- Going on a cruise can be a value-packed vacation option if you plan carefully.
- We asked a cruise expert for her best travel hacks to save you money on your next cruise vacation.
- Read her seven best pieces of advice below.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
With so many cruises come opportunities for saving money. Cruising can be a value-packed vacation option, as your accommodations, most meals, and most entertainment and ship facilities are included.
But between flying to your departure city and dealing with the inflated prices of peak travel season, it’s easy to spend more money than you need to on your vacation.
Experienced cruisers sometimes wait for last-minute cabins, plan a cruise they can drive to, or book sailings during off-peak times of year when demand drops.
Here are seven of her best tips to enjoy your next cruise for less money.
Be flexible with travel plans
Timing your cruise to fall outside of peak travel season can save you a lot of money.
Granted, if you are planning a cruise with your family, this tip may present a challenge. But Colleen McDaniel, editor of Cruise Critic, said it’s worth a try.
"For families, this is often a tough one, due to the need to align travel dates with school breaks — often the peak of travel season," she told Business Insider. "But if your travel dates are flexible, timing your purchase to fall outside of peak season is a way to save hundreds per traveler."
By booking an Alaska cruise for September instead of July, for example, you could cut your cruise fare almost in half, McDaniel said. The same goes for a Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise in the fall, instead of summer.
"By booking during that period, instead of that region’s peak travel season, you could really save a significant amount," she said.
Another perk of booking outside of peak season — beyond saving money — is that there will likely be fewer crowds to dodge. That means onboard, you might have a better selection of a variety of things, from reservation times to coveted seats by the pool. And in port, you’ll encounter fewer crowds as you’re exploring.
Wait until about three months before you want to sail to book your travel
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Cruise fares tend to drop in the 90-day window prior to a sailing, once travelers’ final payments are due, McDaniel said.
"If cruise lines receive booking cancellations and need to fill cabins quickly, they’ll often lower fares to entice travelers to book," she said. "While you might not get your top cabin choice, or the restaurant reservation you were hoping for, you’ll very likely get a great deal."
So if you’re able to snag a cruise deal on short notice, you can usually find some significantly reduced fares during the three-month period before sailing.
Book a repositioning cruise
A repositioning cruise is a sailing option that may not be widely known to inexperienced cruisers.
Cruise lines are constantly shuffling their fleet of ships, says McDaniel, moving them from one region to another to better serve demand and adjust to seasonality needs.
"Rather than transfer empty ships from one home to another, cruise lines sell these repositioning sailings as a unique offering to travelers," she said.
Unlike a round-trip sailing, repositioning cruises provide travelers with the opportunity to travel to completely different regions, all on one cruise.
"You might be starting in the Caribbean and ending in the Mediterranean. Or sailing from Hawaii to Canada. Or even Tokyo to Alaska," she said. "Because these unique itineraries aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea — they’re often longer than a one-week sailing, and sometimes have a number of sea days — cruise lines do usually offer these at a lower cost than their regular cruise offerings."
But keep airfare costs in mind. Because these aren’t round-trip sailings, you’ll need to book an open-jaw flight. To save money on those costs, look for cruise packages that include airfare, McDaniel recommends. You can see a list of 2019 repositioning cruises here.
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