Have you ever wondered how to get the best price for your cruise vacation? Well, let me count the ways! My family and I love cruising, and we have been to the “school of hard knocks” when trying to get a great cruise deal! So, I’m sharing what I’ve learned so far. I want your cruise vacation to be memorable and at a great price! Before we get into how to get the best price for your cruise, there are some simple steps I recommend you take to become a cruise insider. Cruise insiders stay on top of the deals and promotions as they become available so you know a great price when you see it, and you have lots of great choices before you decide.
To become a cruise insider:
- Establish an online account with the cruise line(s) you are interested in. This will enable you to compare cruises and save the ones of interest for later research. Once you cruise, this online account establishes a rewards member number that can be used to get freebies as you become a loyal customer.
- Use social media to get the latest on deals, promotions, etc. for the cruise lines. Actually follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you have your notifications turned on, you will get a lot of traffic so be prepared. If you enjoy this type of thing, you will have loads of fun with this tip!
- Sign up for the cruise line newsletter. Deals and special promotions are also advertised in the newsletter. Also, most cruise lines have a blog. Lots of good info here as well.
- Don’t forget to sign up for the promotions that are sent out by email. You don’t want to miss anything!
Now, lets move on to discussing how you can get the best price for your cruise vacation!
- To get the best price for your cruise, start looking as far out as possible. At the time of this publication, you can plan your cruise as far out as April 2021! But, hold on. I just discovered that Norwegian cruise line has dates out to April 2022! In general, the further out you reserve your cruise, the better the pricing.
- Avoid the most expensive times to cruise. Holidays and special times such as Spring Break are generally more expensive, but if your desire is to travel during this time, make sure to reserve your cruise at least one year in advance for a great rate.
- Cruise Wave Season is one of the best times of the year to purchase a cruise. This is when the cruise line offers incentives such as free upgrades and on board credit. It generally occurs January thru March annually, but I recommend you expand this window to approximately a month before and after.
- Look for cruise deals during Black Friday! During this time, most people are shopping retail, but you don’t want to miss out on cruise deals during Black Friday. As a cruise insider on social media and via their newsletter, you will be one of the first to know!
- Cruise during the off-season which includes hurricane season (1 June thru 30 Nov). You can find some of the best pricing if you can cruise when the kids are in school. Cruising during hurricane season may cause concern, but the cruise lines know how to avoid bad weather, and offer great incentives if the cruise needs to be deferred or canceled.
- Do some research on the cruise ship. Look at the layout, the on board activities, the dining options, the last time it was refurbished and what upgrades were added, etc. Generally, older and smaller cruise ships will have more affordable cabins than the newer ships.
- Decide on a cabin type. When Al and I started cruising, we got a balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship! Needless to say, the cruise was amazing and the price was much higher than it needed to be for us to have a great vacation. The least expensive cabin is an interior one, and Carnival has the largest I’ve seen at 185 sq. ft. The challenge with interior rooms is that you do not have a view of the outside. For some, this is not a problem because they prefer to have more funds available for excursions. Since our balcony experience, we generally cruise in an ocean view. Again, know your preferences, and pick the cabin that is right for you.
- Take advantage of pack and go cruises. This is where the cruise line is trying to fill empty cabins on the ship before sailing. As a cruise insider, you will be one of the first to know! Generally, the open cabins are not mid ship, but always ask if that’s your preference. Do you have a preferred location on the ship? Please leave a comment and let me know if you prefer aft (rear), mid or forward (front).
- Allow the cruise line to pick your cabin. I have never tried this but you do get a better rate. If the cruise location does not matter to you, this can be a good option.
- Cruise in the Caribbean. Cruising in the Caribbean is generally cheaper than any other cruises offered. According to Cruise Critic https://www.cruisecritic.com, the cheapest rates for Caribbean cruises are between September and early January (with the exception of holiday weeks), and between mid April and the end of May (be mindful of Spring Break).
- Once your cruise is reserved, periodically check the price. Cruise prices fluctuate so you may be entitled to a lower price, upgrade or onboard credit. If your cruise is not paid in full at the time of the price break, you may be eligible cash back. If your cruise is paid in full at the time, you may be eligible for an onboard credit. I know that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer this, but it is up to the travel agent or you to ask for it. I actually got a lower price on Carnival so I have first hand knowledge!
- Get reduced rates for group cruising. If a group is going on the same cruise, you can get a discount if all the reservations are made using one booking. For carnival, the discounts kick in with 8 or more cabins. Check your cruise line for details.
- Use a Travel Agent. I’m told that Travel Agents get deals that are not offered to the general public.
- Play in the casino. Now some of you may be thinking “…why throw my money away?” If you gamble enough, you are eligible for casino rates on your cabin, and casino cash. This assumes you use your sea pass card every time you gamble. Make sure to go to the cashier to get your casino cash. It’s generally not automatically added to your account. By the way, if you gamble the most at the casino, you earn a free cruise! Only the gamblers can appreciate this tip!
Always compare cruise pricing within the same cruise line and across cruise lines. The cruise lines have similar itineraries with the difference being amenities offered and ship features. Remember the ship and the excursions are your destination. Ultimately, you will decide which cruise gives you the best price!
If there is at least one item above that helps you to get a great price for your cruise, then I accomplished my intent!
Leave a comment and let me know your tips for getting the best price, and if these tips helped you. I look forward to hearing from you!
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