Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for a cruise. After all, that might have an impact on how much you can treat yourself, or how soon you can go again!
So with this guide, I’m going to tell you how to get the best deals on your cruises. This isn’t about finding the cheapest – the cruises that are out of season with bad weather, or those repositioning cruises with boring itineraries.
This guide will help you get your dream cruise, but at the best price possible.
I’ve another guide if you just want the cheapest cruises possible so check that out instead.
How To Find Good Deals On Cruises
There are two parts to getting the best deal on your cruise holiday. Part of that is getting the most value, and the second part is getting the lowest price on the cruise you actually want. Let’s start with the value side and look at how you find the best deals on cruises.
Who Has the Best Cruise Deals Right Now?
There is no single travel agent that always has the best cruise deals. Instead, you need to check with a variety of travel agents, as each one will have different deals available. The only way to get the best deals is to compare them against each other.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, it can be, but not always. Some travel agents don’t have the best websites, so phoning them all can take a bit of time, but there are ways around the work, and that’s to look at a deals comparison website.
These let you compare all the deals in one place, rather than bouncing back and forth between a hundred different browser tabs or phoning agents back and forth. Cruise Critic’s Deals Comparison tool does a great job of bringing all the best deals together, and explaining what makes them good value. It’s sort of like a cruise comparison site, letting you compare cruise deals easily.
It works in most countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
What Is the Best Website for Cruise Deals?
There are a number of websites that claim to be the best for cruise deals, but most of those will be travel agents, and their claims will just be marketing techniques. They’ll use clever language to explain why their service is ‘the best’ but they might not actually have the best deals.
Then there will be some that are not travel-agent based, but they have an affiliation with a cruise line, or maybe a cruise group that owns multiple cruise lines, and so again you’re presented with a biased list of deals that may actually exclude the perfect deal for you, just because it’s from a non-supported cruise line.
So the best website for cruise deals is one which doesn’t have any biases or affiliations and can offer a neutral perspective – which again comes back to the Cruise Critic Deals Comparison site.
Cruise Critic is an independent website which lets customers compare and discuss all cruise lines, and their deals page is simply a collection of the best deals, ranked by their algorithm which looks at the fare, the inclusions, the ship and more.
Do Last-Minute Cruise Deals Exist?
Last-minute cruise deals do exist and you can get a good price if you are willing to travel at short notice, but you have to be very flexible – you may only get a few days to arrange your transport to port, and your choices of stateroom will be limited.
It’s not advisable to hold off and hope you get a last-minute cruise deal because you might end up disappointed, either with the ship and itinerary that is available on the dates you’re free, or there may be nothing available at all.
However, if you find yourself with some free time at short notice – maybe another holiday was cancelled – then it’s worth checking out the last-minute deals available. You can sometimes book right up to the day of departure, depending on the cruise line.
As a guide, last-minute deals for families aren’t really a thing. The cabins that can sleep 3 or 4 people (or sometimes more) tend to sell out quickly, while the cheapest cabins for those groups will definitely go first. If you’re travelling with your kids, book earlier to get better deals.
NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!
Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…
How To Get The Best Price For Your Cruise
Now, let’s take a look at how to get the best price for your ideal cruise.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Book a Cruise?
The cheapest way to book your cruise is normally with a travel agent and usually over the phone if you have time. This gets you access to some of the best deals but lets your agent fully understand what you’re looking for, to help you get the best price too.
A lot of people prefer to book cruises online, and that’s understandable. It’s a lot more convenient since you can do it while you’re on a lunch break at work (or even when you’re supposed to be working), and usually, it’s a fairly pain-free process.
But it relies on you being pretty clued up on cruises and knowing exactly what you want. Remember that a travel agent’s entire job is to be an expert in cruise holidays, so unless you think you know as much as they do, then you might be better off giving them a call.
Yes, it can be more time-consuming, but it’s the easiest way to get the best price. Your travel agent will be able to listen to your requests, look at everything you want from your cruise, and then work out how to get you the best price.
They might be able to offer alternative dates that suit you or cruise lines with a better price if your only must-haves are the dates and itineraries. They won’t try to talk you into the wrong cruise (as long as they’re not a bad travel agent) but will only help you to get the best price possible for the things you want from your cruise holiday.
And then there’s the option of a Best Price Guarantee, which a lot of cruise lines will offer but many travel agents will honour too. If you book with a Best Price Guarantee, that means you’ll only pay the best price that is advertised for your cruise.
So if you book, and then three months later, the same offer is available for less, then you’ll pay the lower price.
It has to be an exact match, though. If you book a fare that includes your drinks and WiFi and then a special offer is released three months later that’s a super-cheap price but doesn’t have those inclusions, you can’t get the same rate and keep your extras.
If you’re looking for a cruise and think you’ve found your deal, consider booking with an agent that offers a Best Price Guarantee.
Is It Better to Book a Cruise Directly Through the Cruise Line?
In most cases, it’s cheaper to book through a travel agent rather than booking directly with a cruise line. You aren’t cutting out the middleman by going directly to the cruise line, but you’re creating more work for them, so their rates are usually a little higher.
This often surprises people, because you assume that a travel agent’s rate is going to be higher – after all, they have to get their own cut too, which you would think is added onto the standard fare.
That’s not normally how it works, though. Normally, travel agents have agreements in place with cruise lines to access a lower rate, so that when their commission is added on top, the price is similar anyway.
Do travel agents get better deals on cruises? Sometimes, if they negotiate with cruise lines for bulk bookings, which will get them a discount. This discount can be passed onto the customer, lowering their cruise fare.
Plus, travel agents will often have quite complex agreements with cruise lines for certain targets, which may unlock extra bonuses.
These bonuses are often more valuable than the commission on a single booking, and so a travel agent might offer a discounted rate to customers in order to make sure they reach their bonus threshold – sometimes even giving you the cruise at cost price with zero commission for them.
The Bottom Line
Unless you’re working with a really tight budget, it’s important not to compromise on your cruise holiday. You don’t want to go for the cheapest option available only to feel like it’s a bit of a letdown.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to get the best deals on the cruises you do actually want – you should absolutely do that.
I would recommend checking out the Cruise Critic Recommended Deals to get a look at the best deals from all the cruise lines, and then speak to a travel agent in order to get the best price possible – ideally over the phone if you have time.
- How To Book A Cruise For a Family of 4
- How To Pay For A Cruise In Instalments
- Why I (Almost) Always Choose an Inside Cabin
- What Is The Cheapest Month To Go On A Cruise?