How to book a cruise online

People have a lot of associations when it comes to cruising; and probably the majority of these associations do not involve young, hip or cultural images. However, cruising is becoming more and more popular as a holiday break, even for younger generations. And why not? With a cruise you wake up in a new city (our country) everyday without packing your suitcase. Additionally, it is a good holiday if you want to control your spending; all food is included in the price, and with drinks you have the option to pay several drink packages. And the best thing? It is often cheaper than booking a hotel in an exotic location if you know how to book one.

So where can you book your cruise? The two easiest options available are: website of the cruise line, or by using websites that offer discounted prices for several cruise lines.

cruise shipLooking at the current cruise market, two segments emerge; the cruises for the rich and wealthy – with private butler service and standard a suite – such as Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Sea Cruises and cruises for the rest of us so to say. Big international cruise lines are: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival Cruises, Costa and Holland America Line. However, there are many many more around. Cruise lines have in general two promotions available; when a new season is launched (up to a year ahead) whereby early discounts and free all-inclusive upgrades are usually offered. The second promotion is starting around 6 weeks before departure, whereby as many places need to be sold as possible, usually leading to serious discounts. 

The second option is to use search websites that based on your search criteria (departure harbor, length, destination) provide an overview of available cruises. A website that I have used in the past is Cruisedirect. I prefer the American website over the UK one as you will be paying in dollars. There are other websites around (just google cruise) but Cruisedirect have been very helpful in booking, and includes an online chat service. 

So what is a decent price for a cruise? This depends of course on your location of the cruise (Europe tends to be more expensive than the Caribbean), the duration (anywhere between 2 nights to around the world cruises) and your preferred cabin. On cruise ships the cheapest cabin is an inside cabin without windows, and the most expensive one is a suite with your own private deck. But to give some estimations, a few years ago I paid 220 dollars for a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas leaving from Miami, a 5 night cruise from Miami to Jamaica and the Cayman islands goes for around 389 dollars, and a 7 night Mediterranean cruise for about 789 dollars. These prices are of course and estimation, but considering it includes your food, the prices are very decent!

There is only one thing to take into account when you book a cruise: a flight is almost never included. This means that you have to arrange your own fights (you can read on how to book a cheap flight in this article) anda hotel the night before and after (tips in this article). But considering a flight to Miami would be around 500 euros outside the main season you could have  2 week holiday including a flight to Miami, a 5 night cruise and a hotel for the remainder of the time for under 1000 euros, a pretty good deal!

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