|10 ways to save money when cruising
Many agents advise their clients to book their air
travel with the cruise line, because doing it on your own can be
risky. If you book through the cruise line and you miss the boat,
the cruise line has a responsibility to get you to the ship. If
you book on your own, you are literally on your own.
If you do book your flight on your own, seriously
consider purchasing a travel insurance policy that will reimburse
you for your costs if you have to catch up with your ship once it
has left port.
2. Look at
nearby ports. The days when cruise ships only sailed from
Florida and California are long over, says Entin. "These days
the cruise companies sail out of so many different ports that it
is much easier to find a port near you," she says. "I've
taken a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Bayonne, N.J., that is much
more convenient to me than going out of New York."
Other out-of-the-way embarkation points include Galveston,
Texas, and New Orleans. Flights to those and other less well-known
ports may be cheaper, especially during the holiday season, than
other more well-known ports such as Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and
Vancouver, British Columbia.
3. Check up
on shore excursions. Many travelers look forward to the variety
of exotic ports of call on a cruise and generally turn to the shore
excursions sponsored by the cruise companies. But by doing some
homework before you leave, you can figure out exactly what you want
to do when you're in port and book your own shore excursions for
considerably less by cutting out the middleman -- the cruise line.
Many travel agents offer reports on the ports of call
that highlight the various attractions and the best way to get around.
"Our port reports tell you all sorts of things from what you'd
expect to pay for a taxi to where the best shops are," says
Eggers. "This kind of information gives you the insider knowledge
to make wiser decisions."
You can get the same information from many tourist
guides, such as the Lonely Planet or Let's Go series of travel books,
he says, although port reports may be a bit more up to date. Thomas
agrees, saying that once you've figured out what you want to do,
you can contact the vendors listed in a travel book or port report
and make direct arrangements yourself either by phone or on the
4. Shop wisely.
Many travelers spend lots of time shopping at ports of call. "My
No. 1 piece of advice for shopping is to know the cost of what you
want before you leave home," he says. "If it's a deal,
go ahead and buy it, but otherwise you may be able to get it for
the same price at home."
Eggers says that some cheaper electronics from the
so-called "gray market" are not black-market goods, but
don't carry the same warranties that you'd get on U.S. products.
For example, you could get a digital camera in the Caribbean for
a great price, but it may be a Japanese model not sold in the United
States. So if you have a problem with it when you get home, there
is no warranty coverage.
Haggling is acceptable and even expected at many ports
of call, especially in the Caribbean, Thomas says. "Even a
simple clay pot may start at $20, but you have to realize that the
price is not really the price," he says. "Smart shoppers
are expected to bargain, and it is not considered an insult to do