You may have heard that millenials are killing off the cruise vacation, but cruises are only growing in popularity. In fact, the estimated number of cruise ship passengers in 2018 is expected to increase by over a million. This large growth is only possible because the cruise lines continue building more and larger ships. A total of 13 new cruise ships will start sailing in 2018 with 2 of them sailing this week.
The Carnival Horizon was the first major new cruise ship to set sail in 2018. She was delivered to Carnival on March 28th and started her inaugural sailing on April 2nd. The Horizon will go on 4 Mediterranean cruises before re-positioning to New York for the summer. On September 22nd she will move to Miami and run 6 and 8 night Caribbean cruises. The Horizon is Carnival Cruise Line’s 26th ship and second largest, behind only her sister ship, the Vista.
Carnival Horizon Quick Facts
Inaugural Sailing: April 2, 2018 – 13 Night Europe from Barcelona
Gross Tons: 133,500
Notable Features: IMAX TheaterDr. Seuss Water ParkSkyRide – Suspended bike above the top deck
If you are ready to book a cabin on board the Carnival Horizon, drop us a note and we’d be happy to start helping you plan.
Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and for good reason. We went to Honolulu ourselves in 2016, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time on the island. It is a tropical island paradise that can compete with any destination in the Caribbean, yet finding a cruise to Hawaii is surprisingly difficult. Part of the reason for this is Hawaii’s distance from the continental United States; over 2,600 miles as the crow flies from Southern California. This comes out to about 2,250 nautical miles, which will take an average cruise ship between 100 and 120 hours to cross. That comes out to 5 full days at sea to get to Hawaii, and another 5 to return to California.
Distance is not the only problem facing cruise companies that want to visit Hawaii. For various legal, financial, and logistical reasons most cruise ships are foreign flagged vessels. This means that they are restricted by the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886. This law bans any vessel that isn’t built in the US and owned by a US based company from transporting passengers between two different US ports. This act also says that a cruise that leaves from and returns to the same US port must visit a foreign port, so even if a ship were to make a round trip cruise from Honolulu, it would have to visit a port outside the United States. The closest such port is Tabuaeran on the Fanning Atoll, a full 4 days away from Honolulu.
Options for Cruises to Hawaii
Despite these difficulties, many cruise lines do offer cruises to Hawaii. If you want to take one of these magical adventures, you have four main options. A world cruise, a re-positioning cruise, a multi-week California to Hawaii cruise, or a 7 night round trip Honolulu cruise on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.
The most expensive and lengthy option for a cruise to Hawaii is a world cruise. These cruises are measured in months, not days and range from a 59 nights to 161 nights. The price of these cruises range from $22,000 to $80,000 per person. On these cruises, Hawaii is just another port, but what a way to see the islands.
Some cruises are only able to run part of the year, so cruise lines need to move their ships. Alaska cruises are one of the most popular seasonal cruises and can only sail from May through September. When Alaska gets too cold, the ships relocate, often to Asia or Australia. This path across the Pacific takes them right past Hawaii, so it is a natural stop to break up the long cruise. It takes about 6 or 7 days for a cruise to reach Hawaii from Seattle, Vancouver, or Anchorage, and another 7 or 8 days to reach the South Pacific.
These cruises can be run in one of two ways. The first option is a longer cruise, often at least 21 nights with Hawaii as a mid-point stop. The second option is to split the cruise into two separate cruises. The first cruise would end in Honolulu and the second cruise would begin there. Often at least one of these cruises would island hop to multiple cities in Hawaii.
Round Trip California Cruises to Hawaii
These cruises are offered on Princess, Holland America, Oceania, Crystal, and occasionally Celebrity. There are two main itineraries available; a 15-17 night cruise from California to Hawaii, with a stop in Mexico, or a 28+ night cruise to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the South Pacific. Most of these cruises depart from Los Angeles, while a few leave from San Francisco or San Diego. The shorter cruises stop at Ensenada, Mexico, a city known locally as La Cenicienta del Pacifico, or “The Cinderella of the Pacific”. Ensenada is not a particularly popular destination, but it does have its charms. The city is working hard to improve their offerings, and they have some of the best street food in Mexico.
Round Trip Honolulu Cruises
There is one, and only one, cruise line that offers regular round trip cruises from Hawaii. If you want to take a typical 7 night cruise from Honolulu to the other islands, Norwegian is it. In order to get around the regulations of the Passenger Vessel Service Act, NCL had to take several steps. First, they had to create a new company, NCL America, that was headquartered in the United States. Second, they had to have a ship that was US built, US flagged, and manned with US crew. Ultimately this ship became the Pride of America. Construction was finished in 2005, and she has been sailing the Hawaiian Islands for the past 13 years.
Pride of America runs the same itinerary year round, leaving Honolulu every Saturday. The cruise overnights in Kahului, Maui, then visits Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, and finally overnights in Nawiliwili, Kauai. Since there is no competition, these cruises can be a little more expensive than other 7 night sailings. At the lowest end you are looking at about $2,500 for two people in an interior room. A balcony room will start at closer to $5,000 for two people.
The Best Time for a Hawaii Cruise
If you are planning on taking a re-positioning cruise to Hawaii you will be severely limited. These cruises are set based on the Alaska cruising season, so your choices are typically March/April or September/October. These months also have the benefit of being in Hawaii’s low season, so flights and hotels will typically be cheaper. If your cruise is one of the ones that ends or begins in Hawaii, this can be really helpful.
If you are planning on taking the Norwegian cruise, these months can still be a great choice. Since airfare is often cheaper in the shoulder months, the higher cost of the cruise can be offset a bit. The rest of winter can be another great choice to escape to a warm tropical paradise. January through March is Hawaii’s high season, so it may be more expensive and more crowded, but it can be a great respite from the cold.
If you’d like to plan your own adventure to Hawaii, send me a request. I’d be happy to find the perfect Hawaiian cruise for you and your family.
Trying to plan an adventure on a budget can be a daunting task, but there are several steps you can take to minimize the stress. It does not matter how big of a vacation you are planning. Whether you are taking a short weekend getaway, a week long cruise, or spending a month abroad; overpaying for any vacation is not pleasant. Thankfully, you have options that will help you make the most out of your vacation budget. Read on to save money on your next dream vacation, and keep more money in your bank account.
Be Flexible Whenever Possible
When and Where You Travel Matters
One of the best ways to save money on a vacation is by being flexible. You have probably seen this in action when attempting to book flights; many websites will ask if your dates are flexible. If you say yes they will then show you the cheapest price available within 3 days. You can take this even further by using a tool such as Google Flight’s Low Fare Calendar. Often you can get much better deals flying on a weekday, or on a date when the airline has many available seats.
Aside from dates, you can also potentially save money if you can be flexible with the airports you are flying between. Sometimes this can be obvious, such as considering both O’Hare and Midway if you are flying into or out of Chicago, but there are other options. Depending on how far you are willing to drive you can find a large number of potential airports to price check. For example, somebody in Chicago might consider going to Detroit. If you are in New York you may consider Philadelphia or even Boston.
Planes, Trains, or Automobiles
Finally, you can also compare different transportation options. If your destination is not too far you can consider taking a train or driving. While both options are slower than air travel, when you add in the time spent in security lines and any delays, the time difference may well be worthwhile for shorter routes. You can also look into combining travel options; on a recent trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, we were able to save $150 per person by taking the train from Vancouver to Seattle, and then flying home. The time difference between taking a direct flight from Vancouver was only 2 hours; well worth the overall savings.
Of course, it is not always possible to be flexible. School, work, and other obligations can restrict the time frame that you are able to travel. These limitations can also make it such that a quick, non-stop flight is necessary, even if the monetary cost is higher. One of the most important things to remember is that your budget is not just the dollar amount spent, time must also be budgeted.
Using Points to Your Advantage
Frequent Flier Miles
When we talk about using “points” to travel, there are many different programs that can come to mind. Many people are familiar with “Frequent Flyer” programs; points that you earn for travelling on a specific airline or airline alliance. These points can be redeemed for free or discounted flights, seat upgrades, or other perks. Unfortunately, if you do not travel often these points can be slow to accumulate, and with some programs they can expire.
Aside from flying, many airlines have credit cards or special shopping portals that can help you earn additional miles. If you travel often, especially if you almost always fly on a specific airline, these points can be extremely valuable. Still, their use can be severely limited since you are limited to specific airlines and restricted to award availability. Just because there are open seats on a flight, certain dates or routes can be blacked out for travel using points.
Hotel and Cruise Loyalty Programs
Airlines are not the only industry that use the point system to encourage and reward loyalty. Many hotel chains offer similar programs, where each night you spend in a participating property can earn points which can later be redeemed for various perks. The same limitations apply as with airlines, with blackout dates and having to stay at specific properties, but you may be surprised as to what all is included in a specific chain. For example, Wyndham owns 15 brands, including hotels such as Days Inn, Super 8, Ramada, and Wyndham Garden. Marriott, which recently acquired Starwood, has 30 brands in their portfolio.
Cruise lines also offer a loyalty program, but these are traditionally handled quite differently from airline and hotel programs. While miles and stays can earn you status with a particular airline or hotel group for a year, cruise status does not expire. The points that you earn for cruising do not translate to free cruises, at least not until you reach the highest tiers, but instead offer you benefits on future cruises. Some typical perks can include discounts on all future cruises, free drinks or internet on board, early boarding, and priority waitlists for reservations.
Credit Card Points, Miles, and Cash Back
All of these points lock you into a specific brand, but there is another option that is much more flexible; credit card points. Cash back credit cards are well known, and an excellent way to save a small amount on all purchases, but there is so much more to credit card points. One example, and my personal favorite travel credit card, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Points earned on the card can be redeemed with a 25% bonus when booking travel through the Chase website. It also provides the option to transfer your points to various partners, such as the aforementioned frequent flyer programs. American Express has a similar travel portal program, and Citi has a 4th Night Free program when you book four or more consecutive nights in a hotel through their service.
Consider All Costs
When travelling on a budget it can be really easy to just look at the big purchases, but it is crucial to consider all the costs. For example, you may find a flight that’s $100 cheaper at an airport 200 miles away. At first, this can look like a great deal. However, the plane ticket is not the only cost you need to consider. If it will cost you $50 in gas to make the round trip drive, and $15 per day to park, that cheaper ticket can wind up costing you a lot more.
Maybe you found a hotel for only $50 a night, compared to another that is $100 a night. At first glance it seems obvious which hotel is cheaper, but when you consider all the associated costs it may not be so straight forward. Maybe the cheaper hotel has no airport shuttle, so you’ll have to spend $25 each way on taxi fares. Perhaps internet or breakfast are not included and will cost you an extra $10-$20 per day. In order to truly get the best price on your vacation it is important to consider all the expenses you will incur.
Recently, many airlines have begun offering “basic economy” fares that are cheaper than the ordinary tickets. Unfortunately, these then add on additional fees for large carry-ons, choosing your seat, or checking a bag. Cruise lines will add daily gratuities, and do not include sodas, alcohol, internet, or shore excursions in their listed price. It can be extremely easy to just look at a trip and say, “It will cost me $250 to fly, and $1,500 to take a cruise”. If not prepared, however, you may get home and see that you were charged an extra $50 in baggage fees, $150 in cruise line gratuities, and $75 on sodas while on board the ship. All of a sudden you have gone through your entire vacation budget without even realizing it.
Understanding the Rules of the Game
This is where having a knowledgeable travel agent can really come in handy. For example, most plane tickets are non-refundable and have a large fee to change flights. For that reason I often recommend that travelers on a budget book flights last, when they are certain that the vacation won’t be cancelled. There are some tricks to getting the absolute best price on flights, but they also have downsides. For example, sometimes it might be cheaper to book one ticket between your departure airport and a middle airport, and then a second ticket to your final destination. While the ticket itself is cheaper, you will end up paying for checked luggage twice. Also, if your plans change you will have to pay the change fee twice.
Travel insurance is another expense that can sometimes make sense, but you need to understand the terms. Some travel insurance will reimburse you if you have to cancel a vacation because you lost your job, or had your leave request revoked, but not all. Some packages won’t pay out if you had a pre-existing medical condition. Others may not be valid if a flight is cancelled for mechanical or staffing issues. Many people who are impacted by these rules come to believe that insurance companies will do anything to not pay a claim. However, it ultimately comes down to understanding what the insurance does and does not cover.
Refundable Expenses and Price Drops
Aside from flights, some other aspects of your vacation may be able to be cancelled without penalty. Cruises, for example, are often fully refundable up until 2-3 months before you sail. This also means that if the price of your cruise drops after you book, you can get it repriced at the better rate. Here at Adventures With Anthony we offer the guarantee that you will get the best available rate. If you book a cruise and the price drops before final payment is due, we will automatically adjust your final cost.
Hotels can be the most confusing of all because cancellation policies will vary wildly. Often, whether or not you can cancel a hotel stay is dependent on the exact rate you booked. The same exact room may have both a refundable and a non-refundable option. Sometimes the policy can vary depending on the season or how far in advance you book. Having a knowledgeable agent working on your behalf can make finding the rate right much easier.
Make Sure You’ll Be Happy
This is by far the most important thing to keep in mind. No matter how great of a deal you scored, if you don’t enjoy yourself it will be money wasted. For example, if you absolutely hate flying it might be better in the long run to purchase a more expensive non-stop flight. Otherwise, you may start your vacation incredibly stressed and won’t be able to properly enjoy yourself. Similarly, when planning a cruise it might be better to spend a little more for a ship or itinerary that you are really excited about.
In the end, you need to budget your time, money, and happiness. Focusing exclusively on spending as little money as possible can backfire, but with a little research and flexibility you can maximize all three.
** UPDATE ** – Royal Caribbean has made some changes to the schedules for Empress, Enchantment, Majesty, and Vision. See the updates here.
Royal Caribbean just announced the first half of their 2019/2020 deployment and there are some BIG changes in store. Today’s announcement includes the deployment for Caribbean, Alaskan, Northeast, and select European cruises. You will be able to book these cruises starting next week, and reserving early often gets the best deal. Royal Caribbean will announce the remaining cruises, including Asia, Australia, and the rest of Europe, next spring. We are very excited with the information that has already been released, and are looking forward to more details.
As their name implies, the majority of Royal Caribbean’s offerings are in the Caribbean. They are sending 13 of their 25 ships to the Caribbean for the summer of 2019 into 2020. The cruises will range from 3 to 8 nights and visit Mexico, the Bahamas, and Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean islands. You will also have a lot of options, with cruises leaving from Galveston, three ports in Florida, Boston, Baltimore, Newark, and San Juan.
Short Caribbean Adventures
If you are new to cruising or are just looking for a short trip, Royal Caribbean has you covered. The Navigator of the Seas and the brand new Symphony of the Seas will both be making 3 and 4 night cruises to the Bahamas from Miami. Also leaving from Florida, the fully reimagined Mariner of the Seas will be making the same cruise from Orlando. For something a little different, you can also take the Enchantment of the Seas from Galveston, Texas. The Enchantment will be making 4 and 5 night trips to Mexico and the Western Caribbean. These shorter itineraries will be available for bookings starting the week of November 20th.
7 Night Caribbean Adventures
A main staple among cruise lines, 7 night cruises are a great way to get the full cruise experience when you don’t have a lot of time. All four of the Oasis Class of ships – Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony – will be based in Florida. Both Oasis and Symphony will be departing from Miami on alternating Eastern and Western itineraries. The Allure of the Seas will be moving to Fort Lauderdale, and Harmony will go to Port Canaveral/Orlando. They will both also be alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. In addition to the Florida offerings, Liberty of the Seas will be taking 7 night Western Caribbean cruises from Galveston, Texas.
If you want something a little more exotic, the Freedom of the Seas will be departing San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Southern Caribbean. Our own very first cruise was on this itinerary. The Southern itineraries tend to have more ports than their Eastern and Western alternatives. So, if you like visiting as many places as possible, this might be the perfect cruise for you. These will be the first cruises available to be booked, with reservations opening the week of November 13th.
East Coast to Bermuda
There are also a variety of options to visit the Caribbean from the east coast. The Anthem of the Seas will continue sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on 5 night cruises to the Bahamas and 9 night cruises to the Caribbean. Also at Cape Liberty is the Adventure of the Seas, offering 8 night cruises to Bermuda and the Bahamas. In the fall of 2019, the Serenade of the Seas will offer some 7 night cruises to Bermuda from Boston, while the Grandeur of the Seas will alternate 5 and 9 night Bermuda/Bahamas cruises from Baltimore, Maryland. These will all be available starting the week of December 4th.
Canada and New England
All of the ships from the East Coast above will also be offering summer cruises to New England and Canada. Typically, these ships will alternate itineraries, going to Bermuda one week and Canada the next. Adventure of the Seas out of Cape Liberty will offer both the longest and the shortest of these itineraries to Canada. In the summer Adventure will be taking 5 night cruises to Canada and New England, while in the fall she will offer 10 and 11 night cruises. These longer cruises are one way trips; going from Cape Liberty to Quebec City on one cruise, and then returning on the next. Currently, this is the only itinerary Royal Caribbean is offering that visits Quebec City.
The Anthem of the Seas will also be visiting Canada and New England from Cape Liberty. This is a cruise we have done before, and visits Boston, Bar Harbor, Portland, New Brunswick, and Halifax. This cruise will be 9 nights long and will only be available during the fall months. The Anthem is a Quantum Class ship and has a lot of the big amenities that make Royal Caribbean so much fun to sail. The Serenade of the Seas will be offering a similar, 7 night option. Since the Serenade leaves from Boston it is able to complete the remainder of the itinerary faster than the Anthem. The Serenade is also a slightly smaller ship, and as such may be a better option for some cruisers.
Finally, the Grandeur of the Seas is your only option for sailing to Canada and New England in the summer months. Sailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Grandeur will be making 9 night cruises up the eastern coast. All of these options will become available for bookings starting December 4th.
Europe and the Mediterranean
There are some big changes in store for European cruises. Royal Caribbean is adding a brand new port, Portofino, Italy, to select European cruise itineraries. This stop is currently scheduled to be added to the 7 night Mediterranean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas. This will be running only during the fall months, leaving from Barcelona, Spain. During the summer, the Brilliance will be sailing out of Amsterdam on 10 night cruises to the Iberian Peninsula and 12 nights to the Baltics.
Aside from the Brilliance, the Oasis of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will also be sailing from Barcelona. The Oasis will be sailing 7 night Western Mediterranean cruises in the summer before repositioning to Miami. The Vision will be alternating 12 night Mediterranean itineraries, switching between visiting the Greek Isles and Venice.
If you would rather start your trip in Venice, the Rhapsody of the Seas will be leaving from there. The Rhapsody will sail alternating 7 night cruises; one to the Greek Isles and one to Greece and Croatia. The Greece and Croatia route will have brand new ports that Royal Caribbean ships have never visited before. The exact ports which are new to this itinerary have not been identified yet, but should be announced by the beginning of December. Also leaving from Italy will be the Jewel of the Seas. The Jewel will be going on 7 and 9 night cruises to the Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean from Rome.
Scandanavia and Russia
The last ship that is scheduled for summer European sailings is the Serenade of the Seas. The Serenade will spend the summer in Copenhagen before transitioning across the Atlantic for fall in Canada and New England. While in Copenhagen the Serenade will be going on 7 night cruises, alternating between the Norwegian Fjords one week and Russia the next. The first round of European sailings will be available for booking starting December 11th.
Alaska is going to have some really exciting changes for 2019. The Radiance of the Seas will return once again to complete the open jaw 7 night cruises through the Inside Passage. The Radiance has been a staple ship in Alaska for several years, and is one of our favorite cruises. We have actually taken the Southbound Alaska cruise on the Radiance twice. This cruise goes from Seward Alaska to Vancouver, Canada and then back the next week, visiting Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and the Hubbard Glacier.
The big change for 2019 is the Ovation of the Seas will be replacing the Explorer of the Seas for Alaska glacier cruises. The Ovation is a Quantum Class ship and is much larger than the typical ships which sail to Alaska. The Ovation also has the North Star Observation platform, which promises some outstanding views of wild Alaska. It will be ported in Seattle, Washington, and will take 7 night, round trip cruises. The current itineraries that the Explorer takes visit Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm Fjord, and Victoria, British Columbia. Royal Caribbean has not yet confirmed if Ovation will be following the same route, just that it will go on Alaska cruises from Seattle. Both Alaska cruises will be available starting December 11th.
Plan a Cruise
The initial deployment schedule looks very promising, and we are very excited to see what details will come out over the next month. While 2019 and 2020 seem fairly far away, the nature of cruises often means the earlier you can book the better price you will get. Reach out today to find your perfect cruise. Don’t forget, we offer a lowest price guarantee. If a better deal is available after you book until final payment, we will get you the lower price.
** UPDATE ** – Royal Caribbean has announced changes to cruises on the Enchantment of the Seas. Unfortunately, this cruise has now been cancelled. Details can be found here.
Hello adventurers! We have some really exciting news for you today. Royal Caribbean has just released a 9 day cruise itinerary that visits both Panama and Costa Rica. This is currently the only cruise offered by Royal Caribbean that visits Costa Rica, and one of only three that visits Panama. This sailing departs Galveston, Texas on November 7th, 2018 and returns on November 16th. Along the way you will stop in Puerto Costa Maya Mexico, Colon Puerto Rico, Puerto Limon Costa Rica, and Cozumel Mexico. Even better, the current price of this cruise starts at only $619 per person. At 9 nights, this comes down to less than $69 per person per day. This cruise was just announced and prices won’t stay this low for long!
Nov. 7, 2018
Nov. 8, 2018
Nov. 9, 2018
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico
Nov. 10, 2018
Nov. 11, 2018
11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Nov. 12, 2018
7:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Nov. 13, 2018
Nov. 14, 2018
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Nov. 15, 2018
Nov. 16, 2018
Enchantment of the Seas
This cruise is on the Enchantment of the Seas, which is part of Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class. The Enchantment is one of the smaller ships in Royal’s fleet with a capacity of 2,446 passengers. While that means it does not have the “mega-ship” feel of the newest ships, it is also significantly less crowded. Enchantment has less than half the maximum number of passengers compared to the newest Quantum of the Seas and almost one third the passengers as the current largest ship, Harmony of the Seas.
While aboard Enchantment you will enjoy a variety of activities including bungee trampolines, rock climbing, theater shows, and pool-side movies. There are three saltwater pools on board, including an adults only Solarium, and an additional splash pool for kids. For dining, you have the free main dining room or Windjammer buffet, as well as the premium Chops Grille, so you will never go hungry.
Over 9 days this cruise visits four ports and has four sea days. Cozumel and Puerto Costa Maya are both excellent ports that a lot of ships frequent, but the real highlight of this sailing are the stops in Panama and Costa Rica. You will spend nine hours in Colon, Panama, plenty of time to see the canal or the capital, Panama City. Unfortunately, this sailing does not transit the Canal, but that is partially why it is such a great bargain. Ships travelling through the Panama Canal have to pay a tax based on the size of the ship. This typically adds approximately $150 to $250 per passenger, a significant increase.
The day after leaving Panama you will spend another 9 hours in Puerto Limon, on the Costa Rican coast. I had the pleasure of spending a day in Limon in 2004, and I still remember the stunning beauty today. While in port there is so much to do. You can explore Veragua Rainforest or the Tortuguero Canal if you enjoy nature. If beaches are more your style there are miles of pristine coastline to explore. If history is more your forte, you can plan a trip to Isla Uvita, where Columbus landed on his last voyage across the Atlantic. There is a reason Costa Rica’s motto is Pura Vida or Pure Life and all it takes is one visit to understand.
Ready to Book?
While November 2018 seems far away, this is an extremely unique cruise for Royal Caribbean. We do not expect this price to last for long, and it is even possible for cabins to start selling out soon. All that you need is a $250 deposit per person to reserve your spot on this amazing adventure. We also offer a lowest price promise; any price drops between when you book and when final payment is due will be honored. If you book today, you will be locked in at the best possible price for this stunning itinerary.
Reach out to us and start planning your adventure today!