How to Get the Best Cruise Deals
Everyone loves finding a great holiday deal and booking a cruise holiday is no exception. There are plenty of cruise deals around if you know where to look and, maybe even more crucially, when to look.
What sort of cruise deals are available?
You may be lucky and find a bargain cruise holiday with a discounted base price for your cabin accommodation. However, it’s much more likely that the deals offered will involve upgrades or add-ons. As these can reduce your overall holiday spending by several hundred pounds, they are not to be sniffed at.
A browse through the offers and deals available from the main cruise operators including P&O, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Celebrity Cruises will throw up a plethora of options. You may be offered a complementary cabin upgrade, some on-board spending money, a free all-inclusive food and drink package or pre-paid on-board gratuities, for example. Whilst the basic cost of your holiday won’t be reduced, your spending during your seven days or more on board the cruise liner will be considerably less.
If you’re prepared to travel on an older cruise liner rather than a cruise operator’s newest flagship, you may find that you can get a similar cruise itinerary for a lot less money. The older ships will still offer plenty of activities and entertainment so it shouldn’t affect your overall experience.
How can I find out about the best cruise deals?
The cruise operators themselves will promote any available deals on their website and in their brochure. Online holiday comparison websites such as travelsupermarket.com and Travelzoo will show the latest deals from many of the cruise operators, enabling you to compare what the different companies are offering. There are a number of specialist cruise comparison sites too, such as cruisedeals.co.uk and Iglucruise.
Many of us prefer the convenience of booking our holidays online but if you’re looking for cruise deals this may be one occasion when it’s worth the effort of dropping into a High Street travel agent. The travel agents will know the different cruise operators well so can guide you towards a particular liner or itinerary to suit your requirements. They will also take the time to get to know you so will be able to judge which type of cruise deal will benefit you the most. In addition, the big High Street travel agencies have a lot of clout and often can offer extra freebies or discounts on top of those promised by the cruise operator.
When is the best time to look for cruise deals?
Unless you’re prepared to take your cruise slightly out of season, it’s better not to risk looking for a late deal. Increasingly, cruise operators are attempting to boost their sales by offering incentives to customers who book early. This is resulting in fewer unsold places approaching departure dates and prices are tending to increase rather than fall.
Two years ago, around three quarters of all cruises were booked no more than four months in advance, according to cruise industry experts. That is changing with so many early booking incentives and most people now are booking their cruise holidays anywhere from eight months to two years in advance.
The cruise operators tend to bring out their first promotional offers in late August and September with a push during the “wave season” or January to March. Having said that, many cruise companies used Black Friday last year as an opportunity to launch their cruise deals with the offers petering out by March.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the websites of the individual cruise operators. You can sign up for email alerts of any forthcoming offers and many of the operators hold sales on specific days of the week. If you are planning a cruise holiday, keep your ears and eyes open.
Where are the most popular cruise destinations?
As long as you are prepared to take a flight before starting your cruise, the world is your oyster. These are the most popular cruise destinations, in no particular order:
|1. Caribbean Sun and scenery – what more could you want from a cruise? The Caribbean is arguably the most iconic of all cruise destinations. The ships usually board in Miami or Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA|
|2. Mediterranean Very popular with Brits because of easy access to ports. Departing from Majorca can take you to the Italian coast and the South of France. The eastern Med can be explored from Istanbul and the Canary Islands can be the starting point for visiting Spain and North Africa|
|3. Scandinavia and the Baltic The Norwegian coast is always popular with cruisers and some itineraries visit St Petersburg and the Baltic state cities|
|4. Alaska Great for lovers of spectacular scenery. Most ships leave port at Vancouver in Canada|
|5. Pacific Ocean Cruise itineraries around the South Pacific islands will often offer stop-offs at Australia or New Zealand or you could combine Hawaii with Los Angeles or San Diego|