There he was, my retired military man in full uniform, with pants that could still zip and pockets that didn’t bulge at the seams! I was so proud of him as I stood proudly at his side, waiting for formal night aboard the cruise ship to start. As we chatted by the closed doors to the waiting room, Bob checked the new watch I gave him when his Stealth F-117 fighter jet was retired earlier in the month. Two warriors, a man and his jet, were now a part of history—but he still looked great in his uniform.
“Excuse me” a woman in a black jet beaded dress said to Bob, “Can you tell me how long it will be before the dining room doors open.”
Bob checked his watch, “About 3 more minutes, ma’am.”
She glided back to join her party but scarcely had she left before a older gentleman in a black tux tapped his shoulder,
“Captain,” he began, “my friends and I were discussing the average speed of a ship this size and wanted to know if you could tell us how fast your ship cruises.”
Suddenly, Bob and I both realized that some of these people thought he was the ship’s captain! The rest of the night, I enjoyed watching the attention that my retired fighter pilot got as passengers asked him various questions about the ship!
Cruising can be affordable and a great experience experience. So how you find the cheap cruises and what are savvy and simple ways to keep the costs down?
Here are some Top Tips for Titanic Saving:•
Cruise the Sites – The first step is to find the best price on a cruise by going to get competitive bids on CruiseCompete.com or CruiseNow.com. If you are worried that the prices will go up or down, go to Cayole.com which predicts rates based on seven months of data. Plus, try to look for packages that include the gratuity in the cost and other benefits like an online credit voucher, gift certificates to restaurant.com or free room upgrades.
Pre-Cruise Hotels – If you have to fly in the night before your cruise, then book a hotel ahead of time and look for a non-refundable purchase where you can save 40% or more on a room. For example, Priceline.com. For more info, go to BidOnTravel.com
On Board Extras – This can include some of the tips below (drinks, spas, etc) but can also include jewelry “deals”, art auctions, premium dining options or photography classes
Spa Tips – Be prepared to say “no” when you go to the spa on that $99 special (or the equivalent) because they make most of their money on the products they try to sell you. It’s pretty amazing, the staff starts to “sell” while they’re massaging your shoulders or finishing up your beautiful hair, and while you are relaxed and vulnerable. Be prepared to say “no” even if you’re told your hair will fall out if you don’t buy their product!
Pass on the Soda Pass - The first day you may be offered a “soda pass” that gives you all the pop you can drink for one low price. Au Contraire! You want to drink lots of water, not soda on this cruise to get your money’s worth. Water keeps you healthy from all the salt in the rich food.
Pack Two Water Bottles - Each person should pack two bottles of water (we stick them in shoes in our luggage) to save big bucks. You cannot bring in cases of water, or six packs of soda–that’s not allowed. But you can bring a couple of bottles to use and refill. The tap water in your room is the SAME water source used for glasses of water in the dining room.
Digital Pix - One of my fave nights is formal night with Bob in his dashing Air Force Mess Dress uniform that he spent 25 years earning. Be sure to have your new friends onboard take plenty of digital pix with your own camera–you’ll save the cost of the formal photo and probably get better shots anyway.
Digital Detox – Plan to go through this on your cruise. While newer ships have Wi-Fi, you’ll pay anywhere from .35 to $1.25 a minute to connect. Roaming cellphone charges take a major bite, too. So just abstain and concentrate on your family, friends and fun on the cruise.
Rank and Research Shore Excursions – You could easily double or triple the bottom line cruise total by spending money on shore excursions. Before you sail, go to the cruise website and print out the shore excursions options. Or do this as soon as you get onboard. To get the best value rank the top three for: things you want to do, the amount of time included on the excursion and the cost involved.
Book Your Own Excursions – Just because the cruise line offers the excursion doesn’t mean you’re getting a discount. In some cases, you are pay a premium for the cruise line to get their commission! Go to PortPromotions.com, ShoreTrips.com and Viator.com . If you are in a US port, try websites such as TravelZoo.com’s local deals, Dealery.com or Yipit.com, which aggregate city specific deals available through Groupon, Living Social and the like.
Excursion Extras - It’s important to walk and work off some of that rich food–you’ll feel better and get more for your money, time and effort. Try to walk as much as possible on excursions and avoid bus, shuttle or cab fares. Eat breakfast on board before you go to save $$ on food. Try to postpone lunch until you’re back on ship, or bring an apple or banana to tide you over.
It’s SHOW Business – The entertainment on board is generally pretty good–but it’s a hit and miss. Get your money’s worth by going to the shows (and walk out if it stinks). Sign up for free classes (salsa, line dancing, pilates, yoga, etc) and try your hand at karaoke.
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)