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Your Questions About Cruise Deals And Cruise Vacations

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Sandra asks…

Do you get good deals for booking a vacation/ cruise last minute?

Is it possible to get a last minute deal?  I am looking to go in the end of June, but I want a good deal and I don’t mind taking a chance for the last minute.

John answers:

There’s always the possibility.  Is it likely?  No.  The more likely outcome is you’ll wind up paying more and settling for whatever is still available.  You’ll have a better chance of getting just the right cabin on the cruise you want by booking in advance.

Thomas asks…

What are the best deals or places for a cruise and stay vacation?

My girlfriend and I are looking to take a week vacation in the Bahamas or Caribbean and we want the experence of both a cruise and an island stay. We plan on going in a year from now but that may change based on when the best time to go is.  We will both be 23 at the time of our trip.  Any information or help is appreciated.

John answers:

Because of your age, don’t bother looking at Carnival as their rules state that one person must be 25 or older in your cabin.  The best weather, but the highest prices,  occur during the winter months.  Summer is less costly but very hot and humid.  Avoid mid-August through the end of October, if you can.

Now, combining a hotel stay with a cruise is certainly possible, but the options are limited.  Cruises to the Bahamas are roundtrip, beginning in the US.  You can’t just get off the ship and stay.  So if you have your heart set on the Bahamas, you should just do a land package and save the cruise for another time.

If you opt for the Caribbean instead, look for cruises that either begin or end in San Juan, or offer San Juan roundtrip.  Princess Cruises offers regular sailings from San Juan, as do other lines.  You could then combine a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay with the cruise itself.  You could stay in Puerto Rico or the nearby Virgin Islands, or even go a bit further afield.

Depending on what you’re looking for in a cruise, you should also look into Windstar Cruises which offers roundtrip sailings out of Barbados and St Martin.

Donald asks…

When you’re thinking of going on a land vacation (not a cruise) how do you go about finding deals?

I want an all inclusive vacation.. do I have to go to a travel agent or can you actually get it online… help

John answers:

Well, Donald, although this column is focused on cruises, I’ll take a shot at the answer.  You can find packages on line, many people do it.  Try Travelocity or Orbitz.  You can also go to tour operators’ websites, such as GoGo or Travel Impressions.

You might find, however, that the abundance of information and choices is a bit overwhelming.  It’s always best, I think, to use a good travel agent.

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Your Questions About Cruise Deals On Line

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Daniel asks…

Cruise Deals?

Where can I find the best Cruise Deals online?

John answers:

I have found that the best way to find the cruise that you want at the best price is to simply go to the cruise line web sites and click on the links for “deals” and/or “specials”.  Most of the cruise lines have such a link but they are most easily found on the web sites for Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  On some other sites they are there but you have to look through a lot of stuff on the web/home page to find the link for specials.

Carnival has very low prices on occasion, but other lines like Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Princess are close.  You will also find that you get a much better price if you book well in advance and by that I mean 9 months to a year or more in advance.  And also, be flexible with your travel date and go when the cruise is offered at the lowest price.  The other thing that you can do is to sign up to receive their specials by email.  I get those all of the time too.

You should also consider enlisting the aid of a good travel agent.  Most don’t charge to book cruises, and they can help narrow down the options very quickly.

William asks…

From experience, what cruise website has the best deals and is the most reliable?

Hey, my wife and I want to plan a cruise for next summer.  We want something fun with good ratings but want a good deal (of course!)  Do you have experience getting stellar cruise deals?  We’ve both cruised before and I am a AAA member.

John answers:

Hi William, see my answer to Daniel above.  That will give you some direction in researching cruise bargains on line.

My bottom line advice to you, however, is to do some research, narrow down your choices, get an idea of what you get for your money – and then go to a travel agent.  A good agent’s help can be invaluable, and if something should go wrong while traveling, you will be very grateful tomhave someone you can all upon.

Sharon asks…

Do you know where to find good cruise deals?

I am looking for some good cruise deals.   I don’t care what cruise line.  I just want some good links.  Thanks a lot!

John answers:

All the major cruise lines have websites – www.princess.com, www.carnival.com, etc.  You might also go to the large on line travel sites, like Expedia or Travelocity.  Browse around, use them to discover what’s available and what the costs will be for various itineraries.

If you find something you really like, book it if you want.  My advice – see a travel agent and have them book it for you.

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