We love to cruise.  For one package price, we get all the food we want, entertainment, recreation facilities, the chance to meet new people, a well-appointed stateroom, and we wake up each day in a new place.  Lisa loves the fact that she only has to unpack once, and I love the fact that I don’t really have to plan anything except for what we are going to do in each port of call.  On sea days, we just watch the ocean while listening to audio books and podcasts, or we play games or participate in the many shipboard activities.

There are a lot of cruise lines and a lot of cruise ships.  We magic number is find a cruise that will cost us about $100 per person per day.  So for a one-week cruise, that will be about $1400.  We try our best to account for port fees and taxes, plus the automatic gratuities which is around $13 per person per day, or an additional, $100 per person for the cruise.  Some cruise itineraries have very high port taxes where you can pay up to $300 for the week.  With the fees and tips, the $1400 cruise suddenly is $2200 which is about $157 per person per day.  So we try to avoid paying that much unless we have some other booking incentives such as shipboard credits or free beverage packages.  Our best experience has been to book when special promotions are available or there are last-minute discounts (usually within 3 months of a ship’s sail date).  Here are our favorite resources:

Cruise Critic:   Three reasons why we love this web site:
1)  Cruise ship reviews – based on real passenger feedback, we have learned about what to expect for that particular cruise ship and itinerary.  One constant is the negative reviews for MSC Cruises, where only 1 out of 2 members enjoyed their experience.
2)  Cruise forums — ask a question, get an answer.  Search posts for tips and hints.  Organize meet and greets before the sailing via their “Roll Call” feature.
3)  Cruise Deals — they feature an updated listing of last minute cruises, plus they keep tabs on cruise sailings with the largest price drops.

CruCon Cruise Outlet:  they offer frequent cruise line promotions and have three major sales a year during the Memorial Day weekend, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.

Best Price Cruises:  Competitive rates and instant price quotes online, we have probably booked four or five cruises with this travel agency.  They also offer a ‘Last Minute Cruise Deals’ page.

Vacations To Go:   they claim to be the world’s largest cruise agency, and after perusing their cruise rates and booking with them over the years, we have found them to consistently offer the lowest prices.  We love their ’90 Day Ticker’ best last-minute
cruise markdowns list, plus you can easily search for specific dates, ships and itineraries.

Cruise Compete:   If you have a cruise in mind and want to shop around other cruise agencies around the web, submit a request via this web site and within 24 hours you should get at least 4 or more quotes.  We have successfully used this service on three past cruise bookings and found it to be an easy and seamless experience.

Cruise Mates:  Want to do even more research on cruise lines, ships, itineraries, ports of call and the latest cruise news?  This web site is a fantastic resource.