Cruises are extremely relaxing, but they can also be very expensive. Luckily, using both online and offline resources, you can find deals that make a cruise possible, even if you have a shoestring budget. How can you ensure that you find a great cruise without spending tons of money? Here are some simple tips for finding the best cruise deals.
Look for Online Cruise Deals
The Internet is a plethora of travel resources. You can find sites specifically for cruises, sites that offer cruise packages (which include airfare, hotels and onboard amenities) and many more.
All major cruise companies have official websites, which are good places to start. Often, when there’s no middleman, you can get the lowest fare for your cruise. However, this isn’t always the case, so shop around. Travel-based websites could offer even better deals than you’ll get directly from the cruise company.
Work with a Travel Agent to Find Cruise Deals
While the Internet is an excellent place to find travel deals, sometimes, you can still get the best deals if you book your cruise vacation with a travel agent. Travel agents have offices all over the country, and there are likely a number of choices in your area. Ask for sample prices and shop around. Travel agents get better prices if they sell a certain number of tickets, and they pass those savings on to you.
Look for a Cruise Package
Sometimes, a company may offer a cruise package that is more expensive than deals you’ll find elsewhere. But when you compare all the additions that are included in the package, it could be the cheapest option. Look for a package travel deal that includes your flight to the port, hotel accommodations surrounding the dates of your departure and return, a rental car if necessarily, meals while on the ship, activities and more. A cruise that initially looks like the cheapest option may be expensive when you start adding up the other costs. Packages are usually the best deals.
Consider an Off-season Cruise
All cruise destinations have an off-season. The weather might not be as good, and you might not have as many activity options, but in general, you can save hundreds of dollars by traveling during the off-season. There are a few places where off-season cruises aren’t available. For example, Alaska’s weather is much too stormy for winter cruises. If this is the case for your location of choice, book travel time at the beginning or end of the season, when rates will be slightly lower.
Ask about Cruise Ship Discounts
Sometimes getting a better price is simply a matter of asking. Whether you’re booking your trip through a travel agent, working with an online third-party site, or purchasing your ticket directly from the cruise company, there are always hidden discounts if you know where to look. Keep in mind that everything is negotiable. If you upgrade your cabin options, are they willing to throw in free access to dancing classes while on the ship? If you pay for it in advance, can you get a discount on trips to ports? Think outside of the box and don’t be afraid to ask.
Choose an Affordable Cruise Ship Cabin
Cruise ship cabins usually fall within three price ranges. The most expensive cabins will be on the top deck, with windows and maybe even a balcony. Suites are also found in this price bracket. The second price range has rooms on lower decks. These also have windows, but usually do not have private outdoor space. To save the most money, book a room from the third price level in the interior of the ship. These rooms are usually smaller, and you won’t have a window. But on a cruise, you won’t spend much time in your room anyway.
Avoid Hidden Cruise Ship Costs
Lastly, for the best cruise deals, do your homework and find out about the potential hidden costs. For example, on some cruise ships, you’ll pay extra to have your meals included, but you still have to pay for drinks. That doesn’t just mean alcoholic beverages. If you want a soft drink or even water, you could pay a few dollars for every glass.
Another common charge that most people don’t consider is the cost to get off the ship. If you want to go on any port excursions, you might have to pay extra. “All inclusive” cruises aren’t always as all inclusive as you think.
By doing a little research and working with the right travel agent or online resource, you can find a cruise deal that fits your budget.