Guest Author - Jim Fortune
When it comes to planning a vacation, many families are concerned with the cost. Whether you consider yourself to be middle class, lower class, or upper class, the cost of your vacation is often of great importance. If you are spending your next vacation aboard a cruise ship, there are a number of different ways that you can estimate the total cost of your vacation.
The first step in estimating the cost of your cruise is to select a particular cruise line and cruise ship. I've done cruises with three cruise lines. I know from personal experience that the cruise ship you select is vital to estimating your vacation cost. This is because a number of cruise ships offer all-inclusive vacation packages. All-inclusive cruise ship packages may seem high priced, but you often do not have to worry about carrying along excessive amounts of money. The all-inclusive vacation packages is the choice I always make.
In addition to the type of cruise ship package you select, you will also need to consider where your cruise ship will depart from and what its destination is.
I always opt for the sea-air package. It goes by several names depending on the cruise line you choose. But it is a package that includes the airfare from where you are to where the ship is leaving from and the return flight. I've checked everytime and have never been able to get a better rate than the sea-air package price. Check for yourself. Your results may vary.
If you're planning a cruise ship vacation, on a budget, the method of travel you select could have a significant impact on the overall cost of your vacation. For long distance travel you may want to compare the cost of airline tickets, bus tickets, or train tickets. Air travel is often considered the most preferred method of travel, but it is the most expensive. In addition to purchasing a bus ticket, airplane ticket, or train ticket, you may want to examine the cost of driving your own vehicle.
As previously mentioned, all-inclusive cruise ship packages help to eliminate the cost of food, drinks, and entertainment. While all-inclusive packages are nice, they are often hard to come by. If you are unable to book an all-inclusive cruise, you will have to estimate the amount of money you will spend onboard. This estimate is not only important to estimating the cost of your vacation, but it should also be used to make sure you bring along enough spending money.
Estimating the cost of onboard entertainment is often easier than estimating the cost of your food and drinks. Most cruise lines have websites that offer detailed information on all of their ships. This information is also likely to include the cost of using a particular entertainment facility. You will find that many cruise ships charge their passengers to watch a movie, view a performance, or participate in many onboard activities. These onboard activities may include, but are not limited to, rock climbing, onboard surfing, gambling lessons, dance lessons, and swimming lessons.
Speaking of gambling, if you're interested in gambling on a cruise ship casino, you will need to keep this in mind when estimating the cost of your vacation. As with most land-based casinos, you can gamble with different amounts of money. If you are planning to estimate the cost of your vacation, I would encourage you to estimate the amount of money you will spend gambling. Since estimating money spent on gambling is difficult, you will want to aim your estimate high. Try setting an amount you will gamble each day and multiply that by the number of days for the cruise. I don't gamble so this has never been a concern for me.
As previously mentioned, estimating the cost of your food and drinks can also be a difficult task. You can estimate the number of meals and drink you will have in a day, but it is important to remember that it is only an estimate. It is also difficult to estimate the cost of your onboard food and drinks because cruise ship menus are often difficult or impossible to obtain online. As with cruise ship gambling, it is advised that you overestimate the cost of food and drinks. This is one of the reasons why I like the all-inclusive vacation packages.
In addition to the cost of food, child care, travel, entertainment, and gambling it is advised that you consider the cost of obtaining items or souvenirs at the ports your ship plans on docking at. Whether you need to know if you can afford a cruise ship vacation or you’d just like to know where your money is going, there are an unlimited number of ways to estimate the total cost of your vacation.
Here's my method. Make an appointment with a travel agent and go to the appointment on your day off. Tell them you want an all-inclusive cruise package going to where you want to go. You'll be needing the air-sea package or whatever they call the package that will get you there and back and cover the cost of the vacation on board. Plan on going next year. If going to cruise Europe, plan on May or September 2011. For any of the islands down south of the United States, you can go anytime. The same goes for Mexico. But plan for next year.
Why plan for next year? In my experience if you are going next year, you get the best prices in the middle of the ship by booking now for next year and as it gets closer to the actual sail date, you will get upgraded to one of the higher decks at no increase in your price. I've done this three times and it has worked like a charm!
Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy