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Cruise Vacation Savings

Updated on June 18, 2009

Saving on Your Next Cruise

Cruising is by the far the greatest vacation that I have taken and I believe anyone can take. However, taking a cruise remains quite intimidating to many people because of the perception that it could break one's pocket. I will agree that a cruise can be expensive, especially when several people are in the family and that family has to fly to get to the nearest port. Yet, despite what might seem like a very expensive vacation, a cruise lends itself to several ways of saving. What one needs is some guidance on where to look for savings.

This is where I come in. I will give you some tips to remember when you plan your next cruise vacation, or your very first. Savings can be successfully achieved in the following areas when planning a cruise vacation: 1. time of booking; 2. time of travel; 3. cabins; 4. dining; 5. excursions; and 6. pictures.

Time of Booking:

There are generally two best times to book your cruise - months in advance, or just about 1 - 2 months before. If you book very early (8-10 mths), you will get what is dubbed the "early bird special" which is a better price than when you book a few months before (4-6 mths). The reason for this is that the cruise line is not certain how many people will book that cruise and generally makes the price very appealing. Secondly, booking 1 - 2 months before works perfectly. By that time, the cruise line has a very good idea of how many cabins will be sold and does not want to sail with empty cabins. Therefore, prices are reduced in an effort to fill all cabins.

Time of Travel:

Some periods during the year are considered peak season and prices are generally higher than at other times. For example, if you choose to travel around a major holiday - July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., expect to pay more. Also, you will most definitely pay more when school's out - Winter Break, Spring Break and summer. Unfortunately, those families with children are forced to travel when the kids are out of school. For you I will suggest booking months in advance and making payments over time. This will be easier on your pocket. If you do not have children and can go any time, choose a period that does not fall in any that I have mentioned. The best fares can be found during the peak of the hurricane season - August to early November. I am quite certain that not many people want to travel then, but you can always insure your trip in case of any misfortune. By the way, buying insurance is also another area in which you can save. The cruise lines all offer insurance when you book, but you can shop around.

Cabins:

It goes without saying that the best cabins cost more. If you want a balcony, a suite, or an ocean view cabin, you will pay more. Hey, we work hard and we want the best accommodations, so why not get the most expensive cabins? That, of course, is your decision. Personally, I do not mind staying in an interior cabin on the second level. Here's my reasoning. I spend very little time the cabin anyway, so why pay a lot? If you have a problem with being in the dark, get an ocean view cabin. I am not saying that interior cabins are unlit, but there is natural light in an ocean view cabin.

Another way to save on your cruise package is to put as many as 3 or 4 people in a cabin. Some cruise ships even have cabins that house 5 passengers. Again that may be too much for some family members - you need your space - but remember that most of your time is spend outside the cabin.

Dining:

You always have something to eat on board. Cruise ships come with many restaurants and "bars" where some food is always available. In addition to the food that's always available, cruise lines offer specialty restaurants where you can take your spouse, special person or person celebrating some anniversary or accomplishment for a romantic or special dining experience. This is great. However, you can get carried away with this arrangement and find yourself spending extra dough. Yes, not all specialty restaurants are included in your package and so you will pay extra. Go ahead and support the cruise-lines' efforts to add more spice to your trip, but watch your pocket.

Excursions:

The cruise lines go to great lengths to create suitable and fun-filled shore excursions for those port stops you will make. Excursions organized by the cruise lines have great advantages such as security, guarantee and the absence of frustration that comes with planning your own. However, these excursions may get a little pricey. You are free to compare the excursions and decide which best suits your pockets. On the other hand, you may wait until you get ashore and join with others from the ship to book a tour. You will find many tour operators ashore. Be sure to look for those in uniform, carrying identification and are a part of some organization. If you choose to book your own tour, you will save, especially if there is a good number in your party.

Pictures:

Hey, you will not find better quality pictures than those taken on your cruise. There are multiple photographers, located on board, who take many pictures. And, yes, these are professional in every way. That said, you will not want to leave the pictures. The pictures are great and the prices are reasonable, but they add up quickly. I will encourage you to grab some for memories, but use moderation. Take your own digital camera along for the ride and create your own memories.

This is my take on the subject. I am quite sure that others have found more creative ways to save. What I want you to know is that you can cruise and return home feeling good about what you have spent. Planning is key. Get up - go for it - plan your next cruise.

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