Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Cost of Cruising

Have you noticed all the television advertisements by the big ocean and river cruise companies lately?  There's Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, the list goes on and on.   Personally, I'm not a big fan of cruising.  Well, let me rephrase that.  What I mean to say is that I've not developed a love for cruising yet, especially on those grand luxury big boats.  I have this thing about being stuck on a boat for days and days.  Summer, my eldest daughter, just raves about cruising but, eh, I have to think about it.

But there's river cruising, and something about cruising down a river in a foreign country, sounds appealing to me. Instead of looking at a lot of ocean, on a river cruise, you can see lovely villages and towns that dot the landscapes along the rivers.  How romantic and dreamy is that!  I've been intrigued with the idea of river cruising for so long that my husband and I booked a "buy 2 for the price of 1" cruise to China with Viking River Cruises!  It's one of two of our big trips for 2015.

When we booked our cruise, I couldn't believe how time-consuming it was to select the type of suite we wanted, what level did we want to stay on, did we want to book a 2-for-1 airfare or not, travel insurance or not (well, that was a no-brainer because you should always purchase for travel insurance), but then there was the contract to peruse, then we had more questions.  It totally gave me a headache, but once we were done with the transaction and received the booking contract, we couldn't believe that we actually signed up to go on a river cruise to China.  Wow!

So after all that, I felt that whether you book an ocean cruise or river cruise, there are things that you, as a traveler, need to know.

While ocean and  river cruises are often billed as "inclusive," you will need to shell out extra bucks for some expenses.  Here are the big ones:

Getting Aboard

You don't want to miss the ship, so always book your flight and hotel the day before your cruise departure. Always give yourself an extra day.   Click here and read why this is so important.

Extra Drinks

Before you imbibe, read the fine print.  Rates often include beer and wine with lunch and dinner, but you'll usually pay extra for premium liquors or any drinks outside of mealtimes.

All Tips

Gratuities for staff and guides aren't usually included, though there are exceptions. Not sure how much to give?  Budget about $100 per person per week.

2-for-1 Airfare

We chose to purchase the Viking River Cruise 2-for-1 airfare because, hey, you're buying two tickets for the price of one!  Who doesn't like to save money??  After paying beaucoup bucks for the river cruise, we didn't feel like dishing out money for two airfares on our preferred airlines, where we always book economy, then upgrade to "economy plus," which means more legroom, free drinks, etc.   If you opt for the awesome 2-for-1 deal, make sure you understand that you will not be able to upgrade at all.  You will be stuck in those narrow, hard-as-a-rock, no legroom seats at the back of the airplane.  After spending thousands of dollars, Gerry and I decided that for this one trip, we will endure the uncomfortable seats to and from China.

So how long is our flight from San Diego to Beijing???

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