Strike up a conversation with the average person on the street about your recent cruise vacation, and you'll likely evoke a response of something like, 'Sounds really expensive to me,' or 'I don't think that would ever fit into our budget.'
However, even in the current business environment with the cost of living on the rise, the cruise vacation industry is continuously innovating to find ways to woo old customers, and pick up new ones. They're going out of their way to offer the cheapest cruises while still providing the best of service, not just so their guests will have a great time, but also in hopes that the cruiser will give the cruise line a positive review... and hoping they'll cruise again in the future.
If you're pondering the idea of going on a cruise vacation and are wondering about ways to get a good deal, we'd like to offer you some tips that could prove useful toward that cause.
Travelling offseason can be far cheaper than travelling during peak vacation times. The offseason times could either be during the school year when kids can't typically cruise, or when weather-related issues are more likely to put a damper on the trip. If you are willing to adjust and adapt to things a bit, you could save some decent bank by travelling during the off season.
Often it's a good idea to book as early as possible as there are early bird discounts offered on many cruises. Occasionally, there could be great discounts at the last minute, in cases where ships still have vacancies, and would prefer charging less than travelling with fewer passengers. Make sure you (or your travel agent) keep an eye out for these great deals.
While deciding on a cabin, you can opt for inside cabins rather than the outside cabins with private balconies that offer a view of the ocean. Remember, you will likely be spending a great deal of your time out, about, and around the ship... not in the cabin. If you want to just relax and look out across the sea, you don't need a balcony room to do that... just find a comfortable chair in a quiet place on one of the outside decks. Inside cabins are often much cheaper than the outside cabins with private balconies.
Shore excursions can be a huge portion of the cost of your cruise. I always say, going on a cruise and not taking an excursion is like taking a bus to Disney World and sitting in the parking lot. As entertaining as modern cruise ships truly are, there's a lot of world to be explored when you step out at each port.
That having been said, if you're looking to go cheap, but still take in a lot of scenery and have a great time, consider the 'beach break' or bus tour excursions. Beach trips are often among the cheapest of excursions. These trips will give you some time for fun in the sun at a beautiful beach, and, because they often involve a little travel by bus, you'll also get to take in some local scenery along the way.
As mentioned, bus tours are another great way to take in the sights on the cheap. These tours are conducted aboard large, comfortable buses, often with a narrator to explain each landmark you pass along the way. Bus tours may also include a stop at a shopping area that other cruisers not on your excursion will likely miss out on.
Try to keep your onboard expenses down as much as you can. That doesn't mean you'll need to do without much... as any cruiser will tell you, there's no shortage of free food onboard. But things like alcoholic drinks, sodas, pictures, and purchases in the onboard shops can really bring in the sticker shock when you get the bill for your tab on the final day of the cruise.
Many cruise lines offer some type of incentive program for prior guests, where they receive discounts or free gifts of various kinds, for cruising again with that line. When planning your next cruise, remember to factor in these perks when deciding on which line to use.
Gone are the days when only the rich and famous could be pampered while aboard a cruise. With a little common-sense planning, a cruise vacation can give you maximum entertainment and adventure, with a price tag that's hard to beat among vacation options.
Want to get in on cruise purchasing tips that could save you hundreds -or thousands- of dollars on your next
cruise? Our insider e-book, CruiseGuide 2011, is only a few clicks away, and reveals a number of cost-cutting techniques you can take advantage of on every cruise you book, from now on.
Click here to learn more about CruiseGuide 2011