How to get the best deal on a cruise

Right now is one of the best times to find a good deal for a cruise vacation. You probably know the end of what is known as “wave season” in the industry (usually January through March) when many companies are rapidly rolling out promotions.

Chris Gray Faust, managing editor of Cruisecritic.com, told CNBC Make It: “It’s like Black Friday time for cruises, that’s when most airlines offer it. some form of incentive.

And you still have time. “March and April are the low months for travel bookings, so shipping lines have extra promotions,” said Makoto Rheault-Kihara, marketing director of Seahub, a travel booking website. “And travel booking sites… [also] add promotions to compensate. So this is a pretty good time to make a reservation. “

Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and some standout deals to take advantage of.

Know what trading is

Gray Faust explains: When it comes to booking a cruise, there are two types of deals.

“One of them is reduced fares,” said Gray Faust, “either through discounts, or you see things like buy one, get one free. Or they’ll give discounts for additional passengers in [a] cabin, that’s great for a family. ”

For example, Royal Caribbean is currently offering 30% off cruise fares on select Royal Caribbean cruises and an extra $200 in savings.

Another type of deal Gray Faust sees at this time of year is value add-ons.

Gray Faust said: “That’s when the travel agencies don’t necessarily lower the fares, but you get more money… for luxury carriers it could be the price of the plane ticket. “On a more mainstream line, it could be drink packages, cabin upgrades, onboard credits, free bonuses, free Wi-Fi, that sort of thing.”

Gray Faust recommends that passengers pay attention to the added values ​​as they can save you a lot of money. “It could be more than a reduced ticket price, especially if it matches what you are looking for,” she said.

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Current value-added offers include Norway’s Free At Sea promotion, which includes perks like beverage packages, specialty dining packages, $50 per port to spend on cruises on shore and even free for the third and fourth passengers to board the cabin.

When deciding between a reduced fare deal or a value-added deal, Gray Fare recommends really examining what’s important to you when flying.

“The fare itself is not the only thing,” she insisted. “That’s what you get for that fare.”

Book in advance

Many of the current deals are valid for departures starting in 2019. That sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

Seahub’s Rheault-Kihara said: “Unlike flights, there is no truly optimal amount of time to book tickets.

Some cruise lines also have policies that guarantee the lowest prices. For example, Carnival says if you find an advertised Carnival deal somewhere else within two days of booking your excursion, they’ll give you 110 percent of the difference in the credit on ship.

You can also usually get a full refund if you cancel far enough in advance, but there can be high cancellation fees as you get closer to your departure date, so planning is important.

In fact, in some cases, it can make more sense to cancel a reservation, lose your deposit, and then rebook on a cheaper yacht, says Sherry Kennedy, the travel expert and blogger behind the site Cruise Maven explains.

“Before you make your final payment…usually 70, 80 or even 90 days before your sailing date, check to see if the rates have dropped. [At that point] Kennedy said.

“Let’s say you lose $500 [deposit], but the price for the new cabin is $800 less than you originally paid. Then you’ve got a $300 savings,” she explains.

Yacht deposits typically range from $250 to $1,000 per state room or per person. Cruiseline.com estimates that cruise fares typically range from $400 to $1,400 per person, but prices vary widely and can be much higher.

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Since booking early to take advantage of the offer can get you a good price, you can book a little later.

Kennedy explained that major cruise companies will blockade 100 to 200 cabins as soon as the ship’s deployment is announced, which she says is about 18 months before it sets sail. Then they will try and sell those rooms.

Kennedy explained 90 and 60 days before sailing, cruise companies must return their unsold inventory to the cruise line.

“That means if you’re looking at your calendar, at the 60-day mark or the 90-day mark before you set sail, you contact the shipping line and there’s a good chance a lot of cabins will be returned,” Kennedy said. “That’s when you can find some special deals and promotions.” Just be aware of cancellation penalties because you booked too close to your departure date.

Go in groups

“The more people you book, the better the price will be,” says Rheault-Kihara. “So you get a lot of things like kids get to go for free, drink packages, if you have a lot of people.”

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering group discounts, which include for every 14 passengers and seven cabins, two free cruisers; or for every 14 passengers and seven cabins, a complimentary cruise, plus your choice of two amenities (which range from beverage packages to shore excursion credits).

Meanwhile, with a minimum of 16 guests, Royal Caribbean will provide a travel credit for each of the eight state rooms traveling with your group, which can be used for travel expenses.

On the other hand, if you are a tourist, pay attention to the reduction of the “one-time surcharge”, i.e. a surcharge for one person in a cabin. Cruise Critic reports that single supplements can range from 10% replenishment rates up to 100%.

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“Sometimes on smaller ships with higher fares, they’ll waive the surcharge alone,” says Kennedy.

Consider older ships

“Many people tend to look at newer ships, but older ships are just as good or almost as good but much cheaper,” says Rheault-Kihara.

Currently, a two-day Australian cruise aboard Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess (launched in 2017) starts at around $384 per person for an interior room, while prices on board the airline’s Sun Princess ship (out). eyes 1995) for the same room on the same route costs $229.

Book an off-season vacation

According to Kennedy, you can get really great prices if you book tickets to travel during the off-season travel season, when rates are lower.

“A Caribbean cruise in September? Yes, you’ll get a good price. A Caribbean cruise in mid-June? No, it’s going to be very high, no matter what you do,” she said.

Kennedy said slow-moving times typically occur during the first few days after New Year’s Day in January, just before Memorial Day in May, the first week of September, just before Thanksgiving in November, and mid-November. December.

Outside of wave season, “It’s… the moment you can get a really good deal,” Kennedy said.

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