As you can begin to see, the puzzle pieces into the initial planning of your cruise vacation are coming together. And, at this point, we have not even spoken to a cruise agent. The reason for this is that I have found if you jump right in and call a cruise agent without any preparation, you will be faced with an abundance of cruise options that may confuse you. In many cases this approach can lead to “Impulse Buying” and very well put you into a cruise that is beyond your vacation means. By the time we get to the point of calling an agent, you will know how much you can spend, what you may like your itinerary to be and our next two steps, your accommodations and your departure port. It may seem that my approach to planning your cruise vacation as very involved. I do this so the next time you plan to cruise, you will have these steps stored in your memory and planning will be easier. Remember, the best cruise comes from the best planning!
Your choice of accommodations will also factor into your financial planning. When you see advertisements such as “Cruise 7 days to the Caribbean beginning at $479”, the small print in the ad is the word “Beginning”!! What the advertisement is not spelling out, unless specifically indicated is that the price is for an inside cabin. Unless you are comfortable in an inside cabin, you may want to add approximately another $200 per person to that price for an Oceanview or Balcony cabin. Square footage in cabins varies largely between inside and larger accommodations. The prices for larger accommodations such as mini/junior suites up to such cabins as Owners suites go up. An inside cabin is fine for a couple sailing together but if you are a family, things in an inside cabin can and will get a bit tight. On some vessels, more than 2 passengers in an inside cabin are impossible and you would have no choice but to upgrade to a larger cabin. Keep in mind, there are personal benefits to a larger cabin but most cruise veterans will tell you that the only real times you are in the cabin are to sleep and for other personal reasons. T
he majority of your time on a cruise is spent up on deck or in your ports-of-call. I have sailed in Inside, Oceanview and Balcony cabins and prefer Balcony cabins because it allows me to see what the weather is when I wake in the morning and also allow us to order scheduled room service delivery in the mornings for our coffee and Danish’s. We also enjoy being able to sit on our balcony when entering and leaving ports. The choice of your cabin should be researched prior to booking your cruise. Cruise lines post the various cabins on their vessels and have specifications of their cabins. Keep in mind, when researching your cabin type, if you feel you may be prone to sea discomfort, look for a cabin that is mid-ship in every aspect (front to back and top to bottom). Although today’s modern cruise ships have equipment to minimize movement when at sea as well as medical assistance to ward off sea sickness, planning your cabin location is the best approach in avoiding any discomfort.
When choosing a departure port, you may be lucky enough to be within driving distance of a nearby cruise port. If so, you can drive there and park your vehicle for a fee for the duration of your cruise. You may also have shuttles in your area you can arrange to take you and return you from the port. Plan on between $5 and $9 per day if you plan to drive and park your vehicle to the port. In some cases, you may have no choice but to fly to your embarkation port. This could be because you do not live near a cruise port or if your planned itinerary leaves from a port that does not access your planned cruise. For example, cruises leaving from the Tampa Florida area mostly cruise to the Western and Southern Caribbean and the majority of cruises leaving from the East coast of Florida cruise to the Eastern Caribbean with some that go to the Western and Southern Caribbean. You will see the variations as you research your cruise.
In my upcoming BLOGS, I will discuss documentation needed for your cruise and some variations in cruise line amenities. Please continue to enjoy your extended stay on “Planning Island”.