Spa treatments, drinks, gift purchases if billed to cabin. It is very easy (and in my opinion, quite nice) to simply sign for things and have it billed to one's cabin/ship account, especially at the bars. Did I go overboard? Perhaps. My wife and I each had 2 wonderful spa treatments that were over $600 total, but you know what, I'd do it again!
It's very easy to run up that bill. The ships are basically cash-free. I don't even think you can pay with cash at stores and bars. The only thing you use cash for is gambling and the end of cruise tips (waiter, cabin steward, etc.). And you can charge those against your account too. My last bill was over $7000 for 1 week for 2 people. But that had close to $1000 for the spa, $1000 for shore excursions, $1500 for the art auction, $3000 for gambling losses, and the rest is just little things that add up - drinks, wine, champagne, bingo, stores, etc. etc.
One thing I like to do is paydown my bill if I have a winning night at the casino. Just stop at the pursers office the next morning. If I didn't, I'd lose it all back the next night!
One way to save money but I think is just more convenient is to buy cans of soda (12 pks) or bottled water on shore and bring it on the ship. I try to drink bottled water all day, but it adds up and it's a pain to run to a bar all the time. Some people bring on liquor which is sort of against policy (but they never stop you); I've tried it but It's just not fun to drink alcohol in the cabin.
I wish my partner tried to spend the minimum! He spent most of the money last time!
It's tough to not spend it when you're there and it adds up fast.
Here are some tips in addition to the soda/water tip above. I've never been on Cunard, but it works on Celebrity:
1) normally iced tea and coffee are free. Personally, I don't like to drink alcohol while sitting in the sun, so I grab a couple glasses of iced tea from the food area.
2) an older couple on our last cruise always ordered iced tea at dinner which is also free.
3) if you have shore excursions, don't book through the cruiseline. Sometimes you can catch a taxi waiting at the dock and have him take you around for half the price. Share with another couple and save even more. Activities on shore can usually be booked there instead of through the cruiseline for a cheaper price.
4) Don't buy crap on shore. You probably won't use it anyway.
5) I'm not sure where your cruising to, but our last cruise to the Caribbean cost my a fortune for a short phone call back to the US. I think it was Antigua that a 7 minute call cost almost $50. Calling from US ports (like the US Virgin Islands) is much much cheaper because it's regulated.
6) Don't eat at the alternative restaurants - while it's worth the extra $20-30/person for the extra service/food, the main dining room is still very good.
7) Make sure you check your bill regularly. I've heard of people who had charges that they didn't make on their bills.
8) Use the hot tubs at the pool instead of getting spa treatments.
Even though you're trying to keep the costs down, remember that you still should provide gratuities for your servers (waiter, assistant waiter, cabin steward, etc.). That's about $10 per day per person. It's not only expected, but it's appropriate as most of their compensation comes from gratuities.
Give some thought to not living on the cheap the whole time you are on a great trip. I agree that one does not want to spend $ unnecessarily; however, why deny yourself a drink or glass of wine, or a shore excursion here or there. My bill was about 20% of what I paid for the cruise and that included the spa, the excursions, the gratuities, the bar bill, and some onboard shopping. I did not want to return and not really experienced the QE2. Set a budget and stick to it if you must, but also allow yourself some indulgences. If not, why go on vacation:>)
were taking the QM2 from southampton to new york. and then back again 2 months later, we need our money for the travelling not the boat :o). so we could save money buy not eating at resturants and bringing own food into cabin? if my partner goes anywhere near a spa treatment shes going overboard lol. ive never been on a boat before, how bad can it get when seriously bad weather? we wont need to tip if noone does anything for us right? lol
As much food as you can eat is included in the price of your fare. With room service, you can eat 24hours a day.
There is do discount available for not eating...but then when you sample the food, you will realise that it is in fact not bad value.
Tips, just pay the minimum on your on board account : 8-£9 a day. On QE2 you can get a pint for £2 in the golden lion so it doesn't even need to cost much to have a drink. Bring your own soft drinks on board and that saves a bit of cash too.
If you book late you could get a crossing as low as £800 with a flight the other way. You do not get a discount for not taking the flight but you might get a discount overall if you sail both ways. The price of a return would probably be about £1300.
Another thing to bear in mind is that there are many cruise ships that get repositioned from the Caribbean and the Med in April and the other way in September.
You could sail one way by Cunard for £800 and the other way with Royal Caribbean or Princess line between Florida and Spain for as little as £300-£500 if you are lucky. That way you get the benifit of seeing two styles of cruising.
As for weather : the Atlantic can be either a mill pond or a turmult. On QM2 that is unlikey to be a real issue as she rolls very gently and has excellent stabilisers. Just enjoy the ride, the sight of waves as big as your house is something you will not forget!