by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
Taking a cruise used to be only for the rich. There were differentclasses for passengers and restricted areas depending on your class. Cruise ships were few and accommodations adequate but barely comfortable. You stayed with people in your class not allowed to mix and mingle on all decks with all passengers.
As demand for cruising increased, the supply of ships increased. New ships were built, each one bigger and more luxurious than the last. They’ve become floating hotels, resorts actually. The best news is cruising has become, and remains, an affordable holiday despite the rising cost of fuel. But, it’s up to you or a trusted travel agent to find the best deal available.
Book online with travel companies, buy directly from the cruise line of choice or enlist the services of a travel agent. Try all and settle on the best deal for you. With any booking option, book early and save ten to forty percent.
Money talks so pay in full when you make your reservation and save. Or, if you’re flexible take a chance and cruise standby to save. Standby passengers are usually notified if they made the list 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure.
Cabins mainly determine the cost of the cruise, depending on size and location. Interior cabins are cheapest with no view; but unless you plan to spend a lot of time in the room this won’t matter. Cabins with a window or a balcony are more expensive which could be worth the money if you’re sailing where scenery is abundant such as the Inside Passage.
Ask for discounts or special packages when you book. Discounts are available for seniors 55 plus and if you’re a member of certain organizations like AAA or AARP.
You should be eligible for a discount if you’re sailing with a group and specials are often offered such as buy one get one free. Sign up for newsletters to keep abreast of the latest deals.
Travel in the off-peak season and enjoy reduced rates. For example, save by sailing the Caribbean the first week in December or January. Alaskan cruises are cheaper in early May or late September.
Repositioning cruises are a bargain if you like to spend most of your time at sea. Generally, in the spring and fall, ships are moved from one part of the world to another depending on the sailing season. The only way to get ships to another location is to sail them and it’s more cost efficient to have revenue paying passengers on board.
Loyalty pays. The more you sail with a particular line the more discounts and perks you’re offered. You usually have an opportunity to book again while on the current cruise at a discount. Cruise officials know you’re having so much fun it’s hard to say no.
Cruses are all inclusive and designed for everyone regardless of age or mobility. Food, lodging and entertainment are first quality. The pampering is nice too. If the water’s deep enough you can probably find a cruise anywhere in the world to beautiful and exotic ports of call. But to many, the cruise is the destination.