We asked 18 Cruise Industry Leaders for their #1 Tip, Trick or Hack to save money when booking a cruise. These cruising pros run the most popular cruise publications on and offline, with thousands of pieces of content and millions of viewers. They study the industry on a daily basis and were kind enough to share their secrets with you. We encourage you to check out their sites and blogs and to subscribe to their future posts!
If saving money is important to you, make sure to read these carefully before booking
Here are the Best Tips for Saving Money when Booking a Cruise!
Senior Editor – CruiseFever
“Book your cruise with a travel agent that works for a large agency. They have group rates on hundreds of cruises so you will not only get a great rate, but many times you will also receive extra amenities as well.”
Owner & Captain – The Muster Station
“99% of excursions are provided by the same tour operators, regardless of whether you purchase those from the cruise lines or one of the aggregators (Viator, Shore Excursions Group, etc). The one thing that will differ is the price! Compare your cruise line’s offer to others. If cheaper, your cruise line will likely guarantee that lower price. With a free tool like Gangwaze.com, you can easily compare all cruise excursion providers.”
Creator & Publisher – ChrisCruises
“Find and Use A Good Travel Agent- If for no other reason, agents have access to rates and special deals never offered to the public. The special offer you are excited about today? A good travel agent knew about that last week. Better yet, a good agent will be sure your booking always reflects the very best possible value. Also, using one not only costs you nothing, but you should expect to gain financially in addition to enjoying a seamless cruise experience.”
Creator & Publisher – CruiseMiss
“Always do your research and don’t just jump on the first offer that you see. Find a specialist travel agent who LOVES to cruise, they know their stuff and will always go above and beyond to get you the best possible deal. I would also recommend that you consider purchasing a drinks package as the cocktails onboard can be expensive once you add in the service tax!”
Creator & Publisher – EatSleepCruise
“We have found the best way to save when booking a cruise is to combine cruise line deals with promotions being offered by travel agents. Often, you can find a preferred travel agent who will honor the current cruise line promotion PLUS give you additional perks, like onboard credit . Also, don’t always think that booking the cheapest cabin will save you money. Many times a travel agent can give you bonuses like drink packages, free gratuities, or specialty dining packages when you book a balcony room or better which ends up saving you more money than if booked an inside cabin and tried to purchase the packages onboard.”
Creator & Producer – CruiseRadio
“Cruise lines put their inventory on sale over a year in advance. So the best time to book your cruise is six to 12 months out, especially on itineraries that have a high demand for balconies. A good rule of thumb is if the kids are in school, cruises are cheaper.”
Editor – CruiseHive
“To get the best cruise deal many cruisers will contact their travel agent or take a look at a price comparison site. With most businesses within the cruise industry now using Twitter it’s as easy as typing in “Cruise Deals” into the search. There are tons of last minute deals for itineraries which were probably never even thought of.”
General Manager – CruiseLine.com
“Today, most of the large lines are now focusing on promotions and ‘value adds’ instead of dropping prices. So, I suggest you book earlier (not later) and keep an eye on promotions that all the major travel agencies and cruise lines do. For example, free upgrades or free specialty dining. Then, once you’ve booked, set a free price alert (can do on Cruiseline.com or Ship Mate app) and monitor the price of your cruise. If it drops, you can go back to your agency and see what they can do for you! If booked far out in advance, they can give you onboard credit or room upgrades.”
Chief Contributor – Porthole Magazine
“The best way to get a deal is to book in advance and with an experienced cruise travel agent. You can wait until the last minute, see if there’s a last-minute bargain and go the DIY route, but you may end up with a stinky cabin (all the good ones may be sold out).
Also make sure to apply any discounts you might qualify for such as senior, AARP, military, teachers, police, EMTs and firefighters and past passengers. These can save you up to 10% off the top. You may also qualify for a discount based on where you live — there may be a special offer targeting only California residents, for instance.”
Founder & Publisher – PopluarCruising
“Are you a solo traveler? Not all fares require a 200% single supplement. Look out for specials at 150% or 125% or better yet choose a studio cabin on an increasing number of select cruise ships without any premium charge and amenities suited just to you.”
Founder & Content Editor – Cruise Addicts
“It’s All About Timing – When the nations kid’s are out of school cruise rates can double or even triple. So if your flexible or can take kids out of school consider cruising during off-peak times when the kids are still in school and many families are not cruising.
Also – Book A Guaranteed Cabin – One of the easiest ways to save allot of money is booking a guaranteed category cabin, if available when booking. This guarantees your cabin category type (Inside, Outside, Balcony, etc). You allow the cruise line to pick your cabin location, but they guarantee your category. This is a great opportunity to get the best rate and any available upgrades.”
Creator & Publisher – Royal Caribbean Blog
“My best advice for saving money when booking a cruise is to book as early as you can. Cruise lines these days typically provide the lowest fares when itineraries first go on sale, and that means if you can commit to a cruise early, you get to take advantage of these lower fares. The earlier you can book, the more likely you will be able to lock in the savings!”
Senior Editor – CruiseCurrents
“In my experience, the best way to save money and add value to your cruise vacation is by booking with a travel agent. Travel agents, specifically CLIA accredited travel agents, know the ins and outs of the cruise lines, ships, staterooms, and can provide great deals, benefits, and perks when you book with them. Not only that, travel agents take the time to get to know you and your vacation needs, matching you with the cruise line that will provide the best vacation value for you. Sure, you can book your own cruise, but booking with a knowledgeable and professional agent offers the best opportunity to save on and enjoy your next cruise vacation.”
Founder & Director – Ship Mate Cruise App
“Cruise agents are a great resource and should definitely be used once you’ve found your cruise. BUT, to save money, you’ll want to use technology. While an agent is limited to his/her own time and effort, software has virtually unlimited capabilities to find the lowest price based on stated criteria.
The best tools to use before booking are Cruiseline.com Price Graphs and Alerts, as well as the Cruise Deals App notifications. Once booked, you’ll want to set up Ship Mate’s Cruise Price Drop Notifications. We’ve had users recover thousands of dollars after we’ve notified them of a price drop. All of these tools work 24 hours per day, 7 days per week – and all are free!”
Editor – CruiseMates
“Watch for sales. Some cruise lines, Princess for example, have real sales where you truly save money.
Get a good travel agent from a brand name cruise agency. These companies book cruises in high volume and pass on the savings to you.
Be date flexible – sometimes the same cruise will vary in price by up to 50% if you can just move the sail date back or forward by a few weeks.”
Creator & Editor – AvidCruiser
“I would say focus on the experience more than the money. Of course, you may have a budget, but don’t fret so much that you rob yourself of a great cruise experience. And a great cruise experience need not cost you a fortune. For example, I was looking at a Seabourn repositioning cruise from Athens to Dubai that was pricing out in the lowest category at $222 per day per person. Think of all you get on Seabourn – a gorgeous stateroom, exquisite dining in multiple venues, superior service, and you can belly up to the bar anytime of day or night for complimentary champagne and other adult libations. $222 for Seabourn is one heckuva bargain. Sign me up!”
Writer, Editor, Meteorologist & Photographer – Disney Cruise Line Blog
“My top tip for saving money when booking a Disney Cruise is to book on opening day (the first day the sail date is available to book).
DCL’s fares follow a supply and demand pricing model. As inventory decreases the prices jump. Depending on the uniqueness of the itinerary this could be thousands of dollars in just a couple of days.”
Creator & Publisher – CruiseMaven
“My #1 tip for saving money when booking a cruise? Be flexible with your vacation days. If you can get away during the week before or the immediate two weeks after Thanksgiving, you’ll find deep discounts. Generally, either side of a holiday offers good pricing…except of course during the summer months when everyone wants to travel with their kids. My other tip for saving money…if you love to cruise, book your next cruise while on your current cruise, providing there is an onboard credit for your next cruise as well as the option to adjust the rate should the price drop before final payment. You might pay a lower deposit, get onboard credits and your booking will go directly to your travel agent. Just be sure to mention it to the person at the loyalty desk who books your future cruise. Occasionally they “forget” to reference the booking to your travel agent.”
Free in the App Store – Cruise Deals App
We search through hundreds of thousands of cruise prices every day. Our algorithm finds the best cruise deals by surfacing those with the biggest price drops. It’s not uncommon to find cruise price drops of 80% and deals as low as $25 per day.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can search for the best cruise deal based on your favorite departure port.
And, to get amazing deals, you don’t even have to remember to open the app. Just set your cruise price alert in the app. Once it’s set, we’ll send you a push notification when the price drops below a specified percent… or if the price dips lower than $50 per day (or whatever amount you set).
Let technology do all of the hard work for you. Set your price alert and we’ll do the rest.
Download free for Apple products by clicking below.
We hope that these have helped. If you have any more helpful money-saving tips to add, please include them in the comments below.
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