|Best Travel Advice|
|Picking the Perfect Cruise|
|Carrying Prohibited Items|
|Knowing Security Measures|
|Driving Record Screens|
|Hostels: What They Are and Where to Find Them|
|How to Plan an Adventure Vacation|
|How to Increase Your Money while Traveling|
|Scams on the Road|
|Self-Defense for Travelers|
|What to take|
TIP # 1: BOOK EARLY -- BUT PROTECT YOUR DISCOUNTED RATE!
While it's true that an oversupply of cruise ship berths in some popular markets like the Caribbean usually means lower prices, other cruise options like Alaska at the beginning of the season tend to fill quickly. That's why it always pays to explore rates as early as you can .
However, always ask your travel agent to work with the cruise line to "guarantee" your rate. Then, if the cruise line offers a lower price in your category closer to the sailing date, you'll get the lower price, too!
TIP # 2: ALWAYS BOOK YOUR CRUISE WITH A CREDIT CARD.
Under the U.S. Fair Credit Billing Act, you have the right to dispute charges on your credit cards (but not your debit cards!) and to request a "chargeback" (a refund) if you do not receive travel services as promised.
TIP # 3: THINK ABOUT SHORE EXCURSIONS BEFORE YOU BOOK.
Sometimes, the cruise line's "shore excursions" -- pre-packaged guided tours and activities available for each port of call on your cruise itinerary -- will make sense for you to book, especially if you have never cruised before.
If you've visited a port in the past, though, or if you want to explore the port on your own, you may save money by working with your travel agent to set up the shore excursion on your own.
TIP # 4: ASK FOR THE TOTAL PRICE OF YOUR CRUISE.
Ever wonder how some cruise lines can afford to advertise $399 for a week-long cruise? They offer low prices that cover only the most basic expenses such as your cabin and meals -- leaving out other mandatory charges such as port taxes and government fees that can add another 30%-50%!
Always ask your agent for the total price when you compare cruises.
TIP # 5: READ THE FINE PRINT ABOUT ONBOARD CHARGES.
Ice cream, drinks, sodas, reservations in alternate dining rooms -- these services and goodies carry additional fees aboard some cruise ships. After you've settled into your cabin on the ship, take time to ask your cabin steward about onboard charges (or stop by the purser's desk for a list).
TIP # 6: ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME AT THE PIER -- AND BRING THE REQUIRED PAPERS TO BOARD THE SHIP!
After 9/11, cruise lines now enforce much tighter security as passengers leave a cruise and new ones board the ship. Plus, they don't have any "give and take" when it comes to required documents like passports.
Ask your travel agent what you'll need to board the cruise -- and don't forget it!