Tamara talks all about cruising – want to get on-board?

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Ahoy Maties!

I love cruising, because it is such a great value. Sailing at least 4 days, allows you to explore more than one destination, with meals and entertainment included!  You can visit the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Europe, Mediterranean, Canada/New England, South America and Asia/Pacific.

I just had a friend come back from a wonderful Russian Waterways River Cruise that she felt was the most amazing thing she has done to date.

To make sailing a success, be sure to pick a cruise that fits your idea of a good vacation. It’s not just about the destination… so here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on a cruise.

1)The length of time you can be gone. Remember depending on the ship itinerary, you may need to factor in a day or two just for travel to or from the port.

2) Who is sailing with you? Different cruise lines offer totally different experiences. Picking the wrong line can have a huge impact on your vacation. Ask your local cruise expert for guidance. If you are sailing with younger children, I recommend you check out Disney Cruise Lines. They offer activities for the whole family and the service is phenomenal! They run a program usually in the beginning of the year on certain ships where Kids Sail FREE!

3) Time of year. If you are sailing to the Caribbean/Mexico you will find certain times of year the prices are incredible…it may be because this is hurricane season. You will have to decide if the deal is so amazing that it’s worth risking bad weather. Alaska sailings in June or September tend to have the good price breaks. (In all of my years in the travel industry, I have never met a person who did not enjoy their Alaska cruise!)

4) Determine your total budget. Your cruise line may not include the following costs…Tipping, Soda or Alcohol, Specialty On Board Dining, Shore Excursions, or items of a personal nature such as Spa services. Each line will state what is not included, so factor this into your overall cost. If you do not care about view or location, an Interior cabin may be your best cost. I like to check if there are any cabin “Guarantees”. The guarantee is for a certain category, but assigns the cabin number later in exchange for lower cost and possible free cabin category upgrade!

Cruise lines offer some amazing discounts like military, police, senior, discount on 3rd or 4th passenger and prior passenger. Some offer freebies like free air, free cabin upgrades, free cabin with multiple cabins, and free money in the form of on-board credits. If no promotions apply to your sailing, check to see if there is a promotion close to your date or on a similar itinerary on another ship to get the best deal. While you are sailing, check to see if any discounts and on board credits are being offered if you put down a deposit on a future cruise. The future cruise deposit may be good a year or more, giving you plenty of time to earn more Delta points toward your travel plans. Also, your local travel agency may be associated with a cruise consortium that offers discounts on certain sailings even if they are not being offered directly by the cruise line, so make sure you are on your agency’s email or mailing list. There is even the Delta Vacation site Skymiles Cruises that give bonus Skymiles.

Once you have sailed, make sure you are signed up for previous cruise passenger numbers. This will get you future special offers and discounts. Some lines will allow you to apply it to other ships in their lines or competitor lines and will at times allow you to pass on the same discount to the cabins of friends traveling with you on the same ship even if they have never sailed before!

I hope you will give cruising a try if you haven’t already, and I hope this information helps you in your continuing search for a great deal. – Bon Voyage! Tamara

 

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4 comments

  1. If you are planning to travel on a cruise ship that restricts bringing alcohol aboard, check out “Rum Runner” plastic containers.

  2. Heck yes! Cruising can be great fun. That said, Point #4 demands a lot more detail. In the end, plan to DOUBLE your cruise fare to reach a fair estimate of the REAL costs. We know that they charge very high prices for wine and spirits, and even carbonated beverages. They also charge a half-leg for water that is clean enough to brush your teeth, let alone drink. The included meals are not horrible, but they have too much in common with that $6.99 buffet down the street; unless it is a bad day, you won’t remember it. The flip-side is that they miss no opportunity to Up-Charge for everything, including the near-mandatory Double Tipping. Yup, Double! You are expected to pay their standard “service fees” on your final bill, but also expected to pay extra when anything is delivered to your cabin – including water for drinking and oral hygiene. (With so many dollars devoted to “Service Fees,” those cruise lines mostly exempt from U.S. Labor laws are probably pocketing at least 50% of what you pay. –And if you don’t pay some extra at the door, that next request will get lost. Don’t bother trying to bring your own water or liquor: the search all bags before delivering them to your cabin and any questionable ‘fluids’ are impounded until you disembark – all in the name of “Security.” A better term would be “Revenue Security.”
    Yes, some cruise lines offer ‘Beverage Packages’ that cover water and soft drinks for a flat fee; they may or may not be a good deal. If one drinks alcohol, especially on a ‘Vacation Cruise,’ be prepared to pay a hefty fee – or go dry. Getting off the ship without paying at least 50% more than your basic fare is virtually impossible. Smart cruisers know this, expect to pay a lot more than basic fare – or park in the cabin/on deck/cheap buffet with a cold cup of sub-standard coffee. The 4-7 night cruises are not necessarily a bad thing, but Buyer Beware! Know what you are buying – and what you are not buying – and be prepared to spend at least 50% more, regardless of the fare ‘deal’ that you thought you got.

  3. Don’t let Cook scare you: I have seen $1000 bar bills, but it is certainly more than possible to get away for a reasonable cost with rational decision making. DO account for gratuities however. For a family of four that amounts to ~$300 on a 7-day cruise now.

    That said, I would certainly avoid any cruiseline that doesn’t provide potable water with which to brush your teeth. The water on all the major cruise lines is probably cleaner than what you get out of your tap at home. It is produced on the ship, so no external sources of contamination, the the cruise lines really have EVERYTHING on the line with this. One serious instance of tainted water would probably put even one of the largest lines out of business.

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