Except on rare occasions
no need to pay full price for a cruise. Cruise lines will publish
full and/or discounted prices in their brochures. The basic cost
of your cruise will depend on:
Categories range from
the smallest inside cabin in the least desirable (but still habitable)
location (least expensive) to the Owner's Suite with all the
amenities (and a surprising price tag).
the prices in seasonal cruising. Alaska, for instance, is visited
only in summer, with the "off season" in the cooler months. The
weather is gorgeous all year, but you'll find the slowest season (off
to be October and November (except Holidays), and the most desirable
season) to be February thru April. During hurricans season (June
thru November), you must understand that the ship may need to change
at the last minute to avoid the bad weather.
more in any category on a newer, more luxurious ship which offers haute
cuisine, all suites, adults only, exotic ports, etc.
with apples, it makes sense that a longer cruise will cost more.
On the other hand, if you want to take a 7-night cruise in May, it may
be cheaper to go to Alaska than to the South Carib.
ports visited in any cruise will affect the overall cost. Port
and costs of excursions add up fast.
Inclusion of Air/Sea
Number of people in your cabin
The brochure rates listed are per person, double occupancy. Third
and fourth occupants are charged from $125 to $499 each. If you
traveling alone and do not want a cabinmate, the fare is 125-200% of
Ask your agent for the
The published per-person fares may be offset by a number of situations,
alumni, last-minute travelers, senior citizens, residents of certain
certain credit card holders and travel agents are often awarded
- Guaranteed Rate
a cabin grade that is the minimum level of accomodation (or the least
you will be comfortable in, and be guaranteed a cabin at at least
this level or, hopefully, better.
a cabin grade will sell out, and the earliest-booked passengers will be
given a more expensive cabin to make more lower-priced cabins available.
Once you have made your deposit, the rate
be raised. Some lines, in fact, will refund part of the fare
the price be lowered subsequent to your deposit. Ask your
agent to check occasionally...you might be surprised, but don't
count on it.
- Single Supplement
This charge can be from 125-150% (more for suites) of the
rate if you are a single
passenger desiring a private cabin. Some lines will find you
a cabin-mate and only charge the double-occupancy rate.
extra premium, but you cannot choose the cabin.
- Guaranteed Single Rate - You pay
set price, but
do not have a choice of cabin.
- Flat Rate - You pay one price for
of the cabin. You pay more but you do have a choice of cabin.
- Guaranteed Share - You pay the
occupancy price for a cabin, and the cruise line matches you with a
mate of the same sex and smoking preference). If they cannot find one,
you get the cabin to yourself without paying an
Single Cabin - Very few ships
cabins at a set price. You may be allowed a less desirable cabin
(like an inside room with upper/lower berths) at a better price.
Best advice: Do not book the
cabin that you really do not
want, hoping for an upgrade. You may not get the upgrade and be
In general, to find the very best cruise price try to stay flexible as
to ship and date until 60 to 90 days before departure. Most ships, but
not all, will be marked down around this time, and most of these prices
will ultimately prove to be the lowest ever offered for that
departure--lower than early-bird discounts, and lower than prices
available within the last couple of weeks prior to departure.
Cruise lines offer these additional discounts if it appears that they
will not fill the ship otherwise. Usually, these (90-day) markdowns are
effective, and as the lowest categories sell out, the starting price
for the cruise actually rises as departure date approaches. Much less
frequently, cruise lines must drop the price again for a few cabins.
There are times when you should book more than 90 days in advance. For
example, if you are committed to a specific ship and travel date, I
recommend booking early. Some sailings fill early without ever really
going "on sale". The only way to guarantee availability on a particular
ship and date is to book early, in which case you might as well book 6
months or more in advance to take advantage of the early-bird discounts.
You should also book early for long, one-of-a-kind itineraries, such as
world cruises or Holland America's 46-day cruise in October 2006 with
stops in Africa and South America . I can't recall ever seeing a
last-minute discount on a cruise of this length. I'd recommend putting
down a deposit at least 6 months in advance on cruises longer than 2
weeks (9 months in advance for World Cruises), so you're guaranteed to
sail. If the price drops between the time you book and the time
cancellation penalties kick in, your Travel Agent may be able to
re-ticket you at the lower rate.
If you are traveling with a group, and will need more than 3 or 4
cabins, try to book at least 6 months in advance. If your group will
consist of 50 or more passengers, book at least 9 months in advance. If
you're planning a group cruise of 8 or more cabins, your agent can
offer you some unusual incentives.
Book early if you prefer or require cabins of a specialized nature,
such as wheelchair-accessible cabins, cabins that can accommodate 5 or
more passengers, adjoining cabins with a private connecting door, or
Owner's Suites. These cabins are very limited in number and sell out
early, especially for peak-season summer sailings.
Book early if you're taking an Alaska cruise tour or a Europe cruise
tour, which combine a cruise with an escorted land tour or 3 or more
days. These vacations are rarely discounted as departure dates approach
and most sell out more than 90 days prior to departure. In fact, many
cruise tours that depart early in the Alaska cruise season this year,
which runs from May through September, have already sold out.
Finally, Disney Cruise Line's summer sailings are always a hot
commodity and sell out earlier than other summer cruises. If you're
thinking about a Disney cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean or one of
Disney's Bahamas-cruise-plus-Disney-World combos for your family, you'd
be wise to book it 6 months ahead.
For those who don't fall into one of these "exceptions" categories, I
recommend checking prices daily starting about 100 days in advance of
departure and moving quickly to book when a great markdown occurs.
When you make your calculations, please be
to include the following add-ons that may or may not be included
On the other hand, if you can drive to the
you may be offered a credit for not flying. This process
be most confusing to the novice, and can mean several hundred dollars
- air fare
- port charges (subject to change)
What you get...
- Accomodations of your choice, as available
- All meals, including main meals in any dining room,
d'oeuvres, coffee, tea, juices or milk; buffet on a private island,
- All entertainment and activities
- Air fare and transfers (sometimes)
What you pay extra for...
- Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
- Alternate dining is about $5-20 pp
- Alcoholic beverages and sodas (except maybe Silver Seas)
- Carnival offers discount coupons
- Sample NCL beverage extras:
|Domestic Bottled Beer
Specialty Beer (such as Grolsch)
Scotch, Whiskey, Bourbon, Vodka, Rum and Gin
Canned Soft Drinks
On any line the cost of wines will depend on what you choose to
- Excursions (except maybe Silver Seas)
- Most shore excursions start at around $30.00 per person,
but some shore
excursions can be pricey (see the Excursions
- Gift shop purchases
- Customs...tax on purchases over the family limit.
that stores report large purchases to US Customs. Why? Because
stores get a "finders fee" if the purchaser fails to declare a purchase
for which duty should be paid. By doing this, the store wins two ways:
they have gotten the money from the sale of item and they earn a
of the money recovered by the US Customs office.
- E-mail at sea 50-75¢ per minute on Norwegian Sky, RCI
and HAL ships
- Computer lab sessions is complimentary on Crystal
- Private instruction is $75/hour
- Laptops rent for $10/day
- Digital postcards on RCI are $5 to multiple recipients
- Video E-mails on the Norwegian Sky are $10
- Salon treatments and massages
- Body treatments $20-50
- Thalassotherapy pool $12/day on Mercury or Galaxy
- 25-minute massage under a cabana on Disney's island $60
- Session with personal trainer on Crystal $45
- select an unusual custom background for your portrait at
on the Grand for $19.95
- purchase photos taken by the ship photographer
- have your film developed before the cruise is over
- Casino chips charged to your onboard account may incur a
- Video Arcade
- Games and rides from 25¢ (on the Voyager you must
"Voyage of Discovery" card for $20)
- Virtual Reality simulator for $5 on the Grand
- Somewhat vigorous on-board activities:
- Rock-climbing wall on the Voyager $8 for 90 minutes
- Ice Rink or In-line skating track on the Voyager for
- Skeet shooting
- Golf driving (the Grand's golf simulator is $20 for 30
- Snorkeling equipment ($25/day on the Disney Magic)
- Beach floats $8/day on Princess
- Sea Kayak $26 for 30 minutes
- Mini-golf is $3pp on the Voyager
- University at Sea (an in-depth talk on the history and
ports, $39-149 includes printed materials
- Laundry service
- Medical service
- Internet access
- ATM charge $5
- Weddings $49-1,400
- Haagen Dazs ($1.90 on the Grand)
- Juice at dinner ($2 on Celebrity)
- Cigars $4-20
- Souvenier menus are $5 on Celebrity and RCI (my HAL menus
- Phone or fax service $6-16 per minute.
- Babysitting $6-8/hour
- Tux Rentals $65-115
- taxi drivers and baggage handlers at the pier... $1.00
- in the Casino (hopefully you'll be able to tip green and
- room service (if not your regular steward)... $2.00 per
- in the alternative dining room...$5.00 per person
- in the lounges...15% if not already added to tab
- in the dining room...the Sommelier should get 15% as above
- at the end of the cruise ~ For example, RCI recommends:
||$3.50 per day per person
||$3.50 per day per person
||$2.50 per day per person
||$1.00 per day per person
- In some cases a 15% gratuity is added to cocktails and
- On Princess you may prepay tips by
adding them to your shipboard account
- On Premier and the QE2, customary gratuities are
your shipoard account. I'd find a way to have it removed and tip
according to performance.
- If your waiter is not someone on this list, you can
estimate the 15% as
best you can and tip at the time of service. Tips for the Maitre
d', sommelier, headwaiter, etc. are optional.
- If you are charged the 15% and you don't believe you
service, take the receipt to the bar manager or Purser's office to have
...and how to pay for the extras
Because a cruise is a nearly perfect "cashless society", almost
you do on board except gambling, laundry and some tips, can be
to your house account for your convenience. As you are waiting in
the terminal for boarding, there may be a table set up so that you can
set up your shipboard account by giving the Purser's office:
You can also do this anytime during the trip at the Purser's office.
- your credit card imprint or
- your debit card imprint (use varies with cruise
line, but they
your charges daily so that you won't be in a situation where you have
more than they can take from your account each day) or
- a cash deposit
That's all. From then on, all you need do is say
and cabin number or present your boarding card (or some other such
and sign for your purchase. On the last night you will receive an
accounting of all transactions on your account. If there is a
you must discuss it with the Purser before debarkation. If not,
will find the total charges as one item on your next credit card
Of course, as in the past, American Dollars are welcomed in Caribbean
even though some islands have switched over to the Euro as the official
currency. I'm still researching, but so far I have read in
and other sites that the French islands (St. Martin, Guadeloupe,
and St. Barts) are on the Euro. I'm not sure about the
Antilles (Sint Maarten, Bonaire, and Curacao), and Aruba. ...more
anyone has any further knowledge about the Euro, please E-me.
This package will (sometimes) include free or reduced-rate round-trip
fare and transfers between major airports and the port of
You will be met by cruise line representatives who will guide you
the embarkation process.
- There have been some complaints lately about the
being made by the cruise lines. Sometimes flights are booked for
an individual passenger without regard to his travel companions,
or time necessary to make connecting flights. Also, if your ship
departs from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, they reserve the right to fly/bus
you to either airport.
- On the other hand, with the air/sea package, even though
you have no
over the airline, route or flight times, the cruise line is notified of
your whereabouts, and the ship's departure may be delayed until your
If you actually miss port departure, the cruise line can fly you to the
next port of call and provide hotel accomodations, if necessary.
If you have serious concerns regarding air travel, particularly on
day, there are two options:
- Have your travel agent book your air separately.
This way you can
select any schedule you like, and have the most control. Keep in
mind, though, that you will be responsible for your own ground
Travel insurance can be added.
- You can pay a small fee and try the cruise line's air
At least 60 days before sailing you can select any available schedule
any airline with whom they have a contract.
Frequent Flyer Miles
When you first check in at the airport, simply ask the agent to add
frequent flyer number to the ticket information and you will receive