No travel tips blog would be complete without a discussion of cruises, but narrowing down what to talk about was a bit difficult because there are so many moving parts to cruising. That being said, I’ve decided to focus on getting the best deals on your cruise and onboard amenities. Let’s start by tackling saving during the booking process.
Save on Booking
1) Timing is everything. Just as we discussed in week two of our blogs, being flexible with your travel dates can save you quite a bit of money. In fact, off-season cruises can be up to 80% lower than peak-season prices on the exact same boat and itinerary. From what I’ve learned, there are specific times when you’ll save based on the type of cruise you are booking.
- Caribbean cruise dates – Sept, Oct, early Nov. Also, the first half of Dec.
- Alaska cruise dates – Before Memorial Day (May) and after Labor Day (Sept)
- Mediterranean cruise dates – April and into early May. Late Sept and Oct.
2)Book early, but keep an eye on prices. Generally, the rule of thumb is to book early when it comes to cruises because you want to lock in the lowest possible rate. However, what happens if you see the cruise you booked two months later for a lower price? Well, unlike airfares, you can cancel or change most cruise fares up until a month or so before you sail. If you find a better fare, you can call the cruise line or your booking agent and cancel and rebook to get the better fare, so keep an eye on the price even after you book. Two apps that are helpful in monitoring prices are CruiseWatch and Ship Mate Cruise App.
3) Consider repositioning cruises for the lowest prices. Repositioning cruises are seasonal one-way cruises that help cruise lines move their ships from one part of the world to another, and they may just be the best travel deal out there. However, there are some important things you should know. One benefit is that these cruises tend to offer stops at exotic ports and more onboard activities. However, because they are repositioning across the world, they are typically longer voyages, usually two weeks or more. They also tend to have a lot of sea days, and they are one-way, so you will have to figure out how to get yourself home, which is as simple as finding a good flight. The most difficult thing about taking a repositioning cruise is finding one, as they really aren’t promoted, so you have to hunt.
Save on Drinking
One of the largest expenses on a cruise can be drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Here are a few things I’ve learned to get the most bang for your buck.
1) Know your happy hours. Many cruise bars have happy hours twice a night, usually from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. and again from 10:00 p.m. -12:00 a.m. During these times, you can find drink deals like two-for-ones and bogos, as well as deals on beer that most bartenders will let you purchase multiples of for your room. Happy hours are advertised around the ship, so plan your happy hours the day you board. Trust me!
2) Attend tasting events. Some of the cheapest drinking on a cruise ship can be found at wine, cocktail, martini, and even beer tastings.Say you are on a cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines; for example, five cocktails can cost you about $100, but at a tasting, you can get those same five cocktails for about $25. See what I mean?
3) Never order wine by the glass! And here’s why, even if you only have one glass, you can have the bartender recork the wine, and you can enjoy it on another night or bring it to your room with you. Many cruise lines will even let you send that bottle of wine to a different restaurant or bar.
With that, I wish you a happy summer vacation no matter where you go or how you get there! But before you leave, please respond to these blogs with your best travel tips so I can share them with our client community!
Until next time…
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