Where To Find Cheap Cruise Deals
Now you know which cruise lines offer the cheapest cruises as well as which ships to choose , cabins , destinations and the cheapest time of year to cruise .
The next step is to know where to look for the cheapest deals. My one secret to finding cheap cruise deals is
Dont go looking for deals, let the deals come to you!
Why? Well, lets imagine you own a cruise line for a moment Most of the time youll want to sell cruises with as much profit margin as possible, right?
Most of the time, you can rely on a steady income of high-profit sales. People search for your website, find what they want and book it.
However, that strategy doesnt work when:
a) Its getting closer to the sailing date but your ships are still half-empty
b) Youve just released six months worths of new itineraries so your ships are completely empty
In these cases, cruise lines will reduce prices and add on free extras to encourage people to BOOK NOW. When they do this, theyre no longer going for a high profit margin theyre going for volume of sales.
Now, imagine you work in the marketing department of the cruise line. The prices have dropped and its your job to sell as many cruises are possible. How do you get the biggest volume of sales?
You could reach out to contact as many potential customers as possible and tell them about the great deals. Or, even better, you get travel agents to do it for you.
How do customers find these cheapest cruise deals?
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.
Check Deals On The Line’s Website
Go to the source first. Many companies offer coupons directly to customers who look for them, and the Disney Cruise Line has a special offers page on its website. The deals change frequently, so check it often to find a deal that applies to you. Also, look on the page for ways you may be able to use your ID to your advantage. Disney often offers Florida residents deals on cruises. The same goes for active and retired military personnel. Members of some organizations such as AAA also often get discounts on Disney trips.
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Pay Attention To World Events
As weird as this may sound, pay attention to the news around the world. When a destination gets any negative press for things such as severe weather, events, or even social or political issues, cruises and tourist excursions in those areas tend to go down in price.
Tour and cruise companies will be looking to recoup from any cancellations and avoid any long-term losses by offering tourists incentive to continue to visit the destination. Sometimes cruise companies will respond with price cutting to even the smallest of events in a destination so, be on the lookout.
Book Early But Not Too Early
Most cruise lines do not offer significant last-minute savings. While there are occasional last-minute deals, especially for weekend cruises, those sailings are often nearly full and there wont be as much choice in cabins. Instead, book your cruise earlier several months in advance for the best pricing as well as the best choice of cabins.
Also Read: How to Get a Good Deal On Your Next Cruise
Similarly, there is no great advantage in booking more than a year in advance, except for very special or limited cruises. Seasonal cruises such as voyages to Alaska or Antarctica, for example, dont operate year-round and they will fill up much more quickly, and maiden voyages of the newest vessels are always sought-after. For the best prices, it is wise to book those cruises a year in advance or even further if possible.
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How To Get Last Minute Cheap Cruise Deals
Doug advises that you start with a travel agent, as they have relationships with the cruise companies and can often get better rates and last-minute deals. And my experience has me agreeing. While there are many do it yourself options, travel agents often can find much lower prices and can act as liaison to cruise companies when something goes wrong.
If you want to go with the do it yourself angle, you only need to go to these three best websites for finding a cheap cruise:
These websites do a detailed job of scouring the web for cheap cruise deals. Vacations to Go is more of a travel agent/operator and thus often has better deals since they can negotiate with the cruise lines directly, but keep in mind that they add a lot of fees. Cruise Sheet is simply a website aggregator that crawls the web and then displays cheap last-minute fares. This is my favorite cruise site, as it seems to find all the deals and makes finding a cheap cruise easy.
In terms of timing, dont book early. As Doug states, the only benefit to booking early is to secure the room you want. If you want a specific cabin, book early. Otherwise, wait until the last minute. As I said in the beginning, cruise companies dont want to sail empty ships and so do heavy last-minute discounting be sure to sign up for cruise company newsletters to stay informed!
Ways To Get A Deal On A Cruise
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These are tough times for cruise fans looking for a deal.
With demand for cruises scheduled to depart over the coming year surprisingly strong and the supply of available cabins smaller than in the past, cruise lines in recent months have been able to hold the line on pricing and even raise fares in many cases.
Still, the good news is that youre not completely out of luck if youre looking for a deal on a cruise. There still are lots of itineraries and specific departures out there with very reasonable fares.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPGs new cruise newsletter.
Indeed, in some cases, as well show you below, you still can get on a cruise scheduled to depart over the coming year for as little as $41 a night. You just might have to hunt a little harder.
Below, weve assembled six of our top tips for finding a bargain on a cruise. These are travel hacks that can work any time not just during times like this when demand is outstripping supply.
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Are Cruises Cheaper Through A Travel Agent
Cruises should always be cheaper through a travel agent. If theyre not, then you need to find yourself a new travel agent!
Most cruise travel agents make money in two ways:
The bonuses that travel agents receive for hitting their targets can be huge. So when a sales target deadline is coming up, travel agents may be willing to sell cruises at cost price or even at a loss to earn their big bonus payment.
Whats more, some cruise travel agents use a specific business model whereby they buy up thousands of cabins in bulk for a cheap rate. Once the travel agent owns those cabins, they have to sell them. Even if they make a small loss on some of the cabins, its better than the loss that would be made if the cabins remained unsold.
As well as getting the best price on your cruise, there are other advantages to booking your cruise with a travel agent rather than directly with the cruise line. If youre booking flights and hotels too, a travel agent can get you the best package price, sort everything out for you and take charge if anything goes wrong.
Go For A Cabin Guarantee When Booking A Cruise
Picking your own cabin can give you peace of mind about knowing exactly where you are going to be when you are on the ship. If you sign up to get a cabin of a particular class, then you might end up getting a cheaper overall cruise for it.
Youll never be downgraded from the option that youve chosen but there is a possibility that you could be upgraded. This increased flexibility will allow you to save a bit of money and enable you to get the best deal possible.
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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.
Crown And Anchor Society Members
Royal Caribean regularly offers reduced cruise fare rates and discounts to its loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Society.
These special rates are often available for select cruises. You can easily check for the special rates by logging into Royal Caribbean’s website and going to the Crown and Anchor area to see which cruises are available.
Royal Caribbean also offers discounts to Crown and Anchor Platinum and above members on balcony and suite staterooms.
Single supplement cruise fare is reduced to 150% from 200% for members that have 340 or more cruise points
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Rules To Getting The Best Deal On A Cruise
Tell us if this process sounds familiar.
You want to book a cruise, so you start searching around. A web search takes you from one site to another. Before you know it, youve looked at a dozen different sites to try and find the best deal.
Whats more, youve tried searching multiple dates, itineraries, cruise lines, and room types, searching for that best combination of price, time and route.
Its enough to make your head spin and thats before you actually purchase your fare.
After that, you end up checking the same cruise obsessively, making sure youve gotten the best price possible.
The good news is that it doesnt have to be this way. Weve spent years studying the cruise industry and have come up with our best rules to follow to make sure youre getting the absolute best rate with as little headache as possible.
Its no guarantee that youll get the lowest rate offered for your cruise, but these rules will help you be smarter about buying your vacation.
In This Article…
Get The Best Cruise Deals With Loyalty
Being a part of a cruise loyalty scheme can get you incrementally better deals the longer that you have been with the company. Not only that, but you will also get additional features when you are onboard the ship in order to keep your custom which can make you feel like a VIP.
While this can be great for those who prefer one particular type of cruise company, its still worth checking if there are other deals out there to prevent you from missing out on them. Cruise companies love loyalty though, and theyll reward it.
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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!
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!
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Finding Last Minute Cruise Deals
Vacations are the highlight of the year for anyone. It is time to get away and unwind. To create incredible memories, and have experiences that will stick with you for a lifetime.
However, planning a vacation can be a big job, and whatever the trip may be, people are always looking for the best possible deal. This is especially true for families planning a vacation. One of the best value and easy to organise trips, especially for a family is a cruise.
Sometimes a vacation, whether it be solo, as a couple, or with the entire family can be a last minute decision. Other times, a last minute vacation may come about because you found a great deal.
Either way, if this is the case, things need to come together quickly and without too much planning, and thats what makes cruising the perfect last-minute getaway.
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.
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Bad Press Good Prices
Pay attention to the news. If you see a cruise ship getting bad press, much like Carnival’s Triumph did in February of 2013 for being stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, the company will respond with astronomically low prices. Carnival will bend over backwards to accommodate unsure travelers, luring them in with a great deal. In April 2013, after the bad press, it was not uncommon to see prices as low as $149 for an entire cruise, and chances remain low that you will have a similarly bad experience.
Are Cruises Cheaper In Wave Season
In the cruise industry, the period from right after Christmas, through to February is known as wave season because cruise lines see a big wave of bookings around January.
The reason for this wave is that Christmas is out of the way and people start to think about what they want to do in the coming year. Thoughts naturally turn to travel and marketers cash in on this by offering incentives to get people to book cruises.
Is January a good time to book a cruise? Possibly. There are some good deals. But there are also some medicre deals that are disguised as good deals. Just keep your wits about you and dont jump to book just because you saw a January Sale banner.
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