Tips for Planning a Cruise

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Convenient and Cost-Conscious Tips for Planning a Cruise

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

Downing cocktails as the sun sets…all-you-can-eat seafood buffets… playing a few hands of poker…the most luxurious spa and salon treatments around… Relaxing on a cruise ship provides an escape from reality unlike any other vacation.

Casinos, spas and full-service bars are just the beginning. Any cruise you take will more than likely offer music, dancing and other great nightlife, not to mention oodles of shopping and plenty of workshops and seminars. Competitions for real prizes may inspire you to bear your hairy chest or pull off another wild and crazy stunt. A gym or fitness center directly on the boat gives athletes and exercise fanatics no excuse for passing up a cruise.

When planning a cruise, the first thing you’ll want to consider – besides destination and duration – is your budget. You want to ensure that you have enough funding set aside to enjoy your trip to the fullest without foregoing special extras that you might otherwise miss.

Even an all-inclusive cruise may still have some limitations. For example, many extras like your bar drinks, casino capital, beauty salon and spa treatments, tours, photographs and gift shop purchases are considered additional, above and beyond the scope of an all-inclusive package. The balance for these expenditures is generally tacked onto your tab, which goes against your credit card in most cases.

New Jersey residents Dave and Judi D’Imperio avidly plan cruises to different tropical vacations when time and financing permit. The beauty of a cruise is that it often allows you to see several breath-taking destinations, all within the same vacation.

And the amenities really add up! Ample amounts of food, drink and entertainment keep up the pace, while solace and relaxation are never more than a few steps away.

While cruises often may seem like large, extravagant vacations, it is very possible to find a good deal without too much legwork.

“Check search engines for booking a cruise,” Dave says. “There are many discounted Web sites out there. Book at least one year in advance, and you will probably be upgraded to a better cabin.”

“If you have a travel agent that you have been doing business with for years, and they specialize in booking cruises, they will be able to get you the best deal,” he adds.

Financing varies from one person to the next and from one cruise to the next. A typical couple traveling on a seven-day cruise without airfare should expect to pay in the ballpark of $1,000 each for booking, which generally includes cabin, food and entertainment. Rates often reflect the length of the cruise, where it is going, and what type of cabin is requested.

Tips from Dave and Judi:

  • Plan the cruise one and a half years ahead of time in order to save the money.
  • Seek out the destination first, then time of year to travel.
  • Pick the cruise line you prefer. Many cruise lines primarily serve a certain demographic, whether young adults, middle age or retirees.
  • Purchase the most expensive cabin you can afford. Mini-suite balcony cabin with a bathtub will suffice.

For an even more memorable time, invite relatives or friends to join you!

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