Take it from a cruise addict who spends all day every day looking at cruises – there’s nothing more exciting than spotting an amazing cruise deal!
I hold my hands up, even working in the cruise industry for several years, I’ve never got bored of hunting for great deals. But how do you know when it’s a great deal? And with so many cruises available, where do you even start when you want to bag a bargain?
Do you book as soon as the cruise goes on sale and risk a price drop later? Or do you hold out until the last minute and hope that all the best cruises don’t sell out? Fret not cruisers, I’m here to help with my seven top tips on how to find a great cruise deal!
1. Book in January
January is the most popular time to book most types of holidays. People are over the festive period, in good spirits and start thinking about what they can do to make the next year special – for many people means planning a holiday.
The cruise lines like to capitalise on this by taking as many bookings as possible during this busy post-Christmas period, with many cruise lines releasing their best deals around January time when people are planning for the year ahead.
The peak booking period cruise deals tend to come out on in December and last until March. Rather than simple price reductions, you’ll often find ‘added extras’ such as free drinks packages, free flights, and free on-board spending money. You may also find deals such as ‘half price second passenger’ or reduced kids fares.
2. Book early
I promise I’m not just saying this to get your booking as soon as possible – it’s true that booking a cruise early is generally better than booking late. Once a die-hard last-minute holiday booker, everything changed when I got into cruise holidays. Now, I’ll often book the very same day that new itineraries are released, which can be up to two years ahead of the sailing date.
Some people choose to book their cruise when it first comes out and then check the price weekly or monthly regularly until they sail. Its often found that you will rarely see a price drop lower than the initial price release, though if it does, this is usually only for a limited time and by a small amount.
For anyone wanting an accessible stateroom or a family stateroom during the peak school holiday period, booking early isn’t just recommended, it’s essential. These stateroom types usually sell out very quickly, particularly on the newest ships.
3. Be flexible
If you don’t want to wait over a year until your cruise, but still want a good deal, my advice is to be as flexible as you can on your choice of ship, destination, date and stateroom type.
When you’re looking for late deals, you might find that if you focus your search on popular destinations such as the Mediterranean in summer or the Caribbean in winter, there’s not much left.
Likewise, the newest ships tend to book up way ahead of the sailing date too. The more flexible you are with your choices, the better the last-minute deal you’ll get.
4. Cruise from the UK
Aside from the obvious fact that you don’t have to pay for airfare, cruising from the UK is especially recommended if you’re travelling last-minute.
Cruise lines try to ensure that they fill up their ships before flights to their embarkation port begin to run out. This means when you’re looking to sail from the UK, a last-minute deal is probably a great option as there is more availability.
5. Extend your holiday
It may sound counter-intuitive, but booking a longer holiday can sometimes be cheaper.
Let’s say that your cruise is a week-long round-trip out of Barcelona. You’ll pay a price for the cruise and a price for the flights which are put together into a package. But, if you were to fly out two days earlier, for example, the flights may be cheaper, so this would cover the cost of a two-night hotel stay.
By spending a couple of days exploring a new city before or after your cruise, you’re essentially treating yourself to a free city break, which would cost you a considerable amount if you were to plan it as a separate holiday.
6. Stay away from the brand new mega-ships
The newest mega-ships always have a lot of hype around them. You’ll see exciting new videos of their amazing features such as water slides, go-kart tracks, laser tag and even floating platforms! This hype creates a higher demand for the ‘biggest and best’ new ships. Meanwhile, older ships get forgotten about.
What’s important to remember is that cruise ships undergo a full dry-dock refurbishment roughly every three years, so even the oldest vessels will look as good as new.
Popular Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Independence of the Seas recently underwent a refurbishment in which she benefitted from the addition of virtual reality trampolines, an escape room game, laser tag, a new waterpark complete with slides and a new arcade. What this means for bargain-hunting cruisers, is that you can enjoy many of the features of the newest ships for a fraction of the price by sailing on a slightly older, less popular ship.
7. Book with a travel agent
Travel agents get preferential rates and the more cruises a travel agent sells, the cheaper the rates they get. These savings are then passed on to the customers! It’s for this reason that a good travel agent should always be able to get you a better price than going directly to the cruise line.
Here at Cruise118.com, our dedicated Cruise Concierge team not only guarantee the best price you’ll find on any cruise anywhere but are also happy to help with planning every aspect of your cruise holiday. We can look to get you the best rates on flights, transfers, hotels, excursions and even event tickets.
Do you have any more tips on finding and booking the cheapest cruise deals? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’d like any help with finding a great deal on your next cruise, or would like us to beat a price you’ve found elsewhere, just give us a call on 0808 1234 118 and one of our dedicated Cruise Concierge team will be able to help.