How to plan an All-inclusive Cruise for $500

When we were pregnant with Emmett, Jake and I decided to go on a babymoon. We didn’t have all the money in the world but I like to find deals and make them. And that’s exactly what I did. I created an affordable all-inclusive cruise trip WITH airfare for (just under) on $500.  We all like a good deal so I wanted to share with you how to plan an all-inclusive cruise for $500!

affordable all-inclusive cruise from

So how did we score a Caribbean cruise babymoon under $500 for the two of us including airfare? Let me begin with the fact that I am sure there are more ways of doing this than mine. This is just how I did it!

affordable all-inclusive cruise

Let’s rewind to 2013 when I began researching credit cards. Jake and I had never owned one as a married couple, because we–well–did not believe in them. We were (and are) hard core Dave Ramsey fans and believed in cash and debit cards. But once I realized we had this solid budget down, I decided to start researching credit cards for the sole purpose of earning air miles. I ended up finding the The Barclay Card, and although it does have an $89 annual fee, what we earn back every month pays for itself in around 2 months of use.

Here are a couple of the reasons I chose this card:
  • Whatever I spend my money on, I get 2 points for every $1. We’re talking groceries, date nights, gasoline, etc. The only things I really can’t put on the card are utility bills, insurances, (previously) student loans and our mortgage.
  •  The points work like this: 2,500 = $25. You basically just drop the last two 0’s.
  •  When we signed on, after we spent a certain amount (I think $1,000) in a certain time (I think 3 months) we were automatically given 40,000 points. Take off those two 0’s and that means we were given $400 for free.
  •  You can redeem your points for ANY type of travel. Airlines, cruises, hotels, etc.
  •  Once you have redeemed your points for travel you are given back 5% from your purchase in points. (When we did this it was 10% but they switched about a year or so ago).
Here is the KEY for us though : We pay off our credit card every month.

I’m not saying this to boast, but merely as a statement as to how this is beneficial and not negative to us in any way. Also, I write that there to reiterate if you don’t trust yourself to pay off your credit card monthly, this is probably not the best option.

We saved up enough points on the card over the course of a year and a half to do this. I scoured the internet for the best deal on a cruise and got our flights in there too. If my memory serves me correctly, all of that was around $1,500 and we paid the balance out of pocket which was–you guessed it–just under $500. We had such an amazing trip and I think it felt even better because we knew we had worked hard to get it!

For anyone wondering, we picked a 7 day cruise with Celebrity Cruises that stopped at one island a day except for one “At Sea” day. Here are some photos from our trip!


What’s the best deal you ever scored on a vacation or cruise?

waves and lilacs


  1. Monique w/

    April 17, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    This is amazing Bethany! Thank for sharing! My husband and I have a cruise booked for Dec. 2018 and at the moment we will be paying($1000) out of pocket for this cruise. For this very reason, I’ve been planning to compare credit cards and find a good one to save travel points with. I’m happy to know that the Barclay Card can be added to my list. Thanks again!

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 17, 2018 at 10:38 pm

      Have so much fun! A $1000 is still amazing!

      xo Bethany

  2. Sarah Martin

    April 18, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    It’s been such a long time since I went on a cruise! My husband and I also keep our credit card use pretty minimal and only spend what we can pay off in the end of the month too (it’s actually a budget line for us). We use cards that have rewards as well.

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      I think it’s a great way to “work ” the system!

      xo Bethany

  3. Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins

    April 19, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Your pictures make me want to go on a cruise so bad! My husband and I went on one for our 1 year anniversary (9 years ago) but haven’t been on one since. I’ve heard a lot of people signing up for the credit cards that allow you to earn points and I’m really considering it. We do the same thing as you and just pay off our cards each month so I think this would be a good option for us to consider.

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Yes, it amazing the amount of money you can get back if you are wise about it!

      xo Bethany

  4. Justine @ Little Dove

    April 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Really enjoyed this post, I’m glad you were able to go on a great trip together for such an affordable price! We also pay everything with credit cards and pay them off each month to get the points (we have a cash reward card though). I love that you stressed that people that aren’t disciplined or can’t trust themselves shouldn’t go that route.

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      I think it is awesome you guys get rewards back and thank you so much!! <3

      xo Bethany

  5. Eva

    April 19, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    This is awesome! We did a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon and just loved it, though we were young and dumb and definitely didn’t do it this budget-friendly 😂😂 now that we’re proper grown ups, I love using points from credit cards. I used them for a trip I’m going on this summer – such a smart way to do it!

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      How fun!! We definitely learned the hard way despite taking a financial course before we were married!

      xo Bethany

  6. Amber

    April 20, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I agree, if you are diligent in paying off your credit card every month, it’s a great way to collect points toward a vacation! We have cards that allow us free groceries, which we love, but I think a vacation would trump food! Great post – now I’m off to research travel credit cards! ; )

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Hey, groceries are the essentials!!

      xo Bethany

  7. Mary Leigh

    April 20, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    This is awesome! My husband is all about these credit card deals! We went to Boston in the fall before having our second and got to stay at an awesome hotel basically free and paid only minimal for airfare. It was awesome. I totally agree with you though, not worth the “deals” unless you pay the cards off each month! Looks like it was an awesome vacation!

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Oh how fun is that! I am so glad you guys were able to do it!

      xo Bethany

  8. Sarah

    April 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    I love this! We do the same thing with credit cards, but it definitely takes discipline! I would LOVE to take a vacation like this with my family…it can be so expensive as a family of 5!

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I am already thinking about just paying for 3 tickets now with Emmett being 3 and it makes me want to cry! I can’t imagine 5!

      xo Bethany

  9. Christine

    April 23, 2018 at 1:32 am

    What an awesome way to pay for a trip! I’ve never been on a cruise but now I really want to go! I’ll have to check out this card!

    1. wavesandlilacs

      April 25, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      it was so fun! I definitely still prefer an “on land” vacation, but I think everyone should try a cruise once!

      xo Bethany

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