Taking a cruise can be a wonderful way to vacation and Mexico is a great choice for your destination. However, to get a great deal, you should choose a cruise that not only meets your budget but that also meets your needs. As with any purchase, buying poor quality – even if it’s cheaper – is always a bad choice.
To find out of a particular cruise meets your needs, you need to do a little research. Different cruise lines offer different types of experiences. Some cruise lines provide classic ocean voyage sophistication, while others are designed to be parties on the sea. There are different types of cruises as well, from luxury cruises that will treat you like royalty to adventure cruises that are likely to be educational and provide hands-on activities for you and your family. Individual ships can vary as well in terms of the amenities they offer, including activities and dining options. Knowing what kinds of things matter to you will you to narrow down the many offerings. And, in general, the more flexible you are, the more options you’ll have.
It’s also important to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples when pricing a cruise. Be sure to read the fine print and find out what’s included in the fare. Usually the cruise price includes your cabin, travel between the different ports of call, shipboard facilities, dining, shipboard entertainment and activities. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks usually aren’t included, nor are most spa packages. There are also some specialty dining experiences which may not be included, and you should consider the cost of souvenirs, excursions on shore and gratuities as well. You’re also usually on your own for air fare as well to your port of call. Finally, consider just how important your cabin is. Most people only use their cabin to sleep and shower, and are perfectly content with a less-expensive cabin.
Once you know what you want and how much you have to spend, it’s time to start comparison shopping. The first way you can save money is to be flexible with your desired dates. Off-season prices can be considerably lower. And just like with flights, you can get good deals by booking in advance or by waiting until the very last minute to book your cruise. Again, it all depends on how flexible you can be. Do you have your heart set on a particular destination in Mexico or are you open to different experiences? Having some flexibility there may also lead you to a better deal.
You can find lots of cruise listings online, both at the websites of the various cruise lines and a number of bargain travel sites. There are even cruise auction sites where you can bid on upcoming voyages. You can also find travel sections in most major newspapers, especially those for known ports of call like Miami and New York. Larger bookstores and libraries carry these newspapers, or you can try signing up for the email newsletters of a few of the sites or cruise lines you are interested in – their mailings often include promotional discounts. Or, if you know someone who’s been on a cruise before, find out if they’ve received any promotional mailings recently that may be transferable.
Finally, keep monitoring prices. If a better price comes up before you leave, see if you can get a reduced purchase price on your cruise. However, some travel agents and cruise lines charge fees for making these changes, so be sure you know the policies involved ahead of time.