A Deal Is A Deal Is A Deal…Right?

When Is a "deal" really a "deal?"

Whether you're going on a cruise, buying a car or shopping for shoes, there are bargains…and there are bargains. So when it comes to buying passage on a cruise ship, what's the deal?

As you have undoubtedly noticed, we run a fresh one here every day, five days a week, all of them studiously researched by our deal department. According to our research, there are several strategies to apply when interpreting cruise-line advertising:

1. Always assume you'll get a room for at least 25% off the "rack rate" and if you get one for 75% off, that's definitely a good deal.

2. Cruise lines always advertise their lowest price, which means an inside stateroom and probably the shortest cruises.

3. If you get a cruise for somewhere between $75 and $200 a day, it's likely a good deal, but it's not an "all-in" price. You WILL spend money on the ship — in the casino, buying shore excursions, gratuities, paying for drinks — non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic. (In our family, the rule of thumb is to double the "per-day" cost.)

4. Pay attention to ship-board credits — they are valuable, for that reason. It's money in your pocket, or at least on your account. Free coupon books are not necessarily attractive; everybody gets them.

5. Upgrades are a bonus if you plan to lots of spend time in your room, watching the ocean go by from your balcony (time spent not spending).

6. If you're comfortable with making your own plans on shore, and you like exploring and touring by yourself (we do), it's almost always going to cost less than the ship's group excursion…as long as you allow plenty of time to return to the ship that won't wait for you.

7. Try to be available for re-positioning cruises, because not everybody can be, and that means empty staterooms.

8. Read the fine print; it helps you make sure that you're getting what you think you're getting.

Follow all that…and you've got a deal!

Today at portsandbows.com: Gold lining in Expeditions at Silversea?

Caribbean Princess
4 nights
May 19, 2014 
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel
Inside $282
Cost per day: $70
www.princess.com

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