Thursday, 14 January 2010

CRUISE Transatlantic 12 nights $399 is this a good deal?

TRAVEL TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE DAY (Answer within next blog)
In which American state is it illegal to pawn false teeth?

Today I had an E-mail from our friends and fellow travellers Kevin & Ruth asking me if I thought the Travelzoo top 20 cruise deal of the week was a good one.

Enjoy a 12-night Transatlantic cruise, with stops along Portugal's coast, for US$399 per person.  Plus receive US$150 shipboard credit. That's US$33 per night for a vacation that includes all meals and endless entertainment options. 

So what constitutes a good deal.  Well everyone has their own idea of what a good deal if but I can certainly
add my comments from the point of view of a budget traveller.  To us a starting point is any cruise costing less than $100 day so this fits the bill perfectly.

This offer came through Travel Zoo who each week put out a top 20 list of specials.  In the past we found our Nile Cruise through them and could not find a better price through any other site than the one they linked us to.  Other cruise sites we like to check are Smart Cruiser  Cruise Pros Best Price Cruises but also check direct with the company in this case Norwegian Cruise LIne

Pick up reviews on the ship through a site like Cruise Critic but a transatlantic will have less reveiws on ports as the ship only does this journey once a year.

Whilst doing our Antarctic Cruise we were in the same port as the Norwegian Sun on two occasions.

We talked to a few passengers and the general complaint was the standard of the food.  Norwegian are a freestyle cruise with dining at any time you please.  As you will see our HAL ship is much smaller, offers fixed and freestyle dining and our food was excellent.

Norwegian seems to attract a slightly younger crowd and lots of families.

$150 on board credit offer - I cannot be sure about the Norwegian system but on some other cruise ships this credit is initially based on the duration of the cruise and the price of the cabin offered so they are likely to show the highest amount available which may not be what you get. Note that this offer is usually per cabin not per person.

On board credit can be used for things like shopping, drinks, excursions, tips but a way to get your hands on the cash if they won't let you draw it out is to buy casino chips then cash them in.

We prefer to pay a bit extra to have an outside cabin, the inside cabins are the same size and layout but you will have other cabins on both sides, behind and possibly above and below you so can be a bit noisier.  Also you have no idea what time of day it is, the weather or where you are but you can figure this out by putting the ships web cam channel on the TV.  Having said that this cruise has 9 days at sea so no great views from a window anyway.

The number of sea days may also be a reason this is being sold cheap, we did an RCI transatlantic last year with many more ports of call and less sea days. 

When booking through an agent you often have the option of either specifying which cabin you want or taking a guranteed one.  This means that at the time of allocation they guarantee to offer you the best available cabin in the catergory you chose, this often means you get an upgrade.

The best deals often come 2 to 3 months in advance but we have noticed this is not always the case with repositioning cruises like this one so at the end of the day you have to decide if this seems like a good deal to you.  No matter what deal you get the odds are someone on board will have done better.  Don't waste energy beating yourself up about it rather find out how they did it and use that information in the future.

So good deal or not, my opinion is that it is great deal if you want to get from England to USA (especially if you have a lot of baggage) but for a little extra cash there are other cruises available offering much nicer ports of call. 


Travelling light

Future blogs will cover finding and booking cheap cruises and money saving tips during the cruise.


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