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July 19, 2011

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I think you're analysis is spot on. For my recent trip to Jamaica, I searched the various travel booking sites. Some of them showed lower upfront prices, but with fees and taxes, most of them came out the EXACT same. Calling Expedia's or Travelocity's customer service gives you the EXACT same result as well.

In the end, an uknown (read: fishy) travel site was about $100-$200 cheaper. But I didn't risk it. I booked through Expedia. I personally wouldn't risk it and trust Costco. Peace of mind is worth something...

I actually found the best price for my cruise on cruise.com, but I never thought to check COSTCO. I am not a member, but the savings you describe would easily justify becoming a member. I'm also debating on whether to buy trip insurance (if you don't make the boarding call for some reason and have to cancel). I have until September to decide to buy it through the cruise company (Carnival). I'll need to explore if my credit card (Chase) offers trip insurance as well. Thanks!

My goto site for cruises is vacationstogo.com. Their website is the only one that I've found that 1) always shows the lowest prices, 2) always shows YOUR applicable discounts (military/vet/teacher/prior-customer/etc) and 3) is always up-to-the-minute accurate.

You cannot buy on their website, you have to call. But every great cruise deal I've ever got..I found there first.

Sometimes you can find a discounted deal on vacationstogo, at the same time Travelocity offers a deal with shipboard credit at a higher rate. A short phone call to travelocity, explaining the discounts from vacationstogo and you can get both, more times than not.

Once you've booked a cruise, join cruisecritic.com and add yourself to the roll call for that particular sailing. Often there are price reductions as the date gets nearer. Your fellow cruisers will know if a reduction has occurred and have the best insight as to how to get that credit. You can get to know others who will be onboard ahead of time and share rides to ports, excursion ideas and more. Also, many lines will host special on-board gatherings for cruisecritic members.

Once you're booked the cruise, maybe you should consider it "done" and relax about it? Why go on a vacation at all if you're going agonize and worry about it every day for months?

Seriously, your post made me all exhausted just from reading it. Cruising sounds too difficult--I'll just stick to camping vacations close to home.

:)

Check vacationstogo.com. They have "last minute" deals (within about 6 weeks or so) on cruises. I don't know when your dates are, but their prices are usually 30-50% off the advertized prices and there are usually all room classes available. I haven't used them personally, but the next cruise we take I'm planning on trying them.

Wow. What can't you buy at Costco?

Another thumbs up for vacationstogo.com. I had been eyeing a certain Princess cruise for years. The price through Princess was $2600 per person. I snagged it on vacationstogo.com for $999 per person.
We went to Alaska in August, and we had a wonderful time. :)

For those of you interested, I put my January trip into vacationstogo.com and got the same price as the top pack of companies listed above (higher than Costco.) I'm guessing that based on the comments here, vacationstogo.com's best deals are "last minute" ones and I think I'd prefer knowing where I'm going, where I'm staying, etc. in advance on this trip.

Now I need to check out our Sam's Club rates and vacationstogo.com to see if they can beat the cruise agent we always use. Thanks for the heads up!

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