Cruise vacations are great vacations because they are all-inclusive
– – Or are they?
It is true that cruises are basically all-inclusive, however, that refers to the basic cruise cost on most cruise lines. It is the incidental items that are not included and these nickels and dimes add up. Luxury cruise lines such as Crystal, Regent, Silverseas, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin, Seadream Yacht, Oceania, Azamara, Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant Cruises and others are all-inclusive and there are no extra charges for alcohol, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, soft drinks, bottled water, etc.
Therefore, when comparing the relative cost between Standard, Premium And Luxury cruise lines is very important to consider what is actually included in the ”all-inclusive” cruise fare. Standard & Premium cruise lines will charge extra for alcohol, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions, dining in specialty restaurants, etc. The staterooms on luxury vessels will be larger, have more amenities, will have luxurious baths and will have balconies without paying an up charge from a standard ocean view stateroom to a balcony stateroom. In fact the balcony stateroom on a luxury cruise line may be comparable to a suite on the Standard or Premium cruise line.
Avoid a shock on the last day of your cruise when the bill is slipped on to your stateroom door. You may find that what you have spent for alcohol, soft drinks, water, specialty restaurants, shore excursions and have spent in the casino and spa totals as much as you paid for the cruise itself. If you know you will drink a lot, purchase the unlimited alcohol package. Purchase the soft drink package and bottled water package rather than paying as you go if you know that you will consume a fair amount.
Shore excursions can now be purchased in advance by going on the cruise line website, selecting and booking the excursions you want. However, shore excursions can also be purchased in advance by clicking on the shore excursion link on this website. You will find that the cost for the same excursions with the same tour operators is considerably less expensive than purchasing the tours through the cruise line.
When not purchasing a luxury cruise, the basic price of your cruise includes accommodations, room service, food and beverage, taxes and fees, nightly entertainment, use of the fitness center, etc. There may be 7-10 restaurants on a ship, but you may only eat in some of them without a surcharge. Shops are a great value because they are duty free, but those nickels & dimes still add up. And then there are the art auctions, the casinos, massages, spa treatments, Bingo, wine tastings and gratuities.
Pre-pay your gratuities so you have a fixed rate usually less than $10.00 per person per day. You will pay a lot more if you pay the gratuities on the ship. Select the cruise line that is your best fit. Read “Cruises #101” and then the “Questions to Ask” and you will be well prepared to select the right vessel for you.
Now that you we’ve shown you where to look to decide which cruise line is best for you and you now know the what to look for when deciding on your best cruise vacation; why would you delay in booking?
Call us today at 561-625-8807 to book your best cruise vacation for Individuals or Groups.
The Best Way to Visit Europe!
The best way to visit the capitals of Europe is on a River or Barge Cruise. Motor Coach trips have you packing and unpacking as you check in and out of different hotels each evening. River cruises, like ocean cruises, move you from city to city unpacking only once. The newer river vessels are as modern as the new ocean vessels with several differences. They are much smaller averaging approximately 70 – 150 passengers and there is absolutely no motion. The newer vessels have “French Balconies” enabling passengers to feel the excitement as the vessel cruises past the cities and castles.
River Cruises navigate most of the major waterways of Europe as well as other rivers of the world such as the Nile, the Amazon, The Mississippi, the Columbia and the rivers of China and Asia. We cruised the Danube and the Elbe and docked in major cities like Budapest, Vienna and Prague as well as smaller cities like Dresden Passau and Melk. The entire trip was marked by phenomenal scenery in every direction and great time ashore. These vessels stop in the heart of the city and so much is within easy walking distance. Some river cruise lines include a shore excursion at each stop and all offer them as options. Because these cruises are all-inclusive, they are far less expensive than independent travel and you have ready access to experienced guides throughout the trip.
Barging is yet another unique experience. As with the river, barges traveling throughout the canals of Europe were a major avenue for moving goods from the rural agricultural areas to the major cities. These barges were originally powered by horses that walked along both sides of the canals. The barges left only an inch or two on each side between the barge and the canal walls. Today’s barges are powered and designed for comfort and range from 4 passengers to 30 depending on the canal. Because they are small, they are intimate very much like chartering a yacht for the ocean. They have their own crew, Captain and chef. They move only a few miles per hour so passengers can step off at any time onto the former horse paths. Simply grab one of the bicycles, ride into a small village and then catch up with the barge and board again.
Meetings, Incentives & Groups
Both the river cruises and the barge cruises are perfect for individual or group corporate incentives or for charter. Planners who think out of the box and are looking for something different should look into these options. Family groups and simply groups of friends find the barge cruises offers a “private” vacation that gives them the advantage of influencing the trip. We recommend European Barging for your European River and Barge Cruises. Click here to inquire about European river and barge cruises. It is important to use Promo Code #EURO1 when calling or using the online form.
When Should I Book?
Shore Excursions should be booked prior to boarding your cruise ship whenever possible. A few years ago it was not possible to book shore excursions in advance, but today’s technology now makes this possible. As a result, many individuals and groups now pre-book their excursions. That in turn results in the most popular excursions being sold out by the time you board and go to the Shore Excursion Desk. This is particularly true of Alaskan cruises because seeing Alaska almost demands leaving the port of call for trips by seaplane, helicopter, river raft, motor coach, or deep-sea fishing and whale watching, etc. The ports of call are themselves interesting, but there is nothing like boarding a small plane that lands on the glacial lake for a salmon bake onshore. Shore Excursions can be booked directly with the cruise line or through independent operators.
Why Use an Independent Operator for Shore Excursions?
Independent shore excursion operators use the same ground handlers that are used by the cruise lines. The difference is that their pricing tends to be considerably lower. Their sites are also more easily maneuvered than the cruise line sites. Because these operators use the same ground vendors, their tours are often identical. What IS missing is another layer of profit added by the cruise lines. Prior to booking your shore excursion through the cruise line, you owe it to yourself to review and compare the two resources, by clicking here. Another major benefit is that you are provided with a toll free number and someone to speak with. It is one thing to view the tour descriptions and another entirely to be able to speak with an experienced tour agent and ask questions. Many times planning the vacation is as much fun as the trip itself. Take the time to explore all of the things you can do in your ports of call by viewing our link to Port Promotions.
Why Book Shore Excursions At All?
There are some ports that offer plenty of activities to enjoy on your own. Most passengers end up shopping. One caution regarding shopping; all ships offer Duty Free Shopping onboard. Pricing onboard is often lower and the quality is usually superior and comes with a guarantee. Shore excursions are certainly not a necessity. This is certainly true in the Caribbean where ships often spend a full day on a private island. For many, a day on the beach is all that is needed and is often a major highlight of a cruise. But if you want to go deep-sea fishing, diving, jet skiing, golfing or on a snorkeling trip, it is good to book in advance. Booking shore excursions is certainly recommended in South America, in Europe and in any location where you do not speak the language. However, prior to booking any shore excursion, make sure that they are not already included in your cruise rate. Many of the luxury cruise lines tend to include some shore excursions or even excursions in every port as part of your cruise cost. The same is true of certain River Cruises in Europe.