Cruise Tip Tuesday | Planning Port Shopping

Colon - Free Trade Zone and Shops

Colon – Free Trade Zone and Shops
photo credit: roger4336

I try to research the ports before going on a cruise, but I realize not everyone takes the time to do so.  Even if you book an excursion with the cruise line you will probably have extra time to explore (i.e. shop) the port.  How do you know which areas are safe to roam with your family and where to go?

During your cruise, the crew will offer informational meetings for each port you will be visiting.  If you have not researched the ports before your cruise, I would suggest attending the port information meetings which are usually scheduled on sea days and held in lounges or the main theater.  I should warn you, though that these meetings are basically shopping sales pitches.  They will hand out maps, brochures, and coupons from the shops in port.  Some major “sponsors” for Caribbean ports are jewelry stores such as Diamonds International.  You might also have a chance to win products from a sponsor during the meeting.

Sometimes maps and shopping information are in the Daily schedule that arrives in your room the night before your stop, so going to a meeting might not be necessary.  If you want freebies, coupons, and maybe some tips, then plan on attending a meeting.

Frugal Family Friday | Winter Cruises From New Orleans

Mississippi River (2)

Mississippi River at New Orleans
photo credit: HeroicLife

Here are some cruise deals for winter (December 2011-March, 2012) out of New Orleans.  The best pricing will be in January and February due to the holidays in December and spring break in March.  The cruise lines that depart from New Orleans are Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean.

*All prices are for the lowest priced cabin available which is an inside cabin.  Some are guarantee cabins where you are not assigned a cabin at booking and could get upgraded and some are assigned at booking. Taxes and port charges are additional.

January 8, 2012 or January 15, 2012 or January 22, 2012 – Norwegian Spirit – 7 Day Western Caribbean to Costa Maya, Belize City, Roatan, Cozumel

Family of 3: $429 1st and 2nd passengers, $199 3rd/4th, $160 children under 2

Family of 4:  $449 1st and 2nd passengers, $199 3rd/4th, $160 children under 2

January 9, 2012 – Carnival Elation – 5 Day Mexican Cruise to Progresso and Cozumel

Families of 3, 4, or 5:  $219 1st and 2nd passengers, $139 3rd-5th

January 28, 2012 or February 4, 2012 – Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas – 7 Day Western Caribbean to Falmouth, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel

Family of 3 or 4: $439 1st and 2nd passengers, $259 3rd/4th

February 26, 2012 – Carnival Conquest – 7 Day Western Caribbean to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel

Family of 3 or 4: $459 1st and 2nd passengers, $179 3rd/4th

Book these cruises and more directly with each cruise line, with your favorite travel agent, or our affiliate:

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Post Cruise Excursions

05-21-07 Road Trip 042 French Quarter

French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
photo credit:

I am back…for now!  I have no idea at this point as to how often I will post, but hopefully more than I have been.  I have gotten a lot more traffic to this blog lately without even posting.  So thank you to all the recent visitors!  I hope some of my tips have been helpful to you.

So here is a quick tip:  Book a post cruise excursion with the cruise line to ensure easy transportation back to the airport.

Our last cruise was out of New Orleans, and we booked Norwegian’s post cruise New Orleans excursion.  After meeting in the theatre at a specified time, we were basically led off the boat as a group and did not have to wait in any long lines to disembark.  We picked up our luggage, and it was placed under the bus.  We learned a little bit about the city and history and were then dropped off right at the airport.  Since we have young children, I always worry about taking taxis without car seats and actually fitting in a taxi.  With the excursions, you are usually taken via charter bus and there is no need or worry about car seats for children.  If you have any interest in the city of disembarkation, it might be worth the cost and ease of booking the post cruise excursion offered by your cruise line.

As a bonus, kids are usually charged a discounted rate, and oftentimes infants and toddlers are free.

One thing you must ensure is that your flight leaves the day the cruise ends AND that it is late enough in the day to actually have time for an excursion.  A return flight departure of 1pm or later is usually safe, but I would consider 2pm to be better.  It really depends on the length of the excursion and distance to the main airport.  For example, if you were to cruise out of Port Canaveral, FL, you might want to consider a later flight since you would probably be flying out of Orlando International Airport which is approximately an hour away.  You will usually see information in the description of the excursion that tells you how late your flight needs to be to go on the excursion.

As an alternative, you could contact the cruise line and buy just transfers from the port to the airport, but the price might not be much less than buying the excursion with the tour.

As a reference, the 2.5hr tour that Norwegian Cruise Line sells from New Orleans as a post cruise excursion is $49 for adults and $29 for children.  I am almost positive that children under 2 are free.

Cruise Tip Tuesday | Combining Disneyworld With a Cruise

photo credit: cdorobek

Wow I can not believe it has been over a month since I have posted.  I have been busy planning a Disneyworld vacation!  Last year we went to Disneyworld during Homeschool Days, and we loved it as the ticket prices are so reasonable.  It was our first time staying on site – All Star Sports – and it was a lot of fun with the 3 kids.  So, we are going back again this year, and I have been busy planning away.  This time we are staying at Pop Century for 9 nights. 

So what does this have to do with cruising as a family?  Well for us, nothing directly, but I just wanted to send a suggestion out there to consider combining a Disneyworld trip or even Sea World or Universal Studios for that matter with a cruise.  There are several cruise ships that depart out of Port Canaveral, Florida.  The best and most direct airport to fly into for these cruises is Orlando International.  There are many transportation companies that offer transfers from Orlando International to Port Canaveral including the cruise lines themselves. 

What cruise lines and ships depart from Port Canaveral? 

Disney Dream

Disney Magic

Disney Fantasy

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Dream

Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Norwegian Sun

Many of these cruises are only 3-5 days in length, so you could combine a few days at the parks with a short cruise and have a great family vacation.  Also, many of these ships have non-suite cabins that hold families of 5.

Frugal Family Friday | Taking Advantage of Carnival’s Cash Back Offer

Carnival Legend

Carnival is offering up to $150 cash back on cruises booked through July 31, 2011.  The credit will show up on your stateroom account to be used onboard or for excursions. 

3 and 4 Day Cruises receive $25 each for the 1st and 2nd passengers = $50

5 Day Cruises receive $50 each for the 1st and 2nd passengers = $100

6+ Day Cruises receive $75 each for the 1st and 2nd passengers = $150

This is actually a pretty good offer as Carnival offers some great pricing for their off season cruises, but you must be careful and check all pricing options.  For example, a family of 4 could go on a 6 day cruise on the Carnival Freedom on December 11, 2011 for as little as $234 per person!  If you want the cash back offer of $150 you will have to pay $309 per person.  That means that in this case it is $150 cheaper to forgo the cash back offer and go with the Early Saver pricing option. 

If you are booking a cruise that does not qualify for the Early Saver rate with a cruise closer to now, you will do better in most cases with booking the Cash Back Offer.  For example, a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Liberty on September 24, 2011 with cost $314 per person for a family of 4 with the Fun Saver pricing or $329 per person for 4 with the cash back offer.  If you count the $150 cash back you are actually saving $90 AND you get to choose your cabin.

If you think you might not be able to spend $150 onboard, think again.  This cash back can be used for tips and shore excursions.  That is usually all we charge on our onboard account.

photo credit: Cruise News Weekly

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