Cruise holidays can offer great value for money. Included in one price, you visit multiple unique destinations, enjoy luxury onboard amenities, exceptional dining and fantastic entertainment. However, sometimes, it can be easy for the bill to run up if you’re unaware of the best ways to save money on a cruise.
To ensure you’re in the know before booking your next cruise holiday, read on to discover our best tips to save money on a cruise below. As well as looking at how to get the best deals when booking your holiday, we’ll also cover the tricks of the trade on how to save money while onboard a cruise ship.
The best time to book a cruise to save money
Cruise holidays are like airfares. Prices fluctuate, usually due to demand and time of year. However, while cruise fares do vary, there are some consistent guidelines you can follow to help find the best deals and save money on a cruise holiday booking.
Book early or late
Cruise lines are eager to fill their ships early. Therefore, you’ll often find outstanding deals if you book your cruise and pay a deposit 6-18 months in advance.
As well as reduced fares, you may also benefit from upgrades and complimentary or discounted packages, such as shore excursions, speciality dining and onboard drinks. Booking in advance also means you’ll get the best choice of cabin locations and types, as well as dining times.
Equally, having the flexibility to book your holiday at the last minute will also help with saving money on a cruise. If you can pack your bags and go with just three to six weeks’ notice, you’ll find some of the lowest fares as cruise lines strive to fill their remaining cabins.
However, be aware that booking late also means that your choice of accommodation could be limited.
Sail during the shoulder season
Outside of peak season is also one of the best times to book a cruise to save money.
Spring and autumn are generally less busy times in the season and, therefore, less expensive. However, in many places, the weather will remain pleasant for you to enjoy your holiday.
Get savvy with sales
Cruise lines regularly run sales promotions. You’ll often get great deals between January and March, a time known in the industry as ‘Wave Season’. However, there’ll also be plenty of other short-term promotions at different times of the year.
The key to getting the best deal is to do your research: browse the web, sign up for newsletters and alerts. Become a money-saving expert on cruises, and you’ll get a feel for a good deal.
A common question we get asked is, ‘Can a travel agent save you money on a cruise?’ And the answer is quite often yes. Sometimes cruise travel agents have access to deals that are not publicly available. Also, as money-saving experts on cruise deals themselves, they’ll know where to look for the best prices and the value-added packages, such as dining, drinks and excursions, that will make your cruise more affordable.
Talking to travel agents and doing your own research will help to ensure that you save money on your next cruise.
What else do you need to consider to save money when booking a cruise?
Choose an inside cabin
Book an inside cabin, and you’ll almost always get a cheaper fare. You won’t have a window or a balcony, but with so many incredible onboard amenities and entertainment, you’ll probably find that you won’t spend that much time in your cabin anyway.
One of Carnival Cruises’ tips to save money when booking one of their cruises is to opt for a Guarantee Cabin fare. These special sales offer a low cruise fare without an assigned cabin. The level of cabin you get depends on availability, meaning that if your luck is in, you could get upgraded.
Sail with friends for free
Some cruise lines offer free sailings for 3rd and 4th guests in parties sharing a cabin. Look for more modern ships with well-designed cabin layouts to ensure you all have plenty of space and privacy.
Cruise line-specific promotions
When booking your cruise, you’ll also find cruise lines offer their own specific promotions or customer commitments to help you save money on your cruise.
Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are two examples of this.
How to save money on a Royal Caribbean Cruise
Royal Caribbean has a cruise planner site that you can use to check whether their prices have changed. They also promise a ‘re-price’ of pre-cruise purchases. This means if you buy a drinks package or excursion in advance and the price drops or you find a better discount, you can cancel the purchase and re-price it.
For future cruise holidays, take a look at their Next Cruise rewards program while onboard. This promotion offers free onboard credit if you book your next cruise while sailing on your current one.
How to save money with Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line regularly has some great discounts on its fares, alongside package upgrades and onboard credit. Their Free at Sea promotion is an attractive offer for many cruise guests.
Depending on your cruise package, you can choose one, two or five perks that include speciality dining, a beverage package, Wi-Fi or shore excursion credit, gratuities or airfares.
Onboard affordability: How to save money while on a cruise
Saving money on a cruise goes further than just the booking stage. There are also great ways to save money throughout your time on the ship.
Seven tips on how to save money on a cruise ship
1. Get first-day discounts at speciality restaurants and the spa.
2. Look for lunch deals or off-peak times in speciality restaurants.
3. Use the onboard facilities, such as the spa, during port days and enjoy reduced rates.
4. Bring your own alcohol (being aware of the cruise line’s restrictions) and just pay the corkage fee.
5. Book activities and packages (such as Wi-Fi and drinks) before you sail for better deals.
6. Keep a look out for the onboard shop sales to get discounts on your souvenirs.
7. Check out the cruise newsletter for short-notice sales on onboard activities or facilities.
How do you save money on cruise excursions?
Shore excursions can be one of the biggest expenses after your cruise fare. So, if wondering how to save money on cruise excursions, take some time to research the other possibilities.
Remember, shore excursions are optional extras. If you’re looking to save money on your cruise, find out if you can do the destination’s activities independently or go on self-guided tours. Many ports will have good public transport links and local tour options that are often more cost-effective, especially if you share the price with other cruise guests.
Or, how about staying onboard when the ship is in port instead? You can enjoy more space, fewer queues for activities, and some excellent discounts on cruise amenities.
Cruises can offer great value-for-money holidays, but you need to be aware of your options. If you have any questions on how to save money on your cruise, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.// END - About the Author ?>