Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cruising Stuff by Margot Justes

It's always good to be prepared, and that goes for vacation planning, and in my case planning a cruise, 

The first thing to do is research the cruise line, select the one that appeals the most. See what they offer, pick the cruise line that offers the perfect itinerary for you. Check prices on line, they change frequently. Call to see if an upgrade is available, or if the prices have gone down.

Recently I started looking at a couple of other cruise line that offer more unique itineraries. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. This year is fully booked, but I’m already planning for next year.

Most cruise lines offer a club membership-sign up on your first cruise, the enrollment is free, take advantage of it. The perks build up quickly the more you cruise. Saving on internet access, shop discounts, beverage savings; you get the drift-they want you back.

I’ve only cruised on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity-they are sister companies. I have reached a high membership level in their club, and one of the perks gives me a complimentary bag of laundry, and one dry cleaned garment. I can pack less, it’s not a great deal, but every little bit helps in the ease of travel. There are express lanes to check in, all those little things make it easier.

I mentioned this before, but it is important, at the time of the booking, make certain that the deposit is fully refundable prior to the final payment due date. I never used to take the insurance offered with the cruise, but now I do. It is an added security, and I like the reassurance that at least a portion of the price will be refunded. Like any insurance policy, it pays to read the fine print.

They have repositioning cruises that are unbelievably inexpensive because they have to move the ship from Europe to the Caribbean, or the reverse-depending on the season. In this case, it is a 15 night Celebrity cruise, and the cost will be less than $1,700 for food, lodging, and entertainment for 15 nights, that includes taxes, gratuities and insurance.

There are additional costs, the excursions can be pricy, and I tend to book through the cruise line, if there are any delays, the ship will wait for tours to return. Since I tend to get lost, and wander off, I’ve learned through mishaps to stick to the guide like the proverbial super glue. I once wandered off in Jerusalem, had no phone with me, I now carry my phone with me. By the time I realized I was lost, my group was long gone. I started looking for tour buses, and one kind guide contacted his counterpart, and I was escorted back to a Royal Caribbean tour that was from my ship.

There are specialty restaurants that charge extra, and of course alcohol, and specialty coffees-my weakness-I do treat myself to a few espressos and cappuccinos, but it is not mandatory. Whatever the budget will bear.

Since flying has become at best lamentable. At least sardines are covered in oil, and fit smoothly in a can, which is more than can be said for the passengers packed to the utmost capacity in the flying can. The extra fees levied by the industry add to the cost, and the comfort level in economy is non-existent.

In a way a transatlantic cruise helps, as far as length of flight. One long flight to Europe, in this case flying to Rome, and flying back home from Ft. Lauderdale. Lest you think, the flight will be cheaper, it is not. A one way ticket is more expensive, and when I checked the multicity trip, it cost as much as a round trip, and in some cases more. That all depends on the airlines used.

I’m going to try and use points to upgrade my flight-have not done that before, but have been told that my points will transfer one for one to a few select airlines-you guessed it- those airlines have the highest rates. Since this is August, I assume the fall prices have yet to be taken into account.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice

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