Part One – Booking & Prepping For Your Cruise
Anyone who knows me AT ALL – knows that I love to go on cruises. I have found cruising to be an extremely affordable way to travel the world and see new things. I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite cruise tips. Several times, our family has forgone the typical Christmas gift exchange instead, taking a cruise.
We are preparing to go on a cruise with 17 people from my husband’s family.
Booking Your Cruise
We have mainly gone through Carnival Cruise lines. Occasionally, they have a reduced deposit sale. You can book your cruise for as low as $50 Per person. We book mainly based on itinerary. Once we find an itinerary that looks good, we will then narrow down a few date options and compare prices. You can book online, through a PVP (Personal Vacation Planner), or even through a site such at freecruisecredit.com. This is where we booked our last cruise. They were very easy to work with, and even gave us free on board credit for spending on the ship for booking through them. With all of the options, you are able to make payments before your final payment date. I love the flexibility that it gives us with our family budget to be able to pay smaller payments.
The upcoming cruise has a bit of a different story however. We set out on September 2015 to go on the same itinerary when our ship started on fire while we were in port in St. Thomas. The ship essentially became a hotel, unable to cruise per the US Coast Guard. We spent a couple of days in St. Thomas before heading home. The cruise line was more than fair in their compensation for the foiled travel plans, and we were not only refunded the price of the original cruise, but offered one half off cruise to use in the next 2 years. If you are near a calendar, you’ll see that those two years are almost up. This time, we will be on the same itinerary but a different ship.
Preparing for your Cruise
This is so much fun to me. I LOVE to research the different ports, and read reviews that I find on Cruise Critic. I have been able to find some hidden gems among the ports we’ve traveled to by reading reviews. You can also compare notes with other cruisers who will be traveling on your cruise. Our family really enjoys beach days, and all inclusive resorts that offer day passes. I found Resort for a Day online on one of our last cruises, and loved that I could easily find resorts that offer day passes. Most require a small down payment at reservation time, and then the rest is paid once you arrive.
If you have any questions on things to do in port, feel free to reach out. If we’ve been there, I’d be happy to share with you what we did, and how we liked it!
One thing that’s dramatically different from your typical travel is price drops. With Carnival, depending on the fare you book, you can often get a lower price on your cabin if it drops between the time you book it up until 2 days before you cruise. This has saved our family HUNDREDS of dollars. If you have already paid off the balance of the cruise, the credit is applied to your on board account. Make sure and read the fine print, or as your PVP for the details. (PRO TIP – Need that money for spending in port? Just load it to your casino card, play one spin of the machine, and then cash out at the cashier!)
Stay Tuned for Part Two – Packing for the Family!