Perhaps the ultimate in vacation packages, and ease of international travel, are
cruises aboard the many luxury liners that sail the world. Over the past several
years, cruises have become very popular and more and more affordable. And the variety
of destinations available has increased considerably. With a little diligence, taking
a cruise can be a very economical way to travel, and a great way to enjoy international
1. Pricing for cruises is a little like air fare pricing; you might be next store
to a cabin identical to your cabin with the same privileges on the ship, but be paying
twice as much or one-half as much as the guests next door. Or you might book a cruise
to the same ports at the same time as another party, but on different but like quality
ships, and pay much more or much less. Consider the following to get your best cruise
deal. But keep in mind, unless you are willing to grab that last minute cruise deal
to just any destination to save money, planning well ahead is necessary to maximize
2. Assuming you know where you want to cruise, go to the Internet and visit the
major travel sites to get the details of what ships sail in the area of interest.
Look at types of cruise lines, types of ships, ports of call, cruise dates and length
of cruise and, of course, cost. Once you narrow down the number of possible choices,
you can get more information about the cruise line and particular ship by going to
the specific cruise line’s web site. Also, stop into one or more travel agencies
to see what they have to offer for cruises in your area of interest, and/or visit
web sites that specialize in cruises (there are many). For the most part, the information
from all three sources will probably be about the same, although pricing may differ.
3. Keep in mind, cruise lines do cater to different types of passengers. Some
lines may be very family friendly, while some may cater mainly to adults. Some cruise
lines may be more upscale, and others may be more for the everyday person. Some
cruises may offer better food and some may offer more diverse activities, etc. These
are important considerations, in addition to price. Consider going to CruiseCritic.com
to start investigating just what to expect on a particular cruise.
4. Once you have narrowed down the dates of travel and cruise line choices, getting
the best price depends primarily on the timing of your purchase, and the relative
supply and demand for cabins on your ship of choice for your cruise dates. Generally,
purchasing your cruise several months ahead of time will provide you with the best
pricing, and best choice of cabins. As the cruise date becomes nearer, prices will
generally gradually increase, and may easily double in price. However, if sales
are slow, prices may actually come down as time goes by, with significant bargains
available shortly before the cruise date (although with minimal choice of cabins).
So it pays to select a couple of cruise ships and cruise dates and comparison shop
over a period of time.
5. When comparison shopping, you will probably find that certain types of cabins
(both standard and luxury) go on sale, or are put on special, periodically at substantially
lower prices, for everyone or for certain groups like seniors. A sale can be on
one day, off the next, and back on the next day. It can change all over the place.
Chances are, the type of cabin you want on the ship you want will go on sale at
some point within a period of a few weeks. Just keep looking until you get that
sale price. And if it does not happen on one of the ships you are considering, it
will probably happen on another ship going to the same destination.
6. Cruise prices are very seasonal and can differ substantially depending on
your sailing dates. This will become evident when you look at prices for a particular
ship on different dates. If you have some flexibility on time of travel, and you
are willing to travel when the weather may not be quite as nice, you can save a great
deal of money, and still have all the same onboard amenities.
7. Whether you actually purchase directly through the cruise line, through a
travel site, or through a regular travel agency is not as important as it used to
be, due to the pricing policies of the cruise lines. But you may still find some
differences if some travel agents or travel sites bought a group of cabins to sell
as part of vacation packages. So, once you have decided it is the time to buy, check
several sources to find any lower prices. However, instead of lower prices, you
might find that some travel sites will offer some “freebies” to get your business.
Often this will be “cruise books” that provide discounts on products and services
available on the ship.