Thinking about your dream cruise holiday? It doesn’t need to be as expensive as you think. By planning ahead and using our clues on how to save, you might just sail off into the sunset after all.
Here are seven easy tips on how to find cheap cruise deals:
1. What does “cheap” mean to you? Start by defining what a cheap cruise means to you. Is it still a bargain cruise if you need to spend twice as much on airfare to get to the port? And if you have to sacrifice cabin space or an ocean view? Account for various scenarios before you commit to a booking. Another thing to look out for is cabin upgrades, two-for-one deals, discounted shore excursions and onboard credits – any of these will help you get the best bang for your buck.
2. Avoid peak seasons. Peak season travel is expensive. Avoid school holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve cruises, as these tend to sit in a higher price bracket. A general rule of thumb is that prices fluctuate depending on kids' availability – so for the best deals, wait until children return to school.
3. Be an early bird. If you want to cruise on a popular route, last minute discounts are hard to come by. The secret is to think at least one season ahead. Early-bird deals start about six to nine months out and tend to have the lowest fares and bonus inclusions, such as extra on-board credit and reduced deposits.
4. One-way ticket to savings. Are you interested in the cruise experience or sightseeing at different ports? If it’s the former, you can pick up a cheap deal with a repositioning cruise. These one-way cruises are designed to move the ship from one destination to another ready for the change of cruise season. Because these trips feature fewer stops, you can also save your dollars by staying on-board and enjoying all the ship has to offer.
5. Stay in the know. Get the best deals sent straight to your inbox. Sign up to cruise and travel newsletters, and follow cruise lines on Facebook and Twitter. Then as soon as you see a cheap cruise deal, you can strike while the iron’s hot.
6. Be ready to book. Ever heard of “last call”? This is the period about 60 to 90 days before departure when travellers can cancel their bookings without penalties. Cruise lines can work out how many cabins are left, and if they need to fill cabins, they will quickly reduce the fare so they have enough passengers. This is a great option if your heart isn’t set on a specific time frame or destination. Just make sure you’re ready to go!
7. Get ready to compromise. Chances are if you’re booking a cheap or last minute cruise, you’ll need to compromise on something along the way. It might mean you can’t get the suite or balcony cabin you want. But if you have an open mind and aren’t too worried about the details, you can really enjoy your bargain holiday.