How to Find the Best Cruise for Your Budget

Very few vacation options can offer the variety of leisure activities and travel experiences that can be found aboard a cruise ship. Once you get the full experience, you’ll get hooked and will want to start looking your next cruise.

The cruise industry is not quite the same as other similar industries – such as the airline industry for example – as there are no “low-cost” cruise lines that offer their services at a cheaper cost (like first, business, and economy class when it comes to airlines). This might be perhaps due to the fact that one of the drawing factors of this type of vacation is the luxury of it all, and, of course, luxuries can be quite expensive.

But that’s not to say that you need to sell one of your kidneys to be able to afford a half-decent cruise, not at all. In fact, you’d be surprised at the amount of money you can save by following these tips on how and when to get the best cruise for the cheapest amount of money.

Ask For Any Special Discounts

Many cruise companies apply special prices for groups of cruisers of certain age groups. They usually have special or free prices for children, and for older people (ages may change from one cruise line to another). All of them also have a discount for cruise groups that celebrate some event (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, family reunions).

If the reason is a wedding trip, for example, ask about the extras, bonuses and/or discounts they may have. You should also indicate to them whether you are going alone or with more people, since if you’re in a group, you can enjoy even more advantages; if lucky, you could even get your reservation for free as the group leader.

Ask Them to Readjust the Price if New Promotions Appear

Even if you’ve made a reservation with a good offer, you should still check the prices of the shipping company or the agency where you booked it. Sometimes last-minute price reductions are made for the same type of cabin as yours. If this is the case, contact them and ask them if there’s a possible compensation.

In most cases, it’s possible to at least get some neat bonuses, such as onboard credit. This is more likely to happen if there’s still time left to cancel your reservation.

Keep in Mind that Cruise Cabins don’t Always Fully Sell

It’s no surprise to anyone that cruise companies make millions and millions of dollars every single year off of the amount of people that partake in their cruises. As a matter of fact, last year in 2019 according to Statista, the number of cruise passengers worldwide was around 30 million, with the projections for 2020 being around 32 million passengers. [1]

This continuous rise in the number of customers of course leads to more and more investments in the industry. For example, Carnival Cruise Line -among many others- is investing billions in renovations and top-of-the-line additions to their ships like roller coasters and water slides. [2]

What this all means in summation is that companies and travel agencies are going to be looking to fill up those ships to the brim now more than ever, since there are many more ships currently on the market.

With this in mind, booking at the last possible minute you can is a smart strategy if you’re looking to save some cash, as there’s bound to be many a cruise with unoccupied cabins willing to offer some hefty discounts. After all, some money is more than no money whatsoever.

The Best Time to Look for Deals

As you might already guess based on the previous point, the best timing to look for deals is as close to the cruise sailing as possible. This tactic can very well save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you play your cards right, and if you’re lucky, of course.

The low cost of these cabins comes from the fact that once a ship sails, it won’t pick up any new passengers along the way, so those cabins are going to remain empty until the cruise ends, resulting in a loss of money they can’t really afford.

Thus, they offer those discounts to entice people who might be on the fence or just anyone in general willing to pay the lower price, instead of leaving with an empty room. Between one to two weeks before the cruise starts its voyage is considered to be the sweet spot if you’re looking for a good discount.

Take Advantage of the Seasonal Discounts

Companies are always competing in order to attract new passengers; shipping companies and travel agencies are no exception. This causes them to make more aggressive special offers during certain times or seasons of the year. Typically, this entails either discounts for early booking, or extras such as tips or included beverage packages.

Look for special discounts that some companies offer – usually during low season – where you can find incredible deals (50% discount plus), or other offers such as having your partner get in for free. Other cruise companies may include free excursions or even an amount of money to spend leisure activities on board, for example.

Subscribe to their Newsletters

Subscribe to the newsletters of the shipping companies or your travel agent, and follow them on their official social-media pages. They often advertise special offers like limited-time bookings with great deals for subscribers only, making this a free way to get some occasional discounts and good deals.

All in all, waiting for the perfect time to book varies from cruise to cruise, and you’re going to need to do some research and Googling of your own if you want to get the perfect discounts for your particular cruise. But these tips should help you outline a basic notion of what to do and when to look for the best cruise for your budget.


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