CRUISES

CRUISE DEAL OR CRUISE SCAM?

ferry-boat-123059__180Are you getting a great cruise deal or are you being scammed?  As part of my constant search for great deals, I get dozens for cruise deals every week.  What I try to determine, before passing them on is, is that really a deal or not.  Buy one get one half off, cruise discounts of 50% to 90% or free shipboard credit.  Most of these cruise deals look very good on the surface but, when you take a closer look, you may find it’s not such a good deal after all.  Here are some of the things to look for to help you make this determination.

Discounts Off the Brochure Price

Would you like 50% off the brochure fare, how about 75%.  The first thing in many peoples mind is’ (yes, yes a thousand times yes).  But wait a minute, exactly 75% off of what?  Some cruise lines use the brochure fare while others may use a mythical fare only used in the add.  Others may inflate prices so they can offer a big discount later. The bottom line is that a cruise fare could mean anything.  It could be a price no one has ever paid for that particular cruise.  The real question here is, “Is this a price I am willing to pay for this cruise?”  Percentage off fares may also not always be the rock bottom price you are looking for but they still can be a well discounted price.

BOGO (Buy one get one)

One common offer I see practically daily is, buy one get one half off.  This is essentially just another way of offering a discount.  It does not take a math expert to figure out that a second fare at half off the $1,000 fare is really just 2 fares at $750.  Once you determine the actual price per person (and remember 3rd or 4th person per room is discounted even further) you can decide if the fare is one you are willing to pay.

Free Airfare or Hotel

These are common on luxury cruises.  This deal is attractive as airfare and hotel can be a significant add on to the cruise expense.  The first thing you will learn about these deals is that they only offer fares from specific airports, usually from major cities.  Other cities will be at an additional charge.  If you need to fly out from a smaller city, you will most like have to pay.  Many experienced cruisers opt out of these airfare packages as they could get a credit for not using the air or hotel.  It is often possible and even probable that, if you are a savvy shopper, you can get better prices yourself.  When I took my family on an Alaskan cruise, I declined the airfare provided by the cruise line and found a much better deal myself.

Kids Sail Free

Kids sale free offers are very tempting as this looks to be a significant discount.  The first thing you need to know about these deals is that they refer to the 3rd and 4th passengers in a room (which is usually already severely discounted).  If wanted to put the kids in a connecting room next door, you will have to pay full fare.  Also the cheaper rooms on some ships do not offer births for a 3rd or 4th passenger requiring you to upgrade to a more expense room.  Finally, you should be aware that, even of free fares, the passenger may still need to pay for taxes and gratuities.  When this is compared to the deep discounts for already given for 3rd and 4th passengers, you may find that you are not getting much of a discount at all.

The take home from all this is whether the deal is one you are willing to pay or not.  Cruise agents are usually very good about giving you the “out the door” cost if you ask.  You should definitely ask.   Once again, do your research.  It may take a little time but could lead to big savings on your trip.

See my article about ship board credit for further details on those discounts.

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