Take the stress out of choosing between cruise offers from rival agencies with a better understanding of exactly what your cruise offer includes--and doesn't include.
Hi Bob Levinstein here with a CruiseCompete Cruise Bite. A cruise is a major investment, not just of your money but of your and your family's vacation time. Feeling like you don't understand what you're buying can make for an anxious experience. Ultimately, you just need to know a few things to understand exactly what you were getting when you make your cruise purchase. Well , all of this may seem like a lot to absorb. It's really not as complex as it seems and once you make your booking most of your vacation, including where to eat, your entertainment places to see are all set out for you to enjoy with minimal thought and minimal stress. In this cruise bite, I'll highlight the key things you need to understand when evaluating cruise offers right after this cruise . compete.com is a simple concept. We give you the tools to find the perfect crews and request quotes. Independent travel agents can then see your requests and they respond with the best custom cruise offers they can all competing to offer you the best deal. You compare these offers in one convenient place along with consumer ratings and reviews of the agencies. As only the best agents survive in this competitive environment. You'll have some great options to choose from. You then remain anonymous unless or until you decide to contact an agent by phone or by email to ask questions or to book find out why more than a million cruisers are members of our free unique service and start saving both time and a significant amount of money on your cruise vacation via cruise compete today. Once you've chosen a ship and sale date, here are the most important things to understand and consider when you're shopping around and comparing cruise offers. Now I do want to note that the information that I'll be giving you represents general guidelines to which there can be exceptions, especially on the high end ultra luxury cruise lines, which tend to be more all inclusive. So please do make sure to discuss all details of your cruise purchase with your travel agent. Okay. First, the total cruise price. Your cruise price consists of three elements, the cruise fare, port charges and taxes. While these distinctions matter to travel agents as they have to do with how they get paid, they really don't matter to you even though they may show up on invoice. To make it easy to compare offers. All crew's compete quotes show the total price. All of these costs bundled together. However, it's important to note that other websites, we'll leave out the taxes and then only add these on the final booking screen after you filled out all sorts of information. They do this to try to fool you into thinking they have a lower price when they're often more expensive. So when you compare quotes, make sure you were comparing total costs to make sure you get the best cruise deal. Now your cruise price generally includes your cabin food onboard in the main restaurants and most of your onboard entertainment. Your cruise price generally does not include these categories of discretionary expenses, alcohol on board, casino gambling, a specialty restaurants on board shopping and tips and gratuities. Your cruise price also does not include these other vacation expenses, short excursions for activities in the ports you visit, transportation to and from your cruise. For example, flights, taxis, et cetera , uh , hotels before or after your cruise . So if you choose to arrive in your port city early, which I strongly recommend, or if you want to stay an extra day or two after you return and a travel insurance. Now experienced cruisers don't just look for the best cruise price. They look for the best overall value for them. Cruise offers can vary quite a bit based on what extras they include. And these can take a number of different forms. The key is to understanding what each park is worth to you based on your own preferences. Okay. One of the most common things you'll see is onboard credit, whether it's called OBC or shipboard credit, a SPC . This amounts to the same thing. It's money in your shipboard account to spend during your cruise . And believe me, you will spend it whether it's on tips, on drink , specialty, restaurant fees, or other onboard purchases. Now evaluating this one is easy. The value is exactly the same as cash. So if you've made yourself a little cheat sheet where you're comparing cruise offers from different agencies, you can note that $100 on word credit is just the same as a a hundred dollars off of the cruise price. Another common perk is free cruise insurance. Now it's always a good idea to have insurance in case problems arise, but understand that not all insurance is equal. You really need to find out what each policy covers when you're considering its value to you. Really the only way to do this is to read the documentation that comes with the insurance that explains what it covers and what it doesn't. Uh , you'll need to ask your agent for a copy of this next cabin upgrades. Now, cabin upgrades are usually within the same cabin type. In other words, you may get upgraded from an outside cabin on a lower deck to an outside gap cabin on a higher deck, but you usually do not see offers to upgrade you from an outside cabin and say to a balcony cabin. So take the time to understand the difference between the cabin offered and what you would get for the same cost without the upgrade and you need to put a dollar value on what is the value of being in Cabernet a worth to you versus being in cabin B. Now, there are all sorts of other onboard perks. These can range from free dinners at specialty restaurants to drink packages, to bottles of wine to onboard internet. Really anything that can be purchased on board the ship. Again, to gauge the value to you. Ask yourself, would I buy it anyway? If I did, what would it cost if I wouldn't buy it at full price, how much would I be willing to pay for it ? The value of these perks isn't some retail dollar figure that someone else's put on them. It's really about what it's worth to you. Ultimately, you want to take all of this into account when you compare offers and decide what the right cruise package is for you to make sure you get the best value for your vacation dollar. I hope you find this information helps you make smart and stress free decisions on all of your cruise purchases. I'm Bob Levinstein, and this has been a CruiseCompete Cruise Bite.