If you want to know how to save money on a cruise, remember that clicking on the "lowest price" is not a good idea. There are a few variables on the surface, and these are limited to sailing date, ship, cabin category. Expect great marks answering the question "how to save money on a cruise" only after you consider both booking and onboard expenses. Contemporary cruise lines offer a wide variety of ship classes and voyages every single week.
Researching all possibilities to pick the best offer will cost you patience and time. While planning a cruise, consider the following 10 ways how to save money on a cruise. Follow this advice, and be confident that you are not getting deceived on your cruise bill. You'll even save more, if you just read the next tips on how to save money on board a cruise ship.
1. Work With Travel Agents Travel agencies offer discounts, onboard credits, special promotions, and other incentives for cruisers. When you work with cruise travel agents, you can access cruise information variety that you might not find on your own. Discover how to save money on a cruise. In addition, in case something goes wrong, your travel agent will help you during your cruise.
- General travel agents who book everything from airline tickets to land tours are usually a waste of time. An agent who specializes in cruises may save your time and money for better experience - a must-do for first-time cruisers.
2. Search the Web DIY travelers use the Web to take advantage while shopping around for best cruise fit and fares. If you do a research by yourself, you'll know much about average fares on preferred sailings, so when a sale comes out, you will know quickly it's really a great deal and be fast to snag. Most travelers consider the day of putting down their deposits the day they've locked in to a certain price. That is true, of course, but other opportunities will also come along to get you the same cruise for lower price or to get more for the same price. "Value", not the "lowest price" is what matters here.
3. Look for Sales Cruise industry loves sales. Some lines nearly every week offer some short-term promos. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity each week offer one-day discounts. Wave Season (from January to March) sees often outpouring of sales from travel agencies and cruise lines. Email newsletters and the Internet are the best mediums to find deals, and range from last minute to 2- years out.
- Never pay brochure prices. Lines all issue glossy brochures, all with "sample pricing". Unless it's a special and well-sold voyage where demand is much higher than supply, don't be tempted by claims of 65% of brochure rate - it is not a discount unless prices that are presented to you meet your definition of cheap.
4. Book Early Cruise lines nowadays are hanging around advance planners who book cruises and pay deposits in advance from six to 18 months, by offering tempting fares and throwing in expensive upgrades. Search for reduced or free airfare, cabin upgrades and complimentary amenities (free beverage packages, specialty dining, shore excursions, gratuities).
- If you want free upgrades, look for ads that specifically say that balcony staterooms are for the price of outsides, or similar. You're less likely to prefer upgrades within categories, which means that the line will take you from your outside to a "better" one. You might not agree because this is not the answer of "How to save money on a cruise" question.
How to save money on a cruise by flexibility
5. Be Rational Book last minute: Cruise rates constantly go up and down. Cruisers who can wait until last minute (three to six weeks in advance) could find the best fares. However, be prepared for least desirable accommodation - typically cabins without windows, staterooms in bad locations.
- Book onboard: Booking your next voyage while you're onboard a current one, can take you advantage of some reduced deposits, free onboard credit, or fare discounts. Deposits are usually refundable, so you can change itineraries in future or transfer booking to a favorite travel agent - take advantage of expertise, and the promotional offers, of course.
- Sail during shoulder seasons: If you can, choose to be flexible with dates. In this case, you can typically save a few hundred off the base rate. Book early sailings - in Alaska, for example, you may get a discount if booking one of the first season's sailings. You may be trading money for lower temperatures, but a sweater will do for solving the problem.
6. Cruise for Free You can win a free cruise if you persuade a friends' group to sail together. Many lines reward such group planners for organizing trips of 16 people (in 8 cabins) at least. The ones who are ready to coordinate 32 people (16 cabins) at least, could take free cabin for two. However, group leaders invest lot of time in planning. They spend a lot of time online in order determine the best trip, or work with a travel agent, and choose a ship and itinerary that has to please everyone. Group leaders must also organize family and friends to make sure the deposits are made on time.
7. Close to Home Homeport cruising is continuously growing in number, with ships that depart from cities along the whole U.S. coastline. Cruise from where you choose - New York, Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Galveston or New Orleans, on year-round or seasonal basis. This fact affects itineraries which sail in the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada and New England, Bahamas, Bermuda, Mexican Riviera. The primary benefit is there is no need to add on the cost of airline tickets to traditional port cities, like Fort Lauderdale, San Juan Puerto Rico and Miami. Park your car in the port garage, or choose hotel stay offers.
How to save money on a cruise by setting a budget
8. Follow Your Budget Decide how much you may sacrifice for extras, then stick to the plan. Better bring cash for paying your onboard account. Having cash helps develop budget. It also helps to avoid going over or putting purchases on your credit card.
- No spa treatments: Specialized exercise classes and spa treatments are wonderful, but cost extra, at least on most voyages. Before booking a facial or a massage, investigate how much it is. Choose to save money on your cruise and postpone spa experiences until you return home. Try free exercise by walking ship’s deck, swimming, or using the fitness center. Another good idea is running or walking during port calls.
- No premium dining: Premium dining may be quite enjoyable, but it comes at a high price, added to your bill. Better skip premium dining options while onboard your ship and use the saved money for memorable meals ashore.
- No gambling until sunrise: Some casino freaks bring along envelopes for each day of cruise, with the cash amount they'll gamble each day. Learn more about gambling on cruise ships.
- Organize your own shore excursions: Packages including "beach" are quite more expensive than if you grab a cab and head to the seaside on your own. Anything the line offers you may do on your own. However, some shore excursions have to be booked through the line, but you will save a lot of money if you spend a day or two to explore ports of call on your own. Choose a local guide and take a taxi to the center. You may also rent a bicycle - hit the road then. Allow enough time to return to ship, because it will sail away without you in case you don't reboard on time.
- Drink free or buy drinks package: Drink water, coffee, iced tea and hot tea, if your line charges for alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Find out the free drinks on your ship or ask about beverage packages to save money on alcohol and soft drinks. Learn exactly what is not and what is included in cruise fare prior to embarkation. Consider the importance of drinks to you, and save a lot with prepaid packages. A good value can be the soda packages offered by most of the lines. All depends on the quantities you are ready to drink.
- Access Internet during call ports: Internet access onboard is extremely slow and expensive. In order to save money on a cruise, pre-write the emails and you may send them while ship is in port. Find then an Internet café, bring along air card or choose a mobile hot spot. Call your provider for an international plan during your trip, if your plan doesn't include any international access. Save your money and avoid being frustrated by onboard Internet.
9. Extend Your Vacation Imagine spending some extra days in port before or after your cruise. Lines package hotel stays with their sailings, including transfers to and from ship. Expect to pay a lot for the convenience. And think about booking hotel on your own. You can also book cruise line's transfers airport-to-ship on a-la-carte basis and plan your own activities in order to save cash. Prefer organized tours? Then check out an independent operator for pre- or post-cruise alternatives. Compare prices against lines' packages - you'll be surprised.
10. Calculate It Cruise vacations are is too far from an all-inclusive deal as some may believe. How to save money on a cruise is not a question to be scared of. Investigate first. If you are premium-line traveler, booking upper suites on lines like Holland America or Celebrity and paying for the extras like specialty dining and wine - it might be cheaper, or better value at least, to upgrade to luxury line. It's worth to know for what price what size cabin you can get on each cruise line and calculate any extra costs.
- Luxury lines include everything from pre-cruise hotels, shore excursions, beverages, and gratuities to Internet access and specialty dining, along with high-end service and pampering cabin amenities. How to save money on a cruise depends not only on the above listed tips. It's you who knows better what you really need and desire - money is not the most important thing in the world. Feel great and have fun on your cruise vacation - life is too short to think about a few dollars more.