Tips to Booking a Cruise
Hey there, Cruisers!
Cruising is a great travel option where you can get some serious bang for your buck, but sometimes, you've got to save as much money as possible when planning for your vacation. Well, have no fear! I am here to give you some tips on how you can book your next cruise for much less!
Book Out As Far As You Can & Watch
Many people will tell you to wait and book your cruise until the last second, but I am not someone who likes to do this. Even if you can be flexible with your travel dates, I hate waiting to book last minute. First of all, even if you do get a room at a great rate, you may not be in the best location possible. The most desired rooms are going to be the first to go; Rooms that are on higher decks as well as mid-ship rooms sell out quickly!
Another great thing about booking way ahead of time is watching for price drops. Depending on the cruise line, if a great sale is offered, you can contact the cruise line and ask them to update your pricing to reflect the new sale. **Be careful though!** Sometimes certain promotions come with some restrictions that your current fare might not have had. Which brings me to my next suggestion.
Contact Your Travel Agent
Now some websites like to suggest that you figure out the price online and then to double-check by referencing some third-party sites that offer greater discounts, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret: You are not always getting a better deal! Cruise companies do not offer specials to discount sites to try to sell to you. They don't even offer cheaper rates to travel agents! The prices that you'll find on discount sites as well as with your travel agent are no different than what you can get by booking direct. HOWEVER, I always recommend talking with your travel agent vs. booking it on your own. Why, you ask?
Obviously being a travel agent, we'd love for you to book with us because it helps us to put food on the table, but my main reason for suggesting this route is that we know what to look for because we are looking at it all the time. We understand how to read the fine print and what kinds of restrictions come with different offers. As I always say, just because you're paying the cheapest rate available, doesn't mean you're getting the best value for your vacation. When I'm working with my clients, I will give them not only the cheapest option (if they are looking for a budget trip), but I am also sure to tell them all of the restrictions and then I offer my suggestions based on what they are looking for and where I think that they can save money overall.
It honestly comes down to preference when it comes to whether you want to book through an agent or book it on your own, but if it is of no additional cost to you, why wouldn't you work with a specialist who can get you what you want and help solve any problems, should they ever arise?
Go For Off-Season
Johnny and I always opt for off-season cruising for more than one reason. Even though we don't try to go for the cheapest price we can find, we do like to save money where we can. We usually try to go for a balcony room or at the very least, an ocean view. With a higher category room, you're going to be paying a higher price. Especially if you opt for a higher deck! How do we balance it out? We always book during hurricane season! Oh yeah, it's okay... everyone looks at us crazy when we say that, but it is the way to go! We also always book with Carnival because well, we like to think that we aren't too picky. The great thing is in the event that there was a hurricane and it was unsafe for us to travel and Carnival needed to cancel the sailing, we don't lose any money! We can get a full refund (also depending on what promotion we selected) or apply it towards a FCC (Future Cruise Credit). We haven't had to cancel or reschedule yet though (knock on wood!)
Another great thing about off-season sailing is fewer kids. Although we don't have anything against children, and we have a few nieces and nephews of our own that we love to love on and play with, we do not want kids of our own and we aren't people who want to be around kids for most of our vacation. When school is in-session, you're likely to see fewer kids onboard and that will help make for a more relaxing environment if that is what you are aiming for!
Book An Interior Cabin
If you don't like the idea of going during hurricane season, or the only time to you can take off is during peak season and you're on a really tight budget. Go for an interior stateroom. These offer the lowest fares, but be careful where you're located! My suggestion is try to get midship if you're going to be on the lowest decks. This way you can hopefully avoid engine noise & noise from the anchor dropping when arriving in port early in the A.M.
Little tip: You can find interior rooms with a view! That's right... you can get a view at an interior rate. These rooms will be priced slightly higher than your interior rooms on the lower decks, but if you don't like the thought of not having a window, then try getting one of these!
Go For Last Minute
I know I JUST got done saying to book way ahead of time at the start of this post and that is mainly MY preference. Again, if you can be flexible with your cruise dates and you are able to take off work last minute, then by all means go for it! But if you're someone who is picky about how you vacation, I don't recommend this. I recommend this option for people who are more care-free and go-with-the-flow. If room location really isn't a big deal, or even the type of room, then booking last minute is a great option for you!
What are some of the ways you find great savings on cruises or other trips?