Right now, boarding a cruise ship is one of the best vacation values out there, and if you’re looking for the best deal, there are a few tried and true strategies.
Cruise ships operate at 100% capacity in the Caribbean, meaning many people are vying to get on board.
While there are many people who enjoy cruising, the good news is that you can still get a great deal on a cruise if you’re looking for a bargain. The key is knowing where and when to look.
To get the best cruise deal, use these top tips to get a great price. No matter the time of year, these tricks should land you a great deal so you can maximize every dollar of your vacation budget.
Book an off-peak cruise
Every region of the world where a cruise ship operates has peak and off-peak times. So if you can cruise during the less popular times, you’ll find some of the best cruise deals for the season.
For off-season cruises, fewer people are able or willing to board a cruise. Usually this is at the very beginning or at the very end when ships set sail in a region such as Europe or Alaska.
In the Caribbean, where the cruise season is year-round, off-peak cruise times are usually opposite to the school calendar. When the school is in session there are fewer families who can cross.
Just like a 6am flight, there is less demand for these departures and that means lower prices can be found.
In addition to bad timing, less than perfect weather can be a factor in why certain runs are less popular.
Alaska is coldest at the beginning and end of the season. Alaska cruise prices typically drop to their lowest levels in May and September.
In the Caribbean, hurricane season has a strong impact on people’s desire to book a cruise. That means lower prices for a September or October Caribbean cruise. You can also find great prizes in January and early February when the school is back in operation.
Work with a travel agency
With other forms of travel, the public has been conditioned to expect the best prices when you book things yourself in order to ‘skip the middle man’. This strategy doesn’t work as well with cruises.
The cruise industry still relies heavily on travel agents to drive sales and there is no doubt that a good travel agent can help you get the lowest possible price on a cruise.
The potential money savings of working with a travel agent isn’t just about who can search the internet for a cruise price faster. Travel agents have access to special group rates and discounts that you would never find on your own.
Many travel agencies are part of a consortium of agencies whose rates you cannot otherwise book.
In addition, many people who book alone may not know that special discounts are offered for selected groups, e.g. B. Residence discounts, military discounts and more.
If there’s an incredibly common mistake people make when booking alone, it’s not fully understanding the deposit rules and regretting it later when there are penalties for changes or cancellations. Travel agents can be very helpful before you make a mistake.
A good travel agent can guide you through the different fares, help you choose the perfect cruise ship cabin type for your family, and avoid the bad cabins.
The best part about using a good travel agent is that it shouldn’t cost you anything extra since Royal Caribbean pays them a commission for their services.
Book your cruise as early as possible
The best strategy for securing a great price on your cruise is to book as early as possible.
Cruise ship prices have many factors, but as more and more cabins fill up on a given cruise, prices tend to increase as inventory decreases.
Cruise experts recommend booking your cruise as soon as possible. Ideally, if Royal Caribbean releases the new sailings about two years before the sailing date and the inventory is unaffected.
When you book a cruise years in advance, you not only get a rock-bottom price, you also have a wide range of cabin types to choose from. The first type of cabins to sell out on a cruise are almost always suites.
Of course, many people find it difficult to book a cruise that far in advance, as most people don’t plan their vacation years in the future. But if you have the flexibility, this is the best strategy to get a great cruise price.
Continue reading: How far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?
Book a cruise on an older ship
While Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Quantum-class ships are as amazing as they look, they don’t typically have the cheapest cruise fares. Newer ships command higher prices.
Instead, check the prices of Voyager or Radiance class ships to find the real bargains.
Much like a used car a few years old offers better value than a brand new vehicle, cruise lines that have been around for a few years tend to offer better deals to entice cruise lines to book them.
The great thing about the Voyager and Radiance class ships is that you don’t compromise a ton on the onboard experience, but save a lot compared to the larger ships.
Book a repositioning cruise
If you don’t mind flying, you can often find the lowest prices on a cruise on a cruise that departs from one port and ends in another.
These so-called repositioning sailings occur when Royal Caribbean moves the ship from one region to another.
Due to the logistics of getting there and back, as well as the duration of sailing, cruise repositioning can be of tremendous value. Simply put, fewer people are willing to book these because it requires more vacation time or they would have to find another way home.
The most common type of repositioning cruises are transatlantic and transpacific cruises, where the ship moves between North America and Europe or Australia.
Last minute cruise deals
More elusive than booking early, you can sometimes book a last minute cruise deal if you have flexibility.
This won’t work for everyone, but sometimes there are really good prices in the last few weeks before a departure when stock isn’t completely gone.
As mentioned earlier in this article, prices increase over time as more and more people book a cruise. But sometimes a sailing ship isn’t selling as well as Royal Caribbean would like, and you can find a price drop meant to spur sales.
If you can travel on short notice and aren’t choosy, there are last minute cruise deals for those who are looking.
If you book at the last minute, you will have fewer cabins to choose from and last minute airfares can wipe out any savings over the cruise fare.
Continue reading: Why booking a last-minute cruise isn’t always a good idea
It’s important to act quickly when you spot a good cruise to book it soon, as inventory quickly dwindles in the last month or two of a cruise.
Book a guaranteed cabin
One way to turn an average cruise price into a great deal is to let Royal Caribbean do the exact cabin selection.
Guaranteed staterooms are when you tell Royal Caribbean the minimum stateroom type you want and let the cruise line assign you a stateroom rather than selecting a specific room.
You will get a room of at least this category (or higher), but it may take days or weeks before you find out about the room allocation.
In exchange for this ambiguity in room selection, you can often save hundreds of dollars on your cruise fare.
Keep in mind that you may have a cabin at the very front or at the very back of the ship. Or even a cabin with a partially obstructed view. Those who value a convenient cabin location or are sensitive to motion sickness may not want to gamble on a guaranteed cabin.
If the exact location of your cabin isn’t important to you, a guaranteed room could be your ticket to significant savings.
Continue reading: How to find the cheapest cabins at Royal Caribbean
Book Kids Sail Free if you have children
Periodically, Royal Caribbean offers a Children’s Free Sail Promotion where the third and fourth passengers under the age of 12 in your stateroom do not pay additional cruise fees.
In short, children sail free with a cruise fare of zero dollars for third guests and up who are 12 years of age or younger. You are still responsible for paying taxes and port fees associated with the children, as well as any other fees on board.
For families, the kids’ free sail promotion is one of Royal Caribbean’s most lucrative offers, especially if you’re booking a suite, as the per-person savings are highest in these luxurious staterooms.
Kids Sail Free still save you money on other cabin types, but the amount is significantly less.
A disadvantage of Kids Sail Free is that you have to share a cabin with your children. That means a bathroom for three or four people in many cabins.
Families on a budget can often get a great deal, especially when combined with the tip earlier in this article about booking as soon as possible.
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