Cruising as a way to holiday is convenient, fun and addictive, and is also very cost effective! Money is always a factor when it comes to planning your dream holiday, and a cruise is a great option to save a bit of cash while still getting a fantastic vacation that has something for everyone. Nowadays, there is no limit to your cruise horizons, as lines send ships to all corners of the globe and specialist companies offer new ports, intrepid itineraries and luxury vessels. Don't break the bank - try a cruise for your next adventure!
The nature of a cruise is that everything you need is laid on. The ship is accommodation and transport combined, getting you to some wonderful destinations in style and housing you along the way. Food is served a la carte and buffet-style - not just at meal times, but all hours of the day and night, so you need never go hungry or pay for a bite to eat if you don't want to. Most entertainment is included in the cruise fare, so effectively you never need to open your wallet - and that means a lot of savings
Of course, all-inclusive means nothing if the prices are inflated. Thankfully, that is rarely the case. Cruise lines operating in and around Australia and New Zealand regularly offer cut-price cruise deals with cabins for around $130-150 a night, per person, twin share - a quad share room is often well under $100 a night per person, which is great value for a family. Don't forget, this includes restaurant-quality meals, hotel-style accommodation, transport to exotic and wonderful locations and access to gyms, pools, group activities, classes and theatre shows. As more and more get on board with cruising Down Under, competition pushes prices down.
- Transport and accommodation:The current cost of Pacific Island Hopper cruise on Cruise Sale Finder is $1070 per person twin share in an oceanview room, or $2,140 for a couple (subject to change). This is not on sale, but an average cruise fare for this kind of itinerary.
- Food and drinks:Food is included in the cruise fare. To this, you might add around $200 each for drinks on the ship - $400 total.
- Shopping:$150 per person is generally enough for trinkets and food onshore, or $300 all up.
- Trips and entertainment:Add another $200 per person for a shore tour (an expensive one like the AmÃ©dÃ©e Island trip from Noumea, which has food included). This is totally optional but adds $400 to the total. Onboard, there is plenty to do free of charge, from active pursuits to lazy hours by the pool - and the evenings are taken care of too thanks to theatre shows, live music and parties. No need for a designated driver or taxi fare.
This brings the entire cost for a fun and action-packed holiday for two to $3,240.
It's not possible to replicate the cruise exactly with a land-based holiday, but we fashioned an approximation to compare costs.
- Transport: Webjet found flights on Aircalin to Noumea from Brisbane for $249 per person each way, giving a total of around $500 per person for flights and $1000 total. Include Air Caledonie flights to Lifou for a few days and you have more than $1500 for transport already. The airport is a long way from the city, while the cruise dock is right in town. Shuttle transfers to and from the airport cost around $30 per person each way, which adds up quickly to $120.
- Accommodation: P&O ships are often rated 3 stars. The 3-star Nouvata Hotel is near the beach in Anse Vata and has a pool but no gym, and the Drehu Village Hotel is a close equivalent in Lifou. For 5 nights at the former and 2 nights at the latter, accommodation would set you back $1018 all together.
- Food and drinks: Food is difficult to estimate, but a conservative estimate is $50 per person, per day, to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Drinks are cheaper on land - I'll budget $120 each for the week which means a total of $940 to be fed and watered at restaurants and eateries.
- Trips and entertainment:To do the same day trip from Noumea to Amédée Island is XPF 31,500 total for two people, or $367. Add to this evening entertainment, including perhaps a night at the Théâtre de l'Île, a movie and taxi fares to bars around town, and you have $520 at the very least.
- Shopping:$100 per person for souvenirs.
Already, this land-based itinerary including Noumea and Lifou comes to $4,385 (all prices are as of March 2015 and dollars indicated are AUD).
More than money
Of course, money isn't everything. The two holidays offer a different experience entirely, and there are those who prefer to be on dry land as much as possible. However, cruising stacks up well in other departments, too.
Time is important - worth more than dollars and cents in many cases. When you take a cruise, you are on holiday from the moment you step onboard. There are no planes to catch, no airport transfers to worry about, and there's no unpacking and repacking for each new place you visit. For a trip which includes more than one destination, cruising is a huge time saver.
Families will find that a cruise is the perfect option to balance time together and activities to suit all ages. Different generations can eat as a group, watch shows and enjoy the pool, while still enjoying separate activities such as Kids' Clubs, bingo, quizzes, gym time, spa appointments and plenty more without the fear of losing each other.
For utter relaxation, you can't get much better than a cruise, where literally everything is taken care of. Stress is at minimum levels - you can walk to dinner, to the bars, to the pool and everywhere else, and stroll off the ship into the heart of each new destination. Days at sea are the perfect excuse to be lazy - and sometimes, that's what holidays are all about!
Get it even cheaper
As cruise lines look to fill up their ships, you can often discover amazing specials you can only find with package deals. Take a look on Cruise Sale Finder's sale page to find the best promotions from a range of Australia cruise lines.
Last-minute deals are an excellent opportunity for those with a little flexibility in their schedules - and the beauty of a cruise is that one booking is all you need. Cheap, last-minute flights often necessitate an expensive last-minute hotel booking! Carnival Cruises regularly offer prices below AUD$100 per person, per night, twin share as departure dates approach, as do several other lines. Some give free onboard credit balances for certain itineraries, some run frequent major sale events - browse Cruise Sale Finder to pick up a bargain or call the freephone number to talk to a friendly cruise consultant.