Times are tough, which means you need a break more than ever. A cruise is a great getaway and better yet, there are some darn good deals out there. Save even more if you can get to the port of embarkation without flying. Read on to find out what four cruise experts consider to be their very best deal this week and further, get in on some creative ways to save dough once on board.
Sherrie Funk: Co-owner, Just Cruisin' Plus (tel. 800/888-0922; www.justcruisinplus.com)
- Best Deal: 4-night Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Carnival Elation, round-trip from San Diego on June 28. Inside cabins start at $169 per person and oceanview, at $209 -- that's less than $53 bucks per day!
- Onboard Savings Tip: Cut out the middleman (the cruise lines) and book your shore excursions through a separate land operator such as www.portpromotions.com or www.shoretrips.com (you can do it online or have your travel agent book it). "Their tours are often much less expensive, and in most cases, the same ground operator is used by the shore excursion companies and the cruise lines," Sherrie says.
Steve Shepherd: Cruise Merchandising Supervisor, World Travel Holdings (www.worldtravelholdings.com)
- Best Deal: 7-night Bermuda cruise aboard Norwegian Spirit, round-trip from Boston on June 19. Inside cabins start at $549 per person.
- Onboard Savings Tip: "During the day when I feel like a non-alcoholic beverage, before ordering a Coke or a Sprite I stop and ask myself if I'd be just as content drinking iced tea, juice, coffee or tea. If I am, I'll have one of those as they are free and easily accessible. I would say this can save you up to $50 or so on your average week-long cruise," Shepherd says.
Charlie Funk: Co-owner, Just Cruisin' Plus (tel. 800/888-0922; www.justcruisinplus.com)
- Best Deal: 7-night western Caribbean aboard Carnival Legend, round-trip from Tampa on August 23, calling in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Isla Roatan. Inside cabins start at $499 per person. If you're over age 55 or the resident of certain states, the rate drops to $449 per person. Oceanview cabins on this cruise start at $549 per person and balcony cabins start at $619 per person.
- Onboard Savings Tip: Charlie says, once booked, always ask your travel agent to monitor rates for fare decreases (as a reduced price is the same as reducing your onboard bill) and ask your travel agent to check for coupon booklets that some cruise lines offer. "True, some of the items in the coupon book may not be of benefit, but in our experience passengers often find very good savings on things they would have normally purchased at full price," he adds.
Sherry Laskin Kennedy: Vacation Shoppe (tel. 866/7-CRUISE; www.vacationshoppe.com)
- Best Deal: 63-night Mexcian Riviera/South America/Hawaii/French Polynesia partial world cruise aboard Holland America's Rotterdam VI, round-trip from San Diego on Feb 6, 2010. (Itinerary includes a three night stop in Lima to go inland to Machu Picchu.) Inside cabins start at $5,799 -- that means $92 a day per person. Deal also includes $200 per stateroom onboard credit.
- Onboard Savings Tip: "I know of a few clients who visit garage sales and will buy a $5 suitcase. They fill the new suitcase with bottled water and put it through checked baggage; at the end of the trip, the water's gone and they leave the suitcase in their stateroom," Sherry says. Another of her tips is to be aware of the commissions of buying foreign currency on board as well as the ship's ATM fees. "The fees can run as high as $12.95 per transaction. Just ask me, I have the bank statement to prove it!," she says.
What's your tip for saving the most money onboard ship? Tell us in the comments below.