Where to Look for Cruise Vacation Packages

Finding the Right Cruise Package for You

Finding the right cruise at the right price may seem daunting, but you can even find last minute deals if you know where – and how – to look. Follow these tips to quickly find the best cruise for you.

Timing

  • Plan your travel for shoulder season – off-peak times like the first two weeks of December or January. You can find great deals on Caribbean cruises during late hurricane season (September through early November).
  • If you have your heart set on particular dates, check the rates 60 to 90 days before departure. That’s when cruise lines require travelers to cancel by with no penalty. They offer the remaining cabins at reduced rates so they can book all staterooms.
  • Book six months to a year in advance if particular dates or a cabin request means the world to you. Early purchase can mean a good deal, too. Luxury cruises increase prices as booking time passes.

Locations

A repositioning cruise, one in which the ship relocates its home port, can offer amazing deals on a two-week cruise. They can include many sea days and odd port combinations, but great deals. Since it starts in one port and ends in another, you’ll need return airfare.

Online Research

  • Check social media for travel deals, both the cruise package and cheap airfare to and from the home port. Both travel agents and cruise lines tweet their current deals. Build a list of accounts and you can peruse all deals daily at a glance.
  • Also, sign up for travel agency and cruise line e-mails. The sales and clearance prices will come to you each week or day. Don’t forget to check deal sites – not just travel sites. Coupon sites often feature cruise deals offered by the cruise lines.

Travel Agents

Even if you don’t usually use a travel agent, one can help you save big on a cruise because they have access to lower prices and booking bonuses. They can help you shop around for the best deal. After completing your online research, phone them. Travel agencies have deals they aren’t allowed to advertise online.

Money Savers

  • Look for bundles that include hotel, airfare, and tours with the cruise. You can cut individual costs and have your entire trip, including activities, planned well in advance.
  • Request a “cabin guarantee.” You’ll get a cabin in the category specified or an upgrade, but you can’t choose your stateroom or cabin location. You can save about $50 to $100 per person this way.
  • Book in bulk. A group of just ten to 16 can net you a free berth. If you plan the cruise as an extended family vacation, you can save big. Some cruise lines include onboard credit, free photos and discounted group excursions for groups.
  • Declare your loyalty. Compare cruise line loyalty programs and pick the sweet spot between program rewards and affordable cruises. Stick with one line and accrue rewards like free nightly cocktails in a private lounge, access to spa amenities, complimentary dinners in upscale onboard restaurants and, eventually, free cruises.
  • Check for special rates depending on your affiliation or age. Seniors, teachers and military personnel receive discounts. The discount usually falls between five to 10 percent. Book in advance to ensure availability.

Put these tips into practice and find the right cruise for you, at the right price. You’ll sail away into sunset in no time.

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