I love San Francisco so much that every time I return here from a trip, I resolve to stay for a while and enjoy the city. That never happens. Next week I'm going to Tahoe, then Vegas the following weekend, and then to Austin for SXSW the week after that. Cabo or Hawaii follows in early March, but in late April comes the most exciting upcoming trip: a sixteen day cruise to Rome.
Cruises are full of old people. As best I can tell, that's because young people haven't figured out how awesome and cheap they can be. In fact, I can easily say that of all the travel I've done, cruises probably represent the best bang for the buck.
Before I tell you how to get them cheap, let me tell you why cruises, especially long duration one-way cruises are amazing.
One of my favorite aspects of cruises is that they can take you to places you may not otherwise visit. For example, the cruise my friends and I are taking stops in the Azores, Seville (Spain), Valencia (Spain), Barcelona, Monte Carlo, and Rome. Without cruising, I probably would never make it to the Azores, and those southern Spanish cities are unlikely as well. They're just too remote and too expensive to come up at the top of my list when choosing a trip.
But they might be awesome. On a previous cruise I went to Madeira, another Portuguese island in the eastern Atlantic. It was an amazing place and I wouldn't have seen it without cruising.
Even amongst the places I would have visited otherwise (Barcelona, Monaco and Rome), I have the chance to inexpensively check them out and see if they warrant a longer visit. Rome could go either way, for example. Maybe I'll find it a little too boring to become a priority (like Barcelona), or maybe I'll fall in love it like everyone else.
On these long cruises, though, the destinations are really just icing on the cake. I would gladly pay the same price for a cruise that went nowhere at all. That's because the ship itself is awesome.
The ship is the absolute ideal location to get certain types of work done. If you've ever watched one of my videos, you've seen the 3D intro I made for them. That's the product of having two days on a cruise with no internet. I wrote a lot of Life Nomadic on a ship. I plan on jamming my 16 days at sea full of programming, and expect to make far more progress on my new project there than I would have in SF.
The reason a ship is so good is because it's very easy to block out distractions and maximize time. Internet is expensive enough that you won't waste time on it, but cheap enough that you can fire off emails or check in code. Transit time to dinner, the gym, or a quiet place to work is a matter of minutes. There is good food available to you twenty four hours a day, all for free. You can focus on what you want to focus on.
And there's poker. Your opponents are terrible and generally wealthy. I've never been on a cruise where I didn't make hundreds of dollars at the tables, and I wasn't even a great player.
All that is irrelevant, though, if it's expensive to get on the ship. But it's not. My friends and are paying just under $40 per day, including all taxes and fees. That's not much more than I'm spending on food and tea here in the city.
These transatlantic cruises are the cheapest ones. They just don't fit too many people's schedules because they're so long, and they're heavy on sea days, which are my favorites, but not as loved by most other people. Even so, a one week round-trip cruise shouldn't generally cost you more than fifty dollars a day.
There's a two step process to getting a cheap cruise. First, go to http://www.cruisesheet.com. There you'll see a list of cruises ordered by price per day. Click Info to get more details and settle on the cruise you want.
Then go to www.cruisecompete.com. This site is amazing. Enter in the cruise that you want to go on, and in the comments, write something like:
Hi! I'm looking for this cruise for under $XX.XX per day, including taxes and OBC. Thanks!
The price you quote should be slightly lower than the cost per day on the hot sheet. If it says $40, maybe shoot for $35. Agents will post quotes even if they can't beat the price, but putting in a concrete price does seem to motivate them to go low. OBC stands for "On Board Credit". Certain cruise lines don't allow discounting, so agents get around this by gifting a certain amount of money to your on board account. You can use this everywhere, usually including the casino. So just get some chips and cash them out immediately. If they don't allow this (they probably do), use it to pay your tips (generally around $10 a day).
One last thing to know about transatlantics is that they generally come twice a year. In the spring the big ships go to Europe, and in the fall they come back. Plan accordingly, and buy your cabin as soon as you possibly can. Last year I missed out because the one I wanted to go on got too expensive by the time I got my friends on board.
I'd love suggestions for post topics these days. My brain is pretty focused on programming and poker, and I think I've worn those topics pretty thin here.
I've been wanting to post on a Saturday for a while because it's a slow internet day and none of the sites I like are active then.
BTW, my SXSW talk with Jason is on March 13th at 12:30pm. If you're going to SXSW, please come! More info coming later this week.
You mention having to talk your friends into cruising with you. Does this mean cruising is not a viable option unless you have a like minded friend to share a room with? As far as I can tell, there is no way around the hefty singles penalties, usually 100%, sometimes more. Since you seem to know so much more about cruising, wanted to confirm with you that cruising is good and cheap only if you go with friends (not solo.)
You've not written about programming & entrepreneurship enough. Come one! Show us some brainstorming, ideas, workflows and ways to monetize that shit.
Nice Article, Haven't you try World Cruise Packages?? maybe you can considered as the cheapest ways to spend your holidays in different countries. check it out! http://www.worldcruisepackages.com/
Thanks for the info, finally got around to booking a transatlantic from Barcelona to Florida. $55 a day for 14 days. Awesome.
Instead of ten one-time codes, have one code that expires after ten uses. Making your readers try every code (which get taken pretty quickly) is no good.
It sounds good, but only good for people living south. Most deals seem to be departing from the south shore. If you in Canada, it's going to cost at least a G just to fly there.
Hi Tynan! I love reading your website--your tips are always very interesting. I think this idea for cruises is great; My husband and I will be leaving for at least a year of living nomadically this summer (tickets are bought so we are committed!) and I will check out cruises, especially for the trans-atlantic journeys. You were looking for suggestions for posts. I am going to echo Dan's comment from above--have you traveled to cold destinations and if so, how does your gear hold up? My husband and I are planning on sticking to warmer areas for the next year, but somehow we always end up somewhere extremely cold during the winter (two Christmas's ago we were in the Ukraine, which was FREEZING!) and we are not sure how much we should prepare vs how light we should make our packs. We are planning on mainly Couchsurfing, WWOOFing, house-sitting and volunteering, so hostels/hotels are not in the cards for us. Anyways, I love reading your blog and I look forward to reading your next articles!
If you have any money I would recommend a balcony that was around $900, my room was small, no window, etc etc. But still about $700 bucks for eating, drinking, and 7 days of travel not including airfare. Food was pretty good too..If you guys have any
Hey Tynan, I just got off a Norwegian Cruise line trip yesterday. It is REAL cheap if you don't drink, they charge $12 a day for tips and some port taxes. My bill for me and the girlfriend was about $300 each, and ticket was $450ish for the cabin. If you don't drink its real cheap. I did get seasick occasionally, I was usually o.k. outside and lower on the boat.
I'm currently on a cruise ship somewhere in the Mediterranean sea, en route from Barcelona to Casablanca. Most people here are either retirees enjoying the easy life or younger folks celebrating birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries. My friend Brian and I are neither-- we're using the ship as a mobile work retreat.
As a nomad and an entrepreneur, I find myself working in a large variety of places throughout the year. I have a nice setup in my RV, but I'll also work from friend's offices, airplanes, airports, friend or family's houses, trains, Regus offices or any other number of places. However, my absolute favorite place to work is from a cruise ship, in particular long transatlantic cruises like the one I'm currently on.
The number one enemy of productivity is distraction, either in the form of entertainment or things like chores and phone calls which feel productive but break up the day. Cruise ships are a remarkable way to eliminate all of those things. Efficiency can be so high on a cruise ship that I schedule things like entire rewrites of major sections of Sett or the writing of a brand new book for the two-week cruise.
On a cruise ship, everything is taken care of for you. No time at all has to be allocated to cooking, choosing your meal, or to cleaning. You show up at the restaurant, in which all of the food is free, order whatever you want from the rotating menu, eat, and then immediately get up and get back to work.
We're a small start-up, so you wouldn't think we'd be able to take 12 of our co-workers to SXSW in Austin, TX. But thanks to a great idea by my co-founder Sean, we were able to do it, and it was a blast.
We couldn't afford to pay everyone's airfare, so instead we hit on a compromise: We offered a "work-cation" to our employees -- they pay their airfare to get to Austin, and we'd cover the hotel + pay them each $100 cash for spending money. In exchange, they'd get to spend the weekend in Austin during SXSW and we'd all party in the evenings, while working during the weekdays while we were there. It worked out great. It was an incredible bonding experience for all of us, and even though we stayed in the worst hotel in Austin, we all had a blast.
I can't stress enough how awesome and important it is to really kick back with your team and get to know each other as people. Especially considering how hard we all work, spending some time together outside of work is really fun, great for everyone, and part of our company manifesto.
In fact, we had such a great time that even other companies were putting our crew on their websites. Here is a picture from the ServerBeach website showing us at their party.
At SXSW this year, I also saw a rise in the use of QR codes, as well as augmented reality and video capture on iPad 2 tablets. We also all used Beluga, a great group messaging app that changed the way we interacted with each other during the event (one of those things you're not sure how you lived without).
We're a small start-up, so you wouldn't think we'd be able to take 12 of our co-workers to SXSW in Austin, TX. But thanks to a great idea by my co-founder Sean, we were able to do it, and it was a blast. We couldn't afford to pay everyone's airfare, so instead we hit on a compromise: We offered a "work-cation" to our employees -- they pay their airfare to get to Austin, and we'd cover the hotel + pay them each $100 cash for spending money. In exchange, they'd get to spend the weekend in Austin during SXSW and we'd all party in the evenings, while working during the weekdays while we were there. It worked out great. It was an incredible bonding experience for all of us, and even though we stayed in the worst hotel in Austin, we all had a blast. I can't stress enough how awesome and important it is to really kick back with your team and get to know each other as people. Especially considering how hard we all work, spending some time together outside of work is really fun, great for everyone, and part of our company manifesto. In fact, we had such a great time that even other companies were putting our crew on their websites. Here is a picture from the ServerBeach website showing us at their party. At SXSW this year, I also saw a rise in the use of QR codes, as well as augmented reality and video capture on iPad 2 tablets. We also all used Beluga, a great group messaging app that changed the way we interacted with each other during the event (one of those things you're not sure how you lived without). Here's a video Isaac made of our trip, and below it are pics just a few of the many moments we all shared together during SXSW: > [gallery link="file" columns="2"]