How To Time Your Search
A good time to start looking for last-minute deals is about 90 days before a sailing. This is the final payment deadline for many cruisesthe point where customers who have put down deposits on trips must send in the full amount due or cancel. After the deadline, cruise lines have a much better idea of how many cabins they have left to sell, and they adjust pricing accordingly. If a ship is heavily booked after final payment, fares for the remaining cabins will remain high or go higher. If there are an unexpectedly large number of cabins left to sell, pricing could come down.
The final payment deadline varies by line and itinerary. At Royal Caribbean, its 75 days for shorter voyages. Regent Seven Seas cuts things off as far out as 150 days on some trips.
An Affordable Way To Cruise
Cruise lines would prefer that every cabin be filled when a ship sails, even if it means deeply discounting cabin prices in order to secure occupants. Cruises make ideal last-minute trips because no matter when you book your vacation, the same superb service, range of activities, dining options, entertainment venues, and unique destinations are offered to every passenger. Of course the major drawback is that not everyone has a flexible enough schedule to take a cruise at the drop of a hat. In addition, if you need to fly to the port, last-minute airfare can quickly negate any discounts of the cruise package, unless you book a cruise package that includes airfare.
Open Your Cruise Line Website To Access The Offer/deals Button
All of the cruise lines have a button on their web pages that lists the current cruise deals. These are normally only accessible for a short period of time and on certain sailings. Check out websites like Cruiseline.com for additional options, including sorting by location, trip duration, % discount and upgrades.
If you have already paid for a trip and see a cheaper deal, you mat be able to negotiate a discount on the trip you have already paid for with your agent or the cruise line themselves. Should they refuse to offer you a discount it is always good to point out a better deal from a competitor to them, that you could switch to. Since cruise companies are trying their hardest right now in what is a buyers market, you should be offered some concession, maybe even a cabin upgrade.
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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.
Where Can I Find The Best Cruise Deals
Our cruise grid shows the lowest priced cruise for each month, and this can also be sorted by lowest price per day. For example, a 10 day cruise may be more expensive than a 7, but on a daily basis, the 10 night a better deal. Airfare is a big factor from Canada. Weve packaged the most popular cruises booked with flights from Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax for certain times of year.
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The Best Cheap Cruise Ships
Youll find some large price differences between different ships in each fleet. Cruising on a newer cruise ship will cost more than a cruise on an older ship. Why? Well, newer cruise ships are larger with more facilities on-board. People get excited about new ships and dont mind paying more, especially for the maiden voyages.
Are new cruise ships better? Not always. Cruise ships are thoroughly refurbished every three years, so even on the oldest ships youll never find peeling paint or shabby furnishings.
Royal Caribbean charges around $1 more per drink on the newest ships, which doesnt sound a lot but it can add up. Royal Caribbean drinks packages cost more on the newer ships too.
Rather than looking for the biggest, newest ships, dont rule out some older ships which will be as good as new once you get on-board.
Want A Cheap Cruise Study This Chart
Before we get into the rules, we want to walk you through some of the research so you can see exactly what weve found.
First, we want to show you the most important resource when it comes to what you will pay for a cruise.
The chart below shows the per-person cruise fare for both an interior cabin and balcony room for a 3-day Carnival cruise during the next two years. This particular cruise sails from Miami, with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.
We selected this cruise because it runs weekly, giving us a chance to compare the price of the trip over multiple years and see the trends in the fare.
There are a few things to point out in this chart, which we will detail later on
First, you can see from the blue line that prices to travel last minute are consistent with the same time a year later. In other words, you dont see that much of a discount if any by waiting until the last minute.
Second, notice the trends in the rise and fall of the prices. Cruise fares see large spikes during holidays and the summer. The basic rule of thumb is that if schools are out, then cruise fares are high. Cruising off season can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Of course, there is so much more to learn about finding the best rate on your next cruise. We go into full detail of all the rules you should follow to find the lowest rate possible
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Sign Up For Email Alerts From The Cruise Lines
While we suggest searching aggregation sites that search all cruise lines to find deals quickly, its also smart to sign up for the email alerts offered by individual cruise lines. These lists can alert you to special fares and deals that might otherwise be missed. As well, they can serve as a reminder to hunt around for last-minute deals.
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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Ask For A Price Drop When Fares Change
If the cruise fare changes after youve booked but before youve made your final payment, its possible to take advantage of the lower rate. Enlist the help of a travel agent who can monitor pricing after youve 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 youre 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.
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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.
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Get A Discount On Your Cruise
The price of your cruise will be different depending on who you book it with. Its always cheaper to use a travel agent with access discounted rates.
Of course, not all travel agents are equal in terms of the service that they provide, and a great travel agent is worth their weight in gold.
- If you prefer to email your enquiry This travel agent always goes above and beyond to provide the very best personalised service
- If you want to speak to someone right nowThis large travel agency has great prices and Ive always found them to be really helpful
What Is Considered A Last Minute Cruise
When we talk about last minute cruises, we are talking about any sailing that is past Royal Caribbean’s final payment date.
In most cases, the final payment date is 90 days prior to when the ship is scheduled to depart.
The closer you get to the sail date, the more difficult find a deal may be, but the rewards may be higher given the cruise line’s desire to fill the room.
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Rule #: Dont Buy The Wave Season Hype
You might have heard of wave season. This time of year running from January through March is supposed to be when the cruise lines offer the best deals. Thats due to the cold weather in most of the country making people think of warmer places combined with the passing of the Christmas holiday.
Our take? Wave season is hyped up, similar to Black Friday. Sure there may be good offers but not enough to keep us from booking a good deal when we see one a different time of year.
Remember, if everyone waited until the wave season deals, then the cruise lines wouldnt have anyone book the other nine months of the year. Youll find that the deals offered arent that much different than those found the rest of the year.
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Make The Most Of Past Passenger Discounts
Like frequent fliers, frequent cruisers are able to benefit from brand loyalty. Sticking with one line means earning perks like nightly cocktails in private lounges, free laundry, complimentary dinners in alternative restaurants and even free cruises once youve earned enough credits all things youd typically have to pay for. Past passengers can also take advantage of special discounted sailings throughout the year, or be entitled to book new itineraries before the general public can.
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Rule #: Dont Get Distracted By Cruise Line Sales
The cruise lines are like department stores they constantly run sales and special offers. Sometimes it is 50% off the second fare. Sometimes its lower deposits. Sometimes its onboard credit.
Weve found that there is a constant flow of deals, and they usually are all about the same. In other words, we dont really think you should let it influence whether or not you buy or let it affect the timing of your purchase.
Yes, it is possible that one deal might be better than another. However, they typically end up around the same price. If a cruise line really needs to fill rooms, they will simply lower the price of the specific cruise instead of offering a fleetwide discount.
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How To Get Cheap Cruises: An Insider Guide
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Before I became a full-time blogger, I worked in the marketing department of a well-known specialist cruise travel agency for five years.
In that time, Ive sat at my desk and watched the price of cruises go up and down, and up again.
Ive seen cruises priced at £13 per night and cruises that cost over £4,000 per night. Ive spotted some incredible deals and Ive also scratched my head at why some cruises are priced so much higher than others.
I always like to have at least five cruises booked at any one time. People ask me how I afford to go on so many cruises? Am I rich? Do I have a rich husband? Alas, the answer is no! Ive just learned how to get cheap cruises from working in the industry.
Cruises arent expensive if you know how to find the cheap deals.
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Its Ideal To Be Within Driving Distance Of The Port
Last-minute travelers living in the middle of the country are at a distinct disadvantage. Thats because in addition to finding a deal on a cruise, people flying to the cruise port also have the hurdle of finding cheap airfare. Its much easier if you live within driving distance of the cruise port, giving you the opportunity to hop in the car to get to the ship instead of booking expensive airfare.
The good news? Cruise ships sail from more ports than ever, including smaller places like Charleston and Mobile. This put a cruise within driving distance for millions more people.
Rule #: Dont Think Youll Save A Ton By Booking Last Minute
It would make sense that you would find the cheapest fares right before the ship sails. After all, if a room sails empty, the cruise line earns nothing from that cabin. They should want to get you on board for as badly as possible and hope to earn more on excursions, drinks, and shopping.
If that were how things actually worked, however, the cruise lines would go insane trying to plan. If rates were lowest right before the trip sailed, then every passenger would wait until the last minute. The cruise lines wouldnt be able to plan their needs for the trip ahead of time or predict revenue, costs, or profits.
Thats why Royal Caribbean, for example, eliminated last-minute discounts.
In fact, if you look at our chart of prices for the cruise below, you can see that the price you pay for a cruise about to depart is inline with the same time a year later.
Where you can really get burned by waiting until the last minute is in your room selection.
When you book late, many of the prime rooms have been taken already. In fact, with balcony rooms usually selling out the fastest, you may find that there are no balcony rooms available.
For more on buying last-minute cruises, read 9 Smart Last-Minute Cruise Buying Tips.
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Purchase A Combined Cruise And Flight Package
The traveling process needs to be simple and smooth when youre traveling over the age of 50. Choosing a single package for your cruise and flight simplifies the journey and removes stress.
Another reason for choosing a combined package is that youd be able to save quite a bit of money.
The cruise lines offer package deals where they manage the hotel booking, flights, and shore excursions on your behalf. Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival are some of the top cruise lines that offer attractive packages for travellers. You can reduce the costs of these travel bookings by choosing an entire package.
These cruise lines usually book hotels near the port. This means you are also be able to save on local traveling costs like taxi fares. Sometimes, the price of airfare is included in the cruise booking.
How Do I Find Cruise Deals Online
Luckily for you, Cruise Guru is by far and away the place to go for the latest cruise deals online! Whether youre searching for Royal Caribbean cruise deals, cheap cruises for P& O, or the best cruise deals for Princess, well likely have the cruise holidays at a price you simply cant refuse.
We have a variety of cruise sale offers that matches every kind of traveller. Reduced deposits for those who want to grab the latest cruise holidays before theyre sold out? Included drinks, Wi-Fi, or dining for adventurers who want stress-free cruise holidays? Shipboard credit so you can make shore excursion reservations or purchases at a shop without pulling out your wallet? We have all the cruise deals a person could ask for across every major cruise line. Sail away knowing that youve grabbed yourself massive savings by checking out our cheap cruise deals now. Book a cruise with the experts who can find the cruise deals that are just right for you.
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