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8 Tips to Saving Money on a Cruise Vacation


Apr 29 2013 10:50 PM - Recent images of a cruise ship limping back to port after an engine malfunction didn't do the cruise industry any favours heading into the summer vacation season. And cringe-worthy accounts from passengers who had to make do without power or working toilets for five days may have turned some travellers off cruising for good.
 
But for those undeterred by the mishap that befell the Carnival Triumph in February, nor that of several other headline-grabbing woes that afflicted some of Carnival Corp.'s other ships over the past year, this is a good time to save money on a cruise vacation, experts say.
 
"A lot of Europe is feeling the pinch of the recession," she says. "There are some low prices and there's a lot of availability."
 
Ready to set sail? Here are eight tips for saving money on a cruise vacation:
 
1. BOOK EARLY
 
The cruise industry touts offer-packed deals during its annual "Wave Season," which runs from January through March. If you know exactly when you want to travel, say specifically in the summer when kids are out of school, it pays to book as soon as possible.
 
Although you may get a lower price attempting to book at the last minute, by booking early you can often get perks, such as free airfare to the departure city, or on-board credits to spend on extras like a massage, or an upgraded cabin.
 
In general to take advantage of these added incentives, travellers need to book at least four to six months in advance to get the ship, travel dates and state room of choice, adds Carrie Finley-Bajak, CEO of cruising information site CruiseBuzz.net. Also, if you aren't picky about which cabin you get, you can save by accepting an unspecified cabin guarantee.
 
2. AVOID PEAK TIMES
 
High season is generally during the summer and other times of the year when school is out. That includes spring break, around the December holidays, Thanksgiving, etc.
 
For the best deals, book travel for other times of the year: During the school year. After Thanksgiving and before Christmas. And, incidentally, right now.
 
"This is the season," Spencer Brown says. "Spring is a great time after the Easter holidays to nab a deal."
 
At this time of the year, different cruise ship itineraries become more affordable, too.
 
With summer still a couple months away, Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises are more affordable, as is an Alaskan voyage, Spencer Brown says.
 
3. SAIL OLD SCHOOL
 
Another way to save money: Select a cruise with an older ship. It may not have as many amenities, but it also won't have nearly as many of the cabins with balconies, which are pricier than the smaller, windowless interior cabins.
 
Finley-Bajak recommends doing some research on the cruise line to find what year a given ship was built.
 
Many of the older ships tend to run all year long on the three-day itineraries and are more affordable.
 
4. LOOK FOR REPOSITIONING CRUISES
 
Cruise lines move their ships from their rotation in one region to another every few months, usually as the high season in one region cools off and before the next destination heats up. For example, a ship will shift from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean for the winter, or vice versa. Or from the Caribbean to Alaska for the summer.
 
Booking a vacation on one of these repositioning cruises can be significantly cheaper than a regular itinerary that hits several stops before returning to a home port. All told, you could pay from $35 to $65 per person, per day on a repositioning cruise, says Spencer Brown.
 
However, one should consider that repositioning cruises are only one-way. The voyage also can take 10 days to two weeks, with fewer stops at ports of call along the way.
 
5. LOOK BEYOND PRICE
 
When selecting a cruise, price isn't the only consideration, by far.
 
There are the perks and incentives that could end up making the trip a better value. But a key factor is whether the cruise you select is right for you. That's because cruise lines cater to different niches of travellers. An older traveller looking for a refined cruise probably wouldn't be happy on a party ship festooned with nightclubs, basketball courts and other attractions aimed at younger passengers.
 
Experts recommend you read up about specific ships and their itineraries to get a sense of whether the cruise fits what you're looking for.
 
6. TARGET CHEAPER ITENIRARIES
 
The shorter the voyage, the less costly the cruise. If you're looking for ultra-cheap, go for a three-day cruise, which tend to compete more on price.
 
The weak economy in Europe makes a seven-day Mediterranean cruise a good value. Plus, as more cruise lines reposition ships there, competition will increase. That's good for the consumer.
 
Other ways to find deals: Monitor sites that advertise deals. Some of them include Cruisebuzz.net, Cruise.com and Cruisedeals.com
 
In addition, getting on cruise company mailing lists can tip you off to sales in advance.
 
7. CONSIDER A TRAVEL AGENT
 
A cruise vacation has a lot of components to sort out, from air travel to the departure port, to offshore activities that often are not included in your cruise costs. Travel agents can help sort out the details.
 
"A travel agent will have access to all the ships and current pricing and promotions," says Finley-Bajak.
 
8. ACCOUNT FOR EXTRAS
 
The term all-inclusive is often associated with a cruise vacation, but in most cases, it's far from the truth.
 
"If anybody says cruising is all-inclusive, they're crazy," says Spencer Brown, adding that one always pays extra to gamble in the casino, visit the spa, use the Internet, eat at certain restaurants and onshore excursions.
 
There may also be a hotel stay before your departure, government taxes, fees and gratuities to cover.
 
By Alex Veiga, The Associated Press
 
For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecrazies.com/index.html
 
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
http://www.cruisecrazies.com




Member Comments:


7. CONSIDER A TRAVEL AGENT



A cruise vacation has a lot of components to sort out, from air travel to the departure port, to offshore activities that often are not included in your cruise costs. Travel agents can help sort out the details.



"A travel agent will have access to all the ships and current pricing and promotions," says Finley-Bajak.




All excellent advice! Another nice thing about travel agents is that they up house groups very early on which most always come with a lower rate and added amenities in the form of onboard credit, wine, or other gifts, and agents are more than happy to pass these savings on to their clients.
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VeleroAmande
May 03 2013 12:51 PM

I have saved some money during my san blas panama trip ...

 Inspect Boat Sails and Repair. 

Remove all sails and canvas, such as Biminis and dodgers from the boat. Inspect both for chafe or tears. Have the local sail loft do a 'head to toe' inspection. Ask your sailmaker to beef up worn areas with additional chafe patches to prevent problems in the future.Just in case you plan to take a cruise in the near future, check out this list of tips and topics, then read on below for a full explanation:


1. Traveler's Checks
2. Buy a lanyard
3. Pack your own hair dryer
4. Don't forget an extension cord
5. Walkie-Talkies

 

\\one can add some more trip

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WeCruiseToo
May 03 2013 03:09 PM

Well, there’s never anything wrong with saving a little money! :smile:

Some very good points there. I would caution that the one about looking at a travel agent should also say look for an experienced cruise travel agent. Not all travel agents are experienced in cruising also some cruise agents will push one cruise line to get a maximum commision instead of picking the correct cruise line for you. So yes a travel agent can save you some money if you pick the right travel agent.

 

I have delt with some bad travel agents when I first started cruising and I always do my own research and ask travel agents questions to see if they really do know what they are talking about.



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