By Jim Antista (aka: The Cruiseman)
You’re perusing the Sunday Travel Section or surfing the Internet and see a fantastic price for a cruise. Is it too good to be true? What’s not included in that price? What’s hidden in the fine print?
Chances are, you’re dreaming of a stateroom with a veranda but the price in the ad is for the lowest category of inside cabin. This is what we call “lead-in” pricing. It’s intended to catch your eye and it has.
Typically, but not always, the prices you see in the ads are for “minimum inside” or the lowest grade of accommodation unless it specifically states otherwise. This might even be a cabin with bunk beds, and the number of cabins available at these prices are usually extremely limited. The price may also only be available to residents of certain states or may be a senior citizen fare.
Beware of flashy, slick ads (especially in magazines) that throw out super low prices. Look for that little word “from” in front of the price. That means that you don’t really have any idea what the cruise really costs!!! And, also notice that these ads don’t have any dates, so you don’t know when the “from” price is good! What they do is find the lowest price available in the coming year or two, and put that in their ad as the “from” price. Pretty cute, but it doesn’t help you any.
The other factor to consider is that since cruise rates are always changing (due to demand), the best ads may not be correct by the time you see them. That is why they have the fine print about “rates may change“, because they will change!! We often see rates change overnight, and occasionally they will change mid-day! Don’t be fooled by the slick ads. The only accurate way to get a correct, current rate is to call The Cruiseman, and let him check for you.
READING THE FINE PRINT
Get out that magnifying glass and read the fine print. Check to see if the price includes port charges and taxes as this can easily add over $100.00 per person to the cost of the cruise if they are not included. Thankfully, recently enacted government regulations require the cruise lines to include the port taxes in the advertised prices, or else make it clear that they are not included and display the additional costs plainly. However, regulations for travel agencies are different, and many do not include additional costs in the pricing and bury them in the fine print. In all cases, unless specifically stated otherwise, the price will not include airfare but will be “cruise only”. Most cruise ad’s do not include the Govt. taxes and fees, which are going to be added in later. Look for these and other surprises in the fine print at the bottom of the ad in the fine print. Also be on the look out for “service charges” which some agencies tack on to your bill.
IS LESS MORE OR LESS?
This term usually does not apply to cruises. As the lead in price is usually for an inside cabin (no window) you may wish to consider spending a little more to make your cruise that much more enjoyable. Whereas a 7 night cruise in an inside cabin may cost you $599.00 per person, upgrading to an outside or “ocean view” cabin can be as little as $50 – $100 additional cost per person. Or you may wish to upgrade to a stateroom with a veranda. This will usually cost you about $150 – $200 per person more for the week.
Personally, I never sail in an inside cabin unless I am forced to. The daylight makes the cabin seem larger, and I love to wake up and see where we are and what the weather is like.
Let’s be realistic, cabins aboard ship are not large to begin with so a little daylight can make them seem much more palatable. I always urge first-timers to take an outside cabin unless their budget absolutely prohibits. A stateroom with verandah will afford you your own semi-private place to watch the ship come in and out of port or just relax. These are especially desirable in Alaska, Panama canal and on longer voyages.
This article was taken from http://cruiseman.com/cruising101.htm on The Cruiseman Web Site. We hope it helped.