Today, we have a special treat. I’ve invited Divya from The Savings Addict to guest post to share her best tips on how to get the best cruise deals for your next cruise vacation.
Follow these simple tricks to save money on your next cruise holiday!!
While cruises are super fun, they can be costly. But, they don’t have to be! If you use a series of budget travel hacks in combination with some cruise booking tricks, you can score some great cruise deals, and save significantly on your total cruise vacation expense.
- Want to know if you should book early on or at the last minute?
- Which are the best websites to find the cheapest deals?
- Deciding if you should book a package deal with your cruise or not?
Read on to get answers to these questions, and also discover many more secret cruise deals to SAVE BIG on your cruise holiday.
WHEN TO BOOK?
Tip 1 – Book early
And by early, I mean way early, almost 12 to 18 months in advance. These days, cruise liners are wooing advance planners by offering
irresistible fares with the requirement of just paying a deposit. So, if you’re really sure of your dates and travel plans, grab that deal while you can. Of course, we need to keep monitoring fares and I talk about it a little later.
Tip 2 – Book at the last minute
For those who can be spontaneous, flexibility can pay off. When some cruises are hard to fill, you end up getting some really deep
discounts. Cruise liners wouldn’t want to depart half-full, so they drop prices steadily as you get closer to the departing date. And there are many more ways you can make huge savings on last minute travel.
Tip 3 – Book off season or shoulder season
Off-season or shoulder season is the time for the best prices – A family activity that it is, cruise rates are typically linked to school season. So, if you want the cheapest prices, a Spring Break or Christmas holidays are NOT your best bet. Rather, early fall season or the time between New Year’s and Spring Break is when you will find the best deals.
So, here’s the verdict on this – Book way in advance or last minute for the best fares.
Don’t travel when everyone else is traveling!So, here’s the verdict on this - Book way in advance or last minute for the best fares. Don’t travel when everyone else is traveling!
HOW TO BOOK?
For a long time now, people have seemed to rely on the conventional travel agents for cruise bookings rather than a “do-it-yourself” mode. Unlike flight bookings, I wouldn’t deny the travel agents for cruises. Sometimes, they do have the best deals in store with some good add-on perks that you may not find on the websites. But it’s always best to do your own research! It never hurts 😉
Sadly, there is no ONE magic website which will guarantee a cheapest cruise fare always. Some bit of research is involved here. So, while you ask your travel agent for some price quotes, here are a few other ways you can start your search –
Tip 4 – Aggregator websites
If you’re open with your travel dates, destinations or cruise line you want to do, this is the best way to start your research –
Some cruise specific ones – Cruise Sheet, Sea Hub, Cruise Deals, Cruises.com
Generic popular aggregator sites – Momondo, Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak
Pros – These websites do a detailed job of crawling the web to find cheap cruise deals across every cruise line. So, the results give you a lot of options to match your budget and dates. Sometimes you will find all these websites showing the same prices, so dig deeper to check which one has better perks.
Cons – Be cautious of any websites that may be charging a hefty booking fee. You don’t want to pay that extra money. Also, read the fine print on refund policies or reschedule processes. Sometimes, that can be a little painful when you’re dealing with a third party website rather than with the cruise liner directly.
Tip 5 – Check the cruise line websites for their best cruise deals
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice and schedule of the cruise trip you want to take, you MUST go to the actual cruise line website and check their prices. You don’t want to miss any better deals or promotional offers from them – example they just might be giving a better room or higher onboard credit for almost the same price. Plus, you do away with the hassle of dealing with a middle man for any booking changes.
Tip 6 – Book through Costco Travel
This is my “never-miss” website for any travel asks I have – be it rental cars, hotels or other packages. And yes, Costco does have cruise deals too! So if you are a Costco member, go for it! Even if the cruise price is same as other websites, a lot of times, Costco has its own way of rewarding members like their own Cash Card.
SECRET TRAVEL HACKS TO SAVE YET MORE MONEY
Tip 7 – Monitor fares
When you’re booking your cruise early, it’s extremely worthwhile to continue monitoring the fares. Unlike airfares, cruise fares are generally refundable or changeable for as close to a month or week before the sailing date. Its always recommended to set up price alerts via email or
websites like cruisefaremonitor.
Also, sign up for email alerts from your cruise line to stay updated of any special fares or promos. Follow the Twitter handles of major aggregators and cruise liners for the latest promotions coming in.
Tip 8 – Sign up for a new Travel Credit Card
When you open a new travel credit card like Capital One Venture or Chase Sapphire Reserve you get an incredible amount of travel credit (USD 500-600) and points/ miles which you can then redeem for your travel expenses. Yes, cruises are considered as a travel expense, and it cannot be easier to slash off a big chunk off the cruise price you’re paying. Such a simple travel hack.
Tip 9 – Look for a repositioning cruise
These cruises are the one when the ships relocate from one part of the world to another. According to experts, the cruise fares often drop by 50 to 75 percent for these sailings. These can be found on most aggregator websites.
Tip 10 – Book for large groups
You can avail some steep discounts and additional perks or incentives, while booking in groups. Sometimes larger groups are even offered custom packages, including extra activities or alcohol. No wonder, cruising is a popular way to celebrate a special occasion and
organize your next family or friends’ reunion.
Tip 11 – Go for the cabin guarantee
If you’re a price sensitive cruiser, it always helps to book a guaranteed cabin to get the absolute lowest price. In this case, you cannot choose your exact room, but are assured a cabin in the category specified by you. So you can opt for this if the location isn’t too
important for you.
SAVE MONEY GETTING AROUND
Tip 12 – Plan your own excursions
Its easy to get trapped into the shore excursions pre-organized by the cruise, but those are always over priced and overcrowded. Instead, do your own research of the destinations you’re visiting and make tentative itineraries in advance. Familiarize yourself with the local transportation, main areas and activities of each place that you’re visiting. Check Groupon for deals on local activities or book directly with some local companies operating in the area. There can be numerous easy ways to save money while on vacation.
Consider renting a car if you’re staying longer in one particular destination. Rental cars can be a very economical option to cover a lot of ground during the short time you have on land.
Tip 13 – Say NO to Package deals
These are clear means of the cruise lines to mint more and more money out of your pockets. With a little research, you can always book the cheapest flights to/ from your port of entry. Moreover, you can use your credit card points to book a free flight! So don’t get trapped with the exaggerated package and also get stuck with what the cruise is offering. Do your math!
Tip 14 – Skip the airport transfers
A cab ride is bound to be much cheaper than the extra you have to pay to the cruise liner for an airport transfer.
Tip 15 – BONUS SAVE – Don’t Rebook Before Leaving the Ship
Of course you want to go back to another cruise as soon as your trip is over. And the cruise sales folks will continue to hound you with deals and packages while you’re still on the cruise. But DO NOT book next cruise while onboard! Their brochures look attractive for sure, but that’s the end of it! Get home and start your research for the next trip to get your best cruise deals.
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Got any more ways and tricks to save money on cruises? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
About our guest poster
Divya Saggar, Travel Blogger https://thesavingsaddict.com/
Divya started her blog to spread her “magic-mantra” of almost-free travel! She loves to tell her travel stories and to inspire people to live their travel dreams without breaking the bank. In her blog, she shares travel hacks and tricks to help you travel smarter, save more and holiday better.
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