10 Ways To Save On Your Next Cruise Vacation

10 Ways To Save On Your Next Cruise Vacation
Cruises can be an excellent vacation value, particularly for those who take the time to shop carefully. There are a number of great ways to save money and get an amazing cruise vacation deal, particularly for those who can be flexible.

If you're looking for great ways to save on your next cruise, here are ten tips:

1. Be Flexible With Your Cruise Choices And Dates. Being willing to try something new or different can result in an incredible bargain. Instead of being fixated on a specific cruise line, ship or itinerary; consider all of the available options. Then, decide whether the savings are truly worth the trade-offs. Flexibility with your travel dates can be helpful as well. Travel during the low or shoulder seasons, before or after a major holiday, or in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some cruises in January, May and the first half of December are also good bargains.

2. Check Flight Search Sites and Newsletters. Sometimes the best cruise vacation deals also involve cheap airfares. If you’re looking for the lowest price airfares, check out sites known for yielding low prices such as Matrix Airfare Search, Google Flights, Skyscanner.com, Momondo.com, Kayak.com, AirfareWatchdog.com, Priceline.com and FareCompare.com. Apps from Hopper and others can be helpful for mobile users, too. Newsletters can also be a great source of information on short-term low fares, flight deals and airfare sales. If you’re searching for cheap international airfares, sign up for newsletters from Scott's Cheap Flights (scottscheapflights.com) and Secret Flying (secretflying.com) for great deals. Compare any prices you find to fares available directly through the airlines.

3. Consider Driving To Your Cruise. Transportation costs can account for a large percentage of cruise vacation costs. If possible, make plans to drive to your cruise and focus your search on ships departing from convenient embarkation ports. Cruise lines offer sailings from a wide variety of U.S. ports including New York, NY; Bayonne, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Port Canaveral, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Galveston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA and other areas. Parking can be found near all of the cruise terminals.

4. Cruise With A Group. Traveling with friends and family can help save big. Significantly lower cruise rates are generally available for group bookings of eight cabins or more. Sometimes this can be achieved by traveling with friends and family, but it’s also easy to do if you can arrange to travel with members of your kids’ sports teams, a local club or another affinity group. If you don’t have a group, get in touch with cruise travel agents to see if they have a booking group that you can join.

5. Consider Driving To Your Cruise. Transportation costs can account for a large percentage of cruise vacation costs. If possible, make plans to drive to your cruise and focus your search on ships departing from convenient embarkation ports. Cruise lines offer sailings from a wide variety of U.S. ports including New York, NY; Bayonne, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Port Canaveral, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Galveston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA and other areas. Parking can be found near all of the cruise terminals.

6. Follow Cruise Lines for Travel Savings. Many top cruise lines post their deals on social media as soon as they are available. Some even provide their followers advance notice of upcoming special offers. Make sure to follow your favorite cruise lines on social media and watch for deals. Sign up for their e-newsletter lists as well. Club and group memberships can be another good source of travel savings. Watch for these flight sales by following your favorite airlines on social media as well.

7. Check With A Good Cruise Travel Agent. Look for the lowest available per person rates before doing comparison shopping. Some of the best places to start can be VacationsToGo.com, Cruises.com, CruiseOne.com, and other cruise-oriented online sites. Visit their websites, follow them on social media, and call to find out if they have better non-advertised deals. In addition, contact the cruise lines directly to see what they can offer. Talking with an experienced travel agent is smart. After all, a cruise you don't enjoy isn't a great deal. Some discount agency sites may quote prices without port charges, taxes and fees, fuel surcharges and other costs, so make sure to include all these costs before comparing prices.

8. Ask About Discounts. Cruise lines regularly provide a wide variety of discounts for potential guests, including military discounts, senior fares, group travel discounts, past passenger specials, state or regional resident discounts, air gateway discounts, 2-for-1 specials, cruise line stockholder discounts, membership deals, past guest savings offers and more. This is just one of the many reasons for working with a good cruise travel agent. Make sure to let your travel agent know about past cruises and military or stockholder status, if any.

9. Look For Added Value. Ask the cruise line or your travel agent about packages and potential "soft sailing" upgrades. Onboard credits are often offered on these sailings, which will provide a set amount in your shipboard account to use for shore excursion purchases, spa treatments, drinks, specialty restaurant charges, and other times. Other packages and added value deals can include free gratuities, free shore excursions, complimentary Internet packages, free beverage packages, free specialty dining packages and other incentives. Guaranteed upgrades at time of booking are sometimes offered by cruise lines to stimulate sales. These upgrades allow you to purchase a cheaper stateroom with a guaranteed upgrade of one to five categories, depending upon the promotion. Guarantee cabins provide another opportunity for a free upgrade. Only buy a guarantee cabin if you will be happy with the category you've purchased as well as any potential stateroom in that category.

10. Put Your Cruise Out For Bids. If you'd like cruise travel agents to bid for your business, check out CruiseCompete.com. This free service allows vacationers to anonymously request competitive cruise quotes. CruiseCompete can be a great way to find out about group rates and special fares as well. All of your customer account information stays private, so none of the cruise agencies can contact you directly and there’s no obligation to purchase. It's up to you to contact the agents if you are interested in their bid.




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Content copyright © 2019 by Nancy Schretter. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nancy Schretter. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nancy Schretter for details.