As I continue to find ways that I feel safer traveling with my new mobility issues, I decided to look into cruises. With no experience booking an ocean cruise, I consulted with my online community on where to begin. Many said to check two sites for prices: United Cruises and Vacations To Go as well as checking the prices on the cruise line’s own site. For information about the specific ship and itinerary, take a look at Cruise Critic.
What Should I Pay?
Be aware that no one pays full brochure price for a cruise, even if you book through the cruise line’s own site. Indeed, I discovered for my Alaskan Cruise on Seabourn that all of the places I checked had the same prices, about half of the brochure price. They offered hundreds of dollars of On-Board Credits (OBCs) as a bonus. Also, Seabourn told me that they would match any advertised price. So if I find a lower price before my final payment (90 days before sailing), they would give me the lower price. If I found a lower price after I’d made my final payment, they would grant me the difference in OBCs. I suspect that the online agencies would offer the same deal.
Choosing Your Stateroom
Once you have made a reservation and made a deposit, you are ready to choose your stateroom. When it came to booking an ocean cruise, It seemed that there are endless numbers of stateroom categories. Seabourn has no inside cabins, all are outside cabins, all are small suites with a separate seating area. They come as “ocean view” (a big picture window) or veranda (a balcony). Everyone I spoke with said it was worth paying the extra for the veranda. Having one’s own private outdoor space seems like a real bonus. I have visions of room service breakfast on our veranda, sipping champagne outside in the afternoon, and at night viewing the stars. Of course, there are premium suites available at a much higher price, and all have added amenities.
The location of the cabin affects the price. If one is prone to seasickness, you want a cabin in the middle of the ship. I spoke with someone who loved the feel of the ship’s movement, and always chooses a cabin at either end of the ship, to capture the movement of the ship. Each move of several cabins closer to the middle of the ship changes the cabin category, and therefore, the price. These are all important considerations when booking an ocean cruise because, let’s face it, you’re going to be on that ship for a few days to a few weeks.
Whether you work with an online agency to book your own cruse, your own travel agent or the cruise line’s agent, that person will help you choose a stateroom.
Some Cruises are All-Inclusive and Some are Not
While booking an ocean cruise, keep in mind that cruises can be all-inclusive or there may be many things that are extra. Take this into consideration as you choose a cruise. A cruise that costs more upfront may cost less in the end. Read carefully to see what is/is not covered in your cruise fare. Do they charge extra for meals in their specialty restaurants? Some do, some do not. How about wine with meals or cocktails? For some lines, like Seabourn, these are included in your cruise fare. Others charge for every drink. If you are choosing a line which does charge for drinks, you might want to opt for a drinks package. Even those lines that include wine with meals and cocktails do have an upcharge for premium wines and liquors. What about internet access? Spa treatments? Port tours? Tips? Ask about all of these so you know what your costs will be.
Booking an Ocean Cruise vs. a Land Vacation
Booking an ocean cruise is simpler than booking a land vacation where you have to book lodging in each place. Then you need transport between the places you want to visit, and perhaps airport transfers. Of course, on the ground, you’ll eventually need to choose restaurants. For a cruise, you will need to book transport to your point of embarkation and transport home at the end of the cruise. Some cruise lines will do this for you, but do check prices and whether they will guarantee a particular airline or routing. So the next thing I booked was our flights: into Anchorage and out of Vancouver two and a half weeks later. I know not to fly in on the day the cruise departs, so I booked us one night in Anchorage before the cruise. We will also stay for tree nights in Vancouver.
Since neither Cheryl nor I have been to Alaska before even though we live so near. And now that we’re all set up on our 14-day ultimate glacier and fjord adventure. We’re both really looking forward to this.