Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How to get the best cruise deals

Want to save money on your vacation? Book a cruise. Cruising is a safe and convenient way to travel; you can visit many destinations and only have to unpack once. Here are some strategies to help you snag the best deals so you get the most for your vacation dollar.
Modern cruise ships are large enough to provide multiple amenities.
Wait to book: If your travel times are flexible, you can find deep discounts about a month prior to sailing.  Check Internet sites of cruise consolidators (see list at the end) as well as the home site of your preferred cruise line. 

Be flexible: If you’ve booked months in advance, here’s a new wrinkle: Some ships are now being overbooked, and if you’re willing to change plans at the last minute, you might be offered multiple incentives (upgrades, free cruises, etc.) to reschedule your vacation.
Look for deals:  Look for special offers like lower deposits, kids sail free, shipboard credits, included airfare, and free shore excursions.  These budget boosters can increase the value of a cruise. A travel agent can keep you posted when good deals come along.

Book and sail together: Family and multi-generational travel is a growing component of the cruise industry, so more ships are catering to this market.  But check on average age of passengers and available activities in kid, preteen, or teen clubs of a specific cruise if you’ll have people of various ages along. 
Dining rooms are a convenient place to get everyone together.
Or go casual at the buffet.
Skip faraway destinations: North American travelers are filling the ships on Caribbean (both Eastern and Western) and Mexican Riviera cruises.  U.S. embarkation ports are generally easy to get to (no overseas flights), which allows for a variety of itineraries and cruise lengths.

Squeeze in a short getaway: Four and five night voyages are popular with families and people who have limited time off from work. Cruise lines have responded to the demand by increasing the number of sailings for trips lasting less than a week.
Watch the bottom line: A big selling point is the all-inclusive nature of cruises.  But newer, larger ships include more extra-fee services besides the usual shops and beauty salons. Exclusive restaurants, wine tastings, Pilates classes, golf swing analyses, and long bar tabs can hike up the total amount due at the end of your cruise.

Tropical or Caribbean islands make great
vacation destinations for couples or families.

Find out more at:                                        

Photos by Beverly Burmeier

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