Cruising from a Different Port | Can It Save You Money?

The other night I was listening to my favorite cruise podcast, Cruize Cast, when I heard one of the hosts, James, mention how he couldn’t understand why someone would want to cruise out of San Juan. He explained that he thought because airfare was so expensive flying to Puerto Rico that it wouldn’t be cost effective despite the relatively affordable cruise prices from this port. But sometimes you need to think outside of the box to get the best travel bargains.

Let’s say that you know you have time off at the end of August and you want to go on a cruise. You’re pretty certain you want to do a Caribbean cruise, but beyond that you’re pretty open to cruise line and cruise itinerary. Let’s use my home airport of Boston Logan International to fly out of and let’s price some airfares and cruises. The dates for airfare are the day before the cruise as I always fly out the day before.

1. Cruise #1: A 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Victory from 8/26-9/2/12
Ports: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and one day at sea
Airfare from Boston to San Juan leaving 8/25 and returning 9/2: $361
Cruise price (not including taxes, fees, or port charges):
Balcony (8E): $884 or $126.29 per night
Inside (4F): $614 or $87.71 per night
Total cost for cruise and air with balcony cabin (per person before taxes): $1245

2. Cruise #2: A 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas from 8/26-9/2/12
Ports: Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and three days at sea
Airfare from Boston to Orlando leaving 8/25 and returning 9/2: $286
Cruise price (not including taxes, fees, or port charges):
Deluxe Ocean View with balcony (E1): $1089 or $155.57 per night
Inside (Q): $699 or $99.86 per night
Total cost for cruise and air with balcony cabin (per person before taxes): $1375

Keep in mind that the Orlando airport is about an hour away from the cruise port, which means that you will have to factor in the cost of transfers or a rental car to the cruise port area.

3. Cruise #3: A 10-night Bermuda & Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas from 8/30-9/9/12
Ports: King’s Wharf, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, Labadee, and four days at sea
Airfare from Boston to Newark leaving 8/29 and returning 9/9: $124
Cruise price (not including taxes, fees, or port charges):
Deluxe Ocean View with balcony (E1): $1469 (plus $100 onboard credit and spa treatment) or $146.90 per night
Inside (Q): $769 or $76.90 per night
Total cost for cruise and air with balcony cabin (per person before taxes): $1593

If you aren’t cruise line dedicated and are open to the different cruise lines as well as different ports to sail from, you might be able to get a great cruise deal. As you can see from the three examples here, they offer a similar product and pricing isn’t completely out of reach when sailing from San Juan. In this example you can see that it is the most affordable of the 7-night cruise options. The 10-night cruise is an option that you might not normally consider if you don’t usually think of sailing out of the Northeast, but it is an overall good value.

Here are a few tips to ponder when you think about your next cruise:
1. Consider looking at all of the cruise options available, even those from ports you might not normally look at for your cruise.
2. Consider other cruise lines than your regular or favorite cruise line.
3. Don’t overlook the smaller or regional airlines that might not come up in flight comparison tools online as they can definitely save you money.
4. Consider alternative transportation. On a cruise that we took out of New Jersey, we took a shuttle from Boston instead of flying or driving and paying for parking. We saved money and left the driving to someone else.
5. Put all of your options on the table, even those you might otherwise say “no” to immediately, and then make your decision. That includes itineraries, ships, and embarkation ports.

Take a chance and be open to all of your cruise possibilities and see where it takes you. You’ll have an opportunity to save some money perhaps and to try different cruise and embarkation ports. Don’t forget to listen to the Cruize Cast podcast every week and if you have a question or comment, send them an email. They love listener feedback!

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