Often when it comes to getting the best cruise vacation possible, on a limited budget, you have to be resourceful in your search, flexible in your dates and patient with waiting for the right deal to come along.
Booking Last Minute Cruises
If you want to find the best cruise deals it can often come down to taking advantage of unsold, last-minute bookings. Look at cruise deals available 60 to 90 days before the cruise sets sail. This timeframe is last-call for most cruise lines and itineraries. Just before this last 60 to 90 day window travelers can cancel their reservations without any penalty. This means that some new inventory can often show up and may be available at a discounted price. Depending on demand for the cruise route, the cruise-line will know how many cabins they have left to sell and may want to reduce the fare in order to sell the ship out. Waiting till the last minute is a gamble because you never know if there will be room left on the ships you want, but you can get cheap cruises by grabbing a spot during that last minute window if your able to be flexible on dates, and the route to take.
Don't Expect Luxury
When a cruise ship isn't fully loaded before that last minute window, it might be because the cruise itself isn't a hot seller. You won't find last minute deals on ships that sail on Christmas or New Year's, for example. You can find them other times of the year when traveling isn't so hot. You might also find them on ships that don't have as many perks. If you do get onto a high level ship, you won't be able to get any of the best rooms. You can't be picky about the best cruise deals. If you want luxury and top of the line rooms and ships, you have to book in advance. That being said, there are surprise bargains from time to time on popular ships. Sometimes, people who booked their trip simply have to back out for one reason or another, so don't give up hope.
Try a Repositioning Cruise
Discount cruises sometimes include repositioning cruises. These cruises have odd itineraries and don't sell as well as other cruises, leading to open spots available during the last minute window. Repositioning cruises take place when ships need to change regions for the season by sailing an unusual route to get back to their homeport. This sometimes means going across the sea or ocean and leads to longer days on the ship. There may be some mishmash stops at ports, but you will be at sea most of the time. If you just want to spend time relaxing on the ship anyway, these types of cruises give you a great opportunity to go at a discounted price.
One of the best ways to find cruise deals is to simply keep looking around until you find what you want. You can use a travel agent who knows the industry or just keep checking in with the different cruise lines for discount cruises yourself. There are some agencies that will have web pages dedicated to last minute deals. You can also get on weekly bargain emails to help you find the right deal at the right time. Calling around can also inform you of items you may have missed otherwise. The cheap cruises are out there for the taking. You simply have to put the time and effort into finding them. If you don't find anything right away, keep looking and something will pop up.
You need to think about what elements you are willing to bend on in order to get a good deal on a cruise. You might find a great rate on a good ship, but if you have to spend twice as much on airfare to get there, does it really end up being a good deal after all? Account all of the costs before you commit to what you think is a good deal for a cruise. Another example is a cruise that charges you a cheap fare but doesn't include other items, like on-board drinks, gratuities and a variety of other things. These additional things can add up fast and make that great cruise deal not so great in the long run.
Know the Fine Print
Whenever you sign onto any deal, you need to read the fine print and know what you are getting into. You will want to know what exactly what your purchase entitles you to. If you have an inside cabin and you can only stomach a cabin with a window, you are not getting a good deal like you thought. Some outside cabins might have obstructed views as well, so be sure to check. Last-minute deals don't guarantee you a good cabin, but you will want to carefully read what options you have and choose as best you can. There are also service fees, port charges, and other information in the fine print you will want to be aware of before you take the deal.
If you want to find the best deal on a cruise available, you will need to be flexible about your arrangements. It might mean cruising different dates than you expected or seeing different sights. You might get a different cabin than the one you really wanted or you might have to give up prime dinner seating. Think through all of the aspects of taking a cruise and decide what you are flexible on and what you will not bend on. Knowing these things upfront will allow you to make a decision faster and easier if you are faced with a bargain deal on a cruise. You will know right away whether you can bend your preferences to find the best cruise deals.