Cruises can be a great way to vacation. When you take a cruise you have the opportunity to visit a lot of different places on one trip. You also have all the major (and little) things taken care of: a place to sleep, meals, transportation, entertainment, etc. But how do you find the best deal?
Here are a few things to consider:
- Cruise line: Each cruise line offers different amenities for their guests. Some are high end, some are lower end, and many are in the middle. However, many of these ships travel to roughly the same destinations. You can save a lot of money just by shopping around.
- Length of cruise: The number of days your cruise lasts will play a large part in determining the cost of your cruise. Again, be sure to shop around. Sometimes a 7 day cruise is similar in price to a 5 day cruise, depending on the cruise line, time of year, or cabin choice.
- Season: Buying tickets out of season can save you a lot of money! My wife and I chose to go to the Mediterranean during late September for several reasons. One of those reasons was the cost. We saved over $500 per person by going in September rather than in August. Another reason: much of Europe is on vacation during August. Not only do we save money, but we will be going at a less crowded time.
- Cabin Location: Cabins are located on different levels of the ship. Generally the higher level your cabin, the higher the cost. Other factors go into cabin cost including verandas or patios attached to your room, windows, size, number of beds, etc. The cheapest rooms are usually in the lower levels and do not have windows. If this doesn’t bother you, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars by selecting this type of room.
- Cost of Excursions: The cost of the cruise may be comparable between two cruise lines, but similar shore excursions may not be. These should definitely be considered when you select your cruise as they can have a big effect on the total cost of your cruise.
- Inclusions: Some cruise lines include more in the cost of the ticket than others. Be sure to find out what is included in your ticket price. Most cruise lines do not include alcoholic beverages in ticket price, but some do. It is a good idea to understand what is included in your ticket price and what you will be expected to pay for on your own.
- When You Book: Booking a cruise well in advance is recommended to get the best deal. Some people recommend booking 6-12 months in advance. In fact most cruise lines have a booking agent on board and they will book your next cruise for you while you are on your current cruise. You can usually get a discount at this time as well. Conversely, waiting until the last minute may get you the best deal possible as cruise lines will be looking to set sail with a full ship. The only thing is you need to be flexible in terms of cabin location, cruise destination, and availability of excursions which may be fully booked. If you do not live near the port of call, your airline tickets may cost more than the amount you would have saved. But it is still an option!
- Who You Book Through: This is where you need to do your research. Online travel companies such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, and others often have great deals. But they may not be the best. You should also check with the individual cruise line’s website, and with a travel agent. There are always great deals to be had, you just need to find them!
There are many other factors to consider, but these are the biggies. If you have other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments section! 😉