Enjoy the Holidays at Sea – It’s Not Too Late

Family Cruise

It’s not too late to book your Christmas/New Year’s Holiday Cruise on your choice of exciting cruise ships. Sail away and enjoy the holidays the way you have always dreamed about, where everything is done for you. Imagine a holiday season with no shopping, no cooking and no cleaning, just pampering, excellent cuisine, spas and beautiful, sun-drenched Caribbean islands.

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How to Shop for the Best Cruise Deal

Many people ask how to make sure that they are getting the best deal on a cruise. There are a number of steps that can be taken to make sure that you are getting the best deal.

Be Flexible: If you can be flexible on your sail date you may be able to save money. Cruise pricing tends to be higher during holiday weeks and school vacation times. Sometimes going a week or two before or after your ideal cruise date can save you money. Also, sailing from different departure ports on similar itineraries may also help you to save.

Compare Rates: Look at different cruise lines and ships that have similar itineraries. One cruise line may be offering a special on one of the sailings. Keep in mind that all ships are not the same. Newer ships may have a slightly higher price point than older ships. You also have to consider what is included in the pricing as some departures offer special amenities and higher end cruise lines include a lot of extra amenities that are not normally included in standard cruise pricing. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.

Guarantee Categories: Cruise lines often offer what they call “Guarantee Cabins” in a certain category or location. Pricing for guarantee cabins tends to be lower. The only catch is that you are not given a cabin assignment until just before embarkation. You are guaranteed to be assigned a cabin that is in that category or higher. The plus is that there is a possibility of being upgraded. However, you shouldn’t select a “Guarantee Cabin” if you have any special needs or requests. If you must be near an elevator, on a specific deck, next to the people you are traveling with or have other special needs then you should not confirm a “guarantee cabin” as specific requests cannot be made when booking one of these rates.

Resident Specials, Senior Rates and Military Rates: Many cruise lines will offer special pricing if your home residence is in a certain state. Special pricing is also sometimes offered for senior citizens or military personnel. Always be sure to ask for these discounts.

Sign up for Email Blasts: Many specials are offered in the market place for a short time frame. If you are considering a future cruise you should sign up to receive special email notifications which highlight special savings.

Most importantly when you find a good deal be prepared to book it as the offer may not last long. In most cases, when you book early and the rate goes down most cruise lines will honor the lower rate or offer a value add such as an on-board credit as compensation for the lower rate. Booking early also gives you the prime choice of cabins.

Checklist to get the Best Cruise Deal

With all of the great deals now available on cruise ships, what are some of the items you should have ready before you start to shop for that perfect cruise vacation?

Know Your Dates and How Flexible You Can be if the Price is Right!
You may have your heart set on a specific departure, but departing a day earlier or later may result in a better deal! So, make sure you know ALL of the dates that will work for you before you start your search. And, make sure you are clear on both the minimum AND maximum number of days you can be away. Sometimes a longer cruise may be less expensive than a shorter cruise. For example, a three-night cruise (which usually sails over a weekend) is often more expensive than a 4-night cruise (which departs on a Monday and returns on a Friday). It may make more sense to take the longer cruise and enjoy a weekend on either end at home.

Get Your Documentation in Order!
You may find the perfect cruise and price before you know it, and you must know everyone’s legal name, date of birth and passport information in order to confirm the booking. Most cruise lines will charge you an additional fee to make a name change once a booking is confirmed. As part of increased security measures, all of the passenger information must be an exact match to the documentation that is being shown at time of boarding.

Take Advantage of Possible Discounts!
Don’t miss the opportunity for additional discounts. Senior citizen discounts (which are aged-based) or AARP rates, resident specials depending on the state that you live in, or union rates may be available on some cruise lines. Rules may vary from cruise line to cruise line but it’s worth asking to see if any of these discounts are available on the sailing that you are looking for.

Traveling with children? There may be additional savings!
At certain times of the year, or on certain cruise lines, special discounts are offered for children, all the way up to kids sailing for free if sharing a cabin with their parents. That can change the cost of a family vacation dramatically and may make a ship or sailing date much more cost-effective.

Remember the Value of Insurance!
Yes, it’s an additional cost. But if you are booking a cruise within 60 days of travel, you are almost certain to be within a 100% cancellation penalty, and the cruise lines have gotten very tough on refunds. And, since this is your time and your money, the value of having insurance when you’re booking a product that is nonrefundable is huge. This is your vacation. Protect that investment.

Do Your Research!
There are some great cruise websites loaded with information, such as cruise.com.

The Weekend is here and Weekend Cruises Make a Great Getaway!

Cruise VacationA weekend cruise is relaxing and fun and it doesn’t use up your well earned vacation days! Weekend cruises are also a great opportunity to try out the experience of cruising for those who have never cruised before.

A cruise weekend offers something for everyone. You can have a romantic weekend away, family time with the kids, a girls (or guys) weekend out or a birthday or anniversary celebration or cruising just to have fun. Whatever your reason cruising is a great way to get away, leave the stress behind and have some fun.

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