As promised last week, I’ve got more hints for you on how to enjoy the vacation of your dreams without breaking the bank.

The perfect way to see Europe is by cruise ship. Select the cruise that goes to the ports you want to visit. Then shop for the best deal among the many cruise lines. Working with a travel agent makes it easy. Once you’ve decided on the cruise you’d like to take, you simply “put it on layaway.” Well, that’s not what they call it, but that in essence is what it is.

You can reserve your cruise up to a year in advance, or longer, your TA could tell you. That’s where the layaway plan comes in. You can make payments on the cruise until it is paid. The entire cost must be paid by three months from the cruise date.

Another way to save is to double up with friends, then split the cost. The third or fourth persons in a stateroom pay a fraction of what the first two pay. Take the total cost and divide it equally among friends. That brings the cost down considerably.

If you have children under the age of 18, they sail free on MSC Cruise Line, when they stay in your stateroom. We used this benefit to include our nine year old granddaughter on our trip this year.

Now that you have your cruise on layaway, it’s time to start trolling for airfare. If you’re planning on Europe, you have to get there, right? Buying your tickets months in advance will bring you a really big savings, but you have to monitor the cost and purchase when they are lowest.

We zeroed in on the flights we wanted in December for our May cruise. When I first researched the flights the tickets were almost $1500. That was way over our budget. Again, my TA said to wait until after the first of the year, rumor had it the prices would come down. In February I checked the flights. They were on sale for less than $500. With the extra fees, they came to just over $500 each. Big savings and just what we needed. Another way to save is to opt for flights with one stop, the non-stop fights are always higher. If you don’t mind changing planes in a strange airport, it makes for a great savings.

Finally, use one of the online sites to book a hotel in the city of disembarkation and book a room either the night before the cruise, or the last day of the cruise. This will allow for you to enjoy the city either pre or post cruise. Be sure to check the schedule for boarding your ship and for docking on the last day to be sure your flight will allow ample time to reach the ship or airport. We found the only fight out of Barcelona this year left at 11:20, with the ship docking at 9am, we felt that was cutting it too close and opted to stay overnight in Barcelona. Using the internet, I got a great deal for the one night stay.

12 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // June 19, 2009 at 2:26 AM  

    Thanks for the suggestions. I can see you did a lot of research. Love the photos, too.

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 19, 2009 at 2:41 AM  

    Yes, I worked on this trip for almost a year! As you know since you had to hear about it all the time. But the planning is part of the fun.

  3. Edie Ramer // June 19, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

    Really sounds like a great idea. I'll keep this in mind for when we travel again.

  4. Beth Trissel // June 19, 2009 at 11:44 AM  

    You have the most beautiful photos!
    I am traveling vicariously through you.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 19, 2009 at 12:17 PM  

    As MM could tell you, I am a photo nut! I love to take pictures and have them as a slide show screensaver on my laptop. I have over a thousand pictures of my trip to Vienna, that alas, are the old print type and not digital. I hope to scan them and put the into my collection someday.

    Scarlet

  6. Mona Risk // June 19, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

    Scarlet, thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures and the good deal you had on cruises. My DH does exactly like you and spends months researching the best prices for airfare and cruises. Are these pictures taken in Barcelona?

  7. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 19, 2009 at 5:21 PM  

    The Cathedral and the harbor with Sail boats are Mallorca and the theatre is Palermo. Our ports this year were, Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis and Palma on the isle of Mallorca. They were interesting, but not nearly as pictesque as last year.Glad you like the pictures. I'll add more next week along with some money saving tips during the cruise.

  8. Nightingale // June 19, 2009 at 5:35 PM  

    You're definitely travel-wise. The cruise sounds like a fabulous idea. I've always wanted to cruise the fijords in Norway. The photos are fabulous. Thanks.

  9. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 19, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

    I think the Fijords would be a wonderful cruise. The line that we use has a Northern cruise that does those very sites! Google MSC and take a look! Remember the layaway plan!

  10. Dayana // June 20, 2009 at 12:01 AM  

    Wonderful information, Scarlet. Thank you for posting it.

    Europe is my dream. Someday...


    Dayana~

  11. Barbara Monajem // June 20, 2009 at 12:07 AM  

    Lovely pics. I hope to go to Barcelona one day to see some of the architecture by Gaudi.

  12. Judy // June 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

    Thanks for all your hints...it sounds like you did a wonderful job or researching it. A cruise in Europe is on my "to-do" list...