Nothing is more relaxing than a cruise. Whether for a honeymoon, an anniversary, or just to get away from it all, cruises are a relaxing way to spend well-earned vacation time. Many people, unfortunately, believe that they cannot afford such a luxurious vacation. What these people do not know is that there are a multitude of cruise packages designed to fit both extravagant and tight budgets. Depending on your departure point, destination, time of the year, and length of your vacation, there is a wide range of cost options for anyone looking to book a cruise.
Despite the struggling economy, the cruise industry is experiencing growth as 2010 outperformed 2009. Forecasts suggest that 2011 will end with an increase in passengers of 6.6 percent over the previous year. This plus the addition of more ships is causing the cruise industry in general to look to the future with confidence.
Cruise vacations have a high rate of customer satisfaction. This might be because typical resort and theme park vacations can be more exhausting than restful, requiring a mini-vacation at home just to recover from the vacation your family just finished. However, this is also due in large part to the value of a cruise vacation.
Carnival Cruise Lines suggests that the cost of a cruise that lasts for 7 days is over 50% less than the cost for a 7 day stay in a resort hotel. This is because the cruise fare includes much more than accommodations. Included in cruise cost is entertainment and most if not all meals. A passenger’s only out of pocket expenses are drinks, personal services such as massages, and excursions on shore at the destination port. To know how much does it cost to go on a cruise, a vacationer must first decide on what kind of cruise they want to take, and how long they wish their vacation to be. Depending on the cruise, there could be other added costs in addition to the cruise cost such as airfare to the port from which the cruise will depart. Some travel agencies have packages that include all of this.
In realization of the competition from the cruise industry, family theme parks and resorts have entered the cruise line business with cruises designed for families with children. Disney and Nickelodeon are both now offering family oriented cruises. Disney Cruise cost includes interactions with some of Disney’s most popular characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. As appropriate for a cruise, characters like Ariel and Captain Jack Sparrow can also be seen wandering on deck for photo and autograph opportunities. Disney Dream Cruise cost for a family of four on a three night Bahamas cruise runs about $3,300, including the optional vacation insurance. Disney Cruise cost per person is different depending on the age of the children.
Nickelodeon’s All Access Cruise is operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines, in contrast to Disney which operates its own cruise ships. Nickelodeon cruises also include character experiences with the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora The Explorer, as well as the chance to get “slimed” in many of the on board kids’ activities. Character breakfasts are also available at an additional charge on some cruises. Nickelodeon cruise cost is similar to that of a Disney cruise. Nick Cruise cost is affected by the age of the children as well.
Cruises around the entire world were started by the Cunard Line in 1922 and remain popular today. Typically departing from ports in Europe, these cruises can last as long as 115 days and can cost upwards of $50,000. The global ports of call can include Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Bangkok. The on board entertainment is quite diverse, even including lectures from some of the world’s most renowned speakers.
Booking your cruise early with one of the world’s largest cruise lines can result in huge savings and a greater vacation value. Carnival Cruise cost can be as low as $70 a day for a three to five day cruise to the Bahamas. Norwegian Cruise Lines have Last Minute Deals for a 7 day Bermuda cruise from Boston for $349 a person, based on double occupancy. The Norwegian deals are unique, as procrastination does not usually result in better fares in the cruise industry.
Destination is one of the most important driving forces in the determination of how much do cruises cost. Alaskan cruise cost will be less than Caribbean cruise cost when departing from Port Canaveral, Florida. However, the opposite will be true when leaving from Seattle. Likewise, Mediterranean cruise cost will be much less sailing out of Naples, Italy then from Naples, Fl. When planning your cruise, consider the possible cost savings by flying to a different port to start your trip.
When planning your cruise vacation, it is a good idea to contact a travel agent.
They have access to deals that can help save you money during your cruise vacation, as well as experience with both the real and hidden costs of going on a cruise. Choose your destination and set a budget first. Be sure to include a shipboard budget to handle any costs not covered by your cruise fees. For your shore excursions, such as dining and entertainment, make your reservations in advance. Don’t forget your passport. Customs regulations are now tighter than they were ever before. Leave plenty of time to get this taken care of before your cruise.
Many variables affect the cost of a cruise. For example, the cost of an Alaskan cruise from Florida would be much higher than the cost of such a cruise starting in Seattle because of the greater time and distance traveled. It might make more sense, in this case, to fly to Seattle to start your cruise. Disney Cruise Lines, based out of Port Canaveral in Florida, offer special rates for Florida residents for cruises to the Caribbean. Some rates start as low as $195 a day for a seven day cruise. Disney offers similarly discounted rates to members of the United States military for cruises to the Caribbean and The Bahamas. Cruise lines also offer special packages for wedding and second honeymoon travelers.
When planning your cruise budget, know that there are some hidden costs to be aware of. These costs can put a real dent in your wallet if you are not careful. Tipping is one example of a hidden but necessary cost.
Realize that many of the service people working on board rely on these tips for their income. Skimping on tips to save money is not recommended. Shore excursions can also be expensive as you shop and dine on shore. Know that these costs can run about 40% of the cost of your cruise, and you should be well prepared for them.
All inclusive cruises offer the best overall vacation value. These cruises provide all meal, entertainment, and services for one fee. This makes budgeting your vacation much easier, as you know when you leave the house exactly how much you are going to spend.
These can be great deals as some of the restaurants in destination cities can be very expensive. Taking all of your meals on board the cruise ship will result in huge savings. Be aware, though, that most all inclusive fares still do not include the cost of certain beverages.
Several cruise lines offer packages for weddings, and can be a great value. Prices start at around $800 on top of the cost of the cruise. Princess offers some of the best options for weddings at sea, with their most expensive package starting at about $2400. One of the options they include is the ability to broadcast the wedding ceremony via web cam to friends on land. Disney offers wedding packages as well, and might be more ideal for second marriages for couples with kids. Disney also includes the option of a ceremony on their private island Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. None of these packages, however, include accommodations for the wedding party.