Dan Ilves (Dan Ilves, CTC, MCC) gives expert video advice on: What Is the difference between the 'list price' and the 'real price' of a cruise? and more...
How much will a cruise vacation cost?
Prices for cruises vary across the board, and it depends whether we're talking about contemporary cruise lines, premium cruises, or luxury cruises. Luxury cruise is going to cost more. Prices vary. On the low end, I would say a cruise will cost as little as fifty dollars per person, per day, but standard pricing would be closer to the hundred dollar range. Anything less than a hundred dollars a day is a phenomenal value for accommodation, three meals a day, entertainment, and activities. it is hard to beat that value. Most cruises are going to cost between a hundred, two hundred, or three hundred dollars a day. That's the bulk of the cruise industry. Over three hundred a day, you're talking premium and luxury cruises. There's a huge market for that, as well. Certainly, it delivers a completely different level of experience.
What Is the difference between the 'list price' and the 'real price' of a cruise?
People see so many prices for a cruise that they often ask “what's the real price of a cruise?”. The reality is that the cruise line has to print a brochure - they have to put a price or a value in their brochure . That's the value that they feel is the fair market value for that cruise. Is that the price at which they sell the cruise? Often it is not. Often it is less. It's less from anywhere you buy that cruise, and it doesn't mean that it is discounted. For reasons of seasonality, or reasons of how fast the cruise is booking up, prices vary. Prices change as you wait to book your cruise. The earlier you book, the chances are you will get the best price, and chances are that the prices are going to be lower than what you see in a brochure. The message to the consumer is, don't go buy what you see a brochure in a cruise line's brochure price. At the same time I would say, don't necessarily buy what you see in an advertisement. What you see advertised may not be the time of year that you need to go, and may not be the kind of cabin you want or need in your vacation. You want the best price on the cruise when you want to go, for the type of experience that you really need.
What are the room prices aboard a cruise?
A cruise ship generally has a variety of categories, all at different price points - from what we call inside cabins, which would be a cabin typically on a lower deck, not below water level but at a lower deck in the ship, to suites, which are usually on the higher deck, and everything in between. The cabins are often the same or similar, other than suites being different, or that some cabins have balconies and some do not. However, the standard cabin layout on many ships is actually the same. What you're really paying for is location. Location is a big factor, and the size of cabin becomes the second factor. As far as location goes, generally the higher on the ship that the cabin is located, the more expensive it will be. Mid-ship cabins, cabins that are located in the middle of a ship, or in the middle of the deck on each deck, are generally priced higher because there's a sense that they are more stable and more centrally located. With today's modern technology and very well-stabilized ships, that is not a major concern, and cabins that are on the far end, front or back of a ship, are generally a little less expensive than those in the middle. With regard to size - the larger the cabin, the more you're going to pay, with suites being on the top. Some of the suites can be huge, with grand pianos, personal Jacuzzis, butler services, dining rooms and kitchens. Then, there are small cabins, the smallest being the smallest room in your house. There's quite a range, and the price is dictated by that.
What is a 'shipboard account'?
When a person checks in for a cruise, they open a shipboard account. Everybody does this. You provide the cruise line with your credit card, they do an imprint of your credit card, and they open up an account for you during your vacation. Anything you charge onboard ship, such as alcoholic beverage, a glass of wine, a spa treatment, or what have you, that's an extra charge you put on your shipboard account. What that does, is it's really a convenience to the passenger. The passenger doesn't have to carry credit cards around, and doesn't have to carry a wallet around while they are on the ship - they can leave it in their stateroom in the safe. It's just terrific. You sign for the expense, and at the end of the cruise, the day before you get off the ship (the last full day of the cruise), usually that evening you will get your printed out statement, just like in a hotel. You get a printed out statement that shows all of your charges. If there's something that's in error or dispute, you talk to the pursers office and address that. Generally, it's correct. It's just charged to your account, so there's nothing else you have to do. You don't have to show up, and you don't have to pay. You're already taken care of.