Taking a cruise is a wonderful experience, but it can be quite costly. We’ve assembled a list of tips to help you get the best possible deal on your getaway, and avoid breaking the bank.
1. Spontaneity pays off! Sometimes those last minute instincts to take a trip can be financially useful as well as practically. Cruise ships are just like any other form of transportation market, they don’t like to travel empty. For that reason, there are often last minute deals available on cruise tickets coming up in 2-3 months that you can take advantage of if you’re on a budget.
2. Know when to look. Cruise budgeting is all about knowing when the peak seasons are, and avoiding them! While you may not get the New Years departure that every one else is jumping on, you’ll likely be just as happy in the second week of January (or any other off-peak time) – maybe even happier with the money you will have saved!Just remember that this tip can backfire if you aren’t careful. If you know you have to be somewhere for Christmas, don’t wait to buy tickets, because if you are travelling during peak season those tickets are in demand. In these cases, last minute tickets are rare, and though not impossible you shouldn’t necessarily hold out for a low price.
3. Don’t rule out the repositioning cruises. Repositioning cruise is a term given to describe cruises where the cruise ship changes a few different regions to reach their destination, take the road less travelled so to speak. Even though these cruises generally offer more time, they’re often less popular because of the longer times at sea and unique port choices. That being said, this can be a great way for you to get a good bargain on the cruise ticket.The thing to watch out for here is airfare, because the cruises are one way your airfare (both on the way there and on the way back) needs to be one way too. This can result in an increased cost in transportation, so make sure that the deal is worth the trip before you say yes! (This can be balanced by finding cheaper airfare deals or ensuring that you save enough on the cruise that it’s worth the airfare).
4. Look at more than one company, always. Cruise sellers and cruise lines offer different types of prices, often on the same cruise, so don’t be afraid to do a little comparison shopping. You can even use the internet to save more by signing up for sites that offer a weekly selection of the latest last minute bargains.
When all else fails, there is also always Cruise Critic. Cruise Critic keeps last minute listings of cruise deals up to date, and available at the click of a button.
5. Know what you’re spending, and what you’re willing to spend. We’ve touched on this loosely before, but even if you get a great deal on a cruise ticket, you can still end up with a costly airfare purchase to get to the cruise. It’s really all about knowing what you’re spending (ie being aware of both costs), and knowing what you’re willing to spend. When you know what your vacation is worth to you, it’ll be that much easier to spot a bargain that fits your budget.
6. Always make sure you understand what you’re buying. This means reading every single line of text involved in your offer. The reason being? It sets out all the terms of this bargain you’re getting, including location of cabin, cabin assignment rules, additional fees, tax information, and payment arrangement requirements. You need to make sure that this ‘great deal’ is the right deal for you specifically, and the only way to do that is to be aware of every line of fine print that there is.
7.Be aware that you’re buying last minute, on their terms. The benefit of buying last minute is that you can save a lot of cash, but the drawback is you’re really picking up a ticket with set terms. These terms include things like cabin location, dinner selection, and other details you may need to be a little bit more flexible on in recognition of your savings.
8. Try to drive to the cruise, rather than fly. If at all possible, taking cars can save a huge amount of money on airfare (even with the costs of fuel). Be especially strategic about this if you live near a port, subscribing to last minute deals only leaving from that area to save on transportation.9. If you’re planning to travel last minute, don’t forget to keep your passport up to date. Last minute bookings are just that, last-minute. You may need to be ready to go on a day or two’s notice, so it’s critical that you keep your passport up to date if you want to pick up a last minute deal on a cruise vacation. A good general rule of thumb is that if your passport is within six months of expiring, it’s time to renew.