I have been on a number of cruises over the years and have really enjoyed them. Honestly, though, after about three days I am ready to get off the ship. I really do like the 'all enclusive' proposition of a cruise as food and many activities are included in your fare. In today's article I will be sharing with you some strategies on how to use the Internet to find cruise deals.
Let me start by pointing out that this is one area of travel that you may be able to get an even better deal with a travel agent that you can on your own. Cruise fares have not yet quite reached the point that they are as easy to shop online as hotels and rental cars. This is why we still see quite a few cruise travel agencies still around when many other 'generalists' have closed their doors. Industry leaders like CruiseOne and Cruises, Inc. are still good options if you don't want to do all of the leg work on your own. Both of these sites offer a price comparison search engine, but also prominently list their phone numbers so you can get one on one assistance as well. Another website we really like is CruiseNow.
Remember that you can still shop for a cruise using all of the standard online travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, etc... Most experts agree that you will find better deals at the sites that specialize in cruises. Of course, it would not hurt to comparison shop at as many sites as possible.
When To Book Your Cruise
Experts suggest booking your cruise 6 months out or waiting until the last minute. Yes, it sounds like one extreme or the other. It appears that the best deals in cruises are reserved for those that book several months in advance. In cases where a cruise ship is going to sail with empty cabins they will offer very deep last minute discounts. One site in particular called Last Minute Cruises provides an excellent portal for online shopping when trying to grab a last minute deal. For example, I just checked and I can grab a three day cruise from Port Canaveral for only $269 (based on double occupancy).
Cruise Companies Compete For Your Dollar
A website that offers a unique service where travel agents compete for your cruise business is CruiseCompete. I did not know about this site but it looks like a very interesting way to shop for a cruise.
For a complete list of the top companies you can use for price comparison shopping on a cruise use this list.
Be Sure To Understand The Full Cost Of Your Cruise
You will have to pay taxes and port fees which may not be disclosed at the time you are purchasing your cruise. Be sure you understand the absolute grand total cost before you commit to buying.
Making Smart Choices On Your Cabin
I have never paid for a balcony or cabin with a special view, I think it is a complete waste of money. When you are on a ship you will see the ocean everywhere you go on board. You will go to your cabin to sleep and probably spend very little time there otherwise (at least that was my experience on the dozen or so cruises I have taken).
Ask About Discounts For Children
Many cruises offer very deep discounts for children or even free fare if they stay in your cabin. I have shared a cabin with my kids and it worked out just fine. They were hardly in the cabin at all as they spent almost 24 hours being involved with activities on the ship.
Repositioning Cruises - A Unique Way To Save
On occasion a cruise line will need to move a ship from one port to another. This means that the ship will set sail on a one way trip. If you are willing to sail from one port and return to another during a repositioning cruise you can save big. For example, on Priceline.com I found a 13 day cruise that leaves from Spain and returns to Miami for only $599 (based on double occupancy). To find these deals, simply Google the phrase "repositioning cruise."
Hidden Costs Of Cruising
If you plan on taking any shore excursions you are better off booking them on your own. If you book your excursions through the ship you will pay top dollar. Also, you should completely understand the ship's policy on automatic gratuities that will be added to any alcohol you purchase and even to the cost of a massage you get at the spa. Countless other profit centers such as family pictures, overpriced gift shop items, meal upgrades, etc... will be aggressively pushed on you from the moment you step on board. Additionally, you should budget money for the expected tips that are customary on cruises, see this.
If you have your own strategy or experience you would like to share on cruising, please use the comments section below to share it.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!