Cruising on a budget, part 1

After a year off the seas, I’m off on another cruise! Today I am setting sail on the Emerald Princess from Galveston for a week of sailing to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Belize.

I hadn’t planned a January cruise. Several months ago my two sisters, my mother and I signed up for a similar cruise out of Galveston in February.

But Princess Cruises made an offer I could not refuse. I get inundated with emailed last-minute cruise deals, but this one caught my eye. The email sent in mid December promised $299 per person for an inside cabin on the first full week’s cruise in January. When I clicked on the link for more details, it suddenly showed a price drop to $199 per person. I quickly put a hold on it in case it disappeared.

Of course, those offers never include all costs – they add on port fees, taxes, and the automatic tips cruise lines require these days. But Princess threw in a $200 cabin shipboard credit, so this price stayed low.

I paid $670 for two people: cruise fare, port fees and taxes, as well as $40 per person trip insurance (more later on why I signed up for it). Then I got a $200 shipboard credit, so the total per person so far is $235. We will each pay about $75 more for tips, but it still is a great deal. Any my nephew Zan, still on winter break from college, was more than happy to join me.

To ice the cake, last week we got an email from Princess giving us a complimentary upgrade from our inside cabin to one with a view. A lifeboat fills the lower part of our window, but we can see over it and it is nice to have the light.

I’ll write more in the next few days about how we are economizing on this cruise. After all, it’s no fun to get a great deal and then blow it with all sorts of extra costs.