So you’ve decided that you want to book a cruise. You might have an idea of where and when you want to go but how do you get the cheapest price? Do you book early or do you wait until the last minute? With all the different cabin types, destinations and ships on offer, added extras and promotions, booking a cruise can feel like a daunting experience. Check out our top tips below on getting the very best bang for your buck!
Don’t be afraid to wait until the last minute
It’s true that if you’re desperate to book a specific date on a specific ship in a specific cabin that you’re best off getting your booking done early to make sure you get what you want. But if you’re not too fussed about those things, you can pick up some absolute bargain last minute cruise deals by making your booking within 60 days of departure. Cruise lines make a large proportion of their revenue on board, so while they’ll obviously try to get as high a price as possible to get your on the ship, they need to do everything they can to make sure they’re ships are sailing at full capacity and this means they will lower the price if there are cabins to be filled.
Look out for repositional cruises
Many cruise ships sail more than one region throughout the year, often to follow the sunshine. For instance, the weather is great in the Mediterranean from May to October, but not so much from November to April so many ships sail to a different region where the weather is better during those months, like the Caribbean for instance. But did you know that when the ship re-positions from one region to another, the cruise lines still sell the journey to the public often at much lower prices than you’d expect.
Look outside of peak dates
It won’t come as any surprise that it will cost more if you want to travel in the peak months. Generally these are during the Summer months between July and September that also encompasses the school holidays. Prices over Christmas and New Year are also usually higher in price. But you can get some incredible deals outside of these dates and still get great weather. For example in the Mediterranean, you can still get beautiful sunshine in March and April but benefit from heavily reduced prices.
Book a guarantee cabin
When you book a guarantee cabin (a balcony for example), you will be guaranteed a balcony cabin. However, you will not be allocated a cabin number until closer to your departure date. This means that you must be prepared to have a balcony cabin that has an obstruction (lifeboat for example) in front of it but it could also mean that you get a much higher grade of balcony cabin. Because of this you can often get big reductions on these types of cabins as well as being eligible for a cabin upgrade.
Book through a cruise agent
Although you can book direct with a cruise line you’re much more likely to receive a discounted price from an agent or tour-operator. Many cruise lines offer discounted rates to agents who can then sell these onto their customers. Cruise agents also have the ability to package cruises up with their own flights and even hotel stays in a variety of destinations across the globe giving you access to a much more complete holiday experience! As well as this, agents have access to a variety of suppliers including transfer and excursion suppliers.
Understand the value of cruising
It’s worth remembering that when you’re on a cruise, your food is all included. In fact, you usually have access to several different restaurants depending on your ship. This makes cruising incredible value compared to many land stays. Although you might see a cruise that looks more expensive than another cruise, make sure you check what exactly is included in the fare. Are your flights to the port of embarkation included? Do you have a drinks package on board? Are there any free cabin upgrades included? All of these can contribute to a higher cost but although it appears to be more expensive it is in fact much better value than the cheaper cruise. As a general rule, if you can find an offer with your cruise and flights included for around £60 per night you’ve got an excellent deal.
Look out for drinks packages
Some cruise lines offer all inclusive cruises as standard whereas others charge while you’re on board the ship. Drinks prices generally tend to be quite expensive so it can really pay to purchase a cruise with a pre-paid drinks package especially if you enjoy a drink. Prices of drinks packages vary from cruise line to cruise line but overall it generally always pays to purchase a drinks package (you are on holiday afterall!)