There are so many ways to see the world. Do you want to see breath taking views of the Swiss Alps while your tires squeal around the hairpin turns of the road ascending Gottthard Pass, do you want to feel the cool summer air from a hot air balloon as you soar over thousands of temples and pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan, or do you want to bike around the mesmerizing volcanic country of Iceland? All of these would surely be an adventure of a lifetime but sometimes a week of complete relaxation and all you can eat shrimp is what the doctor called for. Occasionally you just need to cruise.

Choosing the Cruise

Of course there are destinations around the world that can be toured or reached by cruise ship but the real allure of a cruise, at least for me, is relaxation and value. If you are wanting to immerse yourself inside a culture and leave with a deep understanding of a new place, a cruise is not for you.

Cruises offer supreme relaxation and value that is hard to beat.

This however isn’t true of all cruise destinations. Hawaiian, Australian and European cruises tend to be much more expensive than cruises departing the US to Mexico, the Bahamas or Caribbean. These cruises take you to a truly pristine part of the world for prices that make you wonder how cruise lines can stay in business.

Roatan

Don’t be fooled by the eye-catching prices though, what you see isn’t usually what you pay. In addition to the high taxes and fees, most cruises have some kind of mandatory gratuity charge which adds a significant amount to the trip total. These are the kind of costs you can’t do anything about. However, there are lots of ways to get great deals.

Getting the Deal

Websites like cruise.com can be helpful searching multiple cruise lines at once. This is a great starting point but prices aren’t always what they seem. In addition to the fee’s which vary by cruise company, there are also discounts that vary by cruise company and specific cruise. It’s best to determine the general area you would like to see and they amount of time you are wanting to spend cruising. Then narrow your search and begin exploring the prices and promotions. In a way this is opposite of the best way to find airfare, which I advise broadening the search for.

Keep an eye our for buy-one-get-one-free-type promotions. In five days from now I am sailing away from Houston, Texas to Mexico, Honduras, and Belize for a week long lesson in relaxation. The week long cruise, which includes all I can eat food including the specialty restaurants, cost me a total of $351. Now, this probably isn’t even the best deal that could be found but I didn’t plan a year in advance like the true cruise aficionados. It’s still a steal though considering it comes down to about $50 per day and includes all living expenses. I was able to get this price because Norwegian Cruise Lines was offering a promotion that allows “friends and family” to sail for free. So I booked four people for the price of two – essentially making the cruise half-price.

Check back for a complete write-up on cruising the Caribbean.