2/2/2024 | By Ellen Kennedy

One of the best ways to spend time with the entire family is to choose an activity that everyone can enjoy. A multigenerational family cruise fits the bill.

Cruises can be a great way for extended families to enjoy time together, as they offer activities for kids, adults and seniors. And if you book a family cruise strategically with travel rewards credit cards or cash back cards, you can save money and get extra perks for your trip.

Here are three methods for saving money on cruises.

1. Book a cruise with rewards credit cards.

If you are a veteran cruiser, you know that booking a cruise can be a complicated ordeal, especially if you are trying to earn or redeem credit card rewards at the same time.

Grandparents with their grandkids taking a selfie, on the deck of a cruise ship. Article on taking a family cruise.

“The best strategy is to keep it simple and flexible,” according to Ted Rossman of Rossman recommends avoiding cruise-branded credit cards, which typically deliver meager rewards and lock you into only one cruise line. Instead, he advises using a flexible travel rewards card or a cash back card.

Booking with a travel rewards credit card can help you get travel-related perks, like travel assistance and no foreign transaction fees.

2. Use a Costco or BJ’s membership.

Costco cruise packages, especially those under the store’s Kirkland brand, are some of the cheapest on the market. Costco also partners with Disney and other major cruise lines. An entry-level Costco membership costs $60 per year.

BJ’s Wholesale Club members receive up to a $500 BJ gift card when they book a cruise through the company’s travel portal. BJ’s offers discounts on major cruise lines, as well as everything you may need to get you to the departure dock, like airfare, rental cars and hotel. The lowest membership tier costs $55 per year.

Both Costco and BJ’s provide last-minute deals on cruises, some of which are incredibly cheap.

3. Use travel agents.

The internet certainly decimated the travel agent industry, but it has adapted. Using a travel agent to plan a trip can provide real value and save on time and hassle, especially when booking a cruise, which is exceptionally complicated.

A good travel agent can help you find a great deal, understand pricing tiers and perks and assist with keeping track of multiple payment deadlines. And best yet, you don’t pay the travel agent any direct fees, which are typically covered by cruise lines commissions.

5 Family-Friendly Vacations Everyone Will Enjoy

To find a reputable agent, ask family and friends who cruise if they have any recommendations. Vet agencies by reading reviews from the Better Business Bureau, and consider looking for an accredited agent, such as through the American Society of Travel Agents’ consumer site, Travel Sense.

Note: The cruise industry is not always pretty; just think of recent norovirus or COVID-19 outbreaks that put passengers at risk and ruined vacations. Cruises are also very polluting, with a typical ship having a carbon footprint of 12,000 cars.

If environmental issues are important to you, look for a cruise line with a higher rating in the most recent Cruise Ship Report Card from Friends of the Earth. The top-rated lines in 2022 were Regent Seven Seas and Disney.

For a sense of how clean and sanitary a cruise ship or cruise line is, you can conduct a search via the CDC’s Advanced Cruise Ship Inspection Search tool.

Ellen Kennedy is associate ESG investing editor for For more on this and similar money topics, visit

©2024 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Ellen Kennedy