Budget cruiser

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I read the reader’s letter “Wildly Varying Cruise Fares Irksome” in the January ’04 issue. I have been on 39 cruises with various lines. As Bill Bennett put it (page 27), “cruise lines vary their prices according to demand.” I agree that is true. I have booked both early and late, and even though I am a past passenger with various lines I must be there at the right time to get the deals. I believe you just luck out unless you are in the know.

A “low-budget-cruise junkie,” I try to find inside cabins on cruises of seven to 10 days. I book an inside cabin and more often than not get an upgrade.

I have noticed that the time of year is critical to low cruise prices. There’s lots of competition among cruise lines right now, overall, but it also seems that cruise prices drop if people are reluctant to fly across the country. The people I’m referring to are the older folks who generally cruise with lines like Princess and HAL and who often wait until after the busy holidays to take a cruise. I believe many of these folks just do not want the delays and lines at the airports.

I don’t take cruises in December or summer. Rather, I usually cruise in January, February or March and in September or October. Cruise fares are low then.

I used to take the red-eye flights from California, but I worried about getting from the airport to the port on time. A red-eye flight might leave San Francisco or Oakland at midnight or 1, get into Dallas or Atanta at 8 or 10 a.m. for a transfer and finally get you to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale at noon or 1. Many cruises depart at 5 p.m., so what happens if your flight is late? True, many cruise lines do offer a good deal on a hotel the night before embarkation.

For Alaska, I take a May or September cruise. The weather is excellent then, and ships now leave from as near as Seattle rather than Vancouver; it doesn’t cost a lot to fly Southwest Air to Seattle. But I had a rude awakening this past September. Have you noticed the increase in port charges? What is going on?

Regarding tipping, I usually tip the waiter $3, the assistant $1.50 and the cabin attendant $3 per day. If the headwaiter does something out of the ordinary, I will tip him.

I will not normally tip in advance, but on one cruise where the sponsor rented the ship it was required. I could see why — good relations all around.

I try to find out if the tips filter down. On a Nile cruise several years ago such was not the case; the boss took the dough — same as in a restaurant.

WILLIAM DANIELS
Walnut Creek, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I read the reader’s letter “Wildly Varying Cruise Fares Irksome” in the January ’04 issue. I have been on 39 cruises with various lines. As Bill Bennett put it (page 27), “cruise lines vary their prices according to demand.” I agree that is true. I have booked both early and late, and even though I am a past passenger with various lines I must be there at the right time to get the deals. I believe you just luck out unless you are in the know.

A “low-budget-cruise junkie,” I try to find inside cabins on cruises of seven to 10 days. I book an inside cabin and more often than not get an upgrade.

I have noticed that the time of year is critical to low cruise prices. There’s lots of competition among cruise lines right now, overall, but it also seems that cruise prices drop if people are reluctant to fly across the country. The people I’m referring to are the older folks who generally cruise with lines like Princess and HAL and who often wait until after the busy holidays to take a cruise. I believe many of these folks just do not want the delays and lines at the airports.

I don’t take cruises in December or summer. Rather, I usually cruise in January, February or March and in September or October. Cruise fares are low then.

I used to take the red-eye flights from California, but I worried about getting from the airport to the port on time. A red-eye flight might leave San Francisco or Oakland at midnight or 1, get into Dallas or Atanta at 8 or 10 a.m. for a transfer and finally get you to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale at noon or 1. Many cruises depart at 5 p.m., so what happens if your flight is late? True, many cruise lines do offer a good deal on a hotel the night before embarkation.

For Alaska, I take a May or September cruise. The weather is excellent then, and ships now leave from as near as Seattle rather than Vancouver; it doesn’t cost a lot to fly Southwest Air to Seattle. But I had a rude awakening this past September. Have you noticed the increase in port charges? What is going on?

Regarding tipping, I usually tip the waiter $3, the assistant $1.50 and the cabin attendant $3 per day. If the headwaiter does something out of the ordinary, I will tip him.

I will not normally tip in advance, but on one cruise where the sponsor rented the ship it was required. I could see why — good relations all around.

I try to find out if the tips filter down. On a Nile cruise several years ago such was not the case; the boss took the dough — same as in a restaurant.

WILLIAM DANIELS
Walnut Creek, CA