B. Because You Like the Cruise Itinerary and Ports of Call.
PROS: One of my favorite things about cruise vacations is that you're able to visit many different destinations all on one cruise without ever having to repack -- and all for one amazing price! On a recent 10-Day Western Caribbean cruise, I had a balcony stateroom and went to the Cayman Islands, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico for a total of $535 per person (including port fees and taxes)! Can you imagine what it would have cost me in airfare alone to visit those countries plus expenses for four-star hotels (not to mention meals)? This cruise itinerary was perfect because I had just the right amount of time at every port city and country that we visited (with the exception of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel where I would have liked to have spent a little more time).
CONS: Now from the good to the bad and the ugly when it comes to choosing cruise vacations based on the cruise ship itinerary. I took an amazing 8-Day Mediterranean Cruise out of Barcelona with ports in Naples, Rome, Florence, Nice and Marseilles. I had never been to Spain, Italy or the South of France so this was a great itinerary in principle. What I discovered -- and what you need to be aware of -- is how limited time can be when you port. Usually port time is no more than 10-12 hours. By the time I actually got into Rome from port (a 60-90 minute trip), I only had seven hours to actually sight see. You definitely need much more time than that to see all the city has to offer and hit the highlights (the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel & The Coliseum). When I got to the ancient ruins of Pompeii from Naples, I only had two-to-three hours with a guided tour to explore the ruins. For some people, that's more than enough, but I could easily have spent the entire day just in Pompeii as I had no idea how huge the city is. Also, I could have easily spent an entire day in Nice, but had to budget time between Nice, Monaco, and Monte Carlo on the same day.
On cruise vacations, you also need to be prepared that you may occasionally be unable to port due to inclement weather conditions. This is what happened with Florence so I did not get to get my proverbial photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. With all that said, I had two weeks of incredible experiences packed and condensed into four days on shore including being blessed by the Pope in St. Peter's Square in Rome and standing just 12 feet away from him as he came by in the famous Pope Mobile. I wouldn't trade it for the world. But if you're a seasoned traveler, this may not be a great experience for you and if you're like me, you now know that you need to plan two weeks just for Italy on your next vacation! No, wait, make that three weeks! Now even if you don't book an excursion and do things on your own, there are still many of the same issues (plus a myriad of others such as when trains get delayed, you miss your train, or you get stuck in traffic and can't make it back to the ship before it departs).
C. Both A & B. Because You Want to Experience a Cruise and You Like the Cruise Itinerary. PROS & CONS: There is one difficult part of planning cruise vacations if you want to experience both the cruise and wonderful ports of call: Where in the world do you want to go? With hundreds of different ports to choose from, you can find your dream cruise ship vacation with cruises all around the world including Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Bermuda, Hawaii, New England and Canada. But no matter where you decide to go, seeing the world on a cruise ship vacation is unlike any other trip.
How to Find the Best Cruise Deals. So now that you know the pros and cons of cruise vacations, are you ready to book a cruise? I recommend that you subscribe to Travelzoo's weekly V.I.P. newsletter that drops right into your inbox for great deals on cruises and more. Here's a quick tip, you can save up to $525 when you book your flight and hotel together at Expedia.com. You'll probably want to book your cruise through Expedia too to save even more. If you're flying into a port city, be sure to arrive the day before your cruise departure so that if you experience any travel delays, you won't miss your cruise.
Admission fees to theme parks and local tourist attractions can really add up and max out your vacation budget, but you can save up to 55% on theme parks with Go City Cards. I've used these for several vacations and saved hundreds of dollars. Just one of my many best travel deals tips you'll find on this website. ~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. ~Marianne Schwab
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
Avoid Jet Lag
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
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