Did you feel like you were the only one who paid top dollar for your last cruise? If so, or even if you didn’t, here are 50 ways to save money on your next cruise:
Picking a Cruise
1) Get on-board the riverboat craze. Debut luxury river cruises are a prime candidate for discounts to get customers hooked on this new rage.
2) Check-out refurbished ships. Up-to-the-minute gadgets to show off and a desire to sail ships full spells potential deals.
3) Look closer to home. New cruise ports open each year. Look beyond traditional spots to see if you can save on airfare.
4) Explore less-touristy destinations. Reduce the overall cost of your trip by cruising to less-visited locations where onshore prices haven’t peaked.
5) Consider exploration cruises. Antarctica and the Galapagos provide quite a change to the Caribbean and broaden the number of cruises (ergo deals) to explore.
6) Investigate repositioning cruises. One-way routes as ships switch locations can be half the cost but consider flight prices to get home.
7) Take a maiden voyage. Inaugural cruises of new and refitted ships offer great discounts, effectively a test of facilities but excellent value.
8) Book a “Guarantee” cabin. Selecting a class but not the exact cabin location can be rewarded with an upgrade, usually within the same class.
9) Save with add-ons. Consider luxury liner extras (reduced airfares, room upgrades). Value for money over actual savings can be equally rewarding.
10) Trade your cabin for facilities. Inside cabins are cheaper. Use the cost savings to book a better cruise with more facilities.
11) Keep an open mind. Mentally committing to a particular cruise could mean you rashly rule out cheaper alternatives.
Consider all cruise types for maximum saving opportunities. Photo by amaziliatravelexperience.
Searching for Deals
12) Use a search-comparison web site. Let web sites like Top Cruise Deals do the work for you.
13) Ask a travel agent. Bucking the online trend, most cruises are still arranged through agents who have exclusive discounts.
14) Ask another travel agent. You wouldn’t book with the first web site online that you went to. Shop around and bargain hard.
15) Get social-media savvy. Cruise companies display daily deals on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t miss out.
16) Sign-up to newsletters. Email newsletters are another source of hot deals.
17) Look at big booking sites. Like travel agents, the sites that book more usually offer more.
18) Ask the experts. That means asking the person on your last cruise who is boasting about the rock bottom price she got. Find out how she did it.
19) Be verbal. The best offers aren’t always handed on a plate. Ask if the price can be improved.
20) Hit the forums. Cruise and travel forums are a great way of sniffing out hot deals.
21) Check the newspapers. Some deals are still listed in the weekend papers.
22) Get your competition entry in. Okay, don’t rest your whole vacation on it, but someone has to win.
Travel agents have some of the best deals. Photo by Explore The Bruce.
Get Your Timing Right
23) Book early. Wave season from January to March sees the cruise liners offer some of their deepest discounts.
24) Or book late. Hold you’re nerve and wait for the final empty cabins to go on sale. A gamble, but where most people get prices to brag about.
25) Factor in late airfares. Pricey last minute airfares can undo savings. Find a good price on both before you book.
26) Be flexible. Fixed dates, times, length of cruise, destination and cabin style all decrease your options.
27) Utilize shoulder seasons. The weather is still good but prices are cheaper before and after peak season.
28) Avoid peak weeks like the plague. If you don’t need to travel during school breaks or other holidays, avoid peak weeks and costs.
Avoid peak season if you can. Photo by JorgeBRAZIL.
29) Capitalize on repeat business. Sign up for loyalty programs and check your in-box for past-customer exclusives.
30) Make it a group affair. Buyer power comes in numbers. Get together with friends and family and bargain for a group discount.
31) Professional discounts. Some cruises give discounts for U.S. military personnel, teachers, firefighters and police officers.
32) State your age. Senior discounts are also available on some cruises.
33) Play the first-time cruiser card. Sometimes extras are offered to hook you into future bookings.
34) Celebrate special occasions. For possible bonuses, let the company know if you’re on your honeymoon or having a birthday or anniversary.
Bargain hard for group discounts. Photo by hoyasmeg.
Booking Your Deal
35) Check your deposit. Search for refundable deposits. If you find a better deal elsewhere, you can cancel cost-free.
36) Use price guarantees. Many cruises will honor their lowest price if you book early and prices then decrease. Check and claim.
37) Use best-price promises. If a site or agent promises to beat the competitors’ prices, take them up on the offer.
38) If a deal looks too good to be true…it may still be true, but beware—is it the smallest cabin? Do you have to share it with chickens?
39) Read the fine print. Understand extra costs that bump up the price such as taxes, port fees and fuel surcharges.
40) Shop around for insurance. Independent policies are often cheaper and better than the travel agent’s offer.
41) Book your next trip before you disembark. Secure really early discounts by booking on-board for next year.
42) Memorize offer end dates. Don’t let a great deal pass you by.
Minimize Extra Charges at Sea
43) Compare gratuities. Per day charges can vary broadly. Do a comparison before you book.
44) Fine dining. Ensure the dining facilities you’re attracted to are not at extra cost, and stick to the included restaurants.
45) Bring your own alcohol. If you like to drink, you could save by finding a cruise that allows you to pack your own.
46) Spa off-board. Treat yourself to a day of pampering at half the cost before you embark or book spa treatments while on port calls.
47) Understand activities and “special” activities. The latter are chargeable and becoming more common. Ensure the ones you want are included.
48) Do-It-Yourself excursions. If you don’t need a guide to show you the streets of Rome, go it alone for free.
49) Pack lunch for port calls. A cheese roll and fruit saved from breakfast provide a perfect picnic for expensive city stops.
50) Remember ports are usually cheaper. Making calls, a quick email check and souvenir buying are often better priced on dry land.
Consider comparative prices of spa treatments onshore. Photo by Chor Ip.
How do you save on cruises? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also like: How to be a Cutting-Edge Cruiser in 2012.
Main Photo: Relax in the knowledge you secured a good price photo by amaziliatravelexperience.