By Rick Kahler
NEW YORK (AdviceIQ) -- Ocean cruises often are a real bargain, but sometimes you get what you pay for, as we found out in the scary waters off Somalia. When does frugality intersect with insanity? Maybe about the time the pirates show up.
My wife and I are frugal. We are also fans of cruise vacations and just completed our 28th. With a little homework, thrifty vacationers discover that cruises represent a great value. Most cruise lines include food, lodging and transportation between ports, while you pay for items such as liquor, specialty dining and shore excursions.
We typically try to find a cruise on a major line that is discounted to around $75 a day per person. Depending on the itinerary, we may go as high as $125 a day. Our favorite cruise lines are Celebrity, Cunard and Holland America. Until our latest trip, high prices had kept us from trying some of the luxury cruise lines such as Azamara, Crystal and Oceania.
Luxury cruise lines typically charge $400 to $500 a day for inside cabins, and they rarely discount those prices by much. This does include many things (drinks, some services and tips) you pay extra for on other lines. Even with those extras, which I value at about $85 a day, a luxury cruise is still expensive.
You can understand our excitement, then, when my wife found a cruise on Azamara for $70 a day: a discount of more than 84%. This was a repositioning cruise the company needed to get the ship to a new port, meaning a lot of sea days. It was also a small ship, only 600 passengers, with fewer activities than on a larger vessel. A repositioning cruise on any line is usually a bargain if your goal is some relaxing down time. Still, they are not typically discounted this much.