Choose Your Ship Carefully
Newer, larger ships with fancier features robot bartenders, roller coasters, exclusive restaurants, floating breweries, skydiving simulators, go-karts, snow grottos, escape rooms, etc. often have higher fares because of the popularity of these new and exciting options.
Older or smaller ships with fewer features will typically have cheaper overall fares, but they still offer amazing service, stunning ports of call, and many tried-and-true onboard favorites. Check when ships were most recently renovated and browse through deck plans to see what different ships offer. Comparing ship options with overall prices can help you find the best deal with the features youre most excited about.
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
Save On Drinks On Board
Cruising and boozing can be very bad for your wallet, especially if you travel with one of the big US-based cruise lines. A glass of wine on board a Royal Caribbean ship, for example, will cost you at least £7.90, plus an 18% service charge.
Think you can cut costs by bringing your own drinks on board? Think again. Very few cruise lines allow this .
You can sometimes save with an all-inclusive drinks package, although the amount depends on how many drinks you plan to have.
For more tips on how to save on drinks packages and which cruise lines are priciest, see our guide onHow to work out if a cruise drinks package is worth it.
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Time To Choose Your Best Cruise Deals
Norwegian Cruise Line regularly offers deals on select cruises throughout the year with multiple dates available for sailing! Youll find instant savings, plus Norwegians amazingly popular Free at Sea Promotion where depending on your sailing date and destination, offers may include FREE Shore Excursion Credits, Specialty Dining, Wi-Fi Packages or even an Unlimited Open Bar! Talk about the best cruise deals, wow!
How Do I Find The Best Last Minute Cruise Deals
Its easy! Check out our last-minute cruises and youll find the last cabins available for voyages happening in the next 180 days. While you might think these cruise holidays will cost more, these last-minute cruise deals can be more affordable as the cruise line wishes to bring aboard as many people as possible before it sets sail! As such youll often find cruise deals and cruise sale offers for a majority of these last-minute voyages. If youre in need of the best cheap cruise deals Australia has on sale today online, this is the best place to be. Well make sure you receive the lowest cruise prices on all the cruise holidays we have on sale. For massive deals to all the major destinations across the globe, look to no other place than Cruise Guru for all your cruise holidays.
Also Check: What Cruise Ships Leave From San Francisco
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.
Access Military Senior Or Residency Rates
A number of cruise lines have special programs for seniors, military personnel and even teachers. For example, MSC Cruises provides discounts of up to 10 percent to active and retired military families on almost all sailings. AARP members can find exclusive senior discounts on multiple lines when booking through the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia.
Many lines also offer residential discounts. Here’s how it works: In essence, a line’s revenue stream is based on a formula that requires a certain number of bookings from various cities, states and regions. So, if it’s not getting enough bookings from one particular place, it’ll drop the price slightly — say, in Florida — to entice more Floridians to book.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get a residential discount, but it can’t hurt to mention your home city and state during the booking process, just in case. Even if it only saves you $50, it’s still $50 in your pocket.
Read Also: How To Get From Southampton Cruise Terminal To London
How To Find Last Minute Cruise Deals
Looking for a cheap weekend getaway with your friends? There are many ways to find a cruise deal.
There are a number of ways to get last-minute cruise deals, and we recommend you employ as many of these as possible for the best chance of finding what youre looking for.
Sign Up for Emails
Every online travel agent and cruise line wants you to sign up for their Email blasts because that allows them to target their advertising at you. So yes, youre going to get a whole lot of emails. But youre also going to get info that will prove useful.
Larger online travel agencies sometimes get exclusive last minute deals that you wont find anywhere else.
When you see an email with subject lines like Pack and Go! or Last Chance Savings open them immediately and book quickly if that offer interests you. The best deals dont stick around for long.
Want a way to avoid being overwhelmed by the number of communications you receive? Create an Email account that you only use for travel-related purposes. That way, during the parts of the year youre not sailing, the offers will continue to come in, but they wont cause you to miss other emails which could get lost in the shuffle.
Leverage your Cruise Line Loyalty
If youve sailed on a particular cruise line multiple times, be sure your most recent info is on file, including your current email address and travel preferences.
READ: Best Cruise Line Loyalty Programs
Play the Slots
The casino onboard Carnival Panorama.
Use a Travel Agent
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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Do Cruises Get Cheaper Closer To The Sailing Date
Its a myth that cruises get cheaper closer to the sailing date. In fact, cruise prices are cheapest when they first go on sale which is 18 to 24 months before the departure date. Only if the cruise doesnt sell out will there be a price drop. This will happen 6 to 12 weeks before departure.
The following graph demonstrates what often happens to cruise prices over time. The red circles are the cheap prices that you want to book!
Leave The Deals Search To The Experts
If you don’t have time for Twitter, online cruise research or gathering up a group of 20 friends, nothing beats a good travel agent to help you score a deal.
Because agents often book in bulk and work directly with the lines, they have access to deals that normal cruisers don’t. Cruise lines will offer their top agencies special discounts that the agents can’t promote on their websites, so even if you see a good deal online, it’s best to talk to a real person and ask for the best fare.
Even if savings aren’t necessarily there for every sailing, agencies often offer deals with value-added perks like onboard credit or prepaid gratuities, which can amount to nearly $100 per person on a weeklong sailing.
Read Also: Which Cruise Ships Sail Out Of Galveston
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 you’ve earned enough “credits” — all things you’d 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.
Related:Cruise Line Loyalty Programs
Choose Shoulder Season Sailings
If you’ve already honed in on a destination, the best way to save is to focus on travel dates just outside the peak season. This might mean picking April or late September as the month to visit Alaska, March as your best bet to sail the Mediterranean and October for your Caribbean cruise — before or after the summer swell of family vacations. In addition to low prices, you’ll encounter fewer crowds on the flip side, the weather might not be as ideal for sightseeing.
Related:Shoulder Season Cruise Deals: 5 Tips to Save
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Why Do Cruise Prices Fluctuate
We are a society that is getting increasingly dependent on algorithms. For those that dont know, algorithms are a set of rules that are going to be followed using calculations by a computer and they can be seen almost everywhere.
Its how Google shows you the most relevant search results, its why Amazons prices are always a quirky number and its what Facebook uses to show you your newsfeed. They are everywhere and cruise websites and travel agents use them to dictate prices in order to make the highest profit.
The rules that will be set into these prices will be the likes of demand, time of the year and time until departure, among others. This means that the price can change sometimes even without the knowledge of the company showing them, as they simply trust the algorithm.
There are other companies who will use such calculations to work out the best price and then will manually set their own price. This then can change when aspects such as demand change. Its a constantly changing cycle in order to try and squeeze the most money possible out of each ship.
Book Entire Cruise Packages
You should consider booking entire cruise packages as the difference between booking everything separately or as a complete package can be remarkably different. Naturally on a cruise youre not going to have to pay for going from port-to-port or your accommodation, but there are other costs.
One of the biggest ones is transportation and that is both airfares to cruise ships or it could also be your transfer to and from destinations once you have stepped off your ship. There are plenty of other packages that you can get with lines offering the likes of drinks and excursions that are worth looking into.
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Disney Cruise Discounts For Florida Residents
New!As of September 22, 2021, the following cruises had availability in the Florida Resident category. Prices given are lowest available fares for a single stateroom, in US dollars, including taxes, fees and port expenses, rounded to the nearest dollar. All sailings are from Port Canaveral unless noted otherwise. The room category available at that fare is in parentheses.
Please note: a single guest gets charged essentially the same price as two guests. Also note that 5-passenger rooms are rarely discounted for Florida residents, but they do show up occasionally. If a price isnt listed, that doesnt mean the category is sold out, just that it isnt available with this discount.
Select number of guests to see total sailing price :
Other stateroom categories may be available at other rates. Rates are per adult, based on double occupancy. Occupancy restrictions may apply. Excursions are not included. See Disney Cruise Line brochure for details and applicable terms and conditions. Other discounts do not apply. Only one discount may be used at a time. Rates in US dollars.
A copy of a valid proof of Florida residency for at least one adult in each stateroom needs to be transmitted within 48 hours when booking with the Florida rate, and the same proof will need to be produced at check-in. The other guests in each stateroom do not need to be Florida residents.
Should You Hold Out For A Last
If you want a cabin for two people and arent fussy about where you go, when you go or on which ship, then you can definitely save money by booking your cruise 6 to 12 weeks before departure. Prices are likely to drop at this time because balance payments are due and some passengers drop out.
However, if you want a family cabin for three or four passengers, then the sad truth is that you are very unlikely to find a cheap last-minute deal.
Cabins with extra beds are always in short supply. I once went to book a cruise the day after it went on sale and all the inside four-berth cabins were already gone!
Read more:5 reasons families on a budget should book their cruise ASAP
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Easy Way To Save On Your Disney Cruise
In our opinion, you should always book a Disney cruise using a travel agent. The benefits are just too great, both in convenience and price. First off, the best travel agents give you onboard credit, which is effectively FREE money, since the cruise fare isnt any higher than if you booked through Disney. Furthermore, Disney Cruise Line has lots of confusing options involving tradeoffs that arent always clear. Using an experienced travel agent is like getting a FREE expert who knows everything about the Disney Cruise Line and is happy to walk you through the process and offer advice.
The travel agency we personally recommend here on MouseSavers.com,Small World Vacations, has some of the most experienced agents in the industry. The agents who handle cruise bookings for Small World have been on multiple Disney cruises, and know a truly astonishing amount about all four ships, the various Disney ports of call and all the common itineraries . Many of them are Platinum members of Disneys Castaway Club, meaning that they have personally been on 10 or more Disney cruises! They each have a direct phone number and email address they give out to their clients, so you can mail them questions or requests any time.
Look Closely At Packages
Many cruise lines offer bargain bundles that may include airfare, shore excursions, drink packages, specialty dining, spa treatments, or other items. These items are often discounted as part of the offer, but if theyre not deals youd be interested in using anyway, then it isnt a good price for you. Do the math carefully to decide if it would be better for you to purchase just what you want or need separately, or if youd rather just skip the deals altogether for even better savings.
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Rule #: Dont Think Booking Far Ahead Will Save Much
If last-minute booking doesnt offer much of a discount, then surely youll be rewarded by booking well in advance, right?
Not so much.
Rates vary the most by time of year not by how far in advance the departure is. For example, youll see similar fares for a cruise in September, whether thats three months from now or a year and three months from now.
Now, thats not to say that the fare for a cruise well in the future wont drop at some point. If the cruise line has trouble filling rooms, they will certainly drop the rate. But many times, there is no huge advantage to booking a year or more in advance.