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How To Save Money On Your Cruise Booking

Everyone dreams of taking that fabulous cruise for the perfect vacation. How to save money on your cruise booking gives you all the tips and tricks to find your dream at the best possible cost.

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Cruise Lines generally finalize their ship itineraries from 12 to 18 months before sailing day and the earlier you book a better chance you have for the "early booking discounts".

Another way to get a reasonable discount is a "last minute booking". The risk here is that your choices of itineraries will be limited as well as ship and cabin choices.

Cruise lines often have a lot of cancellations just prior to the start of their penalty period. If significant enough, the cruise line will likely offer an unannounced fire sale for a day or two to try and fill the space.

If you request a specific date, don’t get upset when you hear the price. Check the price a week earlier or later and you may save several hundred dollars. Find a way to adjust your schedule.

A good travel agent should be asking you for the necessary information to get the best deal from the cruise line. The lines are always running specials for particular groups and particular time frames. Discounts are often available for teachers, honeymooners, family reunions, seniors, frequent cruisers, groups and military personnel.

Large discount agencies will often make a significant investment in booking Group Space on a particular cruise. This means they have a lower price locked in, while an individual booking may be higher by hundreds of dollars.

You will Never Pay Brochure Price. Cruise lines all issue gorgeous, glossy brochures with "sample" pricing but consider those prices to be about as accurate as those per-day hotel rates posted on the back of your room's door.

Cruise lines have adapted to Homeland (Homeport) Cruising from ports in cities all along the U.S. coastline. This includes itineraries that sail to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Mexican Riviera, Canada and New England, and Alaska. No need to tack on the cost of an airline ticket to more traditional send-off port cities, like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and San Juan, when you can take a train, a bus or your car.

Surf the Web Before you Book to gather information or you can act as your own travel agent, from selecting a cabin to booking a cruise. The internet is a great place to shop around and gather tips.

Use your Frequent Flyer Miles to pay for your airfare when traveling a great distance to the ship. It is risky but if you arrive a day early, you probably won’t miss your ship’s sailing.

There are Cruises available in all price ranges, from budget to luxury and all represent perhaps the best value for your vacation dollar.

When traveling with a family, you might consider two regular cabins instead of a Suite for all family members.

Last minute sailings are a thing of the past. Because of heightened security since Sept. 11, 2001, it is no longer possible to stand by on sailing day. Most lines now require at least 48 hours lead time for bookings, but these days, a week or two in advance of sailing is regarded as last-minute. Check the Web sites of cruise lines and cruise-line booking agencies, which often have space available for flexible travelers. The plus/minus: You may get a good price, but the most desirable cabins may be booked.

Ask for a “Category Guarantee” booking. This means that you can purchase the specific cabin category on the ship but a stateroom will not be assigned immediately. You will find out the stateroom number at the pier or in advance. You will never receive a cabin in a category less than the category booked and there is a chance for an upgrade to a higher category which means a better cabin at no additional cost.

At specific times during the year you will find great deals. The end of August through to Thanksgiving, when school is back in season will be less expensive. But it is also the time when there will be more children on board. The sailings just before Christmas, but not over the holidays and early January, right after the holidays are always a bargain.

For Alaska, the early and late season months of May, early June, and September offers the biggest savings. If you travel during these “book end” periods it's often possible to pay half of what you'd pay for an equivalent cruise in July or August.

All the cruise lines will be running EXTRA SPECIAL discounts during these periods.

One-way REPOSITIONING CRUISES are excellent values, when ships move to new bases. These occur twice a year: In spring, ships relocate from Florida and the Caribbean to Europe and Alaska. In fall, they move in the reverse direction. Most voyages run 14 to 17 days. Keep in mind that there will be fewer ports of call and more sea days on repositioning cruises.

Cruise agencies will often book blocks of cabins from the cruise lines called Group Bookings. An agent that has one of those blocks for your sailing date can give you a better rate than one that does not. This explains the public appearance of disparity in rates for the same cruise among Travel Agents.

No matter how good of a price you have gotten on your cruise, ask to be put on the upgrade list. Give them a good reason, such as checking out the ship for a future family reunion.

Cruise Auctions should be investigated.
Do your homework. Of course eBay Cruise Auctions is the auction GIANT but you should consider also.

Now that you know how to get the best price on your cruise, Set Sail!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.


On-line Booking - Is It A Possibility For Disabled Travelers?

Nobody is ambivalent about the internet. Some folks claim it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others blame it for the downfall of modern society. Regardless of your feelings about the internet, it's a great tool for travel junkies. But is on-line booking a realistic option for wheelchair-users? Is it really the best way to get a good deal? The answer is a conditional yes. In reality there isn't a one-click method; but you can use the internet to save money and t...

travel, accessible travel, wheelchair accessible, handicapped access. vacation, vacation planning

Nobody is ambivalent about the internet. Some folks claim it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others blame it for the downfall of modern society. Regardless of your feelings about the internet, it's a great tool for travel junkies. But is on-line booking a realistic option for wheelchair-users? Is it really the best way to get a good deal? The answer is a conditional yes. In reality there isn't a one-click method; but you can use the internet to save money and to ensure appropriate access.

Let's start with airfares. Airline websites and travel portals are the best places to book air tickets on-line if you have access needs. Shop around, find the best fare, then book on-line. Most of the major websites even have places on their booking forms to specify your access needs, such as wheelchair-assistance, accessible seating or an on-board wheelchair. After you've made your reservation, call the airline to make sure your access requests are noted.

It's a pretty easy process, however there is one type of website you need to avoid - the auction or name-your-price website. These websites go by many different names and are promoted by scads of celebrities, but collectively I call them pig-in-a-poke dot coms.

At pig-in-the-poke dot coms you enter your departure city and your destination along with your credit card number. Then you state how much you are willing to pay for the ticket. Finally, you receive a response indicating if you bid has been accepted. Once your bid is accepted, your credit card is immediately charged.

The catch is, you can't chose the carrier, routing, aircraft or even the time of day you travel. In fact, you don't find out these details until after your bid is accepted and your credit card is charged. Although this process may be acceptable for travelers who don't have access needs, it's a big gamble for anybody who does, as these factors can determine the accessibility of the flight. So just say no when it comes to pig-in-the-poke dot coms

Of course, there's a lot more to travel than just booking an airline ticket. It's also possible to book an accessible room on-line, but only if you know what websites to avoid. Hotel consolidators top the bad boys list. Why?

Well, first off hotel consolidators only treat reservations for accessible rooms as requests for accessible rooms; however more importantly the reservations are held in the consolidator's name (not the traveler's name) until approximately 24 to 48 hours prior to the traveler's arrival.

In other words if you were to call the hotel directly to confirm your reservation (and to make sure an accessible room is blocked for you) in most cases your name would not even be on file. Consolidators book blocks of accessible rooms, and specific rooms are not assigned to travelers until the last minute. In most cases travelers get pot luck.

Worse yet, when you discover this fact and realize that in all likelihood you won't end up with an accessible room, you can't cancel without paying a substantial cancellation fee (which of course is automatically charged to your credit card). So basically, you pay in advance but you aren't guaranteed anything. Not exactly a fair deal, is it?

How do you spot a hotel consolidator? It's pretty easy. They all require prepayment with a credit card and most have pretty stiff cancellation fees.

On the other hand, many travel portals offer a professional interface that enables users to book accessible rooms on-line. The major advantage of using a professional interface on a travel portal is that you deal directly with the hotel. You request a reservation, the request goes to the hotel, and you get a confirmation number back; all within a matter of seconds.

The downside to all this is that sometimes it's hard to tell a travel portal with a professional interface from a hotel consolidator just by looking at the on-line booking form. Both forms ask you for the same information. There are however two big differences. One is that, aside from a no-show fee, you won't encounter a cancellation fee when using a professional interface. And two, when you use a professional interface, you don't have to pay the hotel charges in advance.

The best way to book an accessible room on-line is to make a reservation directly on the hotel's website. Why? Because you can be assured you are dealing directly with the property. After you make your reservation on-line, call the hotel and confirm the access details of your reservation.

In the end if you shop around, watch for sales and stay away from travel consolidators and pig-in-the-poke dot coms, you'll probably find some good deals on-line. But remember, you need to follow up every on-line reservation with a call to the hotel or airline to confirm you access requests. Yes, it takes a little longer, but it's the only way to make sure your access needs are met. In reality, the internet is great tool for travelers; but remember, it's not the only tool.


Have Bookmarks, Will Travel!

Good news: now you can use your favorite software on any computer!

In my previous article, I compared online versus standalone bookmark managers and mentioned the possibility of storing Internet bookmarks on mobile storage devices, such as flash drives. However, time moves on and computer technologies are constantly progressing. The prices of flash drives have plummeted and their ever increasing storage capacity now allows the...

portable software,bookmark manager,bookmarking,bookmarks,u3

Good news: now you can use your favorite software on any computer!

In my previous article, I compared online versus standalone bookmark managers and mentioned the possibility of storing Internet bookmarks on mobile storage devices, such as flash drives. However, time moves on and computer technologies are constantly progressing. The prices of flash drives have plummeted and their ever increasing storage capacity now allows them store not only data but also the applications that use the data. This advance in storage technology has resulted in a new class of software known as "portable software."

So, what is a portable program? How does it differ from a regular program? A portable program can be run from a mobile storage device such as a flash drive. A portable program does not usually require any special installation. The portable program and its data can be copied to a mobile storage device. It can then be used on any PC by simply plugging in the storage device. Ideally, portable software does not leave any traces on the computer where it was run. No entries are made in the system registry or desktop shortcuts, no files are saved to the hard drive or, if they are saved, they are deleted as the program is closed. The settings of a portable program are stored on the device that the program is run from, i.e. on the mobile device. Thus, a portable program can be called a clean, even sterile "weapon."

Many new and portable versions of the more popular programs, both freeware and shareware, have recently appeared in the software marketplace. These include Portable Firefox, Portable Thunderbird and Portable OpenOffice. A more complete list of currently available portable software applications is available from this website:

Mobile device manufacturers are racing to offer us the most recent technologies that allow portable software to run automatically when we plug in our flash drives. For example M-Systems, now part of Sandisk, recently created the U3 platform. This is a mobile storage standard that supports application autorun as well as many other features. The list of software complying with the U3 standard is available on the website

Portable software is becoming more and more popular among PC users. This trend is especially important for computer software such as bookmark managers. Portable bookmark managers eliminate the primary advantage of their online competitors - their ability to access bookmarks from virtually any computer connected to the Internet. Now you can just carry your bookmark collection on a flash drive in your pocket, together with the program that allows you to work with it, anywhere you like: to access your bookmarks all need do is plug in your flash drive to any computer.

So, what portable bookmark managers are currently available?

- Bookmark Base:

This program is perfect for inexperienced users. Bookmark Base has a very simple user interface. The program has a set of basic, but adequate, features that include importing and exporting bookmarks for web browsers such as IE, Firefox, Opera; adding and removing folders and bookmarks; checking the availability of web resources.

- Portable Bookmarks:

This is a more powerful program for managing bookmarks. As well as the standard features found in all bookmark managers, Portable Bookmarks has a flexible bookmark search tool that can search on several criteria. It also has a duplicate search tool. In addition, it can automatically synchronize bookmarks with IE Favorites and download descriptions and keywords from Internet web pages. This program supports the U3 technology mentioned above.

The confrontation between online and standalone bookmark managers has now moved to a new level with, I am sure, the imminent appearance of further portable versions of bookmark managers in the software marketplace. At this time, this new breed of portable standalone bookmark managers has the initiative.


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