In our first post we talked about how much does a family Caribbean Cruise cost and what factors affect cruise pricing.
Cruising is an easy and excellent way to take your kids to the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Parents love the convenience of visiting multiple destinations, having meals and entertainment included on board the ship while only having to unpack once. Let's face it, having fun, supervised complimentary child care means parents have the chance to get some vacation time to themselves too. It's a win-win.
You cruise fare will be the greatest expenditure you'll need to consider. There are however a few additional costs that you'll need to include in your budget.....
It is HIGHLY advantageous and prudent for all passengers, including children to have valid U. S. passports when taking a family cruise to the Caribbean. While some Caribbean cruises will allow families on board with other documentation, for many reasons, this is NOT recommended.
When you make your cruise reservations, be sure to double check the expiration dates on all passports. Many Caribbean countries require visitor passports to be valid for 6 months beyond your travel dates. If you're family needs to apply or renew any passports, you'll need to budget $150 per person.
1. Travel Insurance
Because none of us have a crystal ball to see the future it's important to protect your Caribbean Cruise investment when it comes to trip cancellation and interruption. More importantly, most family medical insurance does not cover your family when you travel outside of the United States. For this reason, it is critical to protect your family and finances just in case someone requires emergency medical care. In most cases, Travel insurance costs approximately 8% of the total cost of your vacation.
There will be plenty of people on board your family's Caribbean cruise taking care of your family from services, to kids club staff to housekeeping. For this reason, Cruise lines charge for gratuities. The average cost you'll need to budget for is $12-$15 per person, per day and this does include children too. We normally include this with our cruise quotes but if you don't pay in advance, it will be charged to your credit card on file at check-out. (disembarkation).
3. Transportation to Port
Most Caribbean departure ports are located on the Eastern seaboard, Florida or Southern cities like New Orleans or Galveston. Some families will need to purchase airline tickets in order to fly to port. If you have airline miles or credit card points this will certainly be a savings. If not, you'll need to budget for plane tickets. Prices obviously will vary accordingly to your travel cities, connections and classes of service.
As we mentioned in our previous post, it's best to book your cruise to the Caribbean as soon as sail dates and prices are published - about 1, 5 to 2 years in advance for the best rates and availability. Airlines post their prices and schedules about nine to six months prior to departure. It's best to confirm your cruise as early as possible and add flights when they become available. Bear in mind, most airline tickets are non-refundable and require payment in full at the time of booking so you'll need to budget accordingly.
If you're fortunate enough to live within driving distance to port that can certainly be a more economical option. Just know you'll need to budget for pier parking.
4. Pre Cruise Hotel Stay
Because ships wait for no one! Because flights are often delayed! Because no one wants to start a vacation stressed, arguing and anxious, especially when you're traveling with kids.... For these reasons, not to mention your overall enjoyment, we HIGHLY recommend planning to stay at least one night prior to your cruise in a local family friendly hotel close to your cruise port of departure. Depending on your families needs and level of comfort figure in the cost of a one night stay.
*** It is recommended that return flights home at the end of your cruise be book no early than noon of your disembarkation day. Ships, like airplanes can also be delayed returning to port or clearing customs. Depending on your flight times back home you may want to budget for a one night hotel stay FOLLOWING your cruise or some local activities if you have an evening flight home. Again, this is far more enjoyable than stress or a long airport terminal wait.
Of course there are a multitude of other ways you can spend money while on a family cruise vacation to the Caribbean. The good news is many of these items are completely discretionary but they are certainly items to consider....
- Alcohol and speciality drinks
- Upscale dining experiences
- Fitness classes
- Spa and health treatments
- Late night babysitting
- Port excursions and sightseeing
Everyone looks forward to a fun filled family Caribbean Cruise. Nobody likes to be surprised with a huge credit card bill after they return home. Hopefully these tips will help you to budget and keep your family's vacation budget on track. When you're ready to take the plunge on a family Caribbean Cruise vacation, speak with one of our Vacationkids cruise experts. We can help give you specific pricing, set you up with vacation layaway and offer other ways to save and get the best value for your dollar. We want to help make it affordable for you to cruise and experience the treasures of the Caribbean with your kids.