Just booked cruise #6…

Planning our itinerary so far in advance has prompted questions from our friends, family, and readers.  Why book so far ahead? There are reasons for planning ahead: 

1. Favorable Rental Rates: Booking vacation rentals utilizing some type of contract between the parties; us and the property owner/manager, for a predetermined price, allows for a “locked-in” rental amount without consideration for inflation. One would assume the benefit is all ours, but in reality, this greatly benefits the property owner as well.  
Should the economy continue to dive (as anticipated), it could result in a decline in travel. With a contract, a deposit, and a commitment from us for no less than one month and for as long as four months, the owner is provided a modicum of peace of mind knowing their property is rented in the future to responsible, mature travelers.
2. Favorable Cruise Pricing: Our cruise agency and it’s amazing cruise agent, Joaquin Contreras, not only provide for discounted cruises, membership discounts (such as AARP, military, organizations), and past customer discounts. As I’d mentioned in a previous post, they guarantee the lowest prices up to 90 days prior to sailing. Thus, if we book a cruise for 2014, if and when the price goes down, we get the benefit of the lower amount. To avoid their customers waiting until the last minute to book cruises, this benefit ceases at the 90 days from the sail date.   
Yes, we could wait to book cruises until they offer the lowest possible pricing during the last 30-90 days, perhaps saving a few hundred dollars. However, as we carefully peruse the 1000’s of cruises posted on their website, we notice many cruises are sold out. We’d prefer the peace of mind knowing that we have avoided airports, luggage restrictions, bad airlines, long overnight travel, and jet lag, an annoying consideration that is all but eliminated in the gradual course of a cruise.
3.  Using Cruising as a Mode of Transportation: We will need to book no more than three flights for the 926 days we have planned thus far. If we could avoid these flights by cruising, we would. The difficult, if not impossible locations to reach by cruises are:   
a.  Kenya (due to piracy in the seas) 
b.  South Africa (still awaiting cruises to be posted for 2014)
c.  Madeira (a remote island 1200 miles from Lisbon, Portugal for which there used to be a weekly ferry.  Cruise ships only come to Madeira at certain times of the year) 
Today, we booked our 6th cruise. When we arrive in Barcelona on May 1, 2013, our plan included getting off the ship hauling all of our “stuff” and take a cab to the port of the ferry line to get us over to the island of Mallorca for our pre-planned one month’s visit. We would have spent hours awaiting the next ferry and hours traveling by ferry to the island.  

A few days ago a new cruise was posted. The ship on which we will arrive in Barcelona, Spain, The Norwegian Epic, a repositioning cruise, will leave for a four-night cruise, stopping off in Mallorca the second to last day. The cruise line has agreed to “drop us off” at Mallorca and continue on without us.  

Today we booked our same cabin on the same ship that brought us to Barcelona, Spain, allowing us to continue on to our next destination. Of course, there is an additional cost, around $1100 for both of us, in the same cabin with a balcony. This is called a “back to back.” 

The cost of the ferry would have been around $300 plus food for both of us. What are we getting for our additional $800? Room and board on a fabulous ship for three additional nights, great food, beautiful seas, and romantic walks along the promenade with my honey.  

Adding the cost of the combined fifteen days of cruising from Miami to Barcelona and then, Barcelona to Mallorca, our average cost is $205.97 per night (for both of us) including taxes, port taxes, meals, and entertainment (tips are extra). In looking online for the rates at a local Holiday Inn, 20 minutes away, mid-range, the cost with taxes would be $147.70 per night not including meals and entertainment.  

Now tell me, which sounds more appealing???

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