The Absolute Worst Advice You Can Get About Cruising
As in love and marriage and other aspects of life, when it comes to planning a cruise, you’re likely to encounter both good and bad advice. Yes, Aunt Mabel who’s sailed 10 cruises is just trying to help, but her well-meaning suggestions may not hit the mark. With that in mind, here’s some advice you may encounter when planning your cruise, and why these are terrible ideas:
1. “Book way in advance for the cheapest fare.”
Why It’s a Bad Idea: Cruise lines would love to have everyone’s reservations on the books well before each sailing. The lines encourage this with “early bird” pricing at a discount: Book six months to a year in advance and save 25 to 50 percent. These fares work for people who like to plan their vacations that far out and for those who want a specific cabin type. But these aren’t necessarily the best deals.
What You Should Do Instead: Wait until a month or two before a sailing, and you may be able to save 75 percent or more — as cruise lines start to panic about unsold cabins and offer 11th-hour deals. Of course, by waiting, you’re taking a chance that your target sailing date or most desired cabin category will be sold out. But flexible bargain hunters, especially those who can drive to a port and avoid last-minute airfare, can land the cheapest prices this way.
2. “Book a small cabin since you won’t be spending much time there.”
Skip the lines at the buffet and have a private breakfast on your balcony instead. — Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
Why It’s a Bad Idea: How much time you spend in your cabin really depends on you. Some people enjoy lingering there, watching movies on the in-cabin TV, sleeping in, catnapping, and ordering room service. A fancier cabin may offer sea views and breezes from your own balcony, and maybe even opportunity to luxuriate in your bathtub — all reasons to dawdle.
What You Should Do Instead: If you’re taking a short cruise and plan to party all night and save as much money as possible, go ahead and cram four people into the cheapest inside stateroom you can find. Otherwise, book the best cabin you can afford.
3. “Don’t book airfare through the cruise line.”
Why It’s a Bad Idea: Experienced travelers know how to navigate reservation systems and work with travel agents, prefer specific airlines, and may seek frequent flier perks. But inexperienced fliers may find the cruise lines’ air/sea packages appealing, especially since they assure flights that arrive in time for ship departure — and handle special arrangements in the case of a flight delay or cancellation.