C&MF Travel Blog

C&MF Travel Blog

Sailing the world, one dessert at a time.

Cruise / Travel Advice

Frequent Travelers,

Here is an accumulation of advice from 22 years of cruising >145 times and > 12 guided tours:

Search on VacationsToGo.com to find a good cruise & get an idea of pricing.

A good agent will almost always beat their price a bit via email.

Occasionally they don’t list some cruises, so check the cruise company web sites if necessary.

Princess.com lets you to save a list of cruises so you can easily see updated prices & estimate occupancy.

ALWAYS sign in to get YOUR price, as newcomers may be charged more.

Get quotes & find a good agent on CruiseCompete.com

My cruise agent is JD (the owner) at GenXCruises.com  ([email protected]).

I found him there & he’s booked the last 90 or so cruises.

A good cruise agent can almost always beat direct cruise company prices, but Royal Caribbean & Celebrity may not allow agents to discount fares.

Really big agencies, like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, AAA, AARP, VTG, American Airlines, or even Costco, etc will rarely match a good small cruise agent like JD.

Prices tend to drop 75 – 120 days before cruise begins.  Some holiday & long cruises drop at 90 – 120 days, but virtually ALL holiday cruises are much higher.  The later the cheaper, in general & especially on trans Atlantic / Pacific cruises, at the risk of being sold out.  Those rarely sell out.  Prices keep changing, based on how well the cruise is selling.

If you don’t care about  cabin location, a “guarantee” cabin will always be a bit less than a specific cabin.

Cruise companies charge too much for transfers to / from piers.  A taxi or Uber / Lyft is much cheaper for 2 or more people & much faster in most cases. GetTransfer.com is often best for long distance rides

Cruise company excursions are virtually ALWAYS overpriced compared to local offers or compared to renting a car in most places.

Princess EZ Air has lately offered the cheapest flights to catch many cruises, but not always within  the US.  They also provide next port transportation if the flights cause you to miss the ship.

“Insurance” is a big profit maker for cruise companies because it’s so overpriced.  Regular cruisers will save a lot by self insuring.

Always have a few “future cruise” deposits for the first 2 cabin occupants.

Always own 100 shares of CCL and RCL for additional OBC.

Veterans get additional OBC on many lines. This is sometimes true for teachers, police & firemen.  Senior rates & kids are sometimes discounted.  Princess no longer allows combining some of these with the CCL stock benefit.

Occasionally rates are discounted for residents of specific states.

A Costco Visa card rebates 3% of all travel expenses.

Several other free credit cards will rebate 1.5 – 2% cash back on any purchase, including Fidelity, Citibank,  and Wells Fargo.

For serious travelers, a Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa card is well worth more than the $550 annual fee.  It immediately rebates $300 on any travel, rebates $100 for a Global pass OR $85 for Pre Check application, and gives 3 points / $ spent on travel.  Points are worth about $.015 when transferred to Southwest Air, yielding effectively a 4.5% rebate on all travel charges to it.  It has many other smaller benefits, including free Priorty Pass lounge access.  This is far better than airline cards.

For non cruise guided travel, I’ve found Gate1Travel.com to offer the best deals overall.  To get the best offers, create an account & get their weekly sales, which are typically 10 – 25% off their normal rates

Note that all info is subject to change with time, but I  believe it was  accurate as of  1/9/24.