Nothing says luxury and relaxation like a cruise liner, and that’s because cruises aren’t cheap. This year when you’re planning a seabound vacation, take a few tips from the pros so you can book your dream trip without emptying your bank account.
- Follow the deals
Don’t be too stubborn about where you’ll cruise to, applying flexibility to your travel planning is the first step to saving money. This year the deals are primarily located the Caribbean (highly desirable and usually costly) thanks to less than stellar earnings in the first quarter.
If you’re looking to book for spring, Caribbean and Alaskan cruises are going to offer the best deals. Why? Fleets in these regions are experiencing rapid expansion, which means more rooms to fill. This is especially good for travelers who are happy to sail aboard older fleet models, which are no less luxurious, just less novel. Make sure you give yourselves a few weeks advance booking for the prime deals.
- Book early for peak season travel
According to industry specialists, people’s booking habits have changed over the last two years. Those who were once booking just 120 days in advance are now planning much further ahead (eight months in advance is now considered standard).
This means that cruise lines don’t have to offer excellent last minute fare reductions in order to book their ships solid. So whenever possible, book in the beginning of the year for summer cruising. This applies to the most popular destinations: Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and to holiday cruising.
- Hunt down perks and freebies
It’s like spotting a Sasquatch in the woods or a UFO in the sky, finding the sought after $50-a-night dream fare seems impossible to many, and this year will be more difficult than ever before. So, instead of hunting for the mythical beast, turn your sights to value-adds, perks, and freebies.
Bundled offers often include drinks, internet, gratuity, discounts for on-shore day trips, and discounted rates for additional passengers are the best way to keep your overhead low. Many bundles even come with pre-paid on board credit, which helps you keep your spending in check once you’re sailing.
- Travel together
Cruising alone sounds romantic and adventurous, but it will hurt your bottom line. While more and more ships are accommodating this niche by offering solo cabins, they aren’t considered standard, and the high demand makes them a rare (read: costly) commodity.
- Ride the wave
All the most seasoned cruisers know that wave season is the best time for low prices. This is usually the months of January through March, but 2014’s biggest deals happened in December, so it’s hard to know which early months will be the absolute best.
Additionally, many major cruise lines offer special sale prices mid-week that can reduce the total fare by up to $1K, but you’ll need to be ready to go on the fly, these fares usually apply to trips that will depart within two to six weeks of the promotion date.