cruise tips?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by SgtPeppers, Nov 17, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. SgtPeppers
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    SgtPeppers Silver Member

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    Hi everyone, there had been lot of discussion on airlines and cars and credit cards....

    Does anyone have any tips on hacking cruise travel? I'm thinking of booking/gifting a cruise trip to my wife for December 2012, tips on cruise trip.
     
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  2. deant
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    Numerous good discount cruise companies online. First thing you need to do is figure what cruise you want to take. Do you want a large mega ship with lots of entertainment or do you want a small ship that is more "social". Once you have figured out which line, itinerary and date you want to go then I would start with a web site like www.cruisecompete.com . I have also had good luck with other online agencies also......but the key is that you MUST know what you want.
     
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  3. malikguy

    malikguy Silver Member

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    I agree with deant, but also, I'd like to recommend booking your cruise directly with the cruise operator once you've found what you want. Carnival for example offers an Early Saver rate where if the cruise rate decreases between when you book and when you cruise, they will lower the rate on your fare to match the new price. Don't critisize this either, because I've saved hundreds of dollars by doing this, lol. You just need to check back on their website often to see if the rate has decreased. Also, most of the time, the larger cruise operators offer "lowest price" guarantees, so if you somehow do manage to find a lower price on a brokering site or agency, they will match that price. There are other benefits to booking directly with the cruise operator, but that's for another thread. ;)
     
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  4. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I've spent countless hours trying to hack this sector without much success. I disagree malikguy (sorry). It is generally known in the cruising world that you hardly ever get the best deal directly with the cruise line. In my experience I search for the cruises that we take through the vacationstogo website, listen to podcasts such as cruise cast, cruise radio, etc. look up booking info, cabin info on the cruise critics website. Although I don't advertise for anyone I have gotten the best pricing through cruise.com for some odd reason. In addition to all that if your trying to get some miles or points from the purchase you can book through an airline or hotel cruise vacation portal. The cruise company credit cards aren't worth the plastic they are printed on. A few hotel chains offer cruise awards. I think Starwood and club Carlson, I forget but the award points needed aren't worth it. You can also get discount coupons through my coke rewards but the dates and sailings are limited. Typically you'll find the pricing across all sources to be fairly close so look for onboard credit. If you have a travel agent they also might have some deals that are unpublished since they could have a block of rooms, etc, but it still pays to know the pricing before you call them. Again I've had the best luck with cruise.com for some odd reason. In addition you can try to book through Costco as they do have some good deals but I still find cruise.com or the airline miles to be the best deal and can beat them. If you call the cruise line directly they say they can award airline miles and beat other deals but have yet to do that for me. Rest assured that if you see a good price on the cruiseline website ou can either beat the price, get miles or points in addition and/or get onboard credit. Also don't pay much attention to the "free upgrade" stuff. It means very little as the upgrades don't get you from say an inside cabin to an oceanview they just get you a minor change at best to better inside cabin location, etc.
     
  5. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    Hit the 90 day deals on vacationstogo.com
     
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  6. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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  7. curiousgeorge

    curiousgeorge Silver Member

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    What he said...cruise critic.......You have your cheerleaders and winers on every cruise company sections.....after a while you'll figure out who is what!
    take a short 3 or 4 or 5 day cruise from fl and get your feet wet so to speak. those are generally the most inexpensive I think and I don't think you'll find much difference to speak of in price but ymmv!
     
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  8. deant
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    Agree with everyone else that you should go go cruisecritic and look at the various forums. But the basic question still needs to be answered. Where do you want to go? Do you have a specific time (will limit what cruises are available)? Do you want a large or small ship? My wife and I have been on Celebrity, Oceania and Windstar. We did not like Celebrity because of the size of the ship (over 2,000 passengers). Oceania was good because we were on their "small" ships (about 800 passengers). But the cruise we enjoy the best, and have been on it 6 times, is Windstar. The smaller ships have 150 passengers and the large ship about 300. They are "powered sailing" ships. No significant entertainment at night, a small casino but very good service and food. With only 150 people on board, the crew gets to know you very rapidly and you also get to know the other passengers.

    Again, it is all in what you are looking for in a cruise. Also, don't be discouraged if you don't like the first cruise line you go on. Each line is different. Just make sure you do as much research on the line as possible before you book. Also, most online agencies will reduce the price if the cruise line offers a lower price down the road (typically up until final payment is due).
     
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  9. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    travelocity.com
    Try transition cruises......where Royal Caribbean will move a boat for Bahamas to Mediterranean.
    ex: Miami-Barcelona, Roma.........12 days $34/day.
     
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  10. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Sobore nailed it. Cruise-critic is the place for information.
    We have cruised about a dozen times over 5 different lines.

    First decide Where you want to go
    Then When you want to go.
    Check Vacationstogo.com for deals. And they will usually have what is the cheapest fare available. Most of the Cruise Agents will have the same rates within about $50. Vacationstogo also has a search engine for the different Categories of cabin. Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, and Suite. By using this Search Engine you may be able to find a better deal on a better cabin.
    Find an agent that may offer On Board Credit (OBC or SBC) usually starts at about $100 per cabin but may increase with the higher priced Cabins. (I have seen OBC of $500 for a balcony while only $50 for inside) Or look for other bennies from agents. Some bennies may be a free shore excursion, Free dinner in an extra Charge Restaurant, hotel before or after the cruise, or simply a bottle of cheap wine and strawberries (got this once) But those are all the extras.
    Again, you will find that most Cruise Travel agents will have the same bottom line price.
    Also prices will definitely change over time as the ship fills. We were looking at one in early January. The price for an oceanview ranged from a low of $399 ppp to a high of $649pp. Currently it is $449pp. We booked another ship for less going to better ports (according to my wife!)

    Cruise Critic will help a lot
     
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  11. deant
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    One of the things I have typically found is that vacationstogo best deals are for sailings within 90 days. For sailings beyond 90 days they often do not provide any significant discount. That is why I normally use cruisecompete to get some comparative pricing.
     
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  12. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    As in 2-6 weeks from now? Good luck unless you live near a cruise port from which you want to travel. From my experience,the best deals tend to be around 45 days out but I generally track costs starting about a year in advance on every similar cruise on the ship on which I want to travel and I book my airfare way in advance. If you have not been watching the prices and seen what other itineraries cost and when they bottomed out, it is very hard to guess when prices are likely to bottom out for your itinerary.

    If you wait too late the ship will sell out and it normally does so without much warning. December is a tricky month due to holidays and school breaks. It is often a very busy month for cruising.

    I always use cruisecompete and normally get 3-5 cruise-only agencies from whom I can check online pricing. I have found that prices on vacationstogo are the same as other agencies but the ones on cruisecompete are generally 10% lower. I never buy directly from the cruise line.

    Also, you don't say how often you have cruised in the past. It is important to note that the cost of the stateroom is not always the most expensive part of the cruise. Drinks, excursions, gambling, upgraded restaurants, tips, fitness and spa, and the like can seriously run up the bill if you are not careful.

    Ike
     
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  13. malikguy

    malikguy Silver Member

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    Didn't know about all this stuff! I've been on quite a few cruises and thought I had it all figured out, lol. I guess you learn something new everyday. Thanks for all of the tips and I will definitely put them to good use. :)

    One thing that I did think about is if you happen to have a Discover card and you are earning cash back rewards, you can get a pretty good discount on one of the major cruise operators (Carnival, Royal). If I'm not mistaken, you can redeem $60 of rewards for a $120 coupon off a 6 or 7+ day/night cruise book through Discover's partner travel agency.
     
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  14. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    It also helps to own (part of) the cruise line. Check out the amazing shareholder benefits for CCL and RCL. For someone like me who cruises 2-3 times a year, it's the investment that pays real dividends :)
     
  15. malikguy

    malikguy Silver Member

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    Very awesome, just bought 100 shares of each! :)
     
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  16. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Another Site for Cruise Deals that I have not had any experience with that some people say is a good site is CruiseShark.com. I have never been able to get anything to work. But some on Cruise Critic swear by it.

    Also note that Cruise Compete does require you to book at least once with one of the companies that send you a qoute, out of, I seem to remember, 8 inquiries.
     
  17. deant
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    Have never had that issue with Cruise Compete. If there is such an issue, just relist with you significant other's email.
     
  18. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    Cruise critic is great plus you can join/organize private tours.
    As for where to book, I have done online w/cruises only, direct w/cruise line and now w/travel agent who specializes on cruises. She called me to discuss what I like/don't like and more for an hour to give me options. she also looks for deals for me (I travel solo so try to avoid SS). She cruises 4-5xs a year and seems to have done it all vs. the online agencies, etc who are IMO order takers (at least my dealing were)
    Every line has different demographics and I tend to like European sailings on Celebrity/Royal or Princess. even w/2000 people I never felt it was crowded.
    my friend just started a cruise site for beginners called cruisestarter.com that has a good section to explain cruises
     
  19. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    I like to book direct with the cruise lines. This allows you to manage the booking online yourself. I can't speak for other lines cause I haven't had to deal with it yet, but with CCL you have to make any changes through the agency you booked your cruise with. In my case I booked a few cruises when Chase ran the 6x special on the cruises booked through their agency. I noticed a discrepancy on one of the bookings and CCL wouldn't even talk to me about the booking. All communication to CCL had to go through the agent that booked my cruise.
     
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  20. SgtPeppers
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    SgtPeppers Silver Member

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    Amazing... thank you everyone for these replies.
     
  21. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

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    I had a lot of success when I was on my last cruise getting "free" points utilizing the casino. Let me know if you're interested in how it works and I'll provide you with the directions! It's pretty simple but just takes a little time.
     
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  22. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    You can get a lot of freebies from the Casinos on the ships. However, the amount of play required is usually several times more than what a Cruise itself would cost. However, if you can afford the play, and enjoy it, one of the easiest ways to get freebies and discounted cruises is by gambling a LOT. I know on a couple of cruise lines, that in order to get free drinks you need a minimum of 2500 points earned to qualify (during the cruise) however, the amount of play to obtain 2500 points is about 6-10 hours at a table and play of about $6000 during that time. Lot of money to risk for free drinks.
    But I have read of people who have gambled about $30K of play. (not lost but gambled) and have been rewarded with a free cruise.
    Additionally, supposedly there are some "relationships" between the land based casinos and the ones on the ship. I haven't found out about them because I am not a gambler. But you can possibly finagle a cruise if you gamble enough at one of the land based Vegas Casinos. (although you would probably be offered better benefits in Las Vegas from the Casinos there, rather than they have you gambling on a cruise ship)
     
  23. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

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    I was talking more about using a credit card to earn points in a specific program, i.e. Ultimate Rewards, SPG, etc. It is also a great way to hit a minimum spend requirement. That is what I did when we needed to make our $5K spend on the Ink Bold.
     
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  24. Mikus33

    Mikus33 Silver Member

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    I'm interested. Heading out on a Christmas cruise with the family and I have a few cards to hit the spend on. I'm not too worried about making those minimum spends, but I'm definitely intrigued by the idea. Feel free to reply here or send me a PM. Thanks!
     
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  25. deant
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    deant Milepoint Guide

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    Most cruises will let you charge chips to your room, and get cash back when you cash in the chips. You can then pay your room with the CC.
     

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