They are the secrets that only the cruise cognoscenti know about getting the very best deals: when to buy what ship and which destination.
Well, reading Cruise Passenger’s newsletter and Midweek Deals review helps!
But there are some insider tips that will shave hundreds of dollars of your dream holiday.
Here’s our pick of the bunch – but do send us more!
1. Sign up to newsletters – OK, sounds pretty obvious. But there are some interesting variations on the usual newsletters, like industry clubs and associations.
2. Cruiseabout expert Kathy Pavlidis says shopping around and speaking to your travel agent is the best way to find a deal suited to your needs. And her pick: Book the Med because the political climate in Europe has spooked many travellers. Cruise lines are not spending nights in ports so they can shave their costs and offer better prices.
3. River cruise lines that operate in France normally attract a lot of Americans. But many are worried by the attacks in Paris. Australians are more resilient and the lines are now offering two for one deals so it is the best time to cruise Europe.
4. Think Wednesday to Friday for hot deals. Royal Caribbean, for example, sends out its offers on Thursday at 2pm and is valid till Friday 2pm. If you are standing by the computer or phone, you can ensure that you get the exact itinerary, ship and offers available. Some deals last between 12 to 72 hours so make sure you check how long you have to book. P&O has a number of campaigns like the It’s Cruise Time Sale, where for three days only, cruisers can get deals for as low as $50 per person.
5. Check what’s going on in the destination. Typically, big bucket list places like the Arctic, Antarctic and Galapagos rarely go on sale. But if you plan and book well in advance, some lines will give half priced deposits or a percentage off your fare. Kathy says if you’re looking to cruise Asia, book luxury lines at the last minute as they will be trying to offload remaining cabins. The best time is from January to April. Cruising the Caribbean is best during January to March – the kids will still be on holidays and it is the off-peak season in America.
6. Don’t expect to travel during peak season. There is a reason why cruise lines offload cabins with great reductions: you probably won’t find deals around holiday seasons like Easter, Christmas or New Years. But there will be lots of cruise sales prior to the holiday season. Think the first week of December if you can get the time off work.
7. Dare to Compare: Some cruise sellers have authorised ways of offering lower prices using different bonuses. Whether it be free onboard spends, cabin upgrades, shore excursion spend, or drink packages, make sure you find the deal that’s best for you.
8. Read the fine print! Read the fine print! Read the fine print! While you may be getting an amazingly cheap cruise, be sure to read the fine print. Some deals may exclude port chargers, service fees and government taxes. Also, some last minute cruise deals are for guaranteed cabins which means you can’t change and you won’t know where it is.