5 Things to Price Out Before You Book a Cruise

by Fran Golden

5 Things to Price Out Before You Book a Cruise

by Fran Golden

Cruise fares include your cabin, most meals and entertainment options, and of course your transportation from port to port — but you have to account for a lot more when budgeting your trip. Once you've picked your ship and itinerary, you'll want to take a look at the big picture to make sure all those extra costs don't add up to a lot more than you were planning to spend on your vacation. Here are five things you should absolutely plan out before you book:

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Pricing out your cruise / iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Flights
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1. Flights

Airlines open flight schedules about a year in advance, so even if you're booking your cruise far out, you can still do your research. Cruise lines do offer flight add-ons to cruise fares, but you should see if you can find a better deal on your own. You'll also have less control over your flight schedule if you book through the cruise line, and it may not be on your preferred airline. (This could be the time to put those frequent flier or credit card bonus miles to good use!)

The one benefit to booking your flights through the cruise line is that if your flight is delayed or canceled, the line will assist you in getting to the ship.Our advice: If you book your own flights, be sure to arrive the day before embarkation.

Airlines open flight schedules about a year in advance, so even if you're booking your cruise far out, you can still do your research. Cruise lines do offer flight add-ons to cruise fares, but you should see if you can find a better deal on your own. You'll also have less control over your flight schedule if you book through the cruise line, and it may not be on your preferred airline. (This could be the time to put those frequent flier or credit card bonus miles to good use!)

The one benefit to booking your flights through the cruise line is that if your flight is delayed or canceled, the line will assist you in getting to the ship.Our advice: If you book your own flights, be sure to arrive the day before embarkation.

The Fontainebleau in Miami
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2. Pre- and Post-Cruise Hotels

Major embarkation ports in the U.S. and abroad (think New York, Miami, Barcelona) are amazing destinations in their own right and worth exploring before or after your cruise. Give yourself a couple of days to see the sights, try the local cuisine, and explore after dark, something you won't get to do when your ship sets sail.

Those major cities also have hotels with big price tags, so do your research in advance to see what rooms go for when when you'll be in town. Again, you can save time and effort by booking through your cruise line, but the packages offered typically include extras such as tours and meals you might not otherwise choose, and thus cost more than if you book on your own. 

Major embarkation ports in the U.S. and abroad (think New York, Miami, Barcelona) are amazing destinations in their own right and worth exploring before or after your cruise. Give yourself a couple of days to see the sights, try the local cuisine, and explore after dark, something you won't get to do when your ship sets sail.

Those major cities also have hotels with big price tags, so do your research in advance to see what rooms go for when when you'll be in town. Again, you can save time and effort by booking through your cruise line, but the packages offered typically include extras such as tours and meals you might not otherwise choose, and thus cost more than if you book on your own. 

Serenade of the Seas in Barcelona's cruise terminal
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3. Transfers

Some cruise ports are located far from the airport and downtown hotels, so it can be expensive to get to and from the terminal. To make sure you get the best deal, compare the rates in your cruise line's packages and average taxi fares from websites such as Taxi Fare Finder in advance. Of course, there are benefits to each option. If you book through your cruise line, the staff will meet you at the airport and direct you to buses — a plus especially if you're groggy after an overnight flight. The other option, arranging your own Uber car or a cab, will likely be cheaper and faster. Plus, you won't have to wait around for all of the other passengers to load onto the bus.

Some cruise ports are located far from the airport and downtown hotels, so it can be expensive to get to and from the terminal. To make sure you get the best deal, compare the rates in your cruise line's packages and average taxi fares from websites such as Taxi Fare Finder in advance. Of course, there are benefits to each option. If you book through your cruise line, the staff will meet you at the airport and direct you to buses — a plus especially if you're groggy after an overnight flight. The other option, arranging your own Uber car or a cab, will likely be cheaper and faster. Plus, you won't have to wait around for all of the other passengers to load onto the bus.

Horseback riding in Cabo San Lucas
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4. Shore Excursions

Guided tours are an easy, organized way to explore your port of call, but some popular ones can be pricey. If you go whole hog and book lots of excursions, it can actually cost more than your cruise fare! If you're concerned that your choices are adding up, research cheaper do-it-yourself options such as booking directly with a local operator or through a third-party company such as Viator. You can also check rates for taxi rides from the terminal to popular beaches or major attractions to get a sense of how much it will cost to explore completely on your own.

Guided tours are an easy, organized way to explore your port of call, but some popular ones can be pricey. If you go whole hog and book lots of excursions, it can actually cost more than your cruise fare! If you're concerned that your choices are adding up, research cheaper do-it-yourself options such as booking directly with a local operator or through a third-party company such as Viator. You can also check rates for taxi rides from the terminal to popular beaches or major attractions to get a sense of how much it will cost to explore completely on your own.

Yukon Railroad going through White Pass
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5. Land Extensions

Cruise ships can get you to a lot of places, sure, but they can't get you ev­ery­where. If you want to see an inland destination — such as Denali National Park in Alaska — you should price a land extension to get the most out of your trip. If you're organizing one of these pre- or post-cruise excursions yourself, remember to budget for accommodations, meals, sightseeing, transportation, and tour guides for a few days. Or, research land extension packages from your cruise line that include all of these things.

Once again, buying a package from the cruise line is a simple and convenient choice, but you will be subject to a fixed schedule and may end up paying more.

Cruise ships can get you to a lot of places, sure, but they can't get you ev­ery­where. If you want to see an inland destination — such as Denali National Park in Alaska — you should price a land extension to get the most out of your trip. If you're organizing one of these pre- or post-cruise excursions yourself, remember to budget for accommodations, meals, sightseeing, transportation, and tour guides for a few days. Or, research land extension packages from your cruise line that include all of these things.

Once again, buying a package from the cruise line is a simple and convenient choice, but you will be subject to a fixed schedule and may end up paying more.

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