OK, you’ve decided to go with a cruise for your next vacation. Now what? There are many things to consider, such as destination, trip duration, when you will travel, which cruise line, which cabin, which meal time, and many other details. All of these considerations play an important role in the cost of your cruise.
If you are new to the world of cruising, or you simply don’t have the time or desire to do the research involved in booking a cruise, you may want to use a travel agent. A good travel agent is one who will help you find the best cruise at the best prices for you and answer all your questions. The best way to find a good travel agent is to ask family, friends, coworkers, and other cruise goers for recommendations. A quick phone interview can be another way to learn if a particular travel agent will be helpful for you. Try to find an agent who specializes in cruises.
Book it yourself
Another option in purchasing your cruise vacation is to do it yourself. Finding bargain prices will require research on your part. There are numerous websites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, or others that provide information on different cruise lines, prices, and special deals. Another great source is checking the websites of the individual cruise lines. Many times their offers are the best, but not always.
When to book your cruise
It’s a good idea to book your cruise as early as a six months to a year out to get good deals and your choice of cabins. However, if you are willing to travel at a moment’s notice, it is often possible to find exceptional last minute deals a week or so before the sailing date. However, you may not get your choice in cabins, and you selection of cruise lines and destinations will be limited. Also, if you have to fly to the port, airfare will most likely be more expensive.
Check for upgrades
After booking your cruise, check back with the website/cruise line/travel agent from time to time to see if you can upgrade your cabin without paying the extra amount. As the sailing date approaches, the cruise lines sometimes offer upgrades for booked passengers in order to open up the less expensive rooms which are easier to sell. Also, most cruise lines will offer you a price guarantee. If the price of the room you booked decreases after you purchased your tickets, the cruise line will usually lower your price to match. It can pay to check often!
Where to search for the best cruise deals
To start your research, some websites to view are: Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, Cruise Critic, Cruise.com, Cruises-N-More, each individual cruise line website, and others. When booking online, make sure the site is legitimate. See if it has been approved by the American Society of Travel Agents, the Better Business Bureau Online, or Cruise Line International Association. Don’t forget to talk to family members, friends, and coworkers about their experiences. Often times, that is the best way to learn!