If you are trying to decide which cruise to book and are confused, don't worry---you are not alone!
With all the discounts, "last-minute" specials and other offers floating around out there it can lead you to throw up your hands in frustration. That low-cost cruise advertised for $299 probably does not include taxes and port fees, which actually may add up to more than the cruise itself! And, of course, cabin selection will be limited in most cases.
There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at prices:
1. We strongly suggest you book through a travel agent that deals primarily with cruises. You will pay no more, get the best prices, plus the best advice on cabin selection and more.
2. Booking early is the best overall option. Sometimes you can get a last-minute deal, but that is becoming more difficult as many cruises sell out well in advance.
3. Be sure you understand what you are getting. The fine print is really fine, and most of us don't really take the time to read it or don't understand it even if we do.
One example is a passenger who thought he was getting a $400 shipboard credit on a certain cruise line. That sounds great, right? $400 you can spend on board at specialty restaurants, gift shops, shore excursions, etc.
However, what they really got was a $400 discount coupon book. In other words: $75 discount at the spa, $50 off a wine tasting, etc. If you don't plan to participate in many of these activities then the coupon book may have very little value to you. Again, a professional travel agent probably could have helped avoid that.