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How To Cruise On A Budget In NYC | North River Lobster Co


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Dorine Geyer



Welcome aboard! Are you dreaming of a fantastic cruise experience in the heart of New York City, but worried about the cost? Well, worry no more! In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to cruise on a budget in NYC and still have an unforgettable time. From planning your trip to exploring the city’s attractions, we’ve got you covered with money-saving tips and insider advice.


Contrary to popular belief, cruising in New York City doesn’t have to break the bank. With some savvy planning and a little bit of creativity, you can enjoy all the excitement of a cruise while staying within your budget. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, this guide is packed with valuable information to help you make the most of your experience without draining your wallet.


Before we dive into the details, it’s important to stress that cruising on a budget doesn’t mean skimping on quality or missing out on the best experiences. Rather, it’s about being smart with your choices and finding ways to save money without compromising on the things that matter most to you.


So, if you’re ready to embark on an affordable adventure and discover all that NYC has to offer, let’s get started!


Planning Your Budget Cruise

When it comes to planning your budget cruise in NYC, a little bit of preparation can go a long way in maximizing your savings. Here are some essential steps to get you started:

  1. Set a Budget: Before you begin planning, determine how much you’re willing to spend on your cruise. This will help you make informed decisions throughout the planning process.
  2. Research Cruise Lines: Look for cruise lines that offer budget-friendly options or special discounts. Keep an eye out for promotions or off-peak season deals that can help you save even more.
  3. Choose the Right Duration: Shorter cruises tend to be more affordable, so consider opting for a weekend getaway or a mid-week cruise to cut down on costs.
  4. Compare Prices: Take the time to compare prices from different cruise providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Websites like Expedia and Kayak can be helpful resources for finding competitive prices.
  5. Book in Advance: Booking your cruise well in advance can often result in significant savings. Keep an eye out for early bird specials and promotional offers that may be available.

Once you’ve booked your cruise, it’s time to start thinking about other key aspects of your trip, such as accommodation and transportation:

  1. Consider Pre- or Post-Cruise Accommodation: If your cruise departs or arrives in the morning, you may need to book a hotel for the night before or after your cruise. Look for budget-friendly hotels or explore options like Airbnb for affordable accommodations.
  2. Plan Your Transportation: Consider the most cost-effective way to get to and from the cruise terminal. Public transportation, such as buses or subways, can be a cheaper alternative to taxis or private transfers.

By carefully planning your budget cruise and making informed choices, you can save a significant amount of money without compromising on the overall experience. So, grab your notebook, start researching, and get ready for an incredible adventure on a budget!


Choosing the Right Time to Cruise

When it comes to cruising on a budget in NYC, timing is key. By selecting the right time to embark on your cruise, you can take advantage of lower prices and fewer crowds. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Off-Peak Seasons: Consider cruising during off-peak seasons to secure the best deals. Generally, these seasons fall outside of the summer months and major holidays, when cruise prices tend to be higher.
  2. Mid-Week Departures: Opting for a mid-week departure can often result in lower fares compared to weekend cruises. This is because weekends tend to be more popular and may come with a premium price tag.
  3. Last-Minute Deals: If you’re flexible with your travel plans, keep an eye out for last-minute deals. Cruise lines often offer significant discounts to fill up empty cabins closer to the departure date.
  4. Consider Shoulder Seasons: Shoulder seasons, which are the periods just before and after the peak season, can offer a great balance of good weather and lower prices. This gives you a chance to enjoy your cruise while avoiding the crowds and high costs.
  5. Special Theme Cruises: Keep an eye out for special theme cruises that cater to specific interests or hobbies. These cruises can often be more affordable than traditional ones and provide unique experiences tailored to your interests.

It’s important to note that while choosing the right time to cruise can help you save money, it’s also essential to consider factors like weather, availability, and personal preferences. Don’t sacrifice your overall experience just for a lower price.


Remember, the key is finding the sweet spot that balances your budget with your desired experience. So, do your research, compare prices, and choose the timing that works best for you to make the most of your budget cruise in NYC.


Selecting the Best Cruise Packages

When planning a budget cruise in NYC, selecting the right cruise package is crucial to ensure you get the most value for your money. Here are some tips to help you select the best cruise package:

  1. Compare Cruise Lines: Research and compare different cruise lines to find the ones that offer the best value for your budget. Consider factors such as the length of the cruise, onboard amenities, and included services to determine which cruise line aligns with your preferences and budget.
  2. Look for Inclusive Packages: Many cruise lines offer all-inclusive packages that bundle various services and amenities into one price. These packages may include meals, onboard activities, and even some shore excursions, allowing you to save money by avoiding additional costs.
  3. Consider Inside Cabins: Inside cabins, which are located on the interior of the ship without a view, are typically more budget-friendly compared to cabins with balconies or ocean views. If you’re willing to forego the scenery from your cabin, opting for an inside cabin can help you save a significant amount.
  4. Choose Non-Premium Ships: Premium cruise lines often come with a higher price tag. Consider opting for non-premium ships that still offer a great cruising experience but at a more affordable price point.
  5. Be Flexible with Itineraries: Some cruise itineraries are more popular and, therefore, more expensive. If you’re open to exploring different destinations, consider choosing less conventional or less frequented ports of call. These itineraries tend to be cheaper and can offer unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

In addition to these tips, don’t forget to read reviews and gather insights from fellow travelers who have experienced budget cruises in NYC. Their firsthand experiences can provide valuable information and help you make an informed decision.


By carefully comparing options and selecting the best cruise package for your budget and preferences, you can ensure a fantastic and affordable cruise experience in the vibrant city of New York.


Dining and Refreshments on a Budget

One of the key aspects of any cruise experience is the dining options available onboard. While some cruise lines offer all-inclusive dining, others may charge additional fees for specialty restaurants or certain menu items. Here are some tips to help you enjoy delicious meals and refreshments on a budget during your NYC cruise:

  1. Utilize the Main Dining Room: Most cruises have a main dining room that offers a variety of meal options at no extra cost. Take advantage of this included dining option to enjoy a wide range of delicious dishes without the need to spend extra money.
  2. Check for Specialty Dining Deals: If you do wish to try specialty restaurants, look for deals or discounted packages that include multiple visits to these venues. This can help you save money compared to paying for each meal individually.
  3. Use the Buffet: Buffet-style dining is often included in your cruise fare and offers a vast selection of dishes. Take advantage of the buffet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to enjoy a variety of options without the need for extra spending.
  4. Consider Room Service: Some cruise lines provide complimentary room service. While there may be limitations on the menu, it can still be a convenient and cost-effective way to enjoy a meal or snack in the comfort of your cabin.
  5. Avoid Expensive Beverages: Alcoholic beverages, specialty coffee, and soft drinks can add up quickly. To save money, consider opting for the complimentary water, tea, or coffee available onboard. Additionally, check if your cruise line offers beverage packages that can help you save on costs if you plan to indulge in alcoholic beverages.

Additionally, if your cruise allows, you can explore local dining options during your ports of call. This can give you the chance to savor local cuisine and potentially find more budget-friendly options compared to dining onboard.


Remember, dining and refreshments on a budget doesn’t mean compromising on quality or taste. By being smart with your choices and taking advantage of included options, you can enjoy delicious meals while staying within your budget during your NYC cruise.


Exploring NYC Attractions for Free or Cheap

Exploring the vibrant city of New York is an essential part of any NYC cruise experience. While some attractions may have hefty entrance fees, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city’s top sights for free or at a low cost. Here are some budget-friendly options to consider:

  1. Free Museums and Cultural Institutions: Many museums and cultural institutions in NYC offer designated free admission days or times. Take advantage of these opportunities to explore iconic sites like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, or the Brooklyn Museum without spending a dime.
  2. Central Park: No trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Central Park. This sprawling green oasis offers endless opportunities for picnics, leisurely walks, and even free concerts and performances during the summer months.
  3. Walk the High Line: The High Line is a unique elevated park built on a historic freight rail line. Stroll along this urban oasis, enjoy art installations, and take in breathtaking views of the cityscape—all for free!
  4. Explore Times Square: While it may be crowded, Times Square is an iconic NYC spot that is free to visit. Marvel at the dazzling billboards, people-watch, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling hub of activity.
  5. Visit Public Libraries: The New York Public Library and its branches are architectural marvels and cultural landmarks. Explore their grand interiors, browse through books, and take part in free events and exhibitions.
  6. Enjoy Free Outdoor Events: Check local listings for free outdoor events and festivals happening in the city during your visit. From concerts in the park to movie screenings, NYC offers a myriad of free entertainment options throughout the year.

Additionally, consider purchasing city passes or attraction cards, such as the New York CityPASS or the Explorer Pass. These passes offer discounted entry to multiple attractions, allowing you to see more while saving money.


Remember, experiencing NYC on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on its iconic landmarks and vibrant culture. By taking advantage of free attractions and discounted passes, you can explore the city’s top sights while keeping your wallet happy.


Tips for Saving Money on Transportation

Getting around the city of New York during your budget cruise doesn’t have to break the bank. By utilizing cost-effective transportation options, you can save money while exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods and attractions. Here are some tips for saving money on transportation:

  1. Utilize Public Transportation: The extensive public transportation network in NYC, including subway trains and buses, is not only convenient but also budget-friendly. Purchase a MetroCard and take advantage of discounted fare options for multiple rides or unlimited travel within a certain timeframe.
  2. Walk or Bike Short Distances: NYC is a highly walkable city, so for short distances, consider exploring on foot. You’ll not only save money but also have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant streets and neighborhoods. Another option is to rent a bike from one of the city’s bike-sharing programs for an affordable way to get around.
  3. Avoid Taxis and Rideshares: While taxis and rideshares are convenient, they can add up quickly, especially during peak hours when surge pricing may apply. Save money by opting for public transportation or walking whenever feasible.
  4. Consider Group Transportation: If you’re traveling with a group, pooling resources for group transportation can help save costs. Look into options like group passes for public transportation or shared rides to split expenses.
  5. Research Discounted Transportation Apps: Download transportation apps like Citymapper or Transit to check real-time transit information and discover any available discounts or promotions that can help you save on fares.
  6. Take Advantage of Free Transportation Options: Keep an eye out for free transportation options in NYC. For example, the Staten Island Ferry offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and is completely free.

Remember to plan your transportation routes in advance and familiarize yourself with the NYC subway map to make navigating the city easier. By utilizing cost-effective transportation options and being mindful of your choices, you can explore NYC without straining your budget while saving money for other experiences.


Making the Most of Your Budget Cruise Experience

While cruising on a budget in NYC may require some planning and mindful choices, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the overall experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your budget cruise:

  1. Participate in Onboard Activities: Take advantage of the wide range of complimentary onboard activities offered by the cruise line. From fitness classes to live entertainment, these activities are included in your fare and can provide hours of fun and enjoyment.
  2. Explore Ports of Call Independently: Instead of booking expensive shore excursions through the cruise line, consider exploring ports of call independently. Research local transportation options and attractions to design your own personalized itinerary at a fraction of the cost.
  3. Take Advantage of Onboard Amenities: Make the most of the amenities available onboard without incurring additional expenses. Relax by the pool, take a dip in the jacuzzi, or unwind in the spa’s sauna or steam room—all without spending a penny.
  4. Attend Free onboard Events: Cruise lines organize various free events and activities throughout the voyage. Check the daily itinerary for lectures, cooking demonstrations, trivia nights, or themed parties. These events offer entertainment and opportunities for socializing without any additional cost.
  5. Interact with Fellow Cruisers: Engage with fellow cruisers, strike up conversations, and make connections. Not only can this enhance your overall experience, but you may also discover shared interests that can lead to shared cost-saving activities or group excursions.
  6. Capture Memories for Free: Instead of purchasing professional photos taken by the ship’s photographers, ask fellow cruisers or use your smartphone to capture memorable moments during your cruise. This way, you can save money while still preserving cherished memories.

Additionally, remember that a budget cruise doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the stunning views and iconic landmarks of NYC. Take advantage of the ship’s vantage point by spending time on the deck, capturing photos of the city skyline, and enjoying the scenic beauty as you sail past famous attractions.


By embracing the opportunities available onboard, exploring ports of call independently, and engaging with your fellow cruisers, you can create unforgettable memories and make the most of your budget cruise experience in NYC.



Embarking on a budget cruise in the bustling city of New York doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With careful planning, smart choices, and a little creativity, you can enjoy a memorable cruise experience without breaking the bank. From selecting the right time to cruise and choosing affordable packages to exploring NYC’s attractions for free or cheap, there are plenty of ways to make your budget cruise a truly remarkable journey.


Remember, budget cruising is not about compromising on quality or missing out on the best experiences. It’s about being smart with your choices and finding ways to save money without sacrificing the essence of your trip. Take advantage of free or discounted attractions, utilize public transportation, and make the most of onboard amenities and activities.


By following the tips and suggestions outlined in this guide, you can fully immerse yourself in the excitement of a budget cruise while enjoying the vibrant culture, iconic landmarks, and unique experiences that New York City has to offer.


So, set sail on your budget adventure, soak in the breathtaking views of the NYC skyline, and create extraordinary memories that will last a lifetime. Bon voyage!