More than 20 million people cruised the world in 2012, contributing $37.85 billion to the U.S. economy alone, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association. The price tag for a cruise can range from a few hundred dollars for a two-person cabin to thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line luxury voyage. If you want to hop on board a cruise for your next vacation, we have some tips to help you finance it.
Not all cruises are exuberantly expensive or even out of reach. Newly christened ships with live entertainment tend to book fast and early, so look for cruises that have been sailing for awhile or from destinations that don’t require as much planning. An exotic Asian cruise probably requires booking up to a year out, while booking a Caribbean cruise can be done nearly last-minute, Cruise Critic reports.
Booking well ahead of time can mean the difference between saving hundreds or winding up with a last-minute fare. “Wave season” represents the cruise industry busy booking periods of January through March, where deals are offered as much as a year out. Set up a Google alert with relevant information like “cruise sale to Spain” or “cruise deals to Greece.” Whenever a new cruise special goes live on the Web, it will pop up in your inbox.
Shoulder season (or low season) represents lower travel demand with a price tag to match. The industry has changed over the years—summer was once low season for taking a cruise, but now more families cruise during summer months to accommodate school vacations.
For cheaper deals, look for cruises departing North America and Europe during fall or spring. Australia’s fall to winter stretches from about May to September. Weather is still relatively mild, but cruises can enjoy deeper discounts than during its high season in November to March. Caribbean cruises may be cheaper during early spring and fall, but it can also coincide with hurricane season. Look into travel insurance options that cover hurricanes and inclement weather threats.
Find Creative Financing
Thinks of ways you can come up with the money to pay for your trip:
- Plan a year out and earmark your next tax return for your trip
- Sell your future structured settlement payments for a lump sum of cash
- Pick up odd jobs—try sites like elance, Task Rabbit and Fiverr to connect with temporary employers looking for people to do everything from data entry to writing sales copy
- Consider accepting a no-interest credit card to pay for the cruise, and then pay it off before you set sail
Work on a Ship
While long-term cruise ship jobs for entertainers and laborers are available, you can also teach onboard for shorter stints. Although professional teaching experience helps, cruise ships also accept experts in their field from business to art. Lecturers typically receive free cabin and meals, but not much else. That means footing the airfare and tips yourself. Cruise speakers also need to be highly flexible and switch gears, pick-up new responsibilities and be willing to cruise at a moment’s notice as needed. Visit the “Careers” section on the websites of the various cruise lines to see what’s available.
Everyone can afford to cruise, it’s just a matter of finding out how.
Have you subscribed to Cruise Radio yet? Subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio Network.