Once you have decided that Carnival Cruises is the right cruise line for your vacation, there are three steps to picking the right cruise for you:
- Where do you want to go?
- Where do you want to depart from?
- When do you want to go and what is your budget?
Each step requires thoughtful consideration to find the right cruise. And, it is not necessary to do these steps in order. For example, you have already selected your departure port. Here is some helpful advice as you consider each step.
Where do you want to go?
The primary markets served year-round by Carnival are the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico. Additionally, Carnival offers seasonal service to Canada and New England and Alaska as well as featuring a handful of sailings to Bermuda, Hawaii and the Panama Canal. Carnival also features 1-2 night "cruises to nowhere" which visit no ports, but, affords passengers the opportunity to enjoy the amenities of Carnival's ships.
While it may make sense to start with setting a budget, you will find Carnival cruises to fit just about any budget. If your budget is limited, you can still enjoy a great Carnival cruise by making compromises on itinerary, cabin or departure date. Your cruise itinerary choices (which ports you will visit) will be determined by which ship, departure date, departure port and length of cruise you select.
Where do you want to depart from?
You can save hundreds of dollars in airfare if you select a port that you can drive to. For the Bahamas and Caribbean, your main choices are Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Port Canaveral (Orlando) and Galveston. Carnival also has departures to the Caribbean from smaller cruise ports, including, New York, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Mobile, Barbados, San Juan and Jacksonville. For Carnival Cruises to the west coast of Mexico (Mexican Riviera and Baja Mexico), Los Angeles and San Diego are the departure ports. Finally, Carnival offers seasonal sailings from Seattle to Alaska from May to September each year.
When do you want to go and what is your budget?
The farther out you book, the better your combination of savings, itinerary and cabin availability. The best itineraries, popular departure dates and the better quality cabins (especially those with a balcony) tend to sell-out early. When setting a budget for the cruise portion of your vacation, a good rule of thumb is to plan on spending 60% of your budget on your cruise fare and 40% for incidental expenses (alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, gratuities, shore excursions, trinkets, etc.). While driving to your departure port is often a great way to save money, if you choose to fly, you may want to learn about whether buying your airline ticket from the cruise line will save you money. Additionally, you may also be interested in getting advice on how to get a great deal on a cruise.
Earlier we said that there are 3 steps to picking a Carnival Cruise: there is actually a fourth step – picking a company to from which to buy your Carnival cruise.
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