Bargain Cruises: What’s a Good Cruise Deal?

Everyone is interested in finding bargain cruises. If you are set on taking a cruise vacation, why wouldn’t you want to find some sort of cheap cruise or at least a cruise deal? But then we most confront the question of what exactly a bargain cruise is: are bargain cruises merely cruises that are cheap relative to other cruises, or is the criterion perhaps a little looser, such that a cruise is defined as a “bargain cruise” if it is cheap compared to any other vacation? Or are bargain cruises something different altogether, perhaps definable only by reference to one’s personal wealth and resources?

We are at present only interested in determining what constitutes a bargain cruise, so we will not be explaining how to find cheap cruises, nor will be interested in discovering the cheapest cruise prices. These are topics best handled in separate articles, as the links we just offered to separate articles suggest.

The most obvious way to conceive of a bargain cruise is simply this: a bargain cruise is just a bargain when measured against another cruise. Now, one can’t compare any random cruises, as cruise-vacation packages vary widely. The price of a month long cruise around Europe can’t profitably be compared to the price of a weekend trip to Alaska. Clearly, the former will be more expensive, so this doesn’t tell us if either trip is in fact a bargain. However, when you compare two similar cruise vacations, you can get a better sense of the deal you are being offered. This is why it is helpful to consider several different cruise lines while planning your trip. If, for example, Carnival Cruise offers a trip to the Caribbean for half the price of Princess Cruises, and if the trips have similar itineraries and accommodations, then clearly Carnival Cruise is offering a bargain, relatively speaking. And to find the greatest deal of all, you would need to compare all the different prices of cruise lines. Surely, this is a good way to go about finding a bargain cruise.

But isn’t there a problem with comparing only cruise vacations? What if all cruises are expensive, meaning there is no such thing as a genuine cruise bargain? Some cars are cheaper than others, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that any particular car is a bargain. To address this problem, at least in part, we need to compare cruise vacations with other vacations, and when we do this, we learn that cruises are actually relatively cheap. This is primarily because cruise vacations are sold as packages. When you book a cruise you are not only securing transportation to some distant land, but also lining up a place to stay, and you are very often booking even more than that (like food and drink, in the case of an all-inclusive cruise). This is frequently not the case with normal vacations, which require you to book everything – plane tickets, hotels, etc. – separately. So, cruises can certainly be bargains compared to other vacations.

Yet we are still faced with the same problem as we had before, namely, it is difficult to call any vacation a bargain if you are comparing it to other vacations. Maybe no vacation is a bargain. To address this problem, we must define a cruise bargain in a highly subjective way, calling a cruise a bargain if it is a bargain to the person booking the cruise. This leads to some interesting conclusions, like the fact that wildly different prices for cruises can be considered bargains, but so be it. Plus, when a cruise bargain is defined in this way, you have the distinct advantage of setting your own standards. Is a week-long cruise to the Bahamas for a $1,000 a bargain? Only the person booking the cruise knows, and maybe that’s just the way bargains have to be.

All that said, we posit that to find what most people would be looking for in a “cruise bargain” you should do one of two things:

1. Determine everything that you want out of your cruise (destination, accommodations, on-board activities, etc.) and then search for the best price for packages that offer all (or most of) the items on your list; or

2. Determine how much you want to spend, and then search for cruises (regardless of destination, etc.) that can be had for that price or less.

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