January 25, 2008, Newsletter Issue #27: (42) Understanding Basic Cruise Pricing

Tip of the Week

There are extremes in cruise pricing. Prices featured in most cruise line brochures are the equivalent of hotel “rack rates.” Don’t let these prices scare you. They are highest rate that virtually no one pays. You can often save 50%-70% over cruise brochure rates. On the other hand, major city newspapers and online travel Websites abound with offers for week-long cruises for as low as $499. There are also cruise auction Websites that feature cruises at rock-bottom prices. Bidder beware! Don’t get excited without doing your due diligence. These teaser bargain fares and cruise auctions don’t include expensive mandatory government and port fees and there are many add-ons based on sailing dates, stateroom categories and other fees. Read the fine print!

Interestingly, with the exception of suites, cruise prices are not based on the size of a standard cabin as much as cabin location. The lead prices quoted in newspaper ads and specials on the Internet (the ones that say “from”) are usually for an inside cabin deep in the ship. No window. If you are claustrophobic, avoid booking inside cabins. Naturally, an inside cabin costs the least, followed by oceanview cabins, balcony cabins and suites. Another rule of thumb, the higher the deck, the higher the cruise cabin price.

As a rule, the more balcony cabins on a cruise ship, the lower the balcony cabin prices are. If possible, treat yourself to a private balcony cabin. The full glass door and balcony make your cabin seem much larger. Balconies offer a private retreat with all the benefits of being out on deck. On a scenic cruise, such as the Panama Canal or Alaska , a private balcony greatly enhances your cruise experience. And if money is no object, savor the luxury of a mini-suite or full suite .

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