How to Save Money When Visiting Tonga on a Cruise© Tonga Ministry of Tourism
How to Save Money When Visiting Tonga on a Cruise

How to Save Money When Visiting Tonga on a Cruise

© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Budgeting Tips for a Cruise to Tonga

Sailing the azure waters of the South Pacific Islands, docking on the shore of The Kingdom of Tonga to experience a rich culture or treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience like swimming with whales… It’s the dream, but an expensive dream! Nevertheless, there are ways to shave off the cents through all stages of a cruise, from the booking process to arriving in Tonga for a shore day. In this guide, we’ll go through some of our top tips for how to save money when visiting Tonga on a cruise!

Before we jump into how to get a good deal on a cruise to Tonga, be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga, as well as Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?

5 Quick Tips to Save Money on a Cruise to Tonga

  1. Buy souvenirs onshore for something authentic (and cheaper)
  2. Don’t purchase onboard pictures
  3. Don’t tip too much, as many cruise prices have gratuity in their prices
  4. Exchange for Tongan Pa’anga onshore or before setting sail; not on the ship…
  5. … And exchange currency at the bank; not at a currency exchange bureau – see The Best Place to Exchange Currency in Tonga.

For more tips and details, see the 20 Ways to Save Money When Travelling in Tonga.

How to Save Money When Visiting Tonga on a Cruise© Tonga Tourism Authority

How to Save Money on the Cruise Rate

How can you shave the cents off the cruise rate? Here are a few ideas.

The Time and The Place

A surefire way to save money on a cruise is to be flexible with your cruise dates. The best deals can be found in the final weeks leading up to the cruise, where it’s common to see cruise prices drop within the six weeks leading to departure. Of course, there are a few downsides to this, such as your dream cruise and sailing being sold out or being left with the most undesirable rooms. However, this does segway onto our second point, which is…

Choose an interior room! The balcony rooms, staterooms and other luxury options are, of course, the most popular choice, but this also comes at a price. If you have the mantra that a room is just a room and it’s more about the places you visit, then you’ll find the interior rooms ideal! Plus, remember that you have access to the rest of a huge cruise ship!

Bargain for a Deal or an Upgrade

Booking through a travel agent? Cruises are one of the most profitable products a travel agent sells, so they often have a bit of room to play when it comes to upgrades, discounts and freebies. Be sure to ask and negotiate!

For more tips on dealing with travel agents, check out the 10 Questions to Ask Your Travel Agent When Booking Your Holiday in Tonga.

How to Get a Good Deal on a Cruise to Tonga(c)

How to Save Money on Cruise Excursions

You’re aboard a majestic cruise ship on the high seas, but what are you going to do when you reach port? Well, there are ways to save money in Tonga, as well as on your ship.

Save Money on Activities

Shore excursions are where cruise ships have their biggest markup, with some cruise liners having been reported increasing activity prices by 300%! Needless to say, it’s always best to book your shore excursions independently rather than through your cruise.

Activities can be booked directly through activity providers in Tonga, as well as through activity booking websites like Viator, which list a whole array of shore excursions that you’ll find at a hugely cheaper price than what’s being sold onboard. Take a look at the 10 Best Tonga Shore Excursions for ideas of things to do (and where to book them). Plus, check out How to Book Tours in Tonga + Get the Best Deals for more tips.

Free Activities in Tonga

Yeah, sometimes it feels like you have to spend money everywhere to have a good time, but that really isn’t the case in Tonga. For instance, in Nuku’alofa, the cruise port is a quick stroll from the centre of the capital. There, you’ll be able to engage in a few free activities, like browsing the array of awe-inspiring handicrafts at the Talamahu Market or checking out the sights, like the Royal Palace and the Royal Tombs.

Similarly in Neiafu, the port town of Vava’u, which is the other cruise port in Tonga, there are a few fun free (and cheap) things to do. Just by the main wharf, you’ll find the Neiafu Market, or organise your own guided or self-guided tour of the greater island to see the sights! Check out Should You Rent a Car or Use a Taxi in Tonga? for your two ways to enjoy affordable sightseeing in Vava’u.

Get more ideas in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa and 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Vava’u.

Do Some Onboard Activities on Port Days

Cruise ship activities are an experience in themselves. There’s a ton of things to do in between indulging in spa treatments and rock climbing. You’ll find that the prices of these activities dramatically reduce on port days when most people are off the boat. Bearing in mind that, for instance, in Vava’u, tenders run back and forth from the ship all day and in Nuku’alofa, you can go on and off the ship as much as you like, you can always squeeze in a cruise ship experience before or after a day onshore.

How to Get a Good Deal on a Cruise to Tonga(c)

How to Save Money on Food

Sure, the best way to save money on food on a cruise is to stick to the meal plans that have been included in your cruise rate. But for cruises without meals included or if you’re just a foodie who likes to try different things, then here’s how you can save money on food when on a cruise to Tonga.

Look into Restaurant and Bar Packages

During the booking process of your cruise, you’re likely to find that there are restaurant and bar packages available, often acting as credit for food and drinks on the ship. Assess your needs first, are you really going to spend AU$550 on drinks for two people? If you think a food and drinks package is going to save you money, then consider buying on the second night of your cruise or the third or the fourth! The further through the cruise you get more the food and drink packages are discounted.

Look Out for the Specials

Cruise ship restaurants work hard to get your business, from first-day discounts to nightly specials. Lunchtime is when you will find the best deals, so make lunchtime the foodie event and opt for something a little smaller/cheaper for dinner.

Eat on Shore

Tonga has a wealth of eateries well worth treating yourself to. What’s more, you’re going to find cheaper prices in all restaurants compared to what’s available on board. Take a look at the 20 Best Restaurants in Nuku’alofa or 15 Best Cafes & Restaurants in Vava’u for a start. You can also go ultra-cheap and see The Top Cheap Eats in Tonga.

More About How to Save Money When Visiting Tonga on a Cruise

That’s it for our guide on how to save money when visiting Tonga on a cruise. For more cruise tips, including more about the Ports of Call, take a look at the following guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Guide to the Ports of Call in Tonga.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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