Summer 2017: 5 ways to save while on a cruise

Kara Santos

Posted at May 14 2017 03:57 PM

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The SuperStar Virgo. Handout photo

"Budget travel" is not the first thing that comes to mind when going on a cruise. Cruises are often associated with deluxe accommodations, gourmet delights, grand theater productions, and generally living the high life. For those who have already shelled out a lot for the fare, there are still ways to stretch your budget once you get on the ship.

Star Cruises' SuperStar Virgo, the first international cruise ship to make its homeport in Manila, is making its last few sailings this May, making it a more accessible option for Filipinos.

Here are some tips to spending wisely during your dream vacation

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The pool area of the SuperStar Virgo. Photo by author

1. Avail of the promos

While the initial cost of cruise may seem intimidating at first glance, it can be a good deal especially if you’re traveling with senior citizens and if you get the most affordable cabin option (Inside Stateroom).

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The lobby of SuperStar Virgo. Photo by author

The SuperStar Virgo is offering 70% off for senior citizens for their sailings on May 18, 19, 23 & 24 (booking until May 20 only). They’re also having a much cheaper three-night Manila-Hong Kong Farewell Cruise during their last sailing on May 28 for as low as US$363 all-in rate per person. For promo rates and availability, check out:

2. Consider the inclusions

SuperStar Virgo sails from Manila to Ilocos Norte, Taiwan and Hong Kong, back to Manila. This means you get to go to all the destinations minus the cost of individual airfare and visa processing (for Taiwan).

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You can watch magic shows at SuperStar Virgo. Photo by author

The all-inclusive fare covers comfortable hotel-room style cabins, transportation, access to all the facilities on board including swimming pools, fun family activities, free live entertainment shows at the theater every night, and up to six complimentary meals a day in three of their 10 restaurants on board. Considering the total costs, cruises actually offer high travel value for travelers as well as a unique and memorable experience.

3. Swipe responsibly

The SuperStar Virgo Cruise has a cashless system on board where every passenger is given an access card that serves as your ticket/boarding pass, room key and on-board credit card.

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Genting Palace at SuperStar Virgo. Photo by author

While the basics are already covered by the fare, you will need to swipe your card for extra services like alcoholic beverages, games at the casino, meals in the specialty a la carte restaurants, special shows, and souvenirs. Bills will be settled prior to disembarkation. It’s easy to lose track of spending, so swipe only when absolutely necessary (or not at all).

4. Maximize the use of facilities and free stuff

Maximize the use of facilities on board the ship. It’s not everyday that you have access to swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides and free shows. Why spend the whole time in your room when you have the whole ship to explore? Sample all the (free) restaurants and make it a point to attend all the nightly entertainment shows at the theater.

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The swimming pool at night. Photo by author

Take advantage of all the free inclusions as well. For instance, you’re given only one complimentary bottle of water per person per day in the cabin. Since drinking water is served at the buffet restaurant, other guests normally just fill up their water bottles during mealtimes to avoid having to buy water during the rest of the day and during shore excursions. It may seem like a small amount, but this can add up.

You’re only given one hour of free WiFi on the ship before having to buy vouchers on a per hour basis. You can always use the free WiFi when you dock at the ports in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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Kaoshiung, Taiwan is among the port calls. Photo by author

5. DIY during shore excursions

One of the most expensive add-ons of a cruise are the optional shore excursions. If you've already been to the destination, you can save a lot of money by staying on the ship and enjoying the facilities to yourself while most of the people are on the shore. But where’s the fun in that? Since you’re already there, it seems like a waste if you don’t go down and explore a bit (at least nearby).

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Explore Vigan during your shore excursion in Laoag. Photo by author

In most cases, it’s easy to arrange your own excursions and save money. During the stop in Ilocos Norte, you can hire a tricycle to go to Paoay or make friends with other travelers on the cruise to split the costs of renting a van to go around in Vigan.

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The cruise ship also docks at Hong Kong's picturesque harbor. Photo by author

In Hong Kong, the ship docks in Victoria Harbour, which is walking distance from Avenue of the Stars (the area with the Bruce Lee statue), Hong Kong Cultural Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum, so you can just walk around to sights nearby.

For a more detailed travel guide to SuperStar Virgo Cruise, check out

Star Cruises' SuperStar Virgo will be sailing the last time from Manila on May 28, 2017! For more details, visit