7 Reasons Your Family Should Probably Skip That Cruise Drinks Package

Posted on2 CommentsCategoriesBudget, CRUISE PLANNING, CRUISE TIPS

Cruise Drinks Package -Waitress holding a dish of sangria glassesThe most commonly asked questions about getting ready for a cruise revolve around whether to buy the drinks package or not. All cruise lines offer their own versions of a drinks package. Some even offer multiple versions. The basic hook is that you pay some flat daily rate for the privilege of consuming all of the drinks you want. Generally these packages are pitched as a way to save money. But, are they really a good value? For some families – absolutely. For many families – absolutely not. Read on to figure out which side of the divide your family likely falls. And, seven reasons why you should consider skipping the drinks package because it’s probably not right for you.

This article has three main sections:
    • A short explanation on the basics of a cruise drinks package
    • A discussion of 7 reasons why you should consider skipping purchase of a drinks package
    • A few words on additional money-saving tips for beverages

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How To Actually Plan Affordable Family Shore Excursions With Remarkable Ease

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesActivities, Budget, Cruise Choices, PORTS & EXCURSIONS
Shore Excursions-Family sitting on large map planning travel

Booking shore excursions through the cruise line can usually be the easiest and most convenient way to fill out your itinerary. However, it is not your only option.  And, it is most likely one of the most expensive ways to plan shore excursions.  Read on to learn how your family can save money planning independent shore excursions instead.

Advantages of Independent Shore Excursions

So, what are the main advantages of looking beyond the cruise line’s options when exploring shore excursion?  You can often find better value and more flexibility as to content.  Shore excursions that you plan independently usually involve smaller groups with more comfortable modes of transportation at a cheaper price. And, you control more of the schedule.  This can be ideal for families traveling with children.

My family first tried planning an independent excursion as part of a mediterranean cruise several years ago.  I found the company online through some research on Trip Advisor.  It turned out to be the best shore excursions for the entire trip. They were able to design a tour that visited every site our group was interested in seeing.  They were able to arrange for advance tickets to some popular attractions (thus avoiding a long wait in line).  Plus, they provided car seats.

Our most recent success taking the independent route was this past Christmas on a cruise that visited several ports in India.  After some extensive comparative shopping, we made arrangements with one tour operator who provided fantastic arrangements for each of 3 Indian ports.  We saved about $1,000 for our party of 7.  Plus,  all arrangements consisted of private tours with our own private air-conditioned transportation (a 15-seater mini-bus) and local English speaking guide.  

Related Post: How Our Family Saved Awesome Money On Our India Shore Excursions

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Potential Disadvantages of Independent Shore Excursions

So what’s the downside to striking out on your own?  If you are late returning to port from your independently planned shore excursion, you may find that the ship has sailed on without you.  If the ship leaves without you, you will be responsible for making your way to the next port to catch up with it at your own expense.  In contrast, if excursions booked through the cruise line fall behind schedule, the ship will wait.

Although a real and legitimate concern, the risk of actually missing your ship is rather remote.  Notable, larger operators have their own “guarantees.”  If they fail to return you to the ship on time and it sails on,  they will pay the expenses necessary to get you to the next port.  Furthermore, local tour operators are typically attuned to the ships’ schedules and craft their offerings accordingly.  And, in many instances, the cruise line is contracting with those same local operators for the same tours and activities on the same schedule.  In short, “missing the boat” is more of a concern when you take the winging it route than when you plan something with a reputable operator.  

So, if you are willing to look beyond booking shore excursions through the cruise line, here are seven tips for planning independent shore excursions with confidence and peace of mind.

Related Post:  Try These Top Ways To Stretch Your Family Cruise Dollars

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Ride These Waves To Awesome Savings On Family Cruise Deals

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesBudget, Cruise Choices, Cruise News
3-D illustration of puppet on raft seeking best family cruise deals

Wave season has arrived!  Now that the holidays are firmly behind us, it is a great time to start planning your next family cruise.

“Wave Season” typically runs from January through March. During this period, cruise lines usually present some of their most aggressive offers for the upcoming year. These are promotions that are available for sailings throughout the year, but the special discounts and perks accrue for booking during the wave season offer period. While the actual discounted cruise fares may not be the absolute least expensive for the entire year, the discounted fares plus a variety of valuable perks can make for some excellent family cruise deals.  Read on to find what 2018 has to offer. Read More …