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Photo by George Goodman (Flickr) on Creative Commons Photo by George Goodman licensed under CC

As more and more cruise ships are leaving from the UK each year, cruise operators are keeping their fares low to stay competitive.

Yet, while the good deals look appealing, these companies are not in the business of losing money. They will look to recoup their losses in other ways, usually through your onboard account.

Follow our tips to keep your spending under control.

Cancel automatic tipping

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A recent phenomenon is for liners to add automatic tipping for passengers, by adding a fixed amount to their bill each day. This removes the point of tipping, which is to thank an individual for their excellent service.

Good news, there's a way round this, but it may need some determination. Once on board, find the information desk and ask if default tipping happens on their ship. You are within your rights to insist that it's removed from your bill.

You can explain that you will tip whom you choose, when you choose.

Leave the bedside water

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It's oh so easy to open the bottle of water already in your room. But, it could cost you as much as £1.50 a time. And if you drink lots, it’s a quick way to add £3 or (worse) £40 to your bill.

Why not keep a bottle in your hand baggage for immediate use and then replenish your stock at a local shop when at port?

Stick to free Wi-Fi hotspots

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Wi-Fi is a serious expense. At 80p a minute, it sounds quite reasonable. But connections on board can be painfully slow, sometimes taking over 15 minutes to download emails. If you want to send images, prepare for a very long wait and a hefty bill!

Seasoned cruisers follow the crew when the ship docks. They grab their laptops and appear to know exactly where to access free Wi-Fi at all points on the globe. Do likewise and you’ll be quids in.

Do you really want that souvenir photo?

Taking a photo 

A souvenir photo is of course a lovely souvenir of your voyage, particularly for special evenings or when you meet the Captain. But why not get a friend to take the photo for you?

It’s all too easy to get carried away, and on the spur of the moment end up with half a dozen prints that could have cost you nothing.

If you wouldn't buy it on land, don't buy it on sea

Photo by c_nilsen (Flickr) under Creative Commons Photo by c_nilsen licensed under CC

Many ships have stunning art on board these days and make a point of selling it. But the rule of thumb must surely be: if you don’t buy art on land, don’t buy it at sea.

It’s pricey and you may well regret it. If you fall in love with something, take a photo of it along with the artist's name and track it down once back home, when you have a cooler head!

Get your afternoon tea at the free buffet 

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For at least £10 each, you can enjoy the epitome of country house living. Crusts removed and a fine selection of cakes, beautifully presented. Not to mention a charming, gloved waiter to attend to you.

What might be worth noting though is that the buffet serves the same delicious morsels, all for nothing.

Have a haircut before your go

Photo by Robert S. Donovan (Flickr) under Creative Commons Photo by Robert S. Donovan licensed under CC

Who doesn't want to look their best for a formal evening? To minimise time and expense at the on board salon - which will be jolly busy - have a haircut before you travel.

Ensure it’s one you can look after yourself with tongs and spray. Gentlemen may be tempted by an old fashioned barber’s shave, but you will find a far better price on shore. Follow the crew again.

Plan ahead for your flight home

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If your flight back to the UK is in the cruise price, you might find it departs within 24 hours of disembarking. If you want to stay longer in the country or go touring for longer, discuss this and agree a deal before you book. Otherwise, you may be stuck with the cost of a flight home.

Have you considered sailing your luggage home?

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If you stay on after the cruise, you might not need evening clothes and other items that you used on board. So leave them with the ship and pick them up again in the UK once the ship returns. It’s a reasonable price, usually about £30 a suitcase.

This article is brought to you by Silver Travel Advisor. Our thanks to Robin Mead.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081