How to Get the Best Deals On Cruises
A cruise is already one of the most affordable ways there is to see the world in style. With accommodations, meals, excursions, on-board entertainment, and more all rolled into one package, you get the vacation of a lifetime on a budget.
But just because you’re saving money with a cruise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get the best deal possible when booking your next adventure.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
At CloudBlue Travel, our combined decades of cruising have taught us a thing or two about how to get the best deals on a cruise. Now we want to share our expertise with you.
Here are 11 must-read tips on how to get the best travel deals on your next cruise.
1. Keep a Flexible Schedule
One of the best ways to save on a cruise is to not be set on a specific travel time. Cruises are most expensive during holidays and summer break — his is when people have time off, and their kids aren’t in school. That means the demand is higher, and so are the prices.
The cheapest time to cruise is typically in the fall months, followed closely by the spring shoulder season.
But even the specific day you set sail can affect the price of your booking (just like a plane ticket), so check the days before and after your ideal sail date, and look for the cheapest one!
2. Check Prices Often
For starters, do some research to find out what the price of a cruise typically is for the time of year, type of cruise, and location you want to travel to. That’ll be your standard when looking for the best deal possible.
At the very least, you’ll know to avoid paying more than X amount of dollars for any given cruise.
To find better than typical prices, follow these steps:
- Start checking prices early (12-18 months in advance)
- Cruise lines sometimes offer better pricing if you book at certain times of the year, like during the post-holiday blues months of January to March, or even during the holidays themselves.
- Note: this is when you should book your cruise, not when you should actually travel if you want to save money.
There’s no hard and fast rule for when cruise prices are lowest — sometimes booking super early is the way to go, other times you get the best deal at the last minute.
But that doesn’t mean you have roll the dice. Instead, use a price tracker to get notified when prices drop on the cruise you’re eyeing. Cruise Critic’s Price Alerts is a good one.
4. Cruise in Popular Locations
Places like the Caribbean and Europe are very popular cruise destinations. As such, there are more companies operating there with more ships.
More ships means more supply, and more companies means more competition. For savvy cruisers, that means better deals.
5. Choose Your Cabin Wisely
The specific cabin you book can have a big impact on the price of your cruise ticket.
Factors that determine the price of a cabin on a cruise include:
- Location on ship: Interior cabins are cheaper, cabins on the outside with windows cost more.
- Cabin size: Bigger cabins cost more than smaller ones.
- Features: A cabin with a balcony, private dining area, its own wet bar, and more will cost a lot more (though we’re the first to admit, they are really nice).
Beyond choosing the cheapest type of cabin, another way to save even more is to book with a “Cabin Guarantee”.
Basically, you choose the general zone and type of cabin you’d like to stay in, but you don’t get to pick specifically which cabin you’ll get. Some cruises offer discounts of $50-$100 per passenger when you choose this option.
6. Look for Travel Bundles
Many cruise lines offer bundles that not only make planning your trip easier, they also make it cheaper. By booking a bundle that includes your cruise ticket, hotels for your port-of-call before and after the cruise, airplane tickets, and add-on tours or excursions, you can save some serious dough.
7. Ask for a Refund When Prices Drop
Say you think you’re looking at a great price, so you pull the trigger and book your cruise. Hurray!
Until you notice that a week later, the tickets are even cheaper.
If you’ve paid your deposit but haven’t made your final payment, there’s still hope. Call the cruise line and ask them for a refund of the difference.
They may give it to you, or they might offer it in the form of a cabin upgrade, on-board credits, or other perks. Either way, you get more for your money.
8. Look for Older (and Smaller) Ships
A generally safe assumption about cruise ships is the bigger, newer, and fancier they are, the more your ticket will cost.
And while the new ships are modern marvels of both seafaring and entertainment, older ships come with a certain charm, as well. And a lower price tag.
Every cruise line has a fleet of ships that come in all shapes and sizes, each offering its own unique features. The older and smaller ships are usually cheaper, so before you book your cruise, check out each of their ships to look for the best deal.
9. Group Up for Bulk Pricing
It’s possible to get discounts on your cruise tickets if you book a group of people. So if you can get the whole extended family together, or all of your friends or co-workers, you could access bulk pricing that makes the vacation cheaper for everyone.
Usually, you need at least 14 passengers in a group (7 staterooms) to start accessing bulk deals.
Some cruises even offer free passes for kids when you buy enough tickets, so if you and the neighbors want to go on a cruise, you could be in for some real savings.
10. Rack Up Frequent Cruiser Points
Most first-time cruisers end their trip with a “That was fun, let’s do it again!”
It’s hard to go back to normal vacationing once you’ve experienced the joys of cruising. So if you’ve caught the cruising bug, then make the most of it with frequent cruiser points.
Just like frequent flyer miles with airlines, cruise lines incentivize future bookings with frequent cruiser points. The more you travel with the same company, the more points you rack up. These can get you discounts on bookings, free drinks, room upgrades, and other VIP perks.
11. Check Your Eligibility for Special Rates
Many cruise lines offer discount rates for members of the military, as well as senior citizens.
Furthermore, there are residence discounts which offer cheaper tickets to people who live in certain states. This has to do with how cruise lines track their revenue and taxes, but the point is that sometimes they’re looking to get more travelers from specific states, which can mean a discount for you.
Usually, this resident rate applies to people who live in the same state as the port city. So folks in Florida or Louisiana, for example, are likely candidates for this pricing.
Use a Cruise Travel Agent
At this point, your head might be spinning with all the ways you can save on a cruise. We understand — distilling decades of experience into one short blog can lead to information overload.
So why try to be the expert when the real experts are here at CloudBlue, ready to help you find the cruise vacation of your dreams at the best price possible?
Since we bring cruise lines a lot of business, we get access to special rates and we’ve got the ear of their salespeople.
Say you want a certain type of cabin and their website says they’re all booked up. We can personally check for you and see if we can’t work out how to get you that cabin anyway.
On top of customized cruise booking, we can handle all the details of your pre- and post-cruise travel and accommodations.
There’s a reason why the number of people using travel agents to book cruises has been steadily increasing — they get better deals! Plus, a majority of people who use cruise travel agents say their trips were better than previous trips they planned on their own.
Our one and only job is to find the cruise that best suits you and your travel tastes, and then to get the best price possible. We know all the tricks of the trade for finding cheap prices, and no matter how much time you spend tracking prices on your own, we’ll always get the cheapest deal on the best cruise.
Don’t wait another minute to find the cruise vacation of your dreams. Check out our travel deals now »
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