Where and How to Get the Best Deal on a Cruise?

By ,   November 23, 2015 ,   Tips & Tricks

The right answers to how to get the best deal on a cruise and where to get the best cruise deals (like websites) will give you enough money to be happily spent on DODs (its drinks, guys, "drink of the day") on board your ship, and will save you a ton of browsing and comparing time, which could be redirected to the more fun cruise packing, right? Right - because the time-and-money question is always the right one! The review is integrated with How to find the best UK cruise deals.

First of all, the answer depends on your cruise ship travel vacation style and experience preferences. Cheap deals are more fun, luxury packages and all-inclusive deals are more value for your big money. The third option are all the specials and discounts - for affordable (or just inexpensive) prices on better to best ships, but also for great to cheapest cheap rates on some of the big to biggest cruise ships in the world. Still, getting the best prices is not all the fun. A big chunk of fun is the way you get them, or how you play this "best deal" game. Often, "Discount" and "Value" don't match at all - cheap fares may offer either an itinerary with little or no interest to you, or sailing an older ship with less activities and amenities.

just how to get the best deal on a cruise?

How to Get the Best Deal on a Cruise

The special prices on cruises call on the following "ports" exclusively - knowing quite a few tips and tricks, best of luck, time, and money, naturally, particular lines and ships. While there's nothing to be said about the "luck-time-money" issue (you either have it, or you don't), for both the thrill and prudence in finding your discounted sea voyage, here are the best nine recommendations to follow:

  • Early Booking. Availability of all the best cruise ship accommodations, a great option for free cabin upgrades (paying less for the best), and the best availability for a particular destination (discount prices are not guaranteed with the early booking option). The cheapest ship fares are not always the best feature of the sea voyage, if YOU insist on the destination YOU want, on YOUR favorite ship, and in a cabin of YOUR likeness. Top luxury cruise companies all-inclusive (Seabourn, for example) offer a discount if you pay in full on booking. Another reason for early booking is that the  most popular deals sell out fast. A ship cabin may be booked up to 18 months in advance.
  • Group Booking. The discounts are even sweeter, if you are able to talk others into sailing with you as a group. Attainable mostly by people, belonging to some group - a church organization, a book club, etc. The group booking discount (special pricing to groups of 15+ passengers) is not offered by all lines, but you should check this option out. Huge discounts are offered for larger groups, and to less attractive itineraries (including those in low season).
  • Cruise with Value Added. The fare itself is not changing, but numerous additions "sweeten the deal": gratuities added, cabin upgrades (a stateroom in category, higher than the one you've paid for), ship-board credits (added by the line to your stateroom account), special amenities (like cocktail parties), free gifts (souvenirs, binoculars, etc.). Such deals may even offer two-for-one cruise fares, all inclusive cruise fares, kids sail free offers, free round-trip air transportation (with transfers between the airport and the ship), etc.
  • Member Discount Programs. The cruise ship discounts often are the well deserved rewards to socially active people, who usually operate by several credit cards, and belong to diverse programs and huge organizations, like the military, AARP, AAA. If you are a member of such organization, there could be potential discounts or rewards as benefits for your membership.
  • Special Cruise Offers. Sign up for the best specials and promotions on the line's official web site. You also may check their regular updates at Twitter, or Facebook. The good cruise travel agent could also be of great help - some companies offer travel-agent finder on their sites (like Holland America, and Royal Caribbean, for example).

where to find the best cruise deals - membership discounts for AAA and AARP

  • AAA (American Automobile Association) is a nonprofit association of 51 regional clubs in USA, with more than 53 million members, providing them on a local club level with products or services.
  • AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) - a nonprofit organization in USA (over 40 million members, mostly seniors age 50+). It also sells insurance, investment funds and other financial products.

tips on how to get the best deal on a cruise

where and how to get the best cruise deals

The question of "how to get cheap cruise deals" has its number one answer - search the last minute deals. If you consider a voyage for FUN, "cheap" is one of your "most fun" options. And if your style requires best staterooms, specialty dining with gourmet cuisine in feature restaurants, more personal (superior) cruising experiences plus discounts, your best option is again "last minute", or (probably, on some lines) the early booking.

How to get the best price on a cruise - the short tips version:

  • always compare prices
  • check regularly for free cruise offers, like "buy one get one free" deals, kids sail for free specials, cruise with free airfare, etc.
  • the cheapest way to book a cruise is direct booking on the line's website. But the tips for first-time cruisers shouldn't recommend it. Instead, search Google for best cruise travel websites, search forums for renown travel agents/agencies and genuine reviews and opinions.
  • do early or last minute booking, or hunt the web for specials, residence, membership and Past Guest discounts.

how to get cheap cruise deals with Last Minute booking

Booking a hugely discounted sailing in the very last minute is the sweetest deal - and the most risky one! You may end up either with an inside cabin at the lowest deck, or with no cruise at all. However, late deals will always give you the best possible rates. Last minute deals are the cheapest deals you can find on the market. Last minute vacations, holidays, tours, trips, sailings - they are real deals of high pulse, best of luck, cheapest rates, one of the best ever "thrill vacation" experiences, they are a great fun!

Late cruise deals, beside the trip itself, also include such products and services, as land and sea packages, shore excursions/tours, flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. Last Minute booking means booking a trip in a period from 3 weeks to a day before the departure. Considered as  the cheapest deals, they always offer very attractive to absolutely alluring hugely discounted rates, but sometimes also with limited choices of particular products and services, including destinations, itinerary (also as length), ship/line choices, etc. Last minute cruises also means going on a sea vacation with almost no planning, or waiting for a particular itinerary/ship and booking it in time when the discount price most suites you. In some cases, these deals are just casual whims for the more impulsive and spontaneous of the travelers. But for all the rest, finding the cheapest deals as rates is a result of well assessed process of hunting down great deals. With the last minute bookings you may save up to 80% of the initial price. And speaking of eventualities - don't forget the "thrill" of risking the entire vacation!

The Last Minute "so very good" deals are mostly available on big/bigger/biggest lines and ships, for they have so many cabins to fill on each sailing - which means unsold cabins at hugely discounted rates. And lines loose little, since, just like on every other voyage, you'll be involved and spending money on drinks, gambling, shore excursions, etc. But late deals, actually, do have some detriments - the short/stressing departure dates, limited choices of itineraries and accommodations, and very often - the room sharing. Also, the airfare (if necessary to reach the port) may drastically increase the price. Last minute cruises are impossible to book if not paid in full immediately, which is another disadvantage.

Single cruise last minute deals are very popular - singles have to share cabins with another singles or solo travelers anyway. Late deals require flexibility, and are not suitable for families or single parents. These deals offer the same service, dining-entertainment options, onboard activities and amenities also remain the same. There are no restrictions for visiting any of the numerous bars, lounges, entertainment venues, etc. And you'll be strolling the same decks, enjoying the same pools, shore excursions, and you will continue to gain points and credits with the cruise lines loyalty programs rewards. As to the tips - scour the Web with Google! For particular keywords, you may request alerts via e-mail - Google will update you every 24 hours. You also may find useful the names of some of the best travel agencies and booking firms: Priceline, Expedia and Hotwire - cheap late deals, cheap air land and sea travel deals and cheap vacation packages. Read more at cruise booking.

The Last Minute cruise travel always offers the cheapest tickets/fares possible. It's up to you to fancy the itinerary, to accept gladly the room (no matter its location), to find in your roommate a new friend, and to get into the mood of your lucky last minute vacation!

Low Season travel

the cheapest time to cruise

Some of the cheapest fares. Various discounts and great deals are available during the so called Low and Off seasons. Discounts with special low rates and lots of bonuses - that's the first definition for the low season travel (the second being: the time of year, when an itinerary receives the fewest guests). For instance, the Caribbean low season is during summer (called also "hurricane season"), the Southern Mediterranean - during winter, etc. Considering the low-season discounts, you should know that unlike the land-resorts, the ship in low season doesn't offer less amenities - longer itineraries, on-sale shopping, free shore excursions, cheap fly cruise packages, and some lines offer even all-inclusive deals with free airfare, sports and spa treatments.

Repositioning cruise deals - the cheapest cruise deals in the world of cruising. Such discounts are offered, generally, during Spring and Fall (each year), when most of the passenger ships change their seasonal itineraries, and offer repositioning voyages from one destination to another. An exemplary reposition is an itinerary that takes a ship from the Mediterranean in the end of summer to the Caribbean for the winter season. Such discounts may offer up to 40% savings, unusual ports of call, but the itineraries are much longer (12+ days at sea).

Loyalty Programs discounts

Attainable only if you sail more than once with the same line. With a loyalty program, the line may offer you lower rates, free upgrades, on-board credits, priority services, and many special on-board amenities. Best examples are the "Mariner Club" of Holland America, and the "Captain’s Club" of Celebrity - the discounted deals include special pricing for members, line's enhancements, etc. Such deals offer more and more rewards the more you sail with a particular line.

A discount ship travel deal is actually easy to find - the price comparison is essential, and don't hesitate to ask for discounts, bonuses, and inclusions on booking. It never hurts to ask, and the reward is the cheap ship cruise package vacation you've always dreamed of! And at least on your first sea voyage, use the services of a travel agency - there are too many tricks to know about, and too many info about lines, ships, requirements, inclusions, etc.