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…
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?
What Happens If There Is A Cruise Price Drop After Booking
So you’ve done the research, weighed the options and carefully selected your next sailing, hitting “book” with a satisfied flourish. Then you find out days, weeks or even months later that your cruise price has dropped after booking. Do you have any recourse or are you out of luck?
The truth is it depends — mainly on the window of time between booking and final payment. If you’ve booked a cruise only to see the price drop shortly after, here is what you can expect to happen in terms of a cruise price adjustment.
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Save At Least 60% With Expert Tips Tricks And Hacks
Whilst this article has given an overview of the cheapest cruises, I realise that not everyone wants bargain-basement holidays like I do! What if you want luxury for less? A balcony cabin or a suite? An exotic destination? A cruise and stay holiday?
Like me, shes an expert in finding cheap cruise deals, but Emma has taken things so much further by developing an incredible online course entitled How to Cruise for Less.
Emmas course details the tips, tricks and hacks that she uses to cruise for $50 per night whilst securing upgrades and freebies. It contains video lessons, cheat sheets, checklists and handy tools to help you save at least 60% on advertised cruise prices.
As well as helping you to save money when booking your cruise, Emma will also teach you how to choose the best cruise line for your family, how to pack your suitcase like a pro and how to save money whilst youre on-board as well.
Emma is one of the worlds leading cruise experts and the opportunity to have her provide tailored advice before you hit the book button is priceless.
The best part? Emmas How to Cruise for Less course is super cheap! Youll easily make that money back, and so much more, with the savings youll make when you come to book your next cruise.
The Best Cheap Cruise Cabins
The cheapest cabins are inside cabins with no windows. I almost always choose an inside cabin when I cruise. The only reason I would choose a cabin with a balcony is if I were cruising to a scenic destination like the Norwegian Fjords or Alaska.
Other reasons why people pay extra for a balcony include claustrophobia or having a baby who will only take naps in a bed.
Sometimes, youll find cruise promotions offering free or cheap upgrades to balcony cabins. However, these are usually only on cold-weather cruises where you wouldnt want to spend a lot of time on your balcony anyway.
The cheapest inside cabins are called guarantee cabins. This means that the cruise line chooses your stateroom number for you and youre guaranteed a cabin of that type, or better. If you want to, you can pay extra to choose your own cabin number but in my opinion, this is rarely worth it.
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Best Time To Sail For Cheap: Go When School Is In Session
Knowing the best time to purchase your cruise is just one part of the puzzle. The other piece of that puzzle? When you actually set sail. When you sail has a much bigger impact on what you pay than when you buy.
The simple rule of thumb is that prices are lowest when school is session.
When school is back in session, its much more difficult for families to set sail. That means cruise lines offer cheaper cruises in an effort to get more people on the ship during these times. So youll find the cheapest time to book a cruise is in the fall and winter.
Specifically, the following times of year see cheap fares:
- Between Thanksgiving and Christmas
Meanwhile, youll see the highest fares during summer, Spring Break, and the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.
How much can you save based on when you sail? Take a look at the chart below. Weve charted the per-person cabin prices for both a balcony and interior room. Specifically, these prices are for a 3-day cruise aboard Carnival from Miami.
During the course of a year, the price of the cruise varied from a low of $299 for a balcony cabin and a high of $539 even though this is the same trip on the same ship.
In other words, if you sail at the least expensive time, your cruise can be a sharp discount off the peak price.
Again, the best time to take a cruise if you want the cheapest price is when school is in session. If you have to sail during the summer or holidays, expect to pay a premium.
I Just Got An Email That The Price Of My Cruise Dropped What Do I Do
The price may have dropped but the cruise line wont apply the lower rate for you automatically.
If you booked through an agent Your agent needs to do the work for you and either reprice your reservation in the cruise lines system, call the cruise line, or, in the case of Carnivals Early Saver rates, file an online claim form.
If you booked through the line Youll need to contact the cruise line directly. Depending on their policies and the amount of the price drop, they may lower the rate on your reservation, give you onboard credit, or a offer free upgrade to a higher category cabin. If you have a specific preference among these three options, you can request it, but individual cruise line policies vary.
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The Best Time To Book A Cruise
If you’re looking to leverage new cruise deals, consider joining the first phase of rebooted sailings. They have lots of space, have to start from scratch, and cant fill the ships up to the brim otherwise, says Spencer Brown. For 2022 and 2023, she notes, prices are robust. Theres so much pent-up demand. People havent traveled for a year, so theyre spending more money on the trips theyre going onupgrading to a nicer suite, perhaps.
Note, too, that larger ships wont be sailing at maximum capacity, as the CDCs current guidelines mandate that each crew member must have his or her own stateroom; traditionally, they would have bunked in pairs. It means that some of the cheaper rooms once available to passengers will be taken from public inventory and instead repurposed as staff quarters. Those restrictions wont go away for a couple of years, I think, says Baker, who calls the pricing for 2023s itineraries staggering.
Still, theres no risk in planning ahead, he adds. All the major cruise lines, other than Viking, offer the equivalent of a price adjustmentif the cost of your cruise drops after you pay a deposit, but before the final payment, youll be protected, and refunded the difference.
Per CDC guidelines, large ships won’t be sailing at maximum capacity
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!
Also Check: What Is An Alaskan Cruise
Select The Cruise You Want To Track
Sample cruise price alert
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners provide prices, which we list for our users’ convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on external web sites.
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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Older Ships Tend To Have Cheaper Prices
While this isnt an actual rule, its common to pay much less to sail on an older ship than it is to sail on a newer one. Youll find older ships are kept up well and are comfortable. What you wont find is extra space and a full range of amenities that the larger, newer ships offer.
However, not everyone is looking for a floating amusement park. Ships built in the past 3-5 years often feature amenities like waterslides, robot bars, ice rinks, and walking promenades.
If thats not for you, then look for an older ship. Youll find its much calmer and less expensive. And while its difficult to compare, a 5-day cruise aboard Oasis of the Seas which is a new ship in Royal Caribbeans feet is around $711.50 per person in September.
A 5-day cruise in November aboard Royal Caribbeans Vision of the Seas which first sailed in 1988 is $329 per person.
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.
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What Is The Best Day Of The Week To Book A Cruise
According to Neil from Cruise Nation
My advice on booking a cruise would be to opt for Wednesday or Thursday. Monday and Tuesday we get a lot of pricing updates and those are then live for Wednesday and Thursday before usually getting updated again. Thats why we do our top 20 offers email on a Wednesday,;
My last two cruises were booked with Cruise Nation, they have LOTS of last-minute bargains and are one of my favourite travel agents in the UK. Check out our deals page for an exclusive discount.;
Not all cruise lines/agencies agree on which day is the best day to book a cruise. All sources do seem to say that you should book mid week though.
- According to Loney Planet, the best time to book a cruise is Thursday.
- Wheretraveler also says the best day to book is a Thursday .
What About Sailing During The Winter Or Hurricane Season
Weve shown you the best time to sail if you want to save money. But what if youre wondering about the best time to sail due to weather?
For example, is it fine to sail in the middle of winter or during hurricane season?
The good news is that there is no wrong time of year to sail for most cruises, such as those heading to the Caribbean or Bahamas.;
Lets take winter. While it might be cold in North America, the weather stays fairly consistent in the Caribbean. For instance, the average high temperature for Cozumel is about 84 degrees in January and 91 degrees during the peak of August. So temperatures are cooler during the winter, but not by much.;
Where there is a difference during winter months is with your departure port. If you are sailing from a port in the United States , then the winter months can be cold. That means the first day of your cruise during the winter can be chilly as the ship heads south.
One more thing to keep in mind is the summer months in the tropics can often mean regular afternoon thunderstorms. Late winter and early spring months are drier. Even so, it can rain any time of year in the Caribbean.
Hurricanes are always of interest to the Caribbean, and hurricane season runs from June through November. For cruise passengers, the risk of being caught in a hurricane on a ship is low. Cruise ships actively avoid storms, and steer for better weather.
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Why These Deals Arent For Everyone
Weve all heard the saying you get what you pay for, and thats true in the case of last-minute cruise deals, too. There are a few things you need to know including a couple which might make you say, Yeah, thats not for me.
Right off the bat, its important to know that the staterooms available at these low prices are often what are called guarantee cabins.
What that means is that if, for example, you book a guarantee ocean view you definitely will receive an ocean view stateroom, but youll have no say over which one or where it is located. That means you could wind up with an obstructed view or beneath a bowling alley.
The same goes for guarantee balcony staterooms. You will 100 percent receive a balcony cabin, but it might be one with a smaller balcony or an obstructed view.
It could also be located in a relatively undesirable location. So you have to balance the possibility of a less-desirable stateroom against the low price.
These last-minute deals usually dont include perks that you might otherwise receive.
For example, Norwegian Cruise Line is very well known for its popular Free At Sea program which offers a variety of perks based on what level of stateroom you book.
However, if the last-minute cruise you book is in a guarantee stateroom whether its an inside, oceanview, balcony or even suite youre unlikely to get any of the associated perks.
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