Monday, April 14, 2008

Cruising Beyond the Caribbean

"Where do you want to go? I don't know. What do you have a taste for? I don’t know. How about going to … No, we went there last time.” Sound familiar? The last time you went out for dinner, did you have a conversation somewhat like that? I wouldn't be surprised if you did, since I've had several of these conversations myself.

Planning a vacation often sounds like that too. That's not a bad thing. It's actually very good to ask questions and get a consensus before planking down your hard-earned money on a vacation. You do want to involve everyone in your decision process, so that you will all be happy with the final plan. I also encourage you to get some professional advice.

Planning a dinner outing isn't that much different than planning a vacation. The questions are pretty similar: “Where do you want to go? What do you want to see and do there? Do you want to dress up for dinner? Do you want to relax at the beach? Do you want to go somewhere you haven’t been to before or go back to the same destination you went to last year? Where can we get good value for our money?”

Let me help you answer some of these questions. The last question is probably the easiest to answer. A cruise gives you excellent value. You are able to pay one price for all your lodging, food, and entertainment. From the time you board the ship, you are treated to a resort experience that you will talk about for years to come. Even in the most expensive ports of call, you have an option to keep your costs down by eating your meals onboard the ship instead of at some local restaurant. You don’t have to worry about the exchange rate if you don’t want to. You’ve already paid for your cruise in your local currency and all optional onboard expenses can be charged to your account in your local currency.

So, that brings us to the harder question – where to go. If you have cruised before, you have most likely been to some part of the Caribbean Islands and/or the Bahamas. The majority of first-time cruisers go there, so I think my odds are pretty good on guessing where you’ve been to before. There’s good reason why most cruisers go to the Caribbean – it’s a great destination, the weather is great, it’s a year-round destination with many cruise ships going there. Due to the supply, the cruise lines have no problem keeping up with the demand.

On the other hand, if you’ve been to the Caribbean several times before, you might be looking for something new this year. I’d like to let you in on some inside information which may surprise you. Europe is an excellent cruise value, especially in 2008. This may come as a shock to you. It seems that we are either in a recession or heading for one, so how could Europe be a good value? Isn’t the cost of fuel going up, so won’t it be expensive to get to Europe from the States? Yes, times are tough, fuel costs are rising, and there is a good chance that the airline ticket will be the largest portion of your vacation price. Repeat that you say. Airfare may be more than your cruise fare. There is a possibility that you can get a great deal from the cruise lines this year. Why is that? The cruise lines are over-deployed in Europe this year. There was such an increase in demand for Europe the past few years, the cruise line reacted and moved many of their ships to the European market.

Cruise ship schedules are done well in advance, so it takes quite some time to react to changing times. With all the ships in Europe, the cruise lines need to fill them up this summer. In order to do that, many of the lines are offering special pricing which combats the price of the airfare. In some cases, they even have special airfare if you book that through them. If you haven’t been to Europe before, or if you’ve been yearning to go back, this might be the best time in the next few years to do so.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the airlines also react by offering special airfares during the summer months. It is very costly to fly long-distance trips and the airlines want to have their planes as full as possible. So, the savvy cruise traveler can actually reap great rewards by taking advantage of special pricing.If Europe isn’t your “cup of tea”, I would encourage you to check other destinations beyond the Caribbean. My websites should give you some more ideas. I’ll share some additional ideas with you next time.

No comments: