I can say without hesitation that the best overall vacation a person can take is cruise vacation. My first cruise a few years ago made me forever a cruise enthusiast and addict. It is great way to see different parts of the world all in one trip and only have to unpack one time.
A cruise can also be one of the most affordable ways to "get away" from it all. Notice though that I said it “can be.” A cruise can be extremely affordable if you understand what is involved with a cruise and know what costs are above and beyond the advertised cruise fare. That is my purpose with this post. It is not to sell you on cruising as a form of vacation, but it is to help you understand all costs involved.
In some of my previous “travel tips of the week” episodes, I have addressed different aspects of cruise vacations such as excursions, which cruise to select and even cabin selection, but I have yet to address the topic of understanding cruise costs. If you are a first time cruiser, you need to know what the TOTAL cost of the cruise will be.
So first of all, unless you live within driving distance of a cruise port, you will need to add airfare to your cruise cost. Airfare will naturally vary depending on where you are flying from and to so make sure you look into the cost of your flight before making a decision on a certain cruise.
Second, assuming you will be flying to the city where your cruise will begin, you will need to add in the cost of getting from the airport to the pier. These costs are called “transfers.” Again these costs will vary depending on which pier you cruise out of. Some port cities have airports very close to the pier so the costs are less while others (like Port Canaveral) are at least 45 minutes to an hour away from the closest airport and costs will be higher in that case. Transfer costs also vary depending on the type of transfer you choose. Some like to hop in a cab and use taxis for their transfers while other vacationers prefer something like a private SUV or car service, which will add to the costs. You will have a variety of options when it comes time to pick your transfer, but make sure you get those costs factored in again before you decide on a particular cruise.
Third, I always recommend for my clients who are flying into a port city to fly in the day before the scheduled cruise departure date. That will give some flexibility to the schedule in case of flight delays. The last thing you want to do is schedule a flight in on the departure day of your cruise and then hope everything goes according to plan. The cruise will leave even if you are not on board on time so give your self some space for error and arrive the day before. So with that said, you should also then add in the cost of a pre-cruise hotel stay. I will again not give any pricing info since hotel costs are so varied from city to city.
Fourth and finally, you should always consider adding trip insurance to the cost of your vacation. A cruise line will usually not offer you any form of a refund if for some reason you need to cancel your trip at the last minute. Trip insurance can offer that extra peace of mind after you make that final payment for your trip. Again…make sure you understand this...the cruise line will leave without you. If something delays your flight or comes up at the last minute that keeps you from getting to the pier on time, you will NOT be able to convince that cruise line captain to wait just for you or your family. Cruise insurance, depending on the carrier and the policy purchased, can help you out when the unforeseen happens so make sure you consider it and calculate it is to the total cost of your cruise.
I hope I am helping you see that there are external costs that have to be added in so that you understand the true cost of a cruise vacation. In future posts, I will be addressing more about the costs of a cruise including costs that someone can incur once the ships leaves the pier and the vacation begins so please stay tuned...