The cost of a cruise
In the week after the spring break rush in the US, Carnival Cruises was selling last-minute deals on a five-night Caribbean cruise from Miami for $149. As one US newspaper pointed out, that is actually less than the cost of staying in a Motel 6 for five nights (its advertised minimum rate is $39.99 a night) and the cruise includes all meals and some entertainment. Taxes need to be added to the cost of both the cruise and the motel stay but the cruise was obviously exceptional value.
When you book a hotel, you normally look at the cost per night, whereas with a cruise, you focus on the total cost of the cruise. Many cruises involve a flight with the fare included in the total. This is then complicated by cruise companies aggressively advertising special offers and free add-ons, which can make it difficult to compare prices between cruises. Our advice has always been that you should deduct the approximate cost of the flight and work out the cost per night. That allows you to judge the cost of competing cruises side-by-side. If you also use the Berlitz Guide to Cruising, you can start making some interesting comparisons. A special deal, which works out at £85 a night, may be much better value than one at £83 a night if the Berlitz ranking is significantly higher. You also need to take into account the size of the cabin and on which deck it is. Of course, this is not a perfect system but it does help to rank the myriad ‘special deals’ and see which offer the best value.
The story about Carnival and Motel 6 has prompted us to take this one step further. To get a proper view of the value offered by a cruise, maybe you should really try comparing it with the cost of a similar holiday in a hotel…
Subscribers can read the rest of this article in the May issue.
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