Time it just right and you could grab a great deal on your next cruise. Fabulous deals pop up all year round but the start of the “wave season” is a brilliant time to look for the value-packed deals that cruise lines offer to fill their upcoming summer schedule.
Before handing over your hard-earned, though, take a close look at what exactly is on offer: the clincher for you might be the discounted fare or deposit, a cabin upgrade, hotel accommodation before or after the cruise, or credit that can be applied towards bar bills, spa treatments or shore excursions. As always, it pays to be a canny shopper. Research typical fares for the itinerary or work out the price difference between an interior cabin and one with a view to see how much of a “bargain” it is before committing to the deal.
Remember, too, to be practical. If you suffer from claustrophobia, for instance, you’re not going to enjoy that bargain interior cabin – even if you’re cruising to the world’s most stunning place. And that per-person price that sounds so cheap may be for a quad-share cabin when you only want to travel with a partner. If a last-minute cruise deal requires flying to or from a particular port, it may not be such a bargain if the last-minute airfare is expensive. To really save money on your next cruise holiday, focus your search on round-trip departures from your nearest port.
You should also be realistic. It’s unlikely that huge discounts will be offered on cruises during peak holiday periods such as Easter or the summer school holidays. The more flexible you are with departure dates, the better the deals will be. Look at departures at the beginning and end of the wave season, or think about taking a winter cruise (Carnival Spirit, for instance, operates out of Sydney year-round). In the tropics, the water will still be warm enough for swimming and snorkelling.
If you have your heart set on a summer cruise, remember that Australia is now a highly competitive cruising market – and competition is always good for consumers. Carnival Australia alone will have more than 20 ships sailing in the region between now and April 2016. Carnival operates lines such as Princess, Holland America and Cunard.
Last but not least, check the Ozcruising site regularly. We’ve got the lowdown on all the cruise sales and you will be among the first to hear of any last-minute deals and get the pick of the remaining available cabins. Happy bargain hunting!