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How To Get Really Cheap Cruises

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Where Repositioning Cruises Go In The Spring

9 Dirt-Cheap Cruise ‘Secrets’ to Sail for Less $$$

The most common trend for Spring repositioning cruises is for ships to be relocated towards

  • European ports and
  • the Pacific Northwest for Alaskas summer cruise season.
  • Below are typical repositioning cruise routes during the spring months.

    • Northern Transatlantic: Florida Europe
    • Southern Transatlantic: Argentina & Brazil Europe
    • Panama Canal: Florida US Pacific Coast
    • TransAmerica Panama Canal: Chile Florida
    • Southern Transpacific: Sydney & Auckland Hawaii, California, & Pacific Northwest
    • TransAmerica Pacific: Chile California & Pacific Northwest
    • TransAsia: Asia Europe
    • MiddleEastern: UAE Europe

    Note About 2020 Repositioning Cruises During The Pandemic

    Each repositioning cruise season, we update this article to highlight the best and cheapest last-minute repositioning cruise deals. But for 2020 the coronaviruspandemic has canceled many cruising voyages around the world. This includes repositioning cruise cancelations, of course. Unfortunately, many Fall 2020 repositioning cruises have been canceled.

    Yet there are still some Fall 2020 repositioning cruises that you can book right now! Of course, you must be able to comply with any government restrictions and weigh the personal risks on your own.

    Also, be familiar with the refund policies in the realistic instance that these last-minute repositioning cruises dont sail. If you do book a repositioning cruise and the cruise line cancels on you, they tend to offer generous future cruise credit , or a full cash refund. So it could prove financially beneficial to book and get canceled upon, if youre able to use the future cruise credit for a repositioning cruise in 2021. Just know the policy before you book.

    But will any repositioning cruises actually sail in Fall 2020? No really knows for sure, as the situation continues to evolve. Personally, we have have much greater confidence about 2021 repositioning cruises happening. So the section below now also highlights the best repositioning cruise deals weve spotted for 2021.

    Be Loyal To A Cruise Line

    Loyalty is a big factor for the cruise lines, and once you reach the higher levels of a loyalty program, you could receive complimentary or reduced rate upgrades, says Mahnken.

    For example, members of Celebritys Captains Club loyalty program can request a complimentary one-category upgrade during the booking process. One category isnt much, but it could save you a few dollars. When you reach the highest Diamond level in Carnival’s VIFP Club, you will receive a one-time free cabin upgrade from one category to the next .

    So sign up for the programs every time you sail a new line and make sure you include your member number on your booking for each subsequent cruise you take with that company. Upgrades are not the only perks youll receive, and it wont cost you a cent.

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    When Do Cruise Lines Discount Unsold Cruise Cabins

    You cant predict when an awesome deal will crop up, but you can make a decent guess.

    Sales tactics can be implemented at any time before the ship actually sails. We can see them weeks or months prior to the scheduled sailing. It really depends on the cruise line and the occupancy they are trying to achieve, says Mahnken. Of course, the cruise lines tend to avoid discounting until they have to, so we generally see many tactics pop up after the final payment.

    Sixty to 90 days out is often the sweet spot, when final payments have come due and cruise lines can see which cabins remain empty. Start your deal hunt three months before departure, knowing it might be weeks before you start to see deals on unsold cabins.

    Dont Forget To Factor In Gratuities

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    Tips for cruise staff members are an important cost that youll need to factor in.

    Gratuities are charged per person, per day and added on to your bill for you to pay at the end of your cruise. The fees vary depending on the cruise line but are often around $15 per person, per day. When you add those on, a seven-night cruise for a family of four can cost an extra $400, or more.

    However, not all cruise lines charge extra for gratuities. Some include gratuities in the ticket price of your cruise.

    Cruise lines which dont charge extra for gratuities are:

    • Celebrity Cruises

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    Rule #: Dont Think There Is A Magic Website With Cheaper Cruise Fares

    The cruise line website, Expedia,, 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.

    Read:The Best Websites to Book a Cruise

    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.

    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…

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    Tips For Finding Cheap Cruise Deals

    Somewhere out there is a seven-night cruise from $299, a luxury sailing at 75 percent off and an empty cabin on the “sold-out” sailing you wish to book. Knowing where and when to search for the best cruise deals could mean the difference between unearthing that low fare or compromising on price and itinerary.

    You probably have a tried-and-true method of searching for cheap cruises. Perhaps you wait for missives from your trusty travel agent, or maybe you’re a tiger when it comes to prowling the Internet for low fares. You might book your cruise right when the brochure is first published, or you might bide your time until two weeks before sailing. But have you explored all possible ways of nabbing that steal?

    Let us share some of our favorite tips for finding cruise deals. While some might be old hat, others may catch you by surprise. Use them all, and you’ll be ready to pounce on that cheap cruise when the right promotion comes along.

    Extra Costs Of Repositioning Cruise Deals: Taxes & Gratuities

    Cheap Last Minute Cruise Deals. The 10 Best Ways To Find Them!

    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.

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    Be Flexible With Your Cruise Schedule

    If youve ever looked for travel deals, then you know that being flexible is by far the most important aspect of what youll pay. After all, its a lot cheaper to go to New Orleans when its not Mardi Gras or to Las Vegas sometime other than the Super Bowl. The exact same rule applies to cruises.

    The mass-market cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean take on millions of passengers annually, and demand is highest when school is out. This is the time when families can sail and people are taking vacation time from work, leading to more people wanting to book. So times like summer, Spring Break, and Christmas see the highest prices.

    If you want to sail dirt-cheap, be flexible and look for dates outside of these windows. Specific months with the lowest fares include January and February, as well as the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Does It Pay To Plan Ahead Or Should I Wait Until The Last Minute

    Its an age-old question does the early bird really get the worm, or are there perks to taking a wait-and-see approach? If youre booking a cruise vacation, youll find there are benefits to both strategies. Planning ahead is a great way to score big savings, as Royal Caribbean often runs early saver deals to guests booking well in advance. Its also pretty safe to assume prices usually go up as availability goes down the closer you get to your sail date, so booking ahead is a surefire way to lock in a great rate. That said, booking a cruise at the last minute can also yield some unexpected savings but only if the itinerary youre interested in hasnt sold out yet.

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    Booking A Repositioning Cruise For 2020 Or 2021

    Below are some of the best repositioning cruise deals weve found that you may be able to book.

    Weve linked to them through our affiliate at CruiseDirect. Weve chosen to recommend CruiseDirect because of their easy online booking, a low price guarantee, no booking fees, and they maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. But more than any other reason, we recommend CruiseDirect because we regularly find they have the lowest prices and the best deals. Hence, CruiseDirect is what weve been using ourselves to book the last several repositioning cruise deals.

    Remember, repositioning cruise prices do regularly fluctuate, sometimes even daily. And in 2020, theres been even more changes than normal. So be sure to follow the links weve left below to confirm the most up-to-date price quote, which may be even lower than what weve listed here. With the disruption of cruising this year, prices and even itineraries may change overnight, or may even get canceled. So be sure to click through the links to verify the sailing.

    Below are the handful of Fall 2020 repositioning cruise deals that may still be available, in addition to the best 2021 repositioning cruise deals.

    When Do Repositioning Cruises Travel

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    Repositioning cruises tend to be most active during the change in seasons:

    • Spring,
    • Fall.

    As an example, lets take a look at transatlantic repositioning cruises to illustrate these seasonal cruise relocations. The Mediterranean Sea boasts pleasantly warm weather and is high season for travel in the summer. So cruise lines often move ships to the Mediterranean in the late Spring to serve the many passengers who desire taking a summer Mediterranean cruise.

    Meanwhile, summer months are the Caribbeans hot and stormy summer offseason. So its only natural for cruise lines to move ships across the Atlantic Ocean by May, relocating them from ports serving the Caribbean to ports serving the Mediterranean and Europe.

    The reverse occurs each Fall. Thats when many cruise ships are moved from Europe across the Atlantic to Florida, among other home ports serving the Caribbean, in time for the winter high-season months.

    These transatlantic repositioning cruises form the most common repositioning cruise route. But there are many other repositioning cruise routes to consider.

    Alaskan cruises cant sail in the winter. So those ships need to go elsewhere, of course! Europe-Asia repositioning cruises can provide for port-intensive journeys between the adjoining continents. Transiting from North to South America can be an interesting voyage that often includes a Panama Canal Cruise. There are many seasonal shifts in cruising that bring about repositioning cruises.

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    How To Tell If A Cruise Ship Has Unsold Cabins

    Youve got a flexible schedule, and you want to figure out which itineraries and ships have unsold cabins so you can get a deal. You might find its harder than you thought to figure out which sailings to watch.

    Cruise lines do a good job of protecting this information on their consumer booking engines, Beci Mahnken, president and CEO of MEI-Travel, says. Some will allow you to see available inventory during the booking process while others will only show you a handful of options. Travel advisors sometimes have a clearer view of the inventory available on a particular sailing, but not always.”

    Starting the online booking process is your best bet at getting a glimpse of how many cabins are available. Sites like Costco Travel and Best Price Cruises do a good job of showing full deck plans with available cabins, though youll need to manually check all the categories and decks for available rooms.

    Remember Not All Search Engines Are Equal

    In order to find the best deal, you need to search multiple websites. Many major search sites dont list budget carriers or obscure foreign carriers because those airlines dont want to pay a booking commission. Others dont list booking sites that arent in English. And others still only display prices retrieved directly from airlines.

    In short, not all flight search websites are created equal and all have their pros and cons.

    Since there is no perfect airline search engine, youll want t search a few to compare. Even the best have their faults. That said I have a few favorites I always start with as they tend to consistently show the best results. To me, the best websites to find a cheap flight are the following:

    • Skyscanner The best booking site out there. They have a great user interface
    • Momondo They search the most airlines and websites in the world and come back with cheaper flights 92% of the time. Use them hand in hand with Skyscanner.
    • Great search engine that lets you see prices for multiple destinations.

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    Rule #: Do Be Flexible With Your Days To Cruise The Cheapest

    As you can see in the chart below, the fares for the same cruise can vary dramatically, depending on when you sail.

    Holidays like Christmas and New Years fetch the highest prices by far. These rates can often be double what you would pay in the lower season.

    The highest rates found around the holidays are closely followed by peak summer rates when families with kids like to cruise.

    The best times with the lowest rates? The fall months when people are back at school and work are less popular for cruising, meaning that rates hit their lowest. You can also find low rates in the time between New Years and Spring Break.

    Do Cruises Get Cheaper Closer To The Sailing Date

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    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!

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    Use These Tips To Sail For Less Money

    Cruising can be among the most affordable vacations you can take. Instead of spending money on flights, hotels, meals, entertainment and more, you can get most if not everything you need included with a cruise.

    Still, its possible to spend as much as you want on a cruise ship. But if you keep this list of things in mind especially being flexible with your cruise dates then you can sail for hundreds or even thousands of dollars less.

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