Tips for saving money on a cruise? (first time booking)
My future wife and I will be cruising for the first time in August (6th). I have already put a deposit on a cruise by booking directly with Carnival. I know there are alot of websites out there that you can book cruises on (hotwire, xpedia, etc...) but I am not really sure how it works or if there are any disadvantages to not booking through the cruise company.
How do most of you guys/gals book your cruises?
Do you have any suggested cruise agents or companies? If so, how much can I expect to save by booking through them?
In the event of a hurricane (going to the Carribean) does the ship just go somewhere else or will they cancel it? How about if the hurricane is in the port of departure (Miami in my case)? Is insurance recommended and what advantages does it provide?
I have soooo many questions and am very excited to have found this site. I look forward to your responses and I think this site will be a very valuable resource.
Can't wait to go on my first cruise!
Hi, I have never booked directly with the Carnival website. I use my "cruise guy" Morrie Frazier who has a CruiseOne franchise out of Clovis CA. I think he always gets me a better price than what I see offered on any website.
As far as hurricanes go, I am no help, I have only cruised off the west cost.
I always get the travel insurance for two reasons. I have an elderly father-in-law who has health problems and I want to be able to be with him if I need. The other reason is that I have three children and they can be so unpredictable that insurance is just the way I want to go! Better safe than sorry I say!
I have been on 2 cruises the first I booked through a company called Cruise800.com and the last one I went straight through Carnival, I am also booked again with Carnival.
With Crusie800 they hold "regular" business hours, Carnival you can get 24-7. Also our rate dropped and we had alot of trouble getting an adjustment through Crusie800, when our rate changed Carnival had no problem adjusting the rate. I have checked many companies and Carnival always had the same rate or a little better.
As far as the insurance goes I have cruised twice and didn't have it either time, we have been lucky and not needed it. We always do our on air, so to keep from getting into trouble by a late or missed flight we go a day early. You can tell the people on the ship who had to get an early flight, they turn in real early the first day.
We were on the Fascination last year and missed our stop in Cozumel, changed it and we did Nassau instead. We spoke to many people in Key West on RCCL and they were going ahead and doing Cozumel. We never knew there was a hurricane looming out there!!!!
we have always booked with a travel agent i like it when a ta handles
everything and if i have any question ican just call here we cruise
a week after hurricane they change a port of call because there was damage to one of port we were going to
Thanks for the responses. Based on what I have heard, I think I will also not get the vacation insurance. That is alot of money that could be applied to shore excursions.
I could understand how the rate change may be an issue. I think I am going to wait until about 2 weeks before my payment to Carnival is due in full before booking with any third party. This would ensure I get the lowest rate while still having the piece of mind thta I have already put a deposit on my room through Carnival.
Any other money saving tips???
Can't wait to go on my first cruise!
I've booked two of my last three cruises using Cruise Compete on this site. You can get to it under Cruise Shopping. I've gotten great deals which have included a free upgrade to an ocean view cabin, on board credits and free insurance.
I have to disagree about the insurance. I wouldn't travel without it. If something happens you have insurance to cover you. If for some reason you can't go on your cruise (such as a hurricane, bad weather, illness etc) and you don't have insurance you're out the money you paid for the cruise. If you go to insuremytrip.com you can find several options at various prices. Keep in mind if you're flying to your port you should go in the day before in case there are any flight delays. If you're late the ship will not wait for you and its up to you to get to your next port of call (another good reason for insurance).
We were in the Gulf last year when Hurricane Katrina hit. Instead of going back to Tampa we were rerouted to Ft. Lauderdale. In cruising during hurricane season you can get some good deals, but you need to keep in mind you might end up with a changed itinerary, more sea days, less days in cruise if the ship gets back in late, or, like us, debarkationin a different port. If the cruise is cancelled all together you'll either get your money back or get a credit for a future cruise.
Have a great time.
Celebrity Century 1/09
Carnival Destiny 10/07
Carnival Destiny 9/06
Monarch of the Seas 3/06
Carnival Inspiration 8/05
Carnival Miracle 4/05
Carnival Inspiration 4/04
Sovereign of the Seas 4/03
omatis - not buying travel insurance is a HUGE mistake.There are so many "what ifs" to consider. What if you have to cancel your cruise after final payment has been made? Without insurance you are out of luck. What happens if your bags get lost? The biggest reason to buy insurance is for medical evacuation. What if you or someone you are traveling with gets injured or sick and need to be evacuated off the ship? This costs thousands of dollars.
You need to purchase: trip cancellation/interuption and medical evacuation coverage. You also need to contact your current health provider to see if you are covered on the cruise, some plans do, some do not.
As for the price issue - post your trip on the bargain finder section on these boards, you will get price quotes from quite a few very reputable travel agents. Dealing with a travel agent is a good idea especially for first-timers, most agencies will meet or beat competitors offers.
Even my wife who is otherwise known as "Queen La Cheapa" agrees that it isn't worth it to cruise without the insurance. It isn't the cancellation or baggage coverage that makes insurance worth it. It is the medical and evacuation policies that are the most important. You don't have to be an older person to become injured or ill. I know some young people who have had it happen to them. One is a moderator of this board.
If you are sick or injured in a foreign country it is expensive. You could easily lose over $10,000 on one injury or illness and medical evacuation from the ship or another country is multiple times that amount. Unless you know that your own insurance covers you, and not many do, it isn't worth the gamble not to have it.
__________________ Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator
"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
I agree with going to the insuremytrip website. We did and got the basic trip cancellation type insurance for 2 adults, our 2 kids were free! I think it was only US$95! As Mike said-make sure you have good out of country medical coverage.
Do try the Cruisecompete feature here. Although I did not book with it yet, it is worth seeing what different agents are selling the same cruise for.
There is lots of info here at CM to read before booking a cruise. Example:does the agency charge any extra cancellation fees, agency fees, document shipping fees, ?etc. Lots to be learned here.
Enjoy planning your first cruise!
NCL Jewel March 14/08(Southern Caribb.)VALOR Jan. 7 /07(Western Caribb. again!)
VALOR Jan/05-our first family cruise was great!
Definately, Definately, Definately get that insurance. If you miss a flight, or you fly in late and miss your cruise, you are covered. Any medical mishaps is completely covered under this meesly $100 insurance. If you miss the ship on an island, it pays X amt to get you to the next island. Of course your baggage and that is included. I however on my carryon carry one swimsuit with some shorts, shirt and thongs so if my baggage gets lost, I will be covered for activities on the ship.
You will be sorry if something happens and you didn't purchase it!!
Ok, after reading all the posts, I think I changed my mind. I didnt know the medical stuff was included and I thought the insurance woudl be much more expensive than it is. I was thinking a few hundred dollars). I definetly dont want to mess up my honeymoon...plus, my future wife always makes fun of me because she says I'm cheap. I cant imagine what woudl happen if we had to miss our honeymoon because of my "cheapness."
Also, I checked out the cruisecompete site. I think it is pretty good too. I got around 5 quotes from different insurance agents and they all seemed pretty competitive. Tomorrow I am going to call them all.
Can't wait to go on my first cruise!
Unless you have a Visa card with an unlimited credit limit...I would get the travel insurance. Anyone can fall and break a leg and have to be evacuated off the ship or be injured while on land. You sure wouldn't want to start your new life together in debt for around $30,000 to evacuate you by plane back to the US for a serious injury or illness. Also, before you can be evacuated off the ship, you have to have the available credit on your credit card to cover this expense.
The hospitals in some of the smaller islands look like our little Med One clinics in the United States. Not the place to have a serious operation. Travel insurance not only covers you in case of an injury, but provides hotel accomodations for your wife so she will be with you.
I know you hate to spend a couple of hundred of dollars on something you think you will never need, but you wouldn't drive your car without insurance ...would you? When you actually look at what the insurance covers, it's really a good deal.
Have a wonderful Honeymoon!!!!!!!!
Yeah, I really wouldnt want to start our marriage with a huge debt!!
I got one more question for you...I am planning on booking my own flight. Since I am getting married on Saturday, the only day I can depart is Sunday. Therefore, I cant leave a day early like everyone suggests.
I plan on leaving as early as possible. The earliest arrival I can find is 12:00 (My ship boarding times are 130-330). If my flight is delayed 3 hours, I will miss my ship!! This makes me really nervous. If this did happen, what would the insurance cover?
1) A total refund of my cruise?
2) A flight to the next port?
3) A flight to the next port and some extra cash for the inconvenience?
I promise, this is my last question! You have all been vvvvveeerrrryyyy helpful.
Can't wait to go on my first cruise!
The last two cruises my wife and I have taken to the Western Carribean, we made unplanned stops at Jamaica to allow a very sick individual to be taken off so they could be airlifted back to the states. Without trip insurance - those people would be looking at a major expense.
I go to insuremytrip.com, obtain the perfect trip insurance, and I travel without having to worry about paying for the what ifs. A responsible individual obtains trip insurance, and budgets for it.
As to booking - I always thought that going through a TA was the best way to go. Not for my upcoming trip with Carnival. Not only did they knock the price down from the lowest one I had found, but they upgraded me two catagories for having cruised on Princess in the past. Not a bad deal. And as someone mentioned - you will be able to get Carnival just about anytime you want.
As to saving money - if you are a drinker - do all your drinking before you go on your cruise. Not only will you save an amazing amount of money by not buying drinks - but you will also remember your cruise.
In addition - I never go to the specialty resturants when I cruise. I figure the food on the ship is good enough - and if I want to spend 40 - 50 dollars for a specialty resturant - Fifty dollars can get me a pretty good meal at home at a very special resturant.
And to really save money - we always book an inside cabin. The savings are so substantial compared to a view or balcony room. No matter how fancy the room is - we all go to the same locations, eat the same food, win at the same casino, and laugh at the same lame jokes at the cabaret.
ESS,If you do all these things to save money why bother to go on a cruise.You might as wellstay home with no expense.believe there are many other ways to save money without depriving one of the many joys of cruising.
I enjoy the great food on a ship without having to spend even more money on an additional meal. If one can't find something wonderful to eat either at the buffet or at the dining room for dinner - then they are a fussy eater indeed. I think to spend money for a cruise - and then to pay an additional 40 - 50 dollars for an additional meal for two is a waste of money.
A drink or two on the cruise won't break anyone. But when I speak to individuals or read that they have a larger booze tab than their room bill - something is out of whack. Furthermore - looking at the condition of those cruisers - I know they aren't going to remember much about their cruise!
As to getting an inside cabin - I am only in my cabin to sleep and shower. I actually enjoy ships with large numbers of balcony cabins - more room for me all over the ship while people are sitting on their tiny balconies.
Perhaps it is that we have worked part time at our own business for the past 14 years, and I go on at three vacations a year for about 8 -10 weeks a year that I don't consider doing without a few minor things a hardship and a reason to stay home. I understand that for some - a cruise is the culmination of a lifetime of dreams, and they are going to blow the wad. For me - it is just one of many activities I engage in every year, When I am getting off the boat - I am planning my next cruise or trip back to Europe, Mexico or Hawaii which generally will take place within four months As a matter of fact - my next next cruise will follow a trip that I am taking to Eastern Europe. I am maximizing the frequent flier miles that I have earned - thus no extra airfare to get to the ship which is on the other side of the country from my residence
That is my philosophy - some can disagree with it - but I have managed to go on 6 cruises and also visit almost 30 countries during the past 14 years. My longest trip during that time was a three month journey across Europe to the Middle east - and - and guess what - no bar tab!!
If your looking to save money on your cruise and you do book through carnival and if you are in the military are was in the military ask about the military discount they offer. I know it saved almost five hundred dollars for a family of 4 for our cruise
It is true about the military discount, but they only have a certain amount per cruise. But be sure to ask because they dont advertise these discounts at all! My friend saved $600 on her next cruise! Wish we were able to take advantage of this discount!
I ended up booking through a cruise agent and got a "inside guarantee."
I also booked my airfaire through Orbitz for almost half of what I could get it through Carnival. I found the Cruise Agent through CruiseCompete.com. This site was VERY helpful and I would highly recommend it. I even got a free 2 night 3 day hotel stay for free!!!
Booking through Carnival..
Cruise-N-More and Orbitz..
Insurance 108 (Cruise)
Insurance 27 (Air)
I am very happy about the savings. I am also able to chose my own flight details. Hopefully someone else can use this advice.
Can't wait to go on my first cruise!
I booked my Carnival Cruise through Costco travel and they saved me almost $300 per person from Carnivals best price. Also Cruise insurance was dirt cheap- $137 for 4 people- give them a call- it cant hurt.
I had the unfortunate experience of my sister passing away while on a cruise to the Carribean. It was totally unexpected as, 56 yrs old, and it was not related to any activity we were doing.
We had purchased the insurance actually by accident. Our main reason we had considered it was incase we were delayed and missed embarkation. Then we decided to fly into the port city and spend the night before sailing. When we went final with the cruise we had forgotten to exclude the ins.
Thank God we did. It not only paid for her body to be returned to the US but since the death was unexpected we could not get her returned till an autopsy was done. The ins paid for the autopsy, and the pathologist (who was US trained), returning her body to US, some of my and the other passengers expenses and refund of part of the cruise cost since we had to get off the ship.It also paid for all of the services that had to be done at the funeral home before she could be returned.
I also know that because of the ins we were able to schedule a "private" autopsy which was done in 2 days vs a 6 week wait to get it scheduled. I wasn't leaving until she was also being put on the plane so 6 weeks would have been impossible for me to stay, plus I just wanted to get us home to our family asap. All of this would have been a huge amout without the ins.
You do NOT want the experience of needing any medical care in a nation that does not have the facilities we do here in the US. It would not have done my sister any good (she had passed before we got to shore) but when they put her in the ambulance to go to a hospital there was NOTHING. It was a van with a stretcher. If you need serious medical care you need to get back to the states unless you are in a country that has prime medical facilities.
I will add that the American Consulate and the Jamaican local police and the funeral home director (who plays a much bigger part in the process than in US) were wonderful and a huge help in such a distressing time.
Spend the money for the insurance if you need it you will be thankful, if you don't then count your blessings.
We use Travelex Ins. also. One ? though, if you book through places like BestPrice, etc., what if you book so far in advance and the price drops?? My Rep from Carnival will give me the lower price or an upgrade or shipboard credit. Will the other companies do that? Just curious. Someone also send if you book through the ship and do the guarantees you will get the better cabins? Any truth to that.?? Thanks!
Carnival Dream March 2010
Carnival Freedom Feb. 2009
RC Grandeur of the Seas Oct. 2009
Carnival Liberty March 2008
RC Adventures of the Sea Feb. 2007
Carnival Liberty March 2006
Enchantment of the Seas June 2004
Monarch of the Seas March 2003
The Big Red Boat March 1997
I have to agree insurance is a must. We have been on 7 cruises and only used the insurance once. It was last year and we were out during Hurican Wilma. Had a great time but was delayed back to port 2 days. We had 2 cabins one for us and one for the kids. Carnival offered us the turn-around cruise for $100 per person (included 2 cabins) and because Miami was without power and no flight we took it. Ports had been changed for both cruise but it was a great cruise. Paid for a 4 day cruise and got a 9 day cruise. Insurance paid that $100 per person ($400) and carnival gave us a $50 per person on board credit which was used mostly for the gratiuties and since we didn't spend it all we got a check from carnival at the end of the second cruise.
Wilma was a nightmare, and I wish I had bought insurance for that trip.
I ended up paying an extra $500.00 in Hotel bills (we got gouged by the Marriott for $267.00 one night and they didn't even have electricity) and another 150.00 for meals. We got stuck in Ft Lauderdale for an 3 extra days, and then our embarkation port changed to Miami, so we had to get to Miami on a $90.00 shuttle. All of these expenses were covered by insurance, I just didn't buy any insurance. my mistake!!
I don't mind cruising during hurricane season, however, from now on I will always buy insurance if I am cruising between August 1st and October 31st.
After reading all of this I too, have decided to get cruise insurance. I went to insuremytrip.com and was overwhelmed by all of the companies and policies. Can someone please tell me what sort of basic insurance to go with? go with the cheapest? go with the mid range cost? It is intimidating trying to understand all that stuff!