Booking a cruise can be cheap if you do the research necessary. Sometimes if you book your cruise extremely early you can get a better deal while other times if you are flexible you can book a cruise a few days to a few weeks before the cruise departs and get a great deal.
If you are flexible as to your travel dates then you can usually find a better deal. If you state a specific date or week you HAVE to travel on then you are limited to the prices available at that time and you may or may not find a cheap cruise to book. It is common that the exact cruise that departed a week ago will have a different price then the cruise the following week. It may be slightly higher or lower or the pricing could be much cheaper.
If you simply want to go on a cruise and do not care the destinations, then you can find even better bargains. Sometimes an Alaskan cruise can be a cheap bargain cruise and other times the Southern Caribbean or other destination will offer the cheapest cruise costs.
Shopping for cheap cruise packages is best done with a travel agent, reputable online travel website such as Expedia, or from the cruise company directly. It is common for some less reputable websites to advertise extremely cheap cruises, but once you have read the fine print you begin to realize that there are many hidden charges that drastically jump up the price. Usually if a cheap cruise price seems too good to be true, then it is. The exception to this is if you deal with a reputable online travel website, a travel agent, or the cruise ship company itself.
Cruise ships want to keep their occupancy level as high as possible. If a particular cruise is within a few weeks of the departure date and the cruise ship has a lot of vacancies, they will work extra hard at booking some new travelers on their cruise ship for that cruise. Many times in this situation the cruise ship will offer special deals on rates. A cruise ship simply wants to fill up the empty cabins and then hope you spend enough money online to help them turn a profit.
Travel Websites for Cheap Cruises
Online travel websites such as Expedia are great for researching cruise costs. You can search different cruises for different dates and find the lowest one available. Expedia and other travel websites will often have a mailing list you can sign up for that will email you any cruise specials that are taking place.
There are numerous travel websites online and they sell a lot of cruises each year. You can feel safe booking a cruise with a reputable online travel website such as Expedia or Travelocity.
Booking a cruise with a Travel Agent is a great alternative to using a travel website. With a travel agent you will have all of their knowledge and experience on your side. If something goes wrong on your cruise or you get delayed at the airport prior to your cruise you will be able to call up your travel agent and they will be able to help you out of the jam.
Travel agents also can be privy to insider cruise specials that are not available online. Many people will do research online for the cruise they want and then visit a traditional travel agency to book the cruise. Many times people will think they figures out their trip but once they show their tentative plans to the travel agent there will be some quirk with the plans that make them not feasible. Travel agents can book a cruise for you and have the experience to know what to do so you do not get into any problems. If any problems do occur it is much easier to call your travel agent up for help as opposed to calling the 1-800 number for the travel website and being put on hold.
Book Directly with the Cruise Line
You can find cheap cruises from the cruise lines directly. Most major cruise lines such as Holland America and Princess Cruise Lines have email lists you can sign up for to get special rates emailed to you when a cheap rate comes available.
Booking with a cruise line directly can oftentimes save you money, but it is still recommended you go through a travel agent. A travel agent can seriously save you money and a lot of hassle and grief. The travel agent
will also explain port charges, mandatory tipping, and other fees that the cruise lines may gloss over. If you want to know the true cost of what your cruise will cost you then you need to use a travel agent.
How to Find a Cheap Cruise Tips
Remain flexible in your scheduling if you can. If you can find the cheapest cruise possible and then arrange to get your time off for that period. Sometimes the cheapest and best deals on a cruise do no arise until a week or two before the cruise departs.
Be open to destinations on your cruise. If you limit yourself to a certain geographical cruise area such as the Caribbean, then you may not get the cheapest rate possible. The fun in cruising is the actual cruising, and the destination is not nearly as important. A cruise will be a lot of fun whether it is an Alaskan cruise or a Caribbean Cruise.
Look at other costs involved with your cruise. You will probably be flying to an airport near where the cruise leaves. The cost of an airline ticket needs to be factored into the overall cost of your cruise vacation costs. If you live in the Pacific Northwest it will be cheaper for your plane tickets as opposed to flying to Miami or Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Even if the Caribbean and cruise leaving out of Florida is cheaper than the Alaskan Cruise, for someone that lives in the Pacific Northwest the overall cost may be much cheaper to go on the Alaskan Cruise.
The same philosophy applies regardless of where you live. If a cruise is much cheaper to Alaska, but you live in Miami, then the overall cost will probably be cheaper if you travel on a Cruise that departs out of Florida.
Book Cheap Cruises
Get on as many mailing lists as you can for cheap cruises. Research out prices for cruises and get a general idea of the variations in pricing that can occur for similar cruise packages. Try and remain as flexible as possible so that when a cheap cruise rate is available that you can book it and know that you will be able to get the time off of work. A Travel agent can be a big help in finding cheap cruises. Image Credit:(Flickr/keithusc)