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
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.