Whether you’re just back from an amazing voyage or it’s been awhile since your last sailing, it’s never too early or too late to look for a good deal on your next cruise. While there are lots of tricks to help you save a few dollars on a cruise vacation, these ten techniques can add up to much more spectacular savings when you book your next cruise.
1. Work With a Travel Agent
While you can save when booking directly with your favorite cruise line, many cruise passengers miss out on deals when they completely dismiss using a travel agent. Agents frequently work with group bookings and other special arrangements, and they can occasionally offer those same deals to individual passengers. For example, if an agent needs to book 15 cabins in order to offer a group rate to a wedding party, but only 12 cabins are booked for the wedding guests, they may be able to offer those other three cabins to passengers not connected to the wedding in order to secure the best rate. You’ll get the great group rate deal, without any further connection to the group itself.
2. Guarantee Yourself a Great Deal
It’s no secret that different types of cruise ship staterooms are sold for different prices, but you don’t always have to pay the highest price to get the stateroom category you prefer. If you don’t mind where on the ship your cabin may be located, you can opt for a “guarantee” cabin in the appropriate category instead. For example, you can book a guarantee balcony cabin and you will have a balcony, but you won’t get to choose your exact stateroom. Instead, your room will be assigned when you check in for your cruise. There is a risk that you may have the cheapest, least desirable cabin in your chosen category, but you also have a chance of being upgraded to a much nicer cabin even though you paid a discounted rate for your stateroom.
3. Love Your Loyalty Benefits
Most cruise lines offer plenty of perks and benefits for passengers who keep returning to the same line. This can include significant discounts on future bookings through exclusive sales and offers only available to past passengers. The more you cruise the bigger your discounts may be, and you could also take advantage of free stateroom upgrades, onboard credit to spend and other deals that can add up to great savings for your next cruise.
4. Book Early – Or Late
There is no magic time that is best to book a cruise, but if you book very early – more than six months before the ship sets sail – or if you book at the very last minute you can see great savings. Booking early gives you much more flexibility about stateroom choice and itinerary options, but you have to know your travel plans and vacation time far in advance. Booking at the last minute might be easier for your schedule, but cabin selections are typically more restricted. Still, both early and late bookings can have significant savings to give you a great deal.
5. Deal Direct for Amazing Savings
Getting connected directly to the cruise line can help you find amazing deals, especially if you go beyond just casual connections. Don’t just look at the cruise line’s website hoping to see great sales, but follow the line on Twitter, connect to its Facebook page and use other social media to keep an eye out for all sorts of last-minute sales, flash deals or other offers. Don’t forget to sign up for the cruise line’s newsletter as well, and you could have offers for reduced deposits, onboard credit and lowest rate guarantees delivered directly to your inbox.
6. Get Onboard With a Group
If you want a great deal – even a free cruise! – consider arranging a group to sail with. Why not get your family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers together to set sail at the same time? If you coordinate the group, you could qualify for a free or deeply discounted stateroom. Many cruise lines offer a free stateroom with a minimum of 6-10 additional staterooms booked, and because a cruise can be the ideal location for a family reunion, graduation party, anniversary celebration or other special event, it can be easier than you think to arrange that many people to cruise with you.
7. Look for Your Personal Discounts
Cruise lines offer a variety of discounts you may qualify for, such as special rates for senior citizens, military personnel or residents of specific states. These rates can be significantly cheaper than rack prices for the same cruise, and those savings can add up quickly. Look carefully and there may be other discounts for emergency workers or first responders, educators or other service professionals available as well.
8. Book Onboard
If you already know you want to sail again when you’re on a cruise, you may be able to book right onboard for the very best savings. Many larger cruise ships and popular lines have a future cruise desk or offer a dedicated representative at the information or purser’s desk to help with future bookings. Showing your loyalty by booking while you’re still onboard can get you the lowest price guarantees, free upgrades, lowered deposits and other savings that can add up quickly.
9. Be Flexible With Your Fun
The more flexible you can be with your cruise travel plans, the more likely you will be to get a good deal on your next cruise. If you can shift your travel dates slightly, consider a different ship, discover a new itinerary or even try out a different cruise line, you may find a far better deal than you could have imagined. This flexibility will allow you to choose from only the very best cruise travel bargains, without sacrificing the amazing experiences you want to have on your next sailing.
10. Don’t Ignore Other Costs
Before you hand over a credit card or commit to a deposit on what looks like a fabulous cruise deal, make sure you’re taking into account other possible charges associated with your trip. While you may have found a great deal for the cruise fare, if airfare, hotel fees, parking charges and onboard expenses will all be higher than you anticipate, that good deal could end up being a bum bargain. Be aware of different costs associated with your cruise travel plans, and you can be sure the deal you find is the very best one for your whole vacation budget.
There are many great ways to score a good deal on your next cruise. While not all bargains will be the same, the more techniques you know to find the best sales and cheapest prices, the bigger your budget will be for booking your next cruise.