How to Find Best Cruise Deals on the Internet?
Finding the best cruise deals on the internet is not always easy and requires knowledge, patience and flexibility. Below we have gathered many helpful tricks travel agents have up their sleeves to find the best cruise deals for their clients. From last minute cruise deal shopping to off peak season travel and value-added perks, with time you will be able to hunt down the best cruise deals on the Internet for your family regularly.
Before we begin uncovering secrets on how to land the best cruise deals online, it is worth learning some 101 on cruise travel. Cruise prices fluctuate weekly if not daily and have a lot to do with supply and demand and other no less important factors. Never expect to get a great deal during school breaks or high peak holiday season, namely Thanksgiving or Christmas or on brand new super awesome ships which sell high and fast. Do expect great cruise deals at destinations dealing with geopolitical issues, during shoulder season and overcapacity of cruise service in a certain region. You usually have two options when looking for the best cruise deals, to buy directly from cruise lines or from “middleman” companies who specialize on cruise travel.
Cruise Deals Tip #1 – Walking the fine line between early bird and last minute shopper
Many cruise lines reward their early shoppers who book up to 6-12 months in advance by providing them with special discount pricing. It helps cruise lines to fill up the ships way in advance and avoid unsold cabins. Early bird promotions can save savvy cruise shoppers anywhere from 25-50% off the brochure price even for popular high season destinations like Alaska cruises in the summer. In case a cruise line reduces their prices even further from their early bird promotion levels, some of them may even offer their customers an adjustment refund in the forms of cash or onboard credit.
As the date of travel nears, the cruise deals become non-existent except a few weeks before the scheduled departure. That’s the ideal time to book the last minute deals if you are flexible with the choice of the rooms, which become pretty slim. Waiting till the last minute means sacrificing comfort of your stay, limiting the availability of onshore excursions, itinerary and last minute airfare options. Some cruise lines will not offer last minute cruise deals even if it means to sail with a bunch of empty cabins to avoid refunding their full price paying customers adjustment fees.
Cruise Deals Tip #2 – Watch out for the Wave Season blitz sale
October, late January and early February are some of the hottest times to land the best cruise deals. Traditionally considered the high booking season for many families who are planning their summer vacations, therefore a lot of cruise lines are offering some of the steepest cruise deals and perks. October is ideal for finding great cruise deals for holiday travel for high capacity destinations like the Caribbean, mostly for the cabins that are not selling so fast. January and February might land you excellent summer cruise deals for the Caribbean, Alaska and European destinations. In addition, watch out for extra discounts cruise lines might be offering to entice willing customers like “kids cruise for free”, category updates for cabins, BOGO deals, free or deeply discounted excursions, or onboard credits for spa services, dining or shopping.
Cruise Deals Tip #3 – Shoulder Season Travel Cruise Deals
It is perhaps the easiest way to find cruise deals. The main idea is to be flexible with your dates and be willing to travel during the off peak months. Each cruising destination has its own shoulder season based on its geographical location. For example, for European destinations, departures during mid March to April, the first weeks in September and December tend to be the most cruise deals filled time periods out of the year. For Alaska, May before kids get out of school and September when they are already back to school are definitely the ideal times to book deeply discounted cruises. Caribbean destinations are popular all year round, however there are still small windows of opportunities when smart travelers can snatch those unbelievable cruise deals, especially the first weeks of September, right after Thanksgiving, mid January and after spring break in March. However, watch out for the hurricane season at the Caribbean, which tends to run around summer and fall that can literally wreak havoc with your perfect vacation plans.
Cruise Deals Tip #3 – Finding Additional Discounts
If you qualify you can get additional 5-10% discounts, which are always a plus off the pricey cruise fare. Some cruise lines will offer seniors discounts for individuals 55 and older. Military and repeat passenger discounts are also quite common, so you should definitely research whether these apply to your specific cruise line and itinerary. Some travelers swear by booking one-way cruises, which tend to be much cheaper than round trip ones. Repositioning cruses also fall along the lines with potentially incredible cruise deals. At the end of each cruising season, usually early fall and spring, many cruise lines will only sell certain ships one way and offer a lot of perks and discounts along with themed adventures and experiences. The main thing is to be flexible with the dates of your travels and research the fine print carefully before you make a deposit. Purchasing travel insurance could help you get a cruise fare refund in case you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen events.
Cruise Deals Tip #4 – Shop with a discounted cruise “middleman” company
Another option to find some of the most incredible cruise deals is actually to shop not directly with cruise lines but search companies that deal exclusively with last minute cruising deals and act like clearing houses. Companies like VacationsToGo.com are a great way to save on last minute cruise deals. Most cruise lines turn to similar clearing companies to sell some last minute cabins but will not advertise directly online or through brochures to protect their full-fare business. Such companies are absolute gold mines for travelers with flexible dates who are looking for ultimate cruise deals. All you have to do is to register absolutely free of charge with VacationsToGo.com and use their comprehensive Bargain Tool to search for fast deals or packages according to your specifications.
CruiseSheet.com is another great online cruise bargain hunter which pools ultimately all cruise lines and virtually all destinations in the world to land you with the cheapest price out there.
CruiseDeals.com is also very similar to the two mentioned above cruise bargain hunters and you might want to consider subscribing to their weekly cruise deals newsletters to always stay in the know.
Cruise Deals Tip #5 – Even more ways to save once you are onboard
So just when you think you can relax and enjoy your hard earned cheap cruise deal, it is worth considering those added fees that may be lurking around all the corners of the massive cruise ships. Typically once guest are aboard cruise lines are luring them into spending more cash aboard, therefore it is important to come prepared. Most cruise lines allow travelers to bring one bottle of wine and a case of soda per person, do this and your wallet will thank you later since mixed drinks and any alcohol, and even soda all come at a cost which can ring up the bill. Avoiding professional and, frankly speaking cheesy photographers, on board almost always a great way to save, especially when everyone owns a semi-professional digital camera nowadays. Specialty restaurants are very expensive on board and can seriously dig into your savings, opt for less expensive buffet alternatives on the ship. Shore excursions are another group of expenses that could be kept under control if you book directly with local tour operators rather than through the cruise lines. Most of the times you can save up to 30% off and these tours are also less crowded. Check out ShoreExcursionsGroup.com that deals directly with local providers allowing you to beat the crowds and save the money. The last but not least piece of advice is to avoid onboard casinos and shops like the plague, especially if you want to stay budget conscious.
Cruise Deals Tip #6 – Customer Loyalty Programs and Special Discounts
Many cruise lines have introduced multi-tiered loyalty reward programs honoring their travelers with extra perks and benefits depending on how many days per year you sail ranging from a free bottle of water to onboard credits, free internet, dining and even free nights.
Cruise lines value the loyalty of their return customers and may offer attractive discounts, especially for frequent travelers. Among the cruise lines offering past guest cruise deals are Celebrity, Princess, Crystal, Norwegian, Regent, Viking Cruises and many others. It is always worth checking before you book if you have exhausted the complete list of your potential discounts.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are one of the popular cruse lines that offer highly thought after “BOGO50” cruise deals allowing second travelers to cruise at a 50% discount in addition to a hefty 50% beverage package deal.
Before you leave the ship consider booking your future cruises to lock in some of the lowest cruising fares using their onsite bookers. For onboard booking customers cruise lines offer very generous discounts, extra perks and added benefits.
Even more tips how to save on a cruise you may find in this YouTube video by CruiseSecretsExposed.com: