Cruising is generally a great vacation value. Being in the travel industry for over 25 years, I’d like to share some ideas on how to save money on your next cruise.
Book Early – Cruise Lines usually finalize their itineraries at least 12 – 16 months before the sailing date. Take advantage of their early booking discounts plus you get your choice of locations and staterooms.
Book Last Minute – It seems contrary to the previous point above but if you are not particular about the stateroom or your location on the cruise ship, you can sometimes save money if they aren’t full a couple weeks before the sailing date.
Pay For It In Advance – Sometimes cruise lines offer an additional discount if it’s paid in full at least 6 months in advance of the sailing date. Check with your travel consultant to see if it applies for your booking.
Ask Your Travel Consultant About Sales/Promotions – Cruise Lines run multiple sales/promotions at the same time targeting specific demographics and geographic markets. Ask your travel consultant what the current sales / promotions are for the type of cruise you’re interested in and for your situation.
Become a Repeat Cruiser – Cruise Lines offer loyalty programs to encourage their passengers to cruise again. These programs offer benefits like preferential pricing and / or special promotions, onboard member events, and/or upgrade certificates. The more you cruise with a particular cruise, the better the benefits.
Consider an Inside Stateroom – There’s so much to see and do on a cruise ship. It’s like it’s own miniature city with shopping, movies, dancing, casinos, and more. You’ll hardly spend much time in your cabin except to sleep and change your clothes.
Sail During the Shoulder Season – Prices are usually less if you sail at the beginning or towards the end of the season. For example, the Alaska cruise season begins in May and early June and ends in September.
Find Out About Gratuities And Plan For Them – Usually the gratuity is not included in the cost of your fare, check with your travel consultant to confirm. If they are not included in the cost of your cruise, your cabin is usually charged a pre-determined amount each day per person during your cruise. Planning for this amount in advance reduces any surprise of a large bill at the end of your cruise. If you encounter poor service, contact the Purser’s Desk and explain the situation. The amount of your gratuity can be adjusted.
Book a Guaranteed Cabin Category – Ask your travel consultant about booking a specific category of cabin instead of specific stateroom. This guarantees you a minimum cabin category, just not where it is located on the ship. By choosing this option, there is a good chance the cruise line could upgrade you to a higher category. Since an upgrade isn’t a certainty, we don’t recommend booking a cabin category that you aren’t comfortable sailing in.
The last suggestion doesn’t save you money but it could save your sanity and avoid frustration. If you’re looking to relax and re-energize on your vacation, we suggest booking your stateroom away from triple and quad cabins, elevators, utility rooms, show lounges, casinos, and pool decks.
Check our next blog post with suggestions on how to save money during your cruise.
Cruise Trivia – If you’ve ever wanted to do something different like staying at an ice hotel but either never got around to it, couldn’t afford it, etc. You have the opportunity to experience the next best thing…the ONLY TRUE ice bar that sails the seas. The NCL Epic launches in the summer of 2010 in the Caribbean and here is NCL’s description of The Ice Bar:
Now this truly is as cool as it gets. Inspired by the original ice hotels in Scandinavia, The Ice Bar is one of only 14 in the world and the only true ice bar at sea. Enter a glistening, frozen, fantasyland where the bar, the walls, the tables, the stools, even the life-size sculptures are made out of ice. Let us help you slip into a faux fur coat to keep you warm in the chilly 17 degrees. Of course, the vodka helps, too.