When it comes to
taking a cruise, your spending doesn't end when you've
booked the trip. Lots of cruise-related expenses have
the potential to bust your budget, from the flight to
your embarkation point to drinks on the cruise to shore
excursions. So-called add-on expenses can equal or exceed
the cost of your cruise if you're not careful.
"The trend is for some cruise lines
to offer relatively low prices to get people on the
ship and then hit them with cash fees for little expenses
here and there that after a week can really add up,"
says Eileen Entin, owner of Diamond Cruise and Travel
in Hightstown, N.J.
Jeffrey Miller, an attorney and cruise
industry consultant, agrees, saying, "Everything
on the ship is a profit center for the cruise line,
so it's up to you to keep your expenses in check."
keep your spending under control, follow these
|Save when cruising
Book your own flight.
Most cruises offer a complete
package including airfare to and from your home city.
While such a package offers the convenience of not having
to book your own flight or worry about how to get from
the airport to the cruise ship, that convenience comes
at a cost.
"Cruise lines buy their airfare packages
in bulk from the airlines a year in advance so the price
you get through the cruise line doesn't vary throughout
the year like normal airline pricing does," says
Evan Eggers, president of SureCruise.com.
"Sometimes the prices are lower than the open market,
but for someone keeping a good eye on airfares and checking
the discount sites it will generally be higher."
If you book your own flight, leave a big
cushion between when your flight arrives in your port
city and when the cruise actually embarks so you can
get to the ship. In some locales, such as Fort Lauderdale,
Fla., the port is a quick ride from the airport. But
in other places, such as Southampton, England, the airport
is a good two hours away from the port, Eggers says.
The cost of the taxi or shuttle
ride from the airport to the port is included in cruise-line
booked fares, but if you book your own flight, you have
to factor in that cost both ways. There is also the
risk that if your flight is delayed for some reason,
you may miss your embarkation.