Going on a cruise was once an easy thing to arrange. All you had to do was go to your travel agent and look at a few brochures. But as the industry has grown it has become an overwhelming mix of itineraries, cruise packages, choices add-ons and prices. So how do you look through and search for all the available information to find the best cruise deal? The following tips will help you find the best cruise and save you money.
1. The busiest season has always been January through March. This is when the cruise industry books the most cruises. Cruise lines usually make about 38 percent of their yearly sales at this time. This is the best time to find many hot or last minute deals because they offer a lot of incentives.
2. Make sure to start well ahead of your vacation or holiday time if you can unless you want a last minute cruise deal. First of all you should call the cruise line you are most interested in and ask for the cruise line rep about any of their cruises and the staterooms. You can ask about handicapped-equipped staterooms then if this is a special need. You can always do this later after you do some research too.
Find out what specials they have running and make sure to tell them how old you are and what state you live in or if you’re traveling with a group of people or another couple or have cruised with their cruise line in the past. Does it include your airfare? Do you need a family deal? This is because your specific situation may entitle you for big discounts. Take whatever the quote given to you by the cruise line rep as your starting price point.
3. Next check out the Sunday newspaper ads in the travel section and look for cruise bargains. The bigger city newspapers and the newspapers located in or near cruise embarkation cities are great for finding good or cheap cruise deals. You can go to your local library to view the ads if they carry those news papers. Some daily newspapers even have there travel ads online.
4. Take a look at the cruise booking Web sites. There are cruise discount agencies that may have the cheapest cruise rates to be found anywhere, whether you want a luxury cruise or budget cruise. Huge travel Web sites such as Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity usually have great deals too. You can also find last-minute cruise deals too. The cruise Web sites’ prices are usually fairly similar. And the travel sites are usually similar but somewhat higher. Make sure to ask about any additional, secret or hidden fees, such as cancellation penalties. These can cost between $40 and $85.
5. Make sure to check with your cruise travel agent. Some people prefer to work with a travel agent or are not savvy about researching online. Find out if they charge a consulting fee before you meet. Some fees are usually refundable if they book your cruise. When you get together with the travel agent, say exactly what you want and that you’re comparing prices. Your local travel agent can be very helpful if you have disabilities, health problems, special needs or need visas or other documents.
6. Think about placing a “cruise wanted” ad on Craigslist online. Be specific and detailed about what you want. Then sit back and wait for replies.
7. Once you have a number of cruise line or cruise package quotes compare them and try to negotiate a lower price, extra discounts or some onboard extras.
Note that if you’re getting the same quote from your travel agent that you’re getting from the cruise line then you need to continue shopping for the best quote – your travel agent isn’t saving you any money. The best cruise deal is out there that is just right for you and will save you money on your vacation too regardless if you’re going to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Bahamas, or Bermuda. You just need to do a little research and don’t take the first deal you see.