Track The Cruise You Want
McDaniel said that one of the easiest ways to make sure you get the best price is to track the cruise you want. On cruisecritic.com, you can sign up for price alerts, and can search by destination, ship, month, or departure port.
Prices change even throughout a day, she said. Pricing is constantly in flux for cruising.
Rule #: Do Monitor Price Dropsand Call The Cruise Line
So what if after all this you book your cruise, and then the price drops?
First, you should be monitoring the price of your cruise after you book if you want to save money. Were not saying to check it every day, but once or twice a week is sufficient.
If you run across a price drop, then you should contact the cruise line immediately. This is where having put down only a deposit and not paying in full buys you some leverage.
Many times the cruise lines will work with you to compensate for the lower fare, even though they often arent obligated to do so. They can refund the difference or offer onboard credit to make you happy.
Some lines have price protection policies in place. Carnival, for example, has its Early Saver Program:
1. When you book a 3-5 day cruise three months in advance, or 6 day or longer cruise five months in advance, you are assured the lowest rate.
2. In the unlikely event that you do find a lower Carnival-advertised rate after booking your cruise, we will honor it and adjust your cruise rate accordingly. Simply fill out the Price Protection Claim form and well take care of the rest.
If you only have a deposit down, and they wont work with you on the price difference, determine the refund policy to see if it is worth it to cancel your original trip and re-book the cruise at the lower rate.
How To Get Cheap Cruise Deals
If you are trying to find a cheap Royal Caribbean cruise deal, there a few good strategies that you can employ to narrow your search down and lock in on a great rate. Royal Caribbean offers a tremendous value across its sailings, and sometimes you can snag an even better deal on select sailings.
Competition in the cruise industry to outdo each other and offer new cruisers greater incentives to try a cruise vacation means there can be significant savings to reap, thanks to various sales promotions and offers.
It is important to realize that what constitutes a good deal is in the eye of the beholder, as value is a relative proposition. This means that finding a cheap cruise deal is more about finding a price that works for your budget, rather than scouring the internet for a bargain basement price. With cruising as popular as ever, finding ridiculously low rates is not that realistic. With that being said, there are definitely deals to be found and here is our strategies for finding the best ones!
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Ask For A Price Drop When Fares Change
If the cruise fare changes after you’ve booked but before you’ve made your final payment, it’s possible to take advantage of the lower rate. Enlist the help of a travel agent who can monitor pricing after you’ve booked, and who can request a re-fare to the lower rate.
If the fare plummets, you can request a rate change, cancel and rebook at the lower rate or request the difference in onboard credit. What you’re entitled to varies by cruise line, but it all leads to more money in your pocket. Note that some lines may have nonrefundable deposit policies always read the fine print before deciding to pull the trigger and cancel and rebook.
Look For Off Season Cruise Deals
Consider taking a cruise to a destination currently in its off-season. Or, even in the early or late shoulder seasons. Taking a cruise to areas during their tourist off-season is going to be so much cheaper than during the peak seasons.
The other advantage of off-season cruising the cruise may also be less crowded as will the main attractions at the destination. Win Win.
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When Is The Best Time To Book A Cruise In 2020
All the travel agents we spoke to gave the same advice about the best time to book: Early.
Book as early as you can:“We’re seeing the booking window open up further,” says Coiro. “In 2019, we saw more last-minute business. But in 2020, people are booking, on average, between six to eight months in advance for the Caribbean and Bahamas.” He said that recommendation is for cruisers driving to their homeport people who need to fly to their cruise , are booking closer to eight to 10 months out.
“Overall, the further you book ahead, the better deal you’ll get on the broadest range of options,” says Smith. “You can still get a great last-minute deal if you’re flexible, but you’ll have fewer choices. The cruise industry has become more disciplined in making sure that those who plan farther ahead get the very best deal.” Plus, the earlier you book, the more choices you’ll have with cabin type and location on the exact itinerary and sail date you prefer.
Agents say that cruise lines are worried that the U.S. presidential election in the fall will be a distraction, so they’re trying to front-load cruise sales as much as possible. “Lines know that now is the time to go big,” says Hunter.
Think a year ahead: During the early months of the year, which the industry refers to as “wave season,” travelers are booking both same year and next year cruises. Some are booking in the sweet spot, but others might find they’re too late.
Ask About Personal Discounts
Cruise lines often have special discounts for veterans or active military members, emergency response personnel, senior citizens, or even residents of particular states. Some lines may also offer student discounts, special rates for teachers, or other discounts.
If you have special circumstances or affiliations, it doesnt hurt to ask about available discounts and you might be able to find a great deal. If you have sailed with the cruise line previously, even if your last cruise was years ago, you may qualify for special past passenger rates as well.
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Prices Behind Buying A Cruise Earlier Instead Of Later
The price difference between a cruise bought close to the sail date or farther out is usually negligible. Thats why it makes sense to go ahead and book your cruise early if you can.
The table below shows the headline fare for one cruise as an example. This cruise aboard the Carnival Horizon is a 6-day trip departing Miami. Since the cruise is scheduled regularly for more than a year into the future, we can compare the price of the cruise now with the price of the same cruise at the same time next year.
As you can see, the same cruise aboard the same ship sailing at the same time of year shows similar prices for a trip leaving soon versus one booked well in advance.
The prices below are shown per person for an interior cabin, before taxes and fees.
Bottom line: Yes, there are some slight price differences. But if youre going to end up paying roughly the same price whether you book the cruise a month before it leaves or a year before it leaves, it makes more sense to book as early as possible. That way, you have the most options available for cabin types and location.
When You Find A Good Price Book
When you find a price you are comfortable with, take advantage of it and book your vacation. If you wait the prices are likely to change, and may go up based on the cruises popularity, time of year, or other circumstances such as ship redeployments or itinerary adjustments.
The longer you wait to book your cruise, the more cabins will be sold and the less choice youll have for the stateroom you want. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get on the cruise at all, at any price.
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Search For Cruises Close To Home
You can also skip the hassle of booking a plane ticket entirely by searching for cruises with embarkation ports within driving distance of your home. This way, if you do find a great last-minute deal on a cruise, you can simply pack your bags and jump in your car instead of having to worry about finding a low-priced plane ticket to the departure port.
For U.S. residents in the Pacific Northwest, look for a round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle, Washington. If you live in L.A. or San Diego, you can book a Pacific Coastal cruise or a Panama Canal cruise without worrying about airfare to the port.
East Coast residents can find Caribbean cruises leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey in the north or last-minute cruises from Florida departing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa in the south.
Check For Price Drops
If you live in a country where you can adjust the price of your cruise prior to final payment date , then a really good strategy is to check regularly for price drops.
The basic premise of this strategy is to re-price your booked sailing and see if the price has changed. If the price has gone down on the category stateroom you booked and you are before final payment date, you can contact your travel agent to adjust the price.
In terms of how often to check for price drops, the most practical strategy is to check when a new sales promotion is announced. Some folks will check daily, but that may be a bit aggressive for our taste. You will want to check periodically, although if you employed our first tip and booked your cruise early, you may find the price you locked in is already a great rate.
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Outlook On Booking A 2021 Repositioning Cruise Deal
With cruise lines greatly relaxing their cancelation policies. It can make sense to book a good deal if you see one. Particularly if you really like a certain repositioning cruise deal you see now, its probably best to strike while you can. Otherwise you may become disappointed if prices go up or if the cruise sells out.
Repositioning cruise pricing trends can be somewhat predictable for those in the know. Yet with all the uncertainty going on in 2020 and into 2021, all bets are off. There will be many changes implemented as repositioning cruises start back up again. Some of those occurrences could affect how good of a deal may be available on a repositioning cruise.
For example, many cruise lines are currently not filling their ships to capacity, so guests can more easily keep distanced. Also, weve noticed some repositioning cruises have been cut from the 2021 calendar. Certain ships have gotten sold or scrapped, while other itineraries have been altered to accommodate shorter and closer cruises that people may be more attracted to in 2021. All of these actions will lead to reduced inventory of cabins on repositioning cruises in 2021. This could potentially lead to cruises selling out and/or higher prices.
There is pent-up demand for cruising and many cruisers are in need of using their future cruise credits they have accumulated from canceled 2020 cruises. This could further make getting a cabin on a repositioning cruise potentially more competitive.
So Whats The Catch Of A Cheap Repositioning Cruise Deal
These cheap repositioning cruise deals may seem like theyre too good to be true. But theyre totally legit. There are no major catches, really.
Its a common misnomer that repositioning cruise deals are so cheap because theyre boring and stripped-down cruises. That is simply not true!
Its actually quite the opposite. Cruise lines tend to ramp up activities, lectures, and entertainment during all those extra days at sea. It can be a lot of fun. We always keep busy and never get bored.
The nightly four-course dinners include the same filet mignons and lobster tails passengers indulge in on regular weeklong cruise itineraries. The first-class staterooms are, of course, the same rooms. They dont strip down the staterooms for repositioning cruises. The high level of service remains the same too.
Meanwhile, the many exotic ports that are visited along the routes are arguably the greatest appeal of repositioning cruises. Reaching some of these distant locations would cost a fortune to fly to. Thousands of dollars! Yet a repositioning cruise deal can provide a seamless and inexpensive way to reach many far-flung destinations, all while voyaging across the ocean in luxury.
Despite our love and praise of cheap repositioning cruise deals, they certainly arent for everyone. We strongly advise anyone to fully understand some potential downsides before booking your first repositioning cruise across the ocean:
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Rule #: Dont Think There Is A Magic Website With Cheaper Cruise Fares
The cruise line website, Expedia, Cruises.com, Travelocity the list of sites where you can search for cruises is endless. The odd thing? They usually all have the exact same rates.
We researched the most popular sites for an upcoming Carnival cruise, comparing prices with the cruise lines official website. Weve tabulated the prices we found below:
So which site should you use?
We generally suggest booking through the cruise lines website. We like this because it takes out the middleman in booking your cruise. Should there be an issue, you can call the cruise line directly and everything is dealt with through their site.
However, many third-party sites can have special deals such as onboard credit thats not available if booking through the cruise line. We seen up to $750 in onboard credit just for booking through these types of sites, depending on their offers.
As well, third-party sites take your search across multiple cruise lines. So instead of just searching for Carnival cruises to the Caribbean in October, you can search every cruise line potentially finding a cheaper cruise with another line. Meanwhile, you typically wont pay any more than booking directly from the cruise line.
If you know the cruise line youd like to sail, we suggest booking directly through them. If you are open, then third-party websites give you the ability to search more cruise lines and itineraries to find a better price.
Defining Value Is Key
How much of a bargain is a cheap cruise that requires you to spend twice as much on airfare? For instance, you’ll typically see more Anchorage-to-Vancouver voyages on last minute lists than the more affordable round trip Seattle itineraries. Why? Air is typically cheaper on the latter, which sails into and out of the same city. The former has you flying in and out of different airports, including one in Alaska where fares are often high. Account for that cost before committing.
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Book Top Vacation Packages
Enjoy a worry-free trip when you book your vacation package on Travelocity. Find fantastic seasonal travel dealssuch as cruise and flight deals or last-minute travel dealsthat will keep your wallet and your adventurous spirit full. Discover how to bundle your flight and hotel or perhaps your flight and rental car there is no shortage of cheap vacation packages. Why dont you explore cheap vacations for two to surprise your special someone? No matter what your vacation goals are, theres sure to be a package within your budget so you can get the best travel deals out there.
Should You Book Your Cruise Early Or Wait To Get The Best Cruise Deals
Ever wondered what is the best time to book? We did, and looked at more than 4 million price changes to find out. According to our new comprehensive study, there are many factors at play when it comes to price. The cruise line, the actual cruise, and the time you book. During 2016 we analyzed 3,000 cruises on a cabin level. And focussed especially on how many days before departure the best prices could be found.
The results of the study, with over 4,000,000 data points gives a pretty clear view of pricing strategies of the cruise lines. Giving us a strong indication of when to book to get the best cruise deals.
For 56% of cruises, booking within 100 days of departure brought the best prices. For 19% booking early was the best option. Only 25% of cruises were found to have their best price between these two times.
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Extra Costs Of Repositioning Cruise Deals: Taxes & Gratuities
Do know that the repositioning cruise prices mentioned here are before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. This is the industry standard when quoting cruise prices. So understand that the total cost of repositioning cruises will end up being just a bit more after factoring in these compulsory charges.
Taxes & port fees for repositioning cruises will vary greatly depending on the ship and itinerary. But expect taxes to add at least $100, or more, to the total price for each person. This is all added to the repositioning cruise price during the booking process.
Gratuities are the semi-obligatory tips to deserving wait staff, room attendants, and other crew. This service fee typically adds $12-$16 per person, per night and usually isnt charged until youre onboard the cruise.
So taxes and gratuities do add to repositioning cruises prices. But even after budgeting for those costs, repositioning cruises are still incredible deals that often remain under $50 per day. In addition to those little extra costs, the section below details everything you should be aware of before booking a repositioning cruise deal.
Beyond the compulsory charges, theres no major hidden costs for repositioning cruises beyond the typical extras passengers may want to indulge in. For those unfamiliar with cruising, additional expenses can include purchases such as alcoholic drinks, dining in specialty restaurants, shore excursions, wifi at sea, spa packages and other splurges.