With more ships and cruise lines being built, finding a great cruise bargain isn’t as hard as it used to be. However, there is still room for cost cutting as petrol prices have caused cruise lines to add fuel surcharge to their rates. Finding the best cruise price simply requires a bit of leg work, savvy and flexibility before you can sail off on your dream vacation.
You will need
Online cruise booking sites
Cruise Review Sites
Select a cruise line category
- There are three categories of cruise ships to choose from: Luxury Cruise Lines, Premium Cruise Lines and Mainstream Cruise Lines.
- Luxury lines will rack up the most expensive rates and then Premium cruises. Mainstream cruise lines offer the lowest rates.
Decide on a destination
- Cruises sail to the Caribbean, Alaska, South America and Scandinavia.
- The season of your travel will help determine where you’ll go.
- Most ships sails to the Caribbean and South America during winter and Alaska and Europe during summer.
Think about travel dates
- Each destination has prime weeks that are the most popular, most heavily booked and therefore most expensive.
- Shoulder weeks are just before and after the prime time when cruises are offered at lower prices.
- Gather the price for a cruise on the week just before or just after prime time. The weather will still be good but the crowds and costs are less.
Consider cruise size
- There are extremely large cruise ships that can accommodate between 1000-1500 passengers. These cruises offer lower prices.
- Cruise ships with a capacity for 300-500 passengers on average are most expensive as they generally provide a more enjoyable cruise experience.
Shop around online
- With all the preliminary considerations settled, visit major online cruise booking sites listed above.
- Take notes and compare cruise line costs to know exactly what the cruise itself will cost. You can add additional service rates later or pay for them independently.
- After selecting possible cruises, read their reviews on cruise review sites listed above. Use the information to make a guided decision.
Contact a travel agent
- Call a local travel agent or two (travel agencies usually belong to a larger association that reserve bulk spaces on selected cruises and sell them at promotional rates).
- A good travel agent will go the extra mile to cover more leg work for you. They will get an idea of your personality and lifestyle and use this to find the best deals on the most appropriate cruise for you.
- If you are unsure of anything, a good travel agent is the best person to call and ask questions.
- When you’ve completed the leg work, gathered your information and your preferences are decided, compare prices of cruise lines that appeal to you.
Tips and Warnings
- If you do not live close to your cruise port, fly to it early. Try to arrive on the first flight in if travelling on the day your cruise departs, or if possible on the day before your cruise ship leaves port.
- Periodically monitor cruise and travel agent web sites. Sings up for their e-mail lists so they’ll automatically send you their latest bargains and specials.
- Be mindful of the cruise line’s policy regarding full payment and when penalties for cancelling or rebooking kick in.
- If you will be out and about for most of your trip, go ahead and buy the lowest priced cabin.
- If you want an ocean view or balcony cabin to relax, try to book early to secure these highly coveted spots.
- If you usually experience sea sickness try to get a cabin at the very centre of the cruise ship.
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