August 20, 2017

Cruisin’: Saving Money on a Family Cruise (Wave Season)

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I was fortunate to have a guest post up at Fat Wallet a couple of weeks ago called 5 Simple Ways to Save Big Money on a Cruise. As we creep toward the end of Wave Season, the best time of the year to book a cruise, I thought I’d share a few of these savings tidbits for those of you who are hoping to take a cruise later this year or in 2013.

Wave Season, which runs from January through March, is traditionally the time of year when vacation-minded people start thinking about cruises. So the cruise lines are generous with incentives, like cabin upgrades and free onboard credit, to secure bookings (even more so this year in light of the Costa Concordia tragedy). If a cruise is in your plans, check out these five ways to get the best cruise savings:

1) Book Early, Book Now. The most popular cruises can book up two or more years in advance, so if you want to lock in a specific cabin, do it now. I went on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago and for the best views, you have to book very early. The more cabins that get booked, the fewer discounts you’ll see.

2) Look at Off-Peak Dates. For Caribbean or Alaskan cruises, book your cruise in May or September. If you want to cruise in New England, it’s cheapest to go in July or August. However, it may still be pricey to cruise on the most popular ships any time of year, so look to alternatives if you can.

3) Book a Repositioning Cruise. If you don’t mind extra days at sea, think about a repositioning cruise. These cruises are available when the cruise line is getting ready to move a ship from one popular cruising area to another, like from Mexico to Alaska. They’re not for everyone, but prices can be incredibly low.

4) Opt for Less Popular Routes. Everyone loves the Caribbean, but today’s cruisers prefer the Eastern route (U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Lucia), possibly because there’s a shorter distance between islands, over the Western route (Puerto Rico, Aruba, Jamaica). This preference can lead to discounted Caribbean cruises simply based on supply and demand.

5) Book Late. If you’re not particular about your cabin or the cruise route look to sites like Travelzoo and Fat Wallet for deeply discounted last-minute deals. Cruise lines don’t want to leave the home port with empty cabins, so the closer to the sail date, the lower the prices can go.

If you book your cruise, and then a short time later, the price drops, contact your travel agent. Depending on the cruise line, you may be entitled to a price reduction, particularly if you’ve yet to make your final payment, though it may be in the form of onboard credit.

Do you have any great tips or advice for getting a great deal on a cruise vacation? Leave me a note in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Mental Dribble

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