Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cruisin' for a Deal- Part One

Cruises can be an incredible and thrifty way to travel. However, a great deal on a cruise can quickly turn into a blown budget if you aren't careful. Here are some tips that we have learned through the three cruises we have taken. Since I have a lot to say about this subject, it will be split into two postings.

Ground Transportation to/from the Ship
Pay attention to how far the port is from the airport and check into ground transportation before you book. The shuttle or other transportation arranged by the cruiseline is not usually the best deal. When we cruised out of Rome the port was actually over 50 kilometers away from town. We did some research and figured out how to take a train from central Rome to the port town, which worked great, allowed us to see the countryside and get the local flavor. It's also a good thing we did our research before our cruise out of Orlando. Turns out the port is 45 miles from the airport. We did two one-way car rentals and ended up spending much less than if we had taken a taxi or booked one of the shuttles provided by the cruiseline.

As you will find in later posts, my husband and I HATE to check luggage. The same goes for cruises. If you have large bags that you can't carry on, you must leave them when you get on the ship and they are brought to your room at some point later that day or even that night. Then when you leave the ship, you have to leave the suitcases outside of your room the evening before, and once you're off the ship you must find them in a large room full of luggage. When you carry-on, you have access to all of your stuff right away. You can also leave the ship whenever you want to during the disembarkation process rather than waiting for your "luggage group" to be called.

All food (unless you go to a "specialized" restaurant available on some ships) is included. That means you don't need to be shy. If two appetizers on the menu at dinner look good, get both! If you can't decide between the lobster and the duck entree, get both! You see where I'm going with this. We have also found that the food at the sit-down restaurants is a lot better than the food at the buffets. Try to grab some to-go food to bring ashore with you. I usually took a couple apples, bananas, and some little boxes of cereal from the breakfast buffet before we left the ship. That can help you save on snacks later when you're off the ship. If you're in port for an entire day and it's easy to get on/off of the ship, go back to the ship for lunch. Remember, you already paid for the food.

In my next post I will cover shore excursions, drinks, and a few other topics. Stay tuned!

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