Most people think of cruising as an expensive travel option that's too far out of the reach of the average person's pocketbook, and therefore never get much farther than simply daydreaming about going on a cruise vacation. However, a cruise doesn't have to break the bank, and strategies exist designed to help consumers save significant sums while still enjoying the vacation of their dreams. The following are just six of the many ways that you can find cheap cruises.
Great last-minute deals can sometimes be found on cruises by those who have the ability to embark on a moment's notice. However, this isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, especially since some major cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have eliminated last-minute discounts. However, sometimes the stars align and passengers end up with a deeply discounted cruise simply be paying attention to available deals, so keep your eyes open and see what comes along.
One thing you should never do, though, is to plan on a certain cruise decide to wait until the last minute to book it. There's no guarantee of a last-minute discount, and if the ship is booked, you'll be left behind with a bunch of empty vacation days to fill. Keep in mind that last-minute cruises only work for a very small portion of travelers.
Choose the "Cabin Guarantee" Option
Some cruise lines offer discounts of up to $100 per person for those choosing the "cabin guarantee" option. This basically means that you're guaranteed a cabin in the category of your choosing and may even get an upgrade to a more desirable category. The downside of this is that you don't get to select the exact location of the cabin, so it may not be an option for those with very specific requirements.
If you aren't particular about your cabin, consider booking a smaller one on the inside. These generally come with the lowest price.
Book a Cruise on an Older Ship
Virtually all of the newer ships are equipped with amazing amenities such as ice rinks, giant water slides, onboard zip-lining, skydiving simulators, planetariums, interactive 4-theaters, and surf simulators...the list goes on. Ask yourself whether these amusement-park style features will make or break your vacation. If not, check out the fares on older vessels. These ships still offer a luxurious travel experience without the sometimes over-the-top bells and whistles found on their state-of-the-art counterparts.
Cruising during the shoulder season also offers significant cruise deals. For instance, if your dream cruise involves gliding through the azure waters of the Caribbean while sunning yourself on the ship's deck, check out prices for the month of October or in late spring instead of during the height of the peak season. The major drawback of cruising during the shoulder season is that the weather may not be as idyllic as in the peak season. However, you'll also experience smaller crowds, and if you travel at the end of the season, you'll find fabulous bargains in port city shops.
You may also save money on peak season fares by avoiding popular travel times such as Christmas and Spring Break.
Travel With a Group
If you've got a big family or a group of friends who enjoy traveling together, shop around for bulk discounts on cruises. The majority of cruise lines offer perks such as free berths depending on how many are in the party. Some lines also toss in extras such as increased onboard credit for drinks, prepaid gratuities, and reduced prices on select offshore excursions.
Monitor Cruise Prices on a Regular Basis
Keeping current with cruise prices is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. Be sure to comparison shop among the different cruise lines, and monitor fares daily to check for any changes.
When you find a cruise at a price you like at a time that's convenient for you, book it instead of waiting around hoping a better deal will come along. However, only put down the smallest allowable deposit, and keep monitoring prices even after you've booked your cruise. If you notice a price drop, contact the cruise line right away and ask them if they'll meet the discounted fare.