Whether you are an avid cruiser or its your first time, everyone wants to know how they can get the best value for their money. The answer is not so simple because finding the best prices depends not only on when you book, but also when you travel.
The cruise industry revolves around the seasonality of its destinations. Travelers who can plan around these key times can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars by becoming a smart travel shopper. Here are a few tips to help you plan for your next cruise adventure.
When to Buy?
The most popular season to begin planning and booking your cruise is usually October (National Plan a Cruise Month) and January through March, known as “wave season”. During these times cruisers can take advantage of incentive driven promotions and exclusive savings such as two-for-one deals, early-bird fares and additional amenities like onboard credit, free gratuities and free shore excursions.
In the last few years, cruise lines have released better and more enhanced promotions to entice early bookers. The latest trends have been lower cruise fares combineable with multiple value added perks like complimentary spa treatments, private lounge services or free Internet.
Why you Should Book Early?
Unlike airfare, booking a cruise is less stringent and restrictive allowing you to make deposits and allowing you flexibility to cancel without penalties before final payment. Booking early means a wider selection of staterooms to choose from as well. It allows you to select the perfect cabin instead of getting stuck close to a lounge or being too close to the public areas. It is important to plan ahead, especially if traveling with family, because the first staterooms to sell out are usually the triple and quadruple occupancy staterooms.
The pricing structure of the cruise line is simple: prices are low when the ship is empty. The general rule of thumb is the farther your cruise destinations are from where you live, the earlier you need to book.
Another key benefit is if the price drops before final payment, you can always ask for an upgrade or request a price adjustment. Travel agents monitor rates and can keep you informed when prices fluctuate to ensure you get the best value.
When you Should Book Late?
If you are flexible in destination and time, booking late can be very advantageous and can get rock-bottom prices. Within 60 days from departure, cruise ships will offer discounted rates to fill up any remaining inventory and avoid unoccupied rooms. Please take note that most rooms however are in least desirable locations such as lower decks, obstructed views or close to public areas.
Why You Should Book Onboard?
One of the newest trends is booking your next cruise onboard. The cruise industry relies heavily on repeat customers, so being loyal to one does have its benefits. Booking onboard allows you to avail of the current promotions while combining them with additional incentives like onboard credit, reduced deposits, and/or lower cruise fares.
Cruise lines now allow you to make onboard bookings on behalf of friends and family members who you plan to travel with in the future, allowing you to share the savings.
When it comes to planning your next cruise the best way to save is to plan early. Start doing your research and talking to a travel agent to lay down your options especially if you have any specific preferences in destination or time. Being flexible is key, and planning to travel during the off-season will save you a lot of money and frustration.