Bargains – who doesn’t love them? Whether its finding jewelry for a fraction of the price in a Mexican mercado, talking the Belizean cabby down to half his advertised price or getting a week long cruise through the azul waters of the Caribbean for the price of the average Costco run. Finding a great deal is for everyone and it’s always something to get excited about. This is the first of a multi-part series from my latest journey. This time I set sail across the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Norwegian Jade cruise ship.

Introduction

I’ll admit, cruising isn’t for everyone, but I would recommend at least entertaining the idea because the value a cruise vacations offers is hard to beat. The reason cruises offer so much value is because they are all-inclusive and you aren’t required to spend a penny more than the upfront cost. Of course, this all depends on your self-control when it comes to resisting onboard purchases; which, if we’re being honest, we are all going to make. Still, the value is tremendous. We’ll get into the numbers in a bit.

When choosing a cruise it can be a little daunting at first. Which cruise line to choose, which ports to visit, how many nights and what packages to purchase? However, in a lot of ways, booking a cruise is more straight forward than booking airfare. Mostly because there are at most hundreds of options for cruise itineraries in a given week versus the hundreds of thousands of airfare itineraries possible. There are some sites that aggregate options from most of the major cruse lines such as cruise.com, which can be helpful. I would suggest finding an itinerary that fits your timeframe and hits the destinations you would like to visit. Then visit the cruise line’s web sites to learn more about promotions being offered. As far as timing goes, booking a year or so in advance or booking last minute usually offers the best deals.

Let’s just jump into some numbers and we’ll use the cruise I just went on as an example. I chose a seven-day-cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line aboard the Norwegian Jade sailing through the Caribbean and stopping in Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Routan, Honduras. I booked a few weeks in advance and paid $1,405. Now before you get sticker shock and decide a cruise isn’t for you, realize this was the total price for four adults (technically it was the price for two adults and the second two sailed for free). Divide that out and the price comes to a much more sensible $351.25 per person for a week long all inclusive vacation visiting three countries. That is a steal. However, like I mentioned before there are plenty of options which will drive the price of your vacation up. Also its important to keep in mind that every cruise line expects gratuities which are often automatically billed directly to your credit card. On Norwegian they call this a service-fee which was an additional $94 per person due at the end of the trip. The last thing I’ll mention regarding pricing is that the more expensive your airfare to the port of departure the less vacation value you’re getting.

Norwegian-Jade

As you hopefully see by now, cruises prices can be a little misleading but still offer a fantastic value when compared to a traditional vacation. In addition, I haven’t even brought up the delicious food, first-class entertainment and friendly service – altogether these elements make setting sail hard to resist.