Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Archived Weekly Features
News Cruise
Michael Bennett is the former Senior Producer of the Travel Channels west coast operations and is currently a travel writer for Savoy and Black Enterprise Magazine. Michael is the host of Globetrotting on BET's BET on Jazz Network. For travel question write to


As most regular readers of News Cruise know by now, I am a huge proponent of cruising. It's a great way to see the world at a fraction of the cost of a standard vacation. And with summer finally here, (yeah I know it doesn't officially begin until June 21) it is still not too late to find great bargains to destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico and Alaska. I have seen 7-day cruise prices as low as $599.

Prices are especially low for departures from U.S. ports. The cruise lines have relocated several ships from the Mediterranean to U.S. waters to accommodate American travelers still afraid to fly. The glut has caused prices to stay low as compared to the summer of 2001. In fact, you can save as much $500 or more per cabin if you're willing to be flexible with your travel plans.

Despite these low prices, travelers need to come with lots of cash or plenty of room on their credit card to cover the cost of items not included in the price. Lets start with drinks. Beers, wines and other liquor can cost a nywhere from $3 to $6 per drink plus tip. Soft drinks can run you about $1.50. After 7-days at sea you'd be surprised how much you spend. On a recent trip to the Caribbean, my drink bill alone for two people was almost $300. And before you get any wise ideas about bringing your own libations onboard check with the cruise lines, you'll probably find most wonâ??t allow this practice.

Cruise prices usually include the price of meals. But the trend towards more gourmet cuisine and specialty restaurants has resulted in surcharges of $5 to $25 per-person being added to the bill. Some lines are also adding automatic tipping charges of $10 per-person per-day.

When purchasing your cruise package make sure to ask the travel agent about port charges. This fee can add as much as $180 per-person to each fare. And those shore excursions cruises ships have become famous for can cost you up to $50 per-person at each port-of-call for a sightseeing tour. If you're into to more thrilling activities such as helicopter rides or hot-air ballooning the cost soars to $200.

Here's a quick list of other incidental costs as reported by Consumer Reports: Tuxedo rental, $75; Photos by the ship photographer, $6 to $9 per photo; Babysitting, up to $15 per hour; Spa treatments $90 for a one-hour massage; E-mail access, $3.95 per message; Laundry $1.50 per load; golf lessons $30 to $40 per half-hour. Starting to get the picture?

Ask lots of questions before leaving home and have plenty of available cash or credit to sustain you for the duration of your trip. Happy Sailing.