to New Zealand.

The New Zealand summer cruise season is between October and April, while a shorter winter cruise season runs from April to July. While shorter cruises, usually running from Australia, visit New Zealand’s lesser-known ports, larger cruises will visit these main ports in New Zealand: Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa and Fiordland.

1. Don’t Book Activities Onboard

We’re going to start off with a big truth bomb: New Zealand activities are incredibly expensive when booked on your cruise. Many cruise passengers are livid when they realise that other tourists on New Zealand tours and activities have paid less than half the price of cruise ship passengers. Even when heading to the nearest visitor centre at ports, there are often big signs saying “cruise specials”. Guess what? That just means they’re twice as expensive than the normal price. Do yourself a favour: research and choose your own activities and book directly with the activity provider. Find out more at The Essential Guide to Booking Activities in New Zealand.

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2. Disconnect at Sea

Nobody likes to pay for WiFi, let alone cruise ship WiFi prices. If you want to shave off some cents on using the onboard WiFi, tell your friends and family that you’re going to be disconnected while you’re at sea. (You never know, you might enjoy it). If you really need to access the Internet, we suggest waiting until you arrive at the port. The port cities in New Zealand all have areas where you can access free WiFi. Get some tips on accessing the Internet with our guide on How to get Internet and WiFi in New Zealand.

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3. Explore Independently

Cruise ships will offer “shore excursions”, which are set tours around the port location. Of course, this comes at an extra price that’s not always that reasonable. You can save money on a cruise to New Zealand by exploring each port destination independently. Like we mentioned above, book New Zealand tour and activities yourself, hire a bike or car and see the greater area. Better yet to save money, check out some of the free attractions. More on that in the point below! For typical tour costs, check out How Much Does it Cost to Travel New Zealand?

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Cruise to New Zealand© Tourism Bay of Plenty

4. Do Free Activities

New Zealand is a country where some of the best experiences are free. All the main ports in New Zealand that cruises visit have free things to like getting amazing views from Mt Eden in Auckland, exploring the stunning Botanic Garden in Wellington, or checking out the “Rhino Walk” in Akaroa. We’ll link up to some free and cheap activity articles on each port city name: Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Dunedin, Akaroa and Bay of Islands. Or just take a look at the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.

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5. Choose a Drinks Package

Cruise liners are usually pretty strict on the number of beverages you can bring onboard, often have a complete ban on bringing in alcohol. Plus, buying drinks on board is more expensive than in cities so you’ll find that you will end up spending a lot on drinks when buying individually. Luckily, cruise liners off “drink packages”. Everyone’s got to drink water at least, so choose one of the drink packages which often has a water package for the basics. Of course, a cruise is all about treating yourself so you’re probably going to want to drink some alcohol too. Pick one of the packages for alcoholic beverages too so you don’t go over budget. Power tip: if you are unsure how much you are going to drink during the cruise, buy drinks individually for the first day or two, then buy a drink package for the remainder of your time if you think it is worth it.

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6. Hand Wash Your Clothes

If you’re on longer cruise trips, it’s likely that you’re going to want to wash your clothes at some point. Don’t worry! Cruise ships are more than happy to offer a laundry service, which some charging per item of clothing. Washing your clothes yourself (or even using the onboard launderette where available) is an easy way to save money on cruise ships. Your room will have a sink basin, so pack some laundry detergent and away you go.

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7. Consider a Repositioning Cruise

A “repositioning cruise” is where a cruise ship needs to relocate, usually at the beginning or end of the season. This is a great option to not only save money but try something a little different than the usual itinerary. These sailings can often be as much as half the price of original sailings!

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8. Choose the Lowest-priced Cabin

For seasoned cruise ship voyagers, this tip is sort of a no-brainer, but for those of you who are new to the whole sailing thing, you actually have a choice in cabins! The lowest price cabins will be what’s called an “interior cabin” which means you’re inside the ship with no window views. However, cruises are not all about staying in your cabin all day, so you’ll most likely find that you don’t need to spend more for a premium cabin to have a good time.

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9. Scout Out the Cheapest Times to Use the Spa

For those of you who love to get pampered (it’s your holiday, after all), find out when is the cheapest time to have a spa treatment. Commonly, it’s during port days. On the other hand, some cruise ships have “quieter” times where they’ll entice passengers with cheaper deals. Ask when is the best time to book a spa treatment for the best discount!

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10. Eat Onboard When at Port

Most cruise ship tickets come with meals included, so you can save heaps by simply eating onboard while at port, rather than in the port cities. However, if you can’t resist stuffing yourself, then check out these cheap eats in the main ports: Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington.

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More Ways to Save Money in New Zealand

One last tip, be aware of the arrival process for cruises in New Zealand, which is much like arriving at an airport. Get prepared by checking out our guide, Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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