How To Get Cheap Cruises: An Insider Guide
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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.
How To Book A Cruise For Cheap Best Cruise Lines Reviews Best Site For Cruise Deals
Our cruises are all inclusive, so meals are offered within the cruise price, and you dont need to pay every time you eat. A pleasant surprise is that many things to do, plus entertainment, are part of the overall deal.
What your Cunard vacation includes:
A choice of rooms, sumptuous furnishing, en site facilities and air conditioning.Daily room service and cleaning our stewards always work hard to make sure your romm is always ready for you and clean.The rooms have Satellite TV , complete wth music channels and films in many languages.
Dinner, reakfast and lunch are ready and waiting when you are, in restaurants located throughout the ship.You can also get room sevice 24 hours per day.English afternoon tea can be taken every day in the Queens Room. All the meals, together with with juice, teas and coffee can all be served 24 any time of the day at the smaller restaurants.
Great shows focusing on comedy or Shakespeare classics, or colorful musical spectaculars. Well-known celebrities and experts also give discussions and presentations on various popular subjects.You can go dancing and listen to any style of music you wish jazz, rock, blue or classical.
Getting There Flying
Our complete cruise fare deals include economy class plane tickets and transfers if your embracation point is outside UK.
Cheap World Cruise Accommodation Costs & Strategies
We spent 2½ months sleeping in luxury on the cruises themselves. It was heavenly waking up to the lapping of rolling swells and the sweet ocean breeze, as we often scheduled a morning pot of coffee to be delivered to our stateroom upon waking up.
Tip: Cruises with Overnight Ports Contain Excellent Value
A nice perk of some of the cruises we took was that they included overnight stops. Staying in port overnight is an emrging trend in the cruise industry. But its still a rare novelty, as most cruises stick to daytime port calls and move during the nights. When ships do stay in port overnight, not only does it give you a chance to explore more and experience the nightlife, but the ship essentially acts as a floating hotel in a prime location.
Our overnight port calls were fantastic cost savings, as stops included both Singapore and Hong Kong. These are two of the most expensive cities in the world! Decent low-end budget accommodation starts at about $70-$80 per night, while hotels easily cost well into the hundreds of dollars. Yet our accommodation cost while in Singapore and Hong Kong was fully covered on the Celebrity Millennium, as it docked in ideal waterfront locations right within these two cities. Our nightly cost in these most expensive world cities was $59.50 per person for five-star accommodation, which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Maintaining High Standards and Low Rates While Traveling Overland
Tip: Be Flexible and Open to All Types of Accommodation
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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.
How To Score A Cheap Nile Cruise
So how do you cut out the middleman?
Well first of all, you need to be in Egypt to make sure you are booking direct.
This does mean leaving your cruise slightly to the last minute, which may prove difficult if you have a jam-packed, tight or well-planned itinerary.
However if you are even slightly flexible, its generally possible to find a cheap Nile cruise just a few days ahead of time.
With this in mind, its also worth considering the season in which youre travelling to Egypt.
It goes without saying that travelling in shoulder or low season is going to make it a lot easier for you to score a cheap Nile cruise.
So, if youre yet to book your trip to Egypt at all, Id definitely recommend avoiding the peak season of Nov-Feb and heading there during the shoulder season of Sept-Nov and Feb-April instead.
I visited Egypt in March and it was perfect, with delightful weather and much fewer crowds than Im told are there in the high tourist season.
The second thing you need to bear in mind when trying to score a cheap Nile cruise is that the ships only run on certain days.
What I mean by this, is that there arent cruises ferrying up to Aswan or down to Luxor every day of the week.
Normally there are departures 2/3 times a week, but again its worth being a bit flexible with your dates when trying to score a cheap deal.
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How To Get A Cabin Upgrade On A Cruise
You booked that cheap inside room, but youd love to sail in a big ol balcony cabin. Is it possible to get a cruise ship cabin upgrade for free?
Unfortunately there is no secret password or magic wand that will guarantee an upgraded stateroom without actually paying for one, says Beci Mahnken, president and CEO of MEI-Travel, and a travel agent with the inside scoop. Complimentary upgrades are not very common in the current cruise climate.
Just because a surprise free cruise cabin upgrade is unlikely does not mean there arent ways to level up your room on the cheap. Here are 10 ways to get a free or discounted cabin upgrade on your next cruise.
The Best Way To Book A Cruise
Sure, you can book a cruise onlinebut its a rookie mistake. Smart cruisers always rely on a travel agent. Though agents roles have diminished in the mass-market travel biz, they remain crucial for cruising. Not only can specialists offer seasoned advice, but they can also wrangle deals and promos: ask them about shipboard credit, which is the ocean equivalent of a gift card to spend onboard$100 or so is a standard bonus.
As the industry reinvents itself in the wake of the pandemic, its never been more important to have expert counsel, says Brown. At the end of the day, youre going on this trip to relax, have fun, learn something, and get away from your everyday world. I want that support system.
Veteran agent Baker says hes as much a medical PA as a travel pro, having created documents for each cruise lines COVID-19 protocols that he always sends to clients mulling a booking. Im not a physician, but Im brutally honest upfront about the requirements, so we can talk about them, he says.
Parker emphasizes that youre not paying agents wages, either, or a surcharge for their expertise. They make their commission from the cruise lines, he says. I book everything that way, and Ive never paid a dime extra.
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Subscribe To Newsletters And Updates
Sign up for cruise line newsletters and notifications because its one of the best ways you can keep current on cruise deals and flash sales. Some cruise lines will even direct-message you. Consider such sites as Cheap Cruises, CruiseComplete, Cruisewatch, Cruise Fever, and Cruises.com. Travel advisors send out updates on cruise deals as well.
Look For Weekend And Holiday Specials
Be sure to watch for special weekend or holiday offers. Several cruise lines offer travelers good deals around holiday weekends like Black Friday, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. Cruise lines may also frequently add additional weekend specials throughout the year. Discuss your interest with your travel advisor and watch the related websites as well.
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Look For Solo Traveler Benefits
The cruise industry considers traveling singles to be an important market. Some cruise lines even reward solo flyers. A lot of cruise lines will add a single supplement surcharge to a solo travelers room rate, while other cruise lines offer specific cruises where they skip this charge.
They may also offer discounts on deposits to single travelers and even a more flexible booking policy. Some companies even offer small ship cruises that specifically cater to singles. Larger cruise lines promote their single staterooms on certain ships designed just for single travelers. The charges for these cabins can actually be less than what you could pay per person when traveling with a partner. Other potential perks for solo-sailers might also include free access to specific areas where singles can socialize.
Dont Drive Yourself Crazy Searching Sites
Heres a tip to save a lot of time for the vast majority of trips, the price you find on one website will be the same that you find anywhere else. There might be a few bucks difference occasionally, but its not like a cruise will be $500 on one site and $420 on another.
What does that mean for your search? It means you can usually search one site and be done. Something I like to do is use a third-party search site to get an idea of whats out there. Once I find a cruise I like and want to book, then I usually do so directly on that cruise line website.
What I never bother with is going to one site, then another, then another, and another to make sure I have the lowest price possible. Its simply a waste of time in most cases.
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So How Much Did It Cost To Take This Cheap World Cruise
Here, were going into the deep details to fully break down the cost of our entire trip around the world. This trip budget includes all four cruises that we took, in addition to detailing the expenses of our stints traveling overland across the worlds most expensive nations.
We feel a bit naked revealing our personal finances and spending habits. But we are doing this because we want to show exactly how it is possible to actually afford a trip of this caliber.
Heres how we broke it all down. Our travel expenses during the ten-month journey can be grouped into four large categories of costs:
- The cruises themselves
Before drilling down into our detailed financial data, its worthwhile to take a second to understand some accounting challenges we faced when tracking our travel expenses.
It was tricky to categorize because many of these groupings often overlap. For example, we regularly seek out accommodation that includes breakfast and are willing to pay a bit more for that. We even stayed at some business hotels in Japan that further included complimentary curry rice for dinner . In such instances, we only allocated the expense to accommodation, even though the price we paid for the hotel covered two breakfasts and two dinners.
So lets take a look!
The Best Time Of Year To Book A Cruise
The best time of year to book a cruise is often January through March. During this period also known as wave season industry-wide sales occur and the price of that cruise youve been dreaming of may drop significantly. Its also a good time to find booking promotions, like free upgrades, prepaid gratuities, or onboard spending money.
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Research Which Cruises You Want
Arm yourself with knowledge. Think about the places you want to cruise and look at the specific cruise lines, itineraries and dates that youd consider. Heres a great overview of various cruise lines as well as a breakdown specific to cruising families. Write down the current per-passenger fare and any available perks for the cruises that interest you most. Dont forget any special discounts you may be eligible for .
Then, as cruise lines announce their sales and included promotional perks, you can determine if the sale actually represents a good value for you.
Eating And Drinking Costs On This Cheap World Cruise
During our 2½ months on cruises, we indulged in the included fine dining each night while sailing across the worlds oceans. The incredible cuisine we have access to onboard is one of the aspects we enjoy most about using one-way cruises to transfer between continents.
While traveling around the world on a budget, often fine dining experiences are out of reach for our finances. So when we get on a cruise, the included four-course dinners are an absolute treat. During the 2½ months we spent cruising over the past year, we enjoyed so many great appetizers, from escargot to seared scallops. Favorite main courses over the voyages included filet mignon, lobster, chateaubriand, and beef wellington.
These cruises werent just a giant buffet of cheap sandwiches. Its really quality menu items and fine dining!
We almost never order dessert when dining out around the world. But on a cruise, that all changes. When a different cheesecake is available on the menu each night, were going to try them all!
Each of the four cruise lines we used has their own specialties. Perhaps most interesting was the Italian liner, Costa, which featured a regional Italian menu each night. And after roaming around dairy-free Asia for nearly a half-year, I cant even begin to express what an amazing novelty it was to reintroduce delicious Italian cheese into our diet. We helped ourselves to so much authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano throughout the month we spent on that ship!
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Book With A Travel Advisor
If you have no time for the internet, book your cruise through a travel advisor. They can simplify the process and save you time and money. They answer questions, help choose the right cruise line, help with tours, and with making any onboard reservations. They know industry insiders and know about special offers and sales via preferred supplier agreements. Advisors can track pricing too so if the price drops, they can speak to the cruise line and get an adjustment, onboard credit, or a category upgrade.
The Best Wave Season Promotions Of 2021
Now, lets look at some of the current wave season deals were most excited about. There are many different types of promotions cruise lines offer during sales. You may easily rule out some that dont matter to you. For example, unless youre tight on cash or youre booking a far-off sailing date and dont want to tie up your money, is a reduced deposit really that valuable to you? On the other hand, if you always buy a beverage package, getting one for free may be much more appealing. And benefits like prepaid gratuities or onboard credit are almost like getting cash assuming, of course, you were going to spend that money anyway.
Booking dates: Now through March 31, 2021Travel dates: Select Europe sailings embarking in 2021 through 2023Promotion includes: 10% off the cruise fare of your second and all subsequent back-to-back cruise itineraries. Must mention promo code B2B10 at time of reservation.
Complimentary Pre- and Post-River Cruise Land PackagesBooking dates: Reserve by Jan. 31, 2021Travel dates: Select 2021 and 2022 European river cruise and land journeys Promotion includes: Package includes stays at four- and five-star hotels near major sites, daily breakfast at the hotel, city tours lead by local guides, services of an AmaWaterways cruise manager and transfers to and from the ship. Mention promo code FREELAND at time of reservation.
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The Ideal Cruise Length For A First
A week or so is the sweet spot for most first-time cruisers, which will offer two or three ports. Three-day sampler itineraries wont allow you to explore more than one destination, and you cant decompress as thoroughly, either. Trips that are 10 days or longer, on the other hand, skew heavily toward retirees, and others less reliant on vacation allowances for every day theyre not checking emails. If youre truly a newbie, says Parker, book a day out on a boat at a local lake first, just to make sure youre not overly prone to seasickness.
Ask For An Upgrade Onboard
It takes chutzpah, but you can march yourself over to Guest Services and politely inquire if the cruise line has any available balcony cabins or mini-suites you can move into free of charge.
This strategy will not work most of the time. Perhaps if youre celebrating a special occasion and the crew member is in a good spirits, youll get lucky. Worst case, they say no or allow you to move if you pay the difference.
I did read a helpful tip if you want to try this approach. Dont make your move on embarkation day, when the Guest Services desk is swamped and everyone else is asking for a free upgrade. Wait until after the first port of call. By then, ship staff will know which passengers were no-shows or left the ship early, and its too late for anyone to actually book the cabin. Since the cruise line cant make money on the empty room and no one else is bothering them about it, the managers may just let you have it.
Its always worth a try to nab that elusive free cruise cabin upgrade!
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