10 Tips for Getting the Cheapest Cruise Fare
Cruising is one of my favorite forms of travel! You'll never find a more budget friendly option (in my opinion) they offer so much in their fare that it is hard to beat. Getting to that price point can take some work though. You have to know how to navigate the cruise fare to ensure you get the absolute best deal! Here are 10 tips to help you do just that.
1. NEVER Pay Full Price
There are deals on cruise fare ALL THE TIME. You should never have to pay full price for any cruise fare. Keeping up with the deals can actually be exhausting, there are so many of them. Anything from Early Saver rates to Casino deals. All you have to do is check and see. Military friends...don't forget cruise lines usually offer discounts for you!
The thing to keep in mind with the deals is that the fare might not be lower, but the perks might be better. If they offer free drinks or free excursions or onboard credit, those are well worth it and will save you TONS! All the cruise fare gets you is ship entertainment, food (some), and certain drinks. Everything else will cost you extra. So any freebies are great!
Being flexible (as with all travel) can end up saving you a pretty penny. Certain dates might be cheaper than others. Being able to shift your vacation by a few weeks or months can really help you to save on some of those fares. The best times to cruise are going to be early fall before the major holidays, but after summer break.
3. DONT Travel During Holidays or Summer Break
Just don't do it. Family friendly vacations (no matter the destination) will ALWAYS have higher prices during school breaks. They know that's when people take vacations and they take advantage of you. If you do travel during those times, expect to pay more and be alright with that. You won't find the deals that they offer during the other times of the year because ships are more likely to sell out.
4. Use a Travel Agent
Travel agents have access to deals and perks that you don't. Some agencies have partnerships with different cruise lines to ensure you get the best price. Also, travel agents can often get you upgrades or additional perks for your trip. They know when and how to look for cruise deals, but will also monitor those prices for you.
5. Sail on Older Ships
They will be cheaper than your newer ships....well, because they are older. You might miss out on the newest amenities, but I've never been on a ship that I didn't have plenty to keep myself occupied. Older ships won't be as glamorous, but you if price point is your focus, then they are your best option.
6. Monitor Your Price
Yes, even if you already booked, you should ALWAYS keep monitoring the price of your cruise. If it goes down anymore, you can call the cruise line and have them adjust it for you. If you have already paid for your cruise in full, then you should be able to get a refund or onboard credits. You should check at least once or twice a week to make sure you don't miss out on something.
7. Price Match
Most cruises guarantee the lowest price. So, just like a grocery store, if you find it cheaper elsewhere then they will beat it. This is the case before you buy and even in some cases, after. Carnival for example has a 2-day policy after you book. if you can find it cheaper somewhere in the 2-days after booking, they will give you 110% of the rate in onboard credit. Not a bad deal!
8. Don't Wait for Last Minute Deals
A common misconception is that the longer you wait, the lower the price gets. There is some truth to that, but all in all the prices won't vary that much. If they do, then use tip #5 and call the cruise line. Cruises don't make money on empty staterooms, so they might lower slightly closer to departure, but you then become a logistical hazard. So, don't bank on it. Truth is, cruise lines have to plan for the number of guests onboard. There needs to be adequate food, drinks, etc. for everyone.
9. Book the Worst Rooms
I know, I know. Not what you were expecting to hear. I'm telling you though, very little time is spent in your cabin (at least in my experience). There is far too much to see and do on the ship that your room does not have to be glamorous. Prices vary per category, and location on the ship. There isn't a major difference in ship location, so take the discount and book the rooms nobody else wants!
10. If You Like It, Book It!
If you see a deal you like, then book it! You're only required to put down a deposit. As mentioned, deals on ships change ALL THE TIME. So, if you see something you like, get it before its gone. If you come across something better in the future, then call the cruise line and have them honor the new deal! Cruises are not like airlines, don't wait for the prices to go down.