The first three-months of the year is when three quarter of cruise bookings are made. They call this time “wave season.” Though the term is somewhat antiquated these days, the general idea is still the same. It’s cold outside so people book cruises; the cruise lines give really great deals to entice potential customers to buy in.
So are there any secrets to getting a rock bottom price? Not really. But you can save a few dollars with some of the tips below:
1. Book early. It sounds cliché but the early bird really does get the worm. If you want the perfect stateroom, such as by the elevator or an aft cabin, you’ll want to book early.
2. Use a Travel Agent. A lot of people think travel agents are a thing of the past, but they aren’t; they’re here to stay. A travel agent is a knowledgeable resource that walks you through your trip. Travel agents also have the ability to book group space, that translates to a lower per person cost if you get on the right sailing, so always check with a travel agent before you book your cruise directly with the cruise line.
3. Maximize your dollar. Check out the websites before you make a decision, as I am typing this Carnival Cruise Lines is offering sailings with the single supplement fee waived (cruise line cabins are book double occupancy), $100 on board credit per stateroom and up to 40% off select sailings. While you’re at it, create an email address just to sign-up for travel deals, there are a lot out there!
4. Research Shore Excursions. Shore excursions can add up when you’re planning a vacation. For instance, I just got back from Grand Cayman where I did Sting Ray City; the cruise line cost was $70 per person. For a family of four, that adds up. Consider looking at third party shore excursion companies like Shore Excursion Group, they are typically priced lower and offer the same guarantees, if not better, than the cruise line.
Note: Shore Excursions Group was $11 per person lower on this excursions.
5. Arrive Early. If you’re flying to your cruise port, always arrive a day early. This winter is a testament to that. There are great hotels out there that offer pre-cruise packages. I recently stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Cruise Port in Fort Lauderdale and they provide a cruise package to the pier and even a parking package if you don’t want to spend the $15-$20 per-car per-day at the cruise pier. Just Google “Cruise Packages” and the city you’re flying into.
One time I had to use my travel insurance policy when I got stuck in Europe; it saved me over $100 in hotel costs and taxi fares. Don’t just go with the cruise line travel insurance policy, while they do cover you, they are blanket policies. Look for third party travel insurance companies like TripInsurance.com to provide tailor-made affordable coverage around your budget.
Tangibles like clothing and electronics are temporary, but the memories from cruise vacation last a lifetime.
Personally, I wouldn’t look for the cheapest cruise vacation out there. I would look for the cruise vacation with the most value. How cheap does a vacation have to get until it becomes a deal?