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Booking a Cruise - Save Money - Avoid Mistakes

Updated on July 22, 2012

Norwegian Epic

The Epic
The Epic | Source

On-Line Booking Mistakes

This article will provide suggestions for those who would like to take a cruise and are not sure what they should be looking for to make sure that the cruise price is really the "best" priced deal for them. Purchasing on-line has increased year by year in popularity and that includes booking of vacations. I will only deal with the subject of cruises here and the strong suggestion that you prepare well in understanding the many differences in cruise lines, cruise ships, destinations, as well as the understanding of the many different categories of cabins. As I said in another article, the lowest price is a marketing 'lead in' but make sure you understand all the details or it could end up a very disappointing cruise vacation. For example, this might be a second honeymoon and you found that really cheap cruise. Great, except for the fact when you and your significant other make your grand enterance to your cabin and find out the bedding in the category selected was bunk beds. Wow, bummer, if you had only known that before, you would have glady paidthe few extra bucks for a cabin with a queen size bed. After all it was a second honeymoon cruise. You quickly make a bee line for the cruise courtesy desk to make that up-grade now only to be told that this cruise was sold out so there were no cabins available to switch to.

You never even thought about how "large" a large ship is. The last cruise we took was on the Norwegian Epic. The Epic measures 1,081 feet from Stern to Bow. Lets say that you book a cruise and you are taking grandma along with the family. Grandma gets around just fine, however, not quite as easily as the younger set. The first trip from the elevator to the cabin, which is the cabin located the farthest distance from the elevator, could end up causing grandma to stay in the cabin more for simply not wanting to make the hike back and forth from the elevator. So, yes, it was the cheapest price. However, it probably was not the best "cheapest" price for your family cruise. These are the kinds of things that can trip up the ideology of the cheapest price.

Bunk Bed Cabin Category

Bunk Bed Cabin Category
Bunk Bed Cabin Category | Source

Bunk Beds

Probably not the best accommodations for a couple on a second honeymoon. But this category cabin was the cheapest.

Move Up Cabin Category

This cabin is an upgrade for bedding but also another few upgrades for the ocean view.

Up-Grade Cabin

Queen Size Bedding with Ocean View
Queen Size Bedding with Ocean View | Source

What is a Cabin Guarantee

When you book a cruise you can book what is called a guaranteed category. This means you do not pick out your specific cabin at the time of booking. The guarantee simply means that you are guaranteed that category of cabin but sometimes you may get an upgrade depending on availability. Your category will never be downgraded but you give up control of the exact location of your cabin for the gamble of a possible "free" upgrade. This usually gets you a more favorable price. Just keep in mind that once the cruise line assigns you a specific cabin, you most likely will not be able to get it changed.

On Board Credits or Coupon Books

I have seen cruise incentives offered in the way of coupon books. If you are not familiar with coupon books they are multi offers of discounts on certain products or services. A cruise coupon book might have a 20% off coupon for use of any watch purchased in the ship's retail store.

An on board credit however, is much like cash that may be used for anything purchased on board the ship. However, keep in mind that the credit must be used on board and you do not get cash for any portion not used. Always take the on-board credits as they are more useful than the coupons.

Cruise Compete - Tips to Save Money on a Cruise

Sun - Sea - Relaxation


Booking at the Last Minute Always Gets the Lowest Fare

This is a good general rule of thumb but discounts also vary according to the cruise line. For example, Disney does not really discount as much as other cruise lines might. Their cruises are usually booked well in advance and their best offers are to be had when you book well in advance. This is because Disney is considered the ultimate family cruise line. I have been on the Disney Magic and I have to tell you that the high tech animation used everywhere you go on-board is beyond spectacular and well worth the extra price. Disney incorporates artistry and interior design that turns ordinary into magical. Even the water slide on the Disney Magic is like none other I have experienced. Disney Lines carry over 10,000 passengers every day so it is no wonder that if and when they offer any type of incentive, the cruises are booked almost instantly. I have no affiliation with Disney and only offer the opinion that if you have children, it truly is a magical experience they will always remember.

The Caribbean is Always a Winner


Where do You Want to Cruise to and When do You Want to Go

On thing for sure is you will always pay a pretty hefty premium to take a cruise during a holiday season such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. Just like higher priced air fares during these times the same is true for cruises.

Apart from holiday cruise fares, each destination has its "prime" time and the off season time. You will find better fare rates for the Caribbean during the early spring months or more towards the winter months. Their is a shorter window of cruises to Alaska and most people like to go during July and August when the weather is the warmest, but if you take one of the earlier dates available, you will get a better rate. So if you have your heart set on a specific destination, just keep an eye on the fares and find which time frame and rate best matches your needs. If you work with an agent they can keep you posted so will on-line agencies if you get on their mailing lists. One other item of importance, always look at the cruise line's cancellation terms. As the saying goes, "stuff happens", and you really want to make sure you made yourself aware of the penalties as they do vary. The other option is to look at the vacation insurance available. You do not have to take the insurance offered by the cruise line or travel agency, you can look for your own as there are companies out there that will insure you.


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