Luxurious Cruises at Bargain Prices

europe cruise
Carson Danfield asked:

The cruise ship business is booming. Millions of Americans are taking vacations afloat every year and 6 huger passenger liners (including the largest cruise ship in the world, Freedom of the Seas) were launched in 2006.

There is such an overwhelming array of iteneries, ships, packages and prices today that it can seem almost impossible to know whether you’re getting the right trip at the right price.

Here are more than a dozen smart strategies –

– Get an early bird discount. If you book from 6 months to a year before departure, most cruise lines will discount their published retail rates. You’ll also get your first choice of cabin category and location. You must make a small deposit, perhaps $200 per person for a 5 day cruise, but usually you can cancel without penalty up to 60 days prior to departure.

– Look for off-season specials. Schedule your trip when other people do not. For example, most people want to visit Alaska in the summer, so if you’re looking for a more attractive rate, go in May or September. Cruise the Caribbean in the spring or summer, or try the Mediterranean in the winter. Avoid holidays and school vacation weeks. Of course, the trade-off may be the weather. For example, Athens can be downright chilly in the winter.

– Take a ‘repositioning’ cruise. Some of the year’s lowest rates can be found in the spring when ships relocate from their winter home ports in the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii or Mexico to their summer bases in Europe, New York, Vancouver or Alaska. The same goes for the late fall, when ships return to southern locations for the peak season that starts before Christmas.

– Find a last-minute deal. Because the cruise lines want to keep their ships full, you can get good discounts by booking only a month or two before departure, when a line finds it still has unsold cabins. The downside is that you might not get a cruise you really want because the choice of ships and cabins will be limited.

– Be flexible. If you’re willing to sail on a different date than you originally intended, sometimes even by only a week or two, you may be able to get the very same cabin on the same ship for significantly less money. And if you aren’t rigid about your dates and itineraries, you’ll have better luck nailing down a last-minute special.

– Look for the 2 for 1 promotion. On some sailings, two passengers can share a cabin for the price of one. These deals however are based on the full brochure rate, and in some cases, they do not include port charges and other fees that can be substantial. Airfare to and from the port city may also be extra. Another popular promotion is a ‘second passenger 50% off’ deal, where one passenger pays a discounted rate and the second passenger pays only half of that.

– Pick a port near home. If you can find a cruise that departs from a port that’s within driving distance of home, you won’t have to spend money on airline tickets or hotels. There are at least 32 home ports in North America and 75% of the US population lives within driving distance of one of them.

– Snag a senior discount. Cruise brokers frequently offer discounts to passengers over a certain age, usually 55, and their cabin mates of any age, especially on last-minute choices. The cruise lines too have similar promotions for sailings that are not expected to be full.

– Go with a group. Many lines will give you a reduced group rate. They may even toss in a free cabin if you organize a group that exceeds a specified minimum number of people, typically anywhere from 6 to 8 or 16. Negotiate! You might even get upgrades or extra amenities.

– Take the kids, or grandkids, for free. Off-season sailings will frequently offer to take children for free. Of course, that means you will all be in the same cabin. With four to a cabin, it can get pretty crowded. But remember, you probably won’t be spending much time in your cabin.

– Share the cabin. If you’re traveling with friends or relatives, you can save a bundle when they share your cabin. Sometimes third and fourth adults may even go for free. But if you are looking at an air/cruise package, make sure airfare is included for the entire group if you are not within driving distance of the port city.

– Ask what’s included. Extra charges are not always included in the quoted price. Factor in all the port charges, taxes, handling fees and other costs before comparing deals.

– Double check before you book. Before booking a cruise, call the cruise line or broker or visit their website, because you may find a sale rate that’s better than what you’ve decided upon. But make sure the cabin category, location and other important considerations are equivalent.

– Consult a specialist. After you’ve done your own research and have an idea of what you want, acquire the services of a travel agent who specializes in cruises. An expert can help you sort everything out, find the best prices for your preferred itinerary, advise you on getting the best cabin and may even be able to throw in a few extras such as shipboard credit, shore excursions or a bottle of wine every night.

Posted by http://www.traveltheworld360.com