First I looked into an All-Inclusive Vacation, but the all inclusive packages I was looking at were about twice the price of a cruise. I opted for a 4 night cruise instead…
January 15th to the 19th we'll be onboard Carnival's Imagination. Our itinerary is as follows:
I found this cruise through www.orbitz.com -they had a great price (just $1436 for the 2 of us, and that includes airfare). I looked at other options, like just getting a hotel in Puerto Rico or Cancun, but the cost for hotel and airfare was about $1100 to $1300 and then we'd be on our own for meals and entertainment. The cruise offers us a known price. The only extra costs will be shore excursions, beverages, and souveniers.
Before booking with Orbitz, I called a travel agent that my Mom's dealt with in the past ( Fran Moeckler of Beemster Travel in Flossmoor IL http://www.shopcpn.com/webpage/display.cfm?ID=9197 ). She probably hates me -I wasn't the easiest customer. I gave her a very tight budget, and told her I wanted a beach and some snorkling as cheap as possible. She called me back a few hours later with the same cruise I found. (Maybe I should become a travel agent? Mmm… Free trips…) Her price was about $200 higher, so I looked into booking the trip myself.
In the end, I found that the price with Orbitz went up, and matched the travel agent's price, so we're going through Fran. She's been helpful in educating me about room classes aboard a ship, how to get Free Cabin Upgrades, and assures me that if there is a special or the price drops before we leave, she'll give us that same discount.
Another bonus about going through a travel agent for the meek (like me) is that if our flight is delayed or cancelled, I don't have yell at the nice lady behind the counter at the airline terminal. All I have to do is call Fran, and let her take care of it. It makes me more relaxed about my vacation. And that's what it's for…
Our deposit has been made as of 10/21/03 at 10:25am ($398), with the rest due on Nov 16. (She'll bill us). I confirmed that the total prices is $1601.88 and that this price includes insurance, airfare, cruise, everything. Fran expects us to get our tickets by Xmas, and she has us on her calendar for Dec 15th -that's when she'll start bugging them for our tickets.
12/27/03: I got our tickets. It's really real, I'm going on a vacation! We have a 9:15am United flight to Ft Lauderdale, and a 5:59pm flight back. It'll be a late night Monday night (and we have to go to work the next day), but I think it's worth it overall .
Well, the vacation is long over at this point, but I thought I'd add a note here. Fran of Beemster travel in Flossmoor really knows what she's doing. She told us that if we booked a “guaranteed” room, we'd get a window, and guess what? We did! I wouldn't necessarily recommend Carnival, but I have no problem at all recommending Fran.