5 ways to save money on your next cruise

Cruising has gain popularity amongst travelers with its “all-inclusive” pricing. With transportation, lodging, food and an assortment of activities and entertainment already included on cruises today, how do some cruisers end up breaking the bank with that final bill at the end of the cruise?

Although cruises pricing includes so many amenities, not everything is included and if you don’t plan properly or get advice from your travel agent, you may end up dipping into your savings and spending more than you initial budgeted.

drinksBeverage Packages (Alcoholic & Non-alcoholic)

As a responsible travel agent (and friend), I encourage everyone to drop the soft drinks and stick to water, juice and tea. It’s very hard to get off the sugary drinks especially with so much energy you get after consumption, but not only will your health appreciate it, but also your wallet. But what about bottled water, most beverage packages include getting premium bottled water as well? TIP #1: Drinking water on a cruise ship is extremely safe. The water is filtered on the ship itself and is regularly checked to meet sanitation regulations. The (free) drinking water is more likely better and cleaner than that of the bottled water they are selling to you.

Cruise lines make a killing when it comes to this add-on because honestly  what’s a few dollars compared to your comfort. Well, A LOT! Most beverage packages begin at $8-$10 dollar per person per day, which at first glance seems small  but when you calculate the cost for say a 7 day cruise, it’s $56-$70 per person (for two people $112-$140). Again, I may not have the same passion for soft drinks, but I can’t imagine the need to spend that much on pop. I mean a 2-liter bottle is about $1.99 at home, so one person will practically need to drink 10-12 bottles of soft drinks throughout the cruise to even make it comparable.

Now what what about the alcoholic packages that offer free beer & wine, and even premium liquor. Okay, the lure of being able to buy unlimited drinks has its appeal, but honestly you would have to drink about 4-5 drinks a day to make it worth your time. Remember, you will not be on the ship the entire time and you will have access to go onshore and drink there, where most of the time it will be cheaper.

If you need to some liquid courage, check the daily guides for drink specials and you can save a lot of money. TIP#2: Remember your bartenders name and make sure you tip them big in the beginning. For me, I always tip when I am ordering to make sure they bartender knows that I am going to hook them up. You remember their name, they will remember you when it comes to cashing out.

IMPORTANT: Never skimp on the tip – I completely understand the need to save money, however you pay for what you get and if you are not willing to give them an extra something, I really doubt you will get anything extra from the staff.

 

The need to CONNECTperson_computer.jpg

In this day in age, the need to be online and post your pictures on Facebook is as important as brushing your teeth, however internet on board cruise ships are horrible and simply not worth your money. Cruise lines use satellite’s to connect to the internet which often lead to long waits and interrupted service, however you pay per minute which is often around $0.65 per minute. You can purchase package with up to 500 minutes but it will cost you about $200 for that. TIP#3: Most cruise ports offer free Wi-fi and if they don’t, just find a local shop once onshore and buy a drink and they will be happy to let you jump on their signal.

Just avoid the Casino

If casinos were in the business to help people, this headliner would change immediately, but we all know the house always win. Casinos onboard cruise ships are most likely filled with smokers who enjoy the luxury of smoking inside and of course another way to throw your money down the drain. Again, if you have a need to gamble and that is y our way of having fun, just be mindful of how much you spend. It’s not like Vegas, where you get free drinks if you play, it’s just a nicer way to give your money to the cruise line.

Specialty Restaurants 

Unless your celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, try to limit the amount of times you dine at one of these premium venues. Included in your cruise fare is a wide range of food throughout the ship which include the buffet, room service and of course the main dining which is available during breakfast, lunch and dinner. TIP #4: If you need to make reservations for a specialty restaurant, then I suggest making on the first day. Most cruise ships like to fill their restaurants immediately and will offer 20%-50% off if you purchase it you plan which night you want to dine. However, if you plan on going on a Celebrity Ship, I would highly recommend Qsine. This is a fabulous restaurant and experience. Completely worth it!


massage_table-on-cruise.jpgGoing to the Spas

Spa treatments onboard can be very costly and can easily skyrocket that final bill. Make sure to budget what services you plan on taking by asking your travel agent for the spa prices (you should only be asking me). Here is a sample of prices to get you prepared:

Facials range between $100 – $300
Massages range between $125 – $200
Women’s Haircuts range between $70 – $150
Men’s Haircuts range between $30 – $65
Manicures range between $40 – $90
Pedicures range between $70 – $120

Tip #5: To save money on spa treatments, make sure to book your reservation during shore days. When everyone leaves the ship, the spas usually run specials to entice those who plan on staying onboard. 

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Welcome A380 to Washington!

Dear Friends,

Today I witnessed an amazing marvel, and unbelievable accomplishment and honestly a masterpiece that I cannot deny. A work of art that I cannot wait to experience and boast about, the NEW EMIRATES A380!

My sister and I were fortunate to be invited to this VIP Event (thanks, Barry & Zeenat!) and witness the unveiling of Emirates flagship aircraft which will have daily service from Washington, D.C – Dulles (IAD) to Dubai. I have been a major advocate for Emirates with my own personal experiences, however with this new aircraft, I cannot wait to tell each and everyone of my clients that they must experience it firsthand.

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Rob Gurney, Vice President of North America – Emirates & Chris Browne, Airport Manager of Washington, D.C. Dulles International Airport cut the inaugural cake for the new A380

Today, travel has been overshadowed by cheap fares, low cost airlines and online travel agencies which fail to provide the two things that this industry first began on – immaculate service and relaxing comfort. Often times, I am bombarded with questions about comparison shopping and add-on charges for overweight or extra baggage, but rarely asked which airlines provides the most comfortable experience. I cannot Fathom (look out for another post!, hint! hint!) being uncomfortable for 3 hours, let alone sitting shoulder to shoulder to someone for 14 hours or more without carefully weighing out my options (How many stopovers? Layover time? Which airport i will be connecting to?). All of these are questions that passengers should ask themselves before considering which airline to use for their travel. Price cannot be the only factor, but if it is – you always get what you pay for!

With that said, I introduce to you the Emirates A380. This newest addition to the Emirates fleet which is a wide body, double decker jet aircraft that is a masterpiece in the sky. Emirates has the most A380s in their fleet with 73 currently operating in cities such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now Washington, D.C. With a passenger capacity of 489 people ( 14 closed suites, 76 business class and 399 economy class) you can only imagine the size of this aircraft. Added with Emirates world renowned customer service, I cannot help by recommend this flight.

Economy Class

Economy RowsSince the A380 is a double deck aircraft, the lower deck comprises the Economy class with rows beginning form 43 – 88. The configuration is 3 – 4 -3 which means three seats on the left, 4 in the middle and three on the right. The Economy class is divided into 4 sections with rows 52 – 65 and rows 67 -79 being the largest and rows 43 – 51 and rows 80 -88 being the smallest (also the quietest). Regardless of your location, there is ample space and legroom at every seat and experience is almost the same. Seat dimensions is at an industry high at 18 inches with a seat pitch of 32 inches.

TIP #1: Best SeatsEconomy Seats.jpg

Want to get the premier seats? If possible try to get row 43 A/B/C, row 43 H/J/K, row 52 A/B/C and row 52 H/J/K. These seats are in the front of the sections and have no seats in front of them. Row 43 is the best option since it also has the second smallest section, which means more quiet and most likely cleaner bathrooms.

Window Seats with Legroom – Both of best worlds!! Try row 68A, 68K, 81A and 81K. These four seats are right in front of the exit rows and have no seats in front of them (shhhhh….. Travelwise secret!!!).

Need elbow room and leg space – Try Row 67 B/C, row 67 J/K, row 80 B/C or row 80 J/K. Since these rows are in front of the Exit Area they do not have a window seat beside them, and only have two seats. Tada!

TIP #2: Family Seats

For those who are traveling with their babies or children, then you can take advantage of

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Children Amenity Kits and Child Meals available

row 54 D/E/F/G, row 67 D/E/F/G and row 82 D/E/F/G (I would say this would be the best, because it is in a smaller section and less people, hence no so many people waiting for the bathroom). These seats have bassinet crib positions if you need to use them.  Also did I mention the awesome Kid’s Program and Amenity Kits? Just ask one of our travel agents to request these kits beforehand, so they can have them ready for you when you board your plane.

Business Class

As you find your way to the rear of the plane, you find a staircase that leads to the Upper

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Dedicated bartender to quench your thirst

Deck and find my favorite part of the plane – the inflight Bar. This feature is not accessible to Economy class, and you will need to be in First or Business class. Fully stocked with wine, premium spirits and hors d’oeuvrs , imagine sipping on a drink while onboard headed to Dubai. Meet new friends, enjoy delectable canapes and socialize at 45,000 feet. A different way to view the the Mile High Club (pun, intended!).

 

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Champagne? Red or White? Sandwiches? It doesn’t matter when you fly in First or Business Class.

 

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Walk a few feet further and you arrive at the 76 Business Class seats which are probably like First Class seats on any other airlines. Configured in a 1 – 2 – 1 setup, each seat has an 18.5 inch width, 48 inch pitch and converts to a 79 inch flat lie down bed. In addition, each seat has access to an AC Adapter, 2 USB Plugs, an iPad and of course an Amenity kit which includes socks, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste and other toiletries.

If you are food buff – Emirates does a great job creating gourmet cuisines prepared with locally sourced ingredients from regions they travel to. Mix and match your meals with a carefully selected wine with favorites chosen by their sommelier.

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Other amenities included in the price for flying Business Class include

  • Complimentary Chauffeur drive to and from the airport
  • Priority Check-in
  • Dedicated  lounge access
  • On demand dining with wine service
  • Mini bar at your seat

 

First Class

First Class Amenites
Vanity mirror with toiletries at your disposal.

Now, I may never experience this extremely luxurious product, however if enough of  you read this – hopefully Emirates will allow me to try it – ha ha! Anyways, if you find yourself in need of top notch service and full suite service- you can find it in either one of these 14 First Class Suites. I was highly impressed with the comfort and accessibility of snacks, drinks and of course the comfortable reclining seats. First class seats boasts a seat width of 23 inches and 86 inch seat pitch. Not as large as other airlines, but the one thing that I really loved, was the privacy. You can close the suite off and you can be completely secluded from other passengers. They even have a “Do Not Wake” Feature which lights up to inform the flight attendants to leave you alone.

 

Every First Class passenger receives an Amenity Kit to take with you, but Emirates hasIMG_2695.JPG outdone themselves by partnering with Bvlgari. The comfort kits contains facial moisturizer enriched with vitamin E and made up of antioxidants and oils. Also included are a drawstring bag, a foldable hairbrush, deodorant, Bvlgari lotion and toiletries for men or women.

Although the seats to most would be the talk of the town, the most unexpected highlight of this tour was the bathroom. Yes, I said it the bathroom. The surreal experience is more like a Spa Service. The Spa Room as they call it is larger than my own bathroom and they have two onboard!

With rejuvenating products by Timeless Spas at your disposal you have a choice to “Relax” or “Revive”. These Shower Spas must be booked when onboard to avoid scheduling conflicts, however if there is an open slot, you may use them. They have two Spa Room attendants who are consistently cleaning and restocking the shower spas after each passenger. You are give 5 minutes of water when showering and the pressure is great considering you are on a plane. Even the floors beneath you are heated, crazy, right!

On the commercials, Jennifer Aniston claims she enjoys the Shower Spa Rooms and I now know why!

 

Final Take:

With the introduction of the new A380 to Washington, D.C, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The magnificent aircraft will allow more passengers the ability to explore other destinations around the world and connect to via Dubai. With daily service from Dulles, clients of mine will be able to enjoy world-class comfort in any class of service in style and luxury. Beginning in March, Emirates will begin service to Cebu and Clark, Philippines while they continue to grow in the Manila market.

For anyone who have not been convinced, you can visit my sister’s virtual tour and see how impressive this aircraft really is. Click here to view.

Call our office for more information and to find your next flight on Emirates! (301) 248-8898 or www.travelwiseonline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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