Escape The Cold On A Last Minute Tropical Cruise

Escape The Cold On A Last Minute Tropical Cruise
The December holidays are a festive time period, but they can also be stressful for many people. Chilly temperatures and dreary days can take their toll as well. As the holidays wrap up and the New Year begins, thoughts often turn to planning a last-minute tropical vacation to relax and unwind.

There’s good news for those dreaming of taking a last-minute tropical escape. Fun-filled cruises can often be reasonably priced during the post-holiday period. Starting in mid-January, cruise fares tend to drop significantly through early February. In fact, last minute prices on cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexico can be more than 70% off regular fares during this post-holiday time. Sites such as, and others make it easy to find great cruise deals, or you can contact your favorite travel agent for assistance.

Post-holiday cruises in January and February can be value-oriented vacations when compared with other tropical land-based options. Airfare is generally one of the most expensive parts of a winter beach vacation, particularly for last-minute flights. Cruises from close-to-home U.S. ports will take to some of the same tropical destinations, often for less than the price of a round-trip international air ticket. Cruise lines have positioned their ships in a variety of locations within driving distance of major cities, making last-minute tropical cruise vacations easier and less expensive.

Cruise lines offer sailings from a wide variety of U.S. ports in January and February including New York, NY; Bayonne, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Port Canaveral, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; New Orleans, LA; Galveston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and other areas. Parking can be found near all cruise terminals. Try not to over pack, however, due to the relatively small size of shipboard staterooms.

Guests tend to be primarily adults during post-holiday cruises in January and February since many children are in school during those months. This guest composition can be appealing to some vacationers, making these time periods more popular for adults typically traveling without kids. Those cruising with children should look for ships that offer lots of kid-friendly activities, however. These tend to be found on lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.

If you’re considering taking a last-minute cruise escape in January or February, here are seven tips:

1. Consider driving to your cruise. Last-minute airfares for flights are often high. Check on airfares to possible embarkation ports before starting your search process. Sites such as can be a good place to start. If fares are expensive, make plans to drive to your cruise and focus your search on ships departing from convenient embarkation ports.

2. Consult with a good cruise travel advisor. Using a travel agent is often a smart bet for booking a post-holiday cruise escape. An experienced cruise travel advisor can save you time, money, and countless vacation hassles. A good cruise travel agent understands the differences between cruise lines, specific ships, and their amenities, as well as the various itineraries available. He or she will help select the ship, itinerary, flights, and stateroom that's best suited for your needs. In addition, travel agents can also provide valuable assistance if something goes wrong on your trip.

3. If you must fly, take a direct flight or leave plenty of time for connections. Direct flights can be more expensive, but that’s not always the case. Use a good travel agent or book your flights immediately after you purchase your cruise for the best results. If connecting flights are mandatory for your cruise, make sure to allow plenty of time for connections. This is particularly important in January and February when winter storms can occur. If you have a choice of connection cities, stay away from those prone to bad winter weather and heavy traffic delays. These include such airports as Denver, Chicago, Newark, and New York’s LaGuardia and JFK airports.

4. Purchase travel insurance. Make sure to purchase trip insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of an unforeseen transportation problem, family illness, or other issue. When buying your insurance, however, it’s important to make sure that your flights are wrapped into the coverage. Some vacationers buy insurance directly from their cruise line when purchasing their cruise and then obtain their own flights separately. When a problem arises with their flights, they can find that their trip insurance only covers the cruise. Make sure you understand what is covered by the trip insurance policy you’re purchasing and read the fine print carefully. For the best results, call the travel insurance company directly and ask questions over the phone to understand intricate coverage issues.

5. Choose your stateroom carefully. Choosing the right stateroom can make a huge difference in cruise enjoyment. Some cruise cabins are almost guaranteed to be noisy. Study your ship’s deck plans before reserving any type of cabin. Look for a quiet room away from boisterous areas like elevators, lounges, atriums, and children’s program facilities. Thoroughly review the deck layouts above and below the cabin you’re considering to see what’s located over and under your room. Stay away from booking staterooms above or below nightclubs, theaters, bars with live music, crew work areas, self-service laundries, sports venues, kitchens, and the main dining rooms and buffet areas. Some frequent cruise guests also shun staterooms right below the ship’s pool to avoid the early morning sound of lounge chairs being arranged on deck.

6. Ask about cruise deals and special discounts. Some cruise lines, such as MSC Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line, provide extensive military discounts. On MSC Cruises, kids 11 and under cruise free if they are sharing a stateroom with two adults. Other cruise discounts are often available such as senior discounts, past guest discounts, firefighter and EMT discounts, state or regional residency offers, and Interline fares. A good travel agent can help you find last-minute cruise deals and applicable discounts. and can be good resources. Some travel agencies, online sites and travel vendors like Costco may offer special deals as well.

7. Arrive at your embarkation port a day in advance. Winter storms and flight delays can cause havoc during the months of January and February. Plan to arrive at your departure port at least a day in advance to give yourself some cushion in case of bad weather or heavy traffic. It's also wise to get on the ship early to get settled and explore.

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