Cruise Planning Part II: Seven Questions to Launch Your Trip
#5 of 7: What's Your Budget & How Will You Get to the Ship?
The price of a cruise vacation can vary from a $100-something a person for a weekend cruise to $5,000 or more for a 12-day trip. Deciding how much you can afford to spend on your vacation will, ultimately, affect the line you choose, time of year, length and cabin size.
Don't forget to include extras like tips, souvenirs, shore excursions, spa treatments or gambling, as well as transportation to and from the ship -- or the port you will be leaving from (which are not included in the cost of the cruise).
Based on where you live and where you are going, getting to your ship could mean driving yourself, taking a train or a shuttle, flying or some combination of all of them.
- Car: If you are close enough to your destination, consider driving. While planes have baggage limits, cruise ships do not. Some people might drive down the morning they are leaving; others come down the night before and budget in a stay at a hotel near the pier.
- Train/Shuttle: Some cruise lines that have their embarkation ports at locations far from the airports provide transportation, for a fee, that passengers can opt to take.
- Plane: If you crossing the country or an ocean to get to your ship, you'll need to board a plane, which should be factored into your budgeting and the time of year you might travel. If you are cruising in the winter, and traveling from a cold-weather destination, consider flying in a day or two ahead so as not to miss boarding the ship.
Another way to save money is through booking the cruise itself.
- Online: Travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity often provide discounts on lines above what the lines themselves offer. But check the cancelation and booking policies in case something happens to you or to the reservation.
- Through a travel agent: Some people prefer to book through a trusted TA who can arrange the intricacies of a cruise-- hotels, flights, transfers, excursions -- often at a discount in the form of a reduced price or onboard cabin credit.
- Through the line directly: Many ships have discounts that are exclusive to their line. Like working with a travel agent, it sometimes can help to speak to a live person who can answer your questions.
Next Cruise Planning Question: What Stateroom Should You Pick?