Saving on travel, savvy travelers look for the best value on a Caribbean cruise, often focus on the lowest price, get it, and are absolutely sure they got the very best deal. A steal. The rock-bottom low price. Some might have spent hours online, finding the most aggressive Internet Cruise Broker to do business with. Others choose to have a cruise travel agent take care of all that for them. They watched for sales from the cruise line, looked for bonus offers they might qualify for and even used their cruise line-branded credit card to buy, getting double points for booking. They are smart, savvy, intelligent buyers who know what they are doing and always get the best deal.
But then those buyers drop the ball.
Regardless of how we plan and book travel, making a booking and paying a deposit is just the beginning of the process. There are many other ways to save money and stretch the travel budget after booking, most of which are not given a second thought by most travelers.
- Keep Pricing On A Regular Basis- We’ll assume that no matter how you buy travel, you did a good job. Congratulations; you have the best deal possible. More accurately: Congratulations, you had the best deal that was possible on the day you booked. The world of cruise sales was not notified that you booked and then just gave up promoting the idea of a cruise vacation. Pick a day of the week and schedule time to check pricing on your cruise. Once a week over 6 – 12 months should do it. More often, obviously, is better.
- Don’t Price Everything- Taking advantage of all possible promotions, deals, offers and pricing programs was a good idea when looking for a cruise; trying to decide on the cruise line, ship, sailing date, etc. Now that you have locked in on a specific sailing, don’t start over. Stick with your booked travel but look for better offers, new promotions or pricing trends that could bring you a lower price. That said, forget about the price of the cruise from this point on in this article.
- Immediately After Booking, Look At Onboard Options– All You Can Drink Packages are popular but are a work in progress. Keep an eye on pricing and do the math to see if you would come out ahead either because you drink a lot or because you simply don’t like to pay for everything all the time with your little cruise card. Along the same lines, Dining Packages offered by some cruise lines that bring a discount over pay-as-you-go.
- Nice To Do Things On Ships Can Be Far Less On Land- I can go to the corner shopping center by where we live and get a Pedicure and Manicure for $40. On the ship, that combo is often twice as much and no better. Still, having one is part of our cruise rituals; things we do on a cruise. Doing it on land though, we can prance about the pool deck with our attractive toes for quite a bit less $. The same goes for most spa services. Best value in the spa: A day pass to use their facilities.
- Pre-Pay Gratuities And Mean It- Almost all major cruise lines offer this ability, mainly just to get it out of the way right up front. Industry-wide, about 20% of all cruise travelers prepay gratuities and mean it; adding no more tips for the entire journey. Others dole out more cash along the way for whatever reason; not necessary.
- Walk On Your Own Bags- Not that a buck or two per bag to pierside porters is a lot, it’s not. The huge gain from walking on and off the ship with your luggage is convenience. After checking bags on a cruise that sailed round-trip Barbados, we arrived and our luggage did not. When we finally got it, several shirts of mine were gone. While the idea of some Barbadian sitting on the beach enjoying my “<–I’m with stupid” t-shirt was disturbing, its not so much the monetary loss that hurts. That the thieve’s friends think he is hilarious while wearing MY shirt that is most painful.
- Booze Smuggling Is Out, People Smuggling Is In- A whole lot more can be gained by converting your cabin of four where everyone pays to a cabin of four where the first two pay and the others pay just port charges and tax. That reality came from some recent promotions by several cruise lines granting not just kids but anyone occupying the third/fourth berth free cruise fare.
Sound like a lot of work? Your travel agent can do most of this but you’ll need to check up on them from time to time.
The very best idea? Partner with your travel agent and stay in contact. Keep your booking on your agent’s mind with an email every week or so. When a special offer or limited-time deal becomes available and you qualify for it, your agent will remember and get it for you without prompting. Still, you are probably not your agent’s only client so be kind too. Remember, this is your partner in booking, a person with a lot of knowledge and access to all cruise line deals, many of which consumers never see. You want them to like you and have a great desire to do what they can to make your cruise vacation the best ever.