7 ways to save on your next luxury cruise
Wait as Long as Possible
It sounds counterintuitive to many of us, but booking your cruise at the last minute can really pay off. While this isn’t always the case, some cruise lines will offer reduced prices to fill rooms just before a cruise departs. Keep checking the rates and occupancy as the departure date draws closer. It’s a bit of a risk, but if you’re flexible, you can most likely find a good deal on short notice.
Flexibility is Key
Like waiting to find a deal at the last moment, being flexible in choosing and booking a cruise is one of the best ways to save. Go into your search with an open mind, preferably before settling on any particular destination, cruise line, or even – if possible – time of year. Look at destinations in their off-season, consider less popular routes, and compare similar itineraries across brands.
Look for a Repositioning Cruise
Many ships relocate at several points throughout the year, changing locations to sail the upcoming season in a different part of the world. Cruise lines sell these one-way sailings – and often at reduced rates.
Luxury travel expert Jeffrey Ward of Savvy Navigator says, “Repositioning cruises are a great way to get a great rate onboard a beautiful ship. Every fall, many lines reposition ships from Europe down to the Caribbean, and these are great trips for those who love being at sea. In the spring, the ships return to Europe from the Caribbean. If you’ve ever dreamed of a Transatlantic crossing in suite-category cabin, this is the way to do it!”[–articleimage id=”1504″ –]Use a Travel Agent
“Buying a cruise is a specialized purchase that requires a greater degree of understanding than other travel bookings,” says Scott Kertes of Vacations by Design @ Hartford Holidays. “In the world of luxury cruises, there are many choices ranging from ship size; cabin size; dining, entertainment, and enrichment options; demographics and lifestyles; inclusions and exclusions.” Not only can a travel agent – especially one who specializes in cruises – help you navigate all the options, they can also find you better rates and snag you better extras than you would likely get on your own.
“As an esteemed member of Ensemble Travel Group I have access to such things as complimentary, customized shoreside experiences, shipboard credits, cabin upgrades, pre-paid gratuities, and even additional cruise savings,” Kertes says. “As a top producer for many of the world’s luxury cruise lines I also enjoy preferred relationships with many of the people who run these organizations, giving me the ability to problem-solve as well as negotiate in ways not possible when booking elsewhere.”
Choose the Right Port City
Flying to the city your sailing leaves from can be a huge add-on cost to a cruise vacation. Factor in the price of air travel when choosing your cruise. If possible, choose a cruise that leaves from a port you can drive to – and don’t forget the smaller ones! If flying is absolutely necessary, look into cruises that depart out of a city that may be cheaper for you to fly to.
Price Out the Extras
Planning out your onboard spending in advance is a great way to save money. Beverages, for example, can really add up over the course of your cruise, so a pre-paid beverage package might be the way to go. Just don’t make any assumptions – research the cost of drinks onboard (don’t forget soft drinks) and see if a beverage package will save you money, or offers more than you’re likely to need, resulting in possible overspending.
Explore Shore Excursion Options
Start planning out your port visits before you get onboard – and do your research. While a cruiser’s first instinct may be to choose from a cruise line’s own shore excursion options, an outside company may offer similar tours and activities at a lower price. Alternately, some luxury cruise lines offer included excursions on some or all sailings. Even if these cruise fares seem more expensive, do the math on what excursions would cost you, and you may find that the higher fares are a better deal in the end.
Want to put these tips to the test? Find your perfect cruise here.
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