Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cruising for a Cause

The New Haven Firebirds Society invites you to cruise for a cause, aboard the luxurious Norwegian Jewel, on a special 7-night Bahamas cruise benefiting their Firebirds Society Scholarship Program. Offered exclusively through Firebirds partner The Cruise Outlet, this once-in-a-lifetime journey sets sail from New York City on May 28th, 2011 with rates starting as low as $439.

Sailing from New York and visiting Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau Bahamas, Firebird guests aboard the Jewel will enjoy dazzling days of sun, fun, rest and relaxation while supporting a great cause. From a leisurely afternoon of shuffleboard and sun tanning by the pool, to catching a Las Vegas style revue before a high-stakes night in their full casino; Norwegian Cruise Line offers limitless onboard activities and amenities for every taste and lifestyle.

Guests setting sail to support the Firebirds will also enjoy exclusive onboard offers and events, including a private cocktail party, as part of this special rate offered exclusively by The Cruise Outlet.

Early booking is recommended for this amazing cruise, offered exclusively by The Cruise Outlet. Call (203) 288-1884 or email and get ready to say “Bon Voyage” for a great cause!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Choose the Right Cruise

Every cruise line is as different as day and night.  This is where a Professional Cruise Agent can offer much assistance. Each cruise line appeals to different groups or different lifestyles such as senior citizens, young couples, families, adventure seekers, etc.

Today's cruiser can pick from a wide variety of cruise lines when booking their trip. Contemporary, Premium, Upscale, Luxury. Each offers significantly different experiences, as well as differences in prices.


Most of the contemporary cruise lines have a very broad appeal to their potential passengers. In other words, they try to be everything to everyone.  Again, this is where your Cruise Professional can be an invaluable resource when planning your trip. A good Cruise Professional will take the time to learn your needs and match you with the right ship and sailing based on their experience. How long you are going to cruise for, what time of year, and where you want to cruise to are all important factors to consider when choosing the ship and cruise lines.

If you want to cruise the upscale or luxury cruise products, then they must be booked in advance as each sailing for them is different.  The Contemporary Cruise Lines will sail the same itinerary weekly when in the Caribbean, Alaska and Bermuda.  The Luxury lines sail different itineraries every week or every sailing.  Most of their sailings are 8, 10, 12, 14 or more days each time.  They can start in one country and end in another.


Your best value and smoothest ride  is on a lower deck in the middle of the ship.  Years ago, the lowest priced cabins were on the lowest decks  toward the front or aft end of the ship. Over the past 20 years, ships have changed significantly in layout and design.  The cheapest cabins were always next to or right above the engines. Also, the “cheapest cabins” can be found in a multitude of locations and on many different decks.
Again, a Cruise Professional becomes a very valuable asset in your planning.

The cabins range in prices from the least expensive interior cabin, to ocean view cabins with either a port hole or picture window, to a balcony cabin, then a mini suite, and then a full suite/penthouse. Most Cruise Lines have a multitude of different “categories” for each type of cabin and of course the costs vary. If you plan ahead far enough, getting a cabin mid-ship is the best. Especially convenient and wise when cruising on the newer ships which hold over 3500 passengers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tips for Solo Cruisers

If you are a single traveler, you should be aware that most cruise lines charge what is referred to as a "single supplement". Cruise lines base their rates on two people staying in each cabin. If you are going to travel by yourself, they will charge you a supplement fee. Some cruise lines will charge as much as 200%, essentially charging you enough to cover a second passenger. The "single supplement" rates vary depending on cruise line and sail date. However, flexible travel dates and guidance from your Cruise Professional can help solo cruisers avoid many of the pitfalls of traveling alone.  

A "repositioning" cruise takes place when a ship is moved from one part of the world to another, generally on a seasonal basis. For example, many cruise lines will position ships in Alaska during the summer months when the days are longer. As the days grow shorter in the fall, these ships are moved back to the Caribbean.  You can often find some very reasonable rates on these repositioning cruises.

If you have some flexibility with your sail dates, it can make a big difference in your cruise fare. Holidays, winter school break and spring break are always more expensive. If you are planning a Caribbean cruise, consider a fall sail date once kids are back in school.  Many people are concerned about Hurricanes in the Caribbean. Hurricane season is officially June 1 through Dec 1. While many people tend to shy away from booking a cruise during this time, it is important (and smart) to keep in mind that not only are the rates much lower during hurricane season, but that a cruise vacation is the only vacation that allows you to avoid severe weather completely! Ships will never head into a storm, but rather their route to avoid any bad weather. In a situation like this, the worst case scenario is a change in port of call or an extra day at sea.  Programs, activities and shows offered on the ship will all go on as usual, regardless of a route change due to weather.

The Cruise Outlet, as well as many travel agencies,will offer their clients shipboard credits or other amenities as a bonus for booking a trip on certain sailings. An onboard credit can be as much as $2000.00 on a particular cruise!  Remember, on most cruises you pay for your drinks (sodas, cocktails, beer & wine), shore excursions/tours, spa treatments and gratuities. Having a shipboard credit helps to offset those expenses. The earlier you book your cruise, the better the amenities are.  Those that wait until the last minute because they think they will get a deal truly miss out on these great perks! 

An important part of getting a good deal is protecting your investment.  An  independent insurance company (one that sells insurance only) can offer coverage that is far better than the insurance offered by the cruise lines. The difference in coverage is so vast, don’t look at the cost of the premium without considering the coverage and how it will be paid to you.  The Independent companies pay you the amount of the claim while many cruise line insurance coverages give you a credit for another cruise with limited terms and conditions.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The importance of planning your cruise

The myth that you will get a better price and deal by booking at the last minute is just that - a myth. It is important to know the industry and product if you are going to be a smart consumer!

On a cruise ship, there are many different price categories.  The price categories are for the different cabins of which many of these are the same in size and amenities, but in  different locations.  Unless you are purchasing a suite, almost every cabin on the ship has identical amenities.

When you book your cruise early you get to choose the cabin you want, or if you are dealing with a Cruise Professional, they will recommend a certain cabin in a certain location because they know the ship.  Remember, cabins are booked by specific number and location.  Once deposited, it cannot be sold to another person.  (In hotels it does not work this way.  The rooms are issued when you check in.).  How often have you had to wait hours before checking into your room?  Not on a ship!!

One of the benefits to booking in advance is you get a better choice of cabins. If you wait until the last minute, you are basically going to get a cabin that nobody else wanted.  (i.e. rooms under the kitchen, next to the disco, in a location where you will hear and feel the propellers, etc.). When you book your cruise six months to a year in advance, you are only required to put up a deposit to hold the cabin.
An interior cabin on a ship can have 6 different prices depending on its location.  All cabins are the same, just the price is different.  As the lower cost cabins are sold, the next person has to pay more for the same type of cabin.  The cabin can actually be next to each other and one is priced more just for the sake of the cruise lines making more money.

Yes, like any business, many companies will run a sale or promotion to generate business.  Cruise Lines are no different.  If you booked with a Cruise Professional, and the price was lowered they might have arrangements to protect the lower rate. Many of these “Cruise Agents” will let you know automatically, other companies you will have to check everyday. Remember if you booked with the Cruise Lines directly, this protection will not happen.