4. Shore Excursions. For cruise vacations, this is one item that, outside of the price of the cruise, that will be your major "hidden" cost and excursions can sometimes double the cost of your vacation, but I am a big fan of booking excursions for many reasons. First, as I've mentioned, many ports are no where near the destinations that are advertised. In certain ports there is much you can do on your own, but I have found that some port cities are a little scary and depending on where you port, you're better off booking excursions to get the most out of your trip. The cruise you book may very well be a once in a lifetime trip.
You don't want to be penny wise and pound foolish when you've traveled a great distance and then don't ante up the excursion fare for the excursion to Rome, Florence or the ancient city of Pompeii, for example. So do plan for the extra budget you will need to experience the locations you will be visiting.
Most cruise lines have online excursion guides and you should review these before you go and determine which ones you want to book. I highly advise booking before you go as some of the more popular excursions will sell out before you board and you don't want to be locked out. Prices for these excursions generally range from about $25 - $55 for a half-day city tour, to $200-$300 for some all-day tours, overland programs including meals and snacks, and such exciting offerings as hot-air ballooning and helicopter "flight"-seeing. You will be met by a well maintained air-conditioned bus and all of your admissions are included.
Savings Tip: Booking excursions through your cruise line are recommended over booking excursions on your own through a third party vendor on cruise vacations for one very good reason. If the excursion you booked through the cruise line is late getting back (and this has happened to me), they have to hold the ship for you if it's set to depart before you actually returned to the ship.
If you booked your excursion through a third party or went off on your own and ended up not making it back to the ship prior to the departure time, it's up to you find a way to reconnect with the ship at the next port. This is definitely something to consider if you'd taken a train into a city an hour away and then miss the train on the return or you get stuck in traffic with your cab or your rental car.
purchase an internet package when I get on board to either use the on board internet cafe or my own netbook or laptop at wireless hot-spots located around the ship. If you need to send documents while you're away, you'll need your own computer as the ship internet cafes do allow you to put your flash drives in to upload documents or photos. Be prepared to pay between $.50 per minute of internet time, unless you purchase a package, but be aware if you do not use all your minutes, you will not be refunded the unused portion of the package.
6. Spa Reservations. Booking spa treatments while you're on cruise vacations are a wonderful indulgence but keep in mind that they are not included. A massage is typically around $90 - $110.
You can usually take advantage of ship discounts on port days and keep in mind that most of the spa staff does work on commission and they will encourage you to buy several of their products.
Savings Tip: If do not want the spa products, be polite and say that you will think about it and get back to them later. Also, check your ship's daily program of activities for ads for spa treatment specials that may be available for one day only or during certain hours of a given day.
You're packed and ready to go on vacation, so now comes the most important issue at hand: avoiding jet lag when you arrive at your destination. A survey by Conde Naste said that 93% of travelers get jet lag but you don't have to be one of them if you use my tips. ~Marianne Schwab
Book Your Trip
Booking travel online should be quick and easy…not to mention affordable and that's why I like Expedia. Did you know that you can save up to $525 when you book your flight and hotel together at Expedia.com? For the best deals, book 60 days or more before you travel because usually the further out you plan, the better the package rate.
Top Travel Mistakes to Avoid Now
I have put together a list of the top five travel mistakes people make that translate into paying too much for a vacation no matter where you book your trip (through a travel agent, airline or online). ~Marianne Schwab
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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer
For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more