|One of the attractions of a cruise is that the cost of your ticket includes almost everything from accommodation and dining in the lido (buffet) and dining room to entertainment and onboard activities.
What is not usually included, however, are the transfers between the airport and the ship, mandatory port charges, dining in the alternative, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, beverages and gratuities. It is wise to do some research on the cruise line web sites to determine what their specific extra charges are and what they recommend for tipping, so that you may work these figures into your final budget.
Given the basic concept of cruise ticket pricing, the most influential consideration to affect your final bill is the type of cruise line you choose.
The more expensive cruise lines of the luxury class, such as Silversea, Seabourn, Windstar, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Hebridean International Cruises and Cunard naturally come with a higher price tag, but very often offer savings such as no charge for onboard beverages.
Premium cruise lines like Celebrity, Princess, Holland America Line, Orient Line and Princess Cruises are more expensive than the “value” cruise lines but offer service of a higher quality.
The cheapest deals are to be found with cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.
The next most influential consideration to affect your final bill is the timing of your booking. Some cruise lines offer incentives to book early with the promise of possible upgrades in which case the advantage is not necessarily one of cost but of quality. Other cruise lines offer last minute deals, particularly on itineraries that do not sell out immediately, or at the end of a season in any particular area. The advantage here is definitely one of cost, but you may have to be flexible about when you are ready to travel.
But there are also other considerations that may make a difference in the ticket price.
The first is the type and location of your cabin. You can choose between the cheaper alternatives of inside cabins (with no windows or portholes) and cabins on the lowest decks of the ship, to the more attractive, and expensive, staterooms on the upper decks which have ocean views or balconies.
To make things even more confusing, and to help the cost conscious, there are two alternatives to your regular ticket pricing called "category guarantee" or "run of ship".
The Category Guarantee ticket saves money but does not guarantee a particular cabin or stateroom at the time of booking. The cruise line will assign the cabin shortly before the cruise. The advantage is that some cruise lines advertise the possibility of an upgrade if you chose this option.
A Run of the Ship ticket guarantees neither cabin nor category. You may be allocated an inside cabin on the lower decks, or by the same token, a suite with a balcony on the upper decks. It’s a gamble that may pay off financially
Whatever the alternatives, as always when purchasing a large ticket item, it pays to do your research, not only to find the best deal to suit your pocket, but to make sure that the deal matches the type of cruise you want.
All Rights Reserved 2008 © Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine - free cruise magazine and resource cruise guide packed with news on cruises, cruising, cruise lines, commentary on the cruise industry by top cruise line executives, recipes and cuisine tips from cruise line chefs, medical tips for cruise passengers, and suggestions on suitable books on cruising and travel.