For men, women and families everywhere, few vacations can beat the opportunities and experiences offered by a cruise. From on-board activities to shore excursions, there's really something for everyone, of any age and any taste. World-class cuisine and nighttime entertainment venues, as well as activities and events specifically designed for kids and families make cruises one of the most popular types of vacation in the world today.
What's most surprising to those who have never taken a cruise is that, despite the luxury accommodations, world-class amenities and non-stop activities and entertainments, cruises can be surprisably affordable – in fact, often much more affordable than traditional land-based vacations . Often there are additional opportunities to save on costs, if you know what to look for and how to take advantage of cruise specials. The following list reviews a few of the tips you can use to make sure your cruise is as fun, and affordable, as you want it to be.
Ask about member discounts when booking your cruise. If you're a member another major group affiliation, you may be eligible for discounts on the cost of all or part of your cruise. In addition, senior citizens are also often able to take advantage of discounts on rooms and programs. Be sure to ask when booking your cruise about any discounts for which you may qualify.
Look for specific types of discounts, which some cruises may offer at certain times of the year. Often during the "off season" cruises may offer buy one, get one free sales, where one passenger pays a full price for his or her ticket and a companion travels for free, or at a substantially discounted rate. Other cruises may offer free shore excursions or other perks, like pre- or post-cruise hotel rooms at discounted rates for certain times of the year.
Consider sharing a cruise with friends or family to cut the costs of your cabin. Cabins accommodating four or more are less expensive than those for couples, and sometimes costs can be cut four ways. The key to this type of travel is to make sure everyone gets along.
Ask your travel agent about reduced flights, or flights and cruise specials, where the flight to or from your embarkation point will be deducted when booked with your cruise.
Sign up for cruise line and travel agency newsletters. Often, these newsletters will feature discount certificates or alerts about discounted cruise and cruise sales. Many discounts are offered on upgraded rooms and amenities, meaning you can get a lot more value and comfort for the same cost of a regular cruise. The sooner you sign up, the better.
Book through a travel agency that is well respected and well known. The Internet has allowed a lot of so-called cut-rate agencies to spring up. Rather than trusting your vacation dollars to someone with limited travel arranging experience, choose a reputable agency with real connections to the cruise industry, to make sure you get the best bang for your vacation buck.
When possible, try to book your cruise as soon as you can. Often, early bird specials can result in significant savings, not just on the cruise itself, but also on flights to and from your embarkation point, as well as land excursions taken during the cruise itself.
Planning a cruise for your wedding or corporate event, or other group function? Be sure to ask your travel agent about possible group discounts. They're more available – and more substantial – than you may think. This is another example of where using a travel agent that is well connected can really pay off – literally.
If you do not mind traveling on short notice, ask your travel agent if the cruise line offers stand by discounts. Just as with major airlines, some cruise lines offer potential vacationers the opportunity to put their names on a wait list, and to be notified a few weeks before cruising if space is still available. Stand by rates can be significantly lower than traditional rates.
Ask about additional costs and fees. While many of the shipboard amenities, including most main meals, are included in cruise packages, other items, like snacks and drinks and certain activities, may not be included. Be sure to ask before you book. You may also ask about on-board services, like spa services, and the fees they charge.
A cruise is a great way to unwind and relax while still enjoying an adventure of a lifetime. Today's cruise lines offer a myriad of onboard activities that you've got to travel far and wide to find on land, as well as unique shore trips and bountiful, delicious foods. Knowing which activities and amenities are included in the price you're paying, and knowing where to look for the best deals, will help ensure your cruise is everything you hoped it would be.