Cheap Cruises Beware of the Hidden Costs

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Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes. And trips on them come at various prices, from expensive to extremely expensive. But if you look hard and are prepared to entertain a creative interpretation of the word 'cheap' (if it's all inclusive, for example, bear in mind what you're not spending), it's possible to find cruises on a budget. Here are a few tips on how.

As with most modes of travel, it is well worth booking early. Really early some lines will take bookings a year or more in advance. And really worth it on the longer cruises you may be able to save thousands, and even on week or fortnight long trips there could be a significant reduction. Conversely, some companies may offer reductions on common routes for late booking. But the choice of cabin may be very limited. If it's a special occasion and only a cruise will do, it's best not to leave it to chance. Use a specialist cruise agent to find the best deal.

Food and entertainment are usually included in the price. But watch for hidden extras: service charges on drinks, for example, or surcharges if you decide not to eat in the main restaurant. Beware especially the temptations of ships which do not use money, charging everything to your cabin for a shock at the end of the holiday instead. However, several lines now offer varied dining options as part of the package, and there are holidays which are totally all inclusive. These tend to be the expensive top end versions, but if you're planning a real blowout they could be as economical and better quality than big spending on a lesser cruise. On some cruises, tipping is 'required'. On others, there could be heavy pressure to leave a certain amount. Ask about this when you book and although it's difficult in the event try not to feel pressurised into doing anything you don't want to.

Satellite telephone calls may be state of the art, but it's not only the technology that's stratospheric. If you have a phone in your cabin, be sure to check how much it is going to cost before you use it. It could be as much as $10 or $15 a minute with prices like that, semaphore is a better bet. Alternatively, you could make your call from a pay phone/roamer mobile while ashore.

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