Are you taking a cruise anytime soon? If it’s your first or second time to do so, you’re most likely to encounter some strongly held “beliefs” which are actually misconceptions. Below are the ten most common ones and the facts behind these cruise myths.
Misconception #1: You can book anytime because it does not matter
Timing matters in booking flights and in booking cruises. Most of the time cruise lines give extremely tempting deals to people who book at the last minute. The savings can be as big as 30% to 50% off. However, you will have to be in touch with a really good travel agent because these same cruise lines won’t let their other passengers know they’ve dropped the rates. While they want their ship to fill up, they don’t want an angry mob of passengers demanding for their money back.
As a result, these last-minute sales are coursed thought travel agents where they can more discreetly be offered to willing passengers. You may also find that booking at the last minute can entitle you to cheap pre- and post-cruise hotel rooms and air fares.
Misconception #2: You should always go for the cruise excursion deal
While it certainly is convenient to have everything planned out for you, cruise excursion deals can cost you money. For some cruise lines, it costs as much as $99. The same round trip fare, if you arranged it yourself, will only cost around $16. Also, you might regret being stuck with a busload of other passengers. If you take things into your own hands, you can plan your inland schedule freely. Just don’t forget to make it back to the ship before it docks out. If you want to play it safe, get the opinion of real cruise ship passengers regarding their cruise excursion deals. Online forums are good venues to “see” what’s really happening.
Misconception #3: Shoulder seasons are bad deals because of the bad weather
Granted, there are parts of the shoulder season with really bad weather which means that your flights could get postponed and you might not be able to take the cruise at all. However, this does not always apply. There are some parts of the shoulder season which are just cheaper because they’re right after the spring break, and unless you’re a student, this shouldn’t matter because you’re still free to roam.
Take opportunities like these seriously. Also take note that shoulder or “wave” seasons vary from one destination to another. If you’re travelling during an off-peak season with 50% chance of rain (or a little more than that), at least make sure that your travel insurance has got you covered even if your flights are rescheduled.
Misconception # 4: All restaurants in the ship are covered by your fare
There are plenty of cruise lines now which charge more for dining at specific restaurants. You can be charged as much as $35 per person, per meal, to be able to dine at a “special” steakhouse onboard. Think this through. Would you like to save yourself from the crowds of the main dining hall? Are you a foodie?
If you love dining at ultra special restaurants while you’re on a cruise, then the added cost might be worth your while. However, if you’re on the cruise for other reasons and you’re just eating to keep yourself from starving, the basic cruise fare with meals at the main dining hall might be enough.
Misconception # 5: You need a tuxedo or evening gown for the formal nights
You might be spending too much money on that tuxedo or evening gown just to “fit in” at the cruise ship’s formal nights. Check the “culture” of the cruise ship first. Some cruise lines have skipped the ultra stiff formal night for something more comfy. All you might have to wear is a polo shirt and a pair of proper pants for the men, and a cocktail dress spiced up with accessories and high heeled shoes for the women.
Cruise ships are getting more and more laid back these days. Save your rent money for something more worthwhile during your cruise. Ask for the cruise ship’s rules and regulations before booking just to be on the safe side.
Misconception # 6: Spa treatments are way too expensive
While spa treatment rates might be too high once you’re actually sailing, insiders tell us that the rates drop while the ship is on the dock. You might want to skip the excursion and go for the spa treatments instead while they’re still in “inland” rates.
The experience is the same, anyway, whether you’re sailing already or you’re on dock. You can save up to 50% off on most spa treatments when you know how to time it. Just make sure you book early because this isn’t a tightly kept secret anymore. Most passengers already know about this discount and you might be competing with half of the passengers onboard if you book too late.
Misconception # 7: Drink packages will always save you money
If you’re traveling with your family and you’re purchasing drinks for more than two people this can be true. This is also true if you’re traveling to a very hot country, and you’re bound to order about eight bottles of water throughout the day. Cruise rates can be quite daunting especially when the products are in demand.
However, if you’re traveling to a cold location, and you’re only with your special someone (or perhaps even traveling along), you might be spending way too much money on that drink package. It’s better to either bring your own bottles of water and sodas if the cruise line allows. Most cruise lines confiscate alcoholic beverages, though. You have to understand that they make a lot of money from their cocktail drinks.
Misconception # 8: You don’t have to tip
This might come as a shock to people from Australia or England, but tipping is absolutely necessary on cruise ships. This is the bread and butter of cruise employees, and if the receipt does not include gratuity fees, you need to include 10% to 15% of the total bill as a “thank you” for your servers. It’s only proper, especially if you’re on a high end cruise. Some cruise ships include this in the bill already, so double check before giving a tip so you won’t have to tip twice.
Misconception # 9: Balcony rooms are necessary
You might be spending too much money on that balcony room because most cruise lines now are working on improving their inside rooms. Most of these rooms already have cabin holes which have special features to make things more interesting for their passengers. For example, in the Disney Dream, cabin holes have navigators with animated characters to tell you where you are. The floor space of rooms without balconies is also bigger so the layout is generally better.
If you’ve also booked yourself in a balcony room, chances are, you’re by the pool, and pool crowds can be quite noisy. This can disrupt your privacy (and your sleep). Think this decision through. If you don’t like smokers and you really must have a balcony room, you might want to consider specific cruise lines which ban smoking. Most people who go for balcony rooms are heavy smokers, and you might have a nuisance for a neighbor.
Misconception # 10: Activities onboard are included in the fare
While some activities onboard the ship may be included in the fare, other activities cost you more money. Most of these are dance or wine tasting classes, and they’re excluded from the fare for good reason: not all passengers are interested in them, and not everyone would be willing to pay for such things.
If you think that these activities are worth the money, you may sign up for them either before you board the ship or while you’re already on the cruise. Most of them won’t cost $15 per head anyway.
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