- Resident Discounts – Many major cruise lines target specific states or geographic regions for a couple reasons. In far in advance of sailing, cruise lines analyze where passengers who have booked so far on any given sailing are located, targeting areas where few are coming from for a discount to encourage booking. Close to sailing, offering a discount to Florida residents for sailings that depart from Florida ports can help fill up ships with passengers who find it easier to sail because they can drive, rather than fly, to the embarkation port.
- Discounts For Kids – Like other discounts, this one comes and goes too, in a variety of forms. Look for family-friendly discounts at times when families don’t normally sail like the Fall and Winter. When kids are normally in school, prices for third or fourth guests in a stateroom are at their lowest and availability is at its highest. On the flip side, travel during the popular summer months or any time when kids are normally out of school and the price of third/fourth passengers in a stateroom soars. On some ships and sailings the price of the fourth can even be more than that of the third.
- Past Guest Discounts – The topic of past guest discounts, in general, is well-known. Not so well-known is that the past guest element often affects other promotions as well. In addition, a past guest’s status within the cruise line loyalty program often reaps more rewards as they sail more. Savvy cruise travelers know this is one of the very best reasons to use a travel agent who is aware of their cruise history and works it to their best advantage.
- Discounted Upgrades – Closer to sailing, as cruise lines are making their best efforts to fill up ships, they may offer those already booked a discounted upgrade opportunity. While someone just entering the booking arena at that time might have a $1000 difference in price between a standard balcony cabin and a suite, the existing booked passenger might be offered an upgrade from their booked balcony to a suite for half that price. These offers are normally time-sensitive and on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Specific Group Discounts – Discounts for active or retired military members are offered on a variety of lines and are often one of the best pricing options. Still, knowing the rules can reap even greater rewards as cruise lines occasionally sweeten the deal, extending that military discount to more than one stateroom or make it a better value by adding some bonus extra. Firefighters, teachers and those who work in support industries like airline, shipping and freight company employees also might have an available discount.
How To Take Advantage Of These Cruise Discounts
Consider your booking a work in progress rather than a line item to check off the list of things to do. It’s a mistake many, if not most, cruise travelers make that is easily avoided by continuing to research pricing and value periodically between the time the booking is made and sailing.
Yes, it’s a good reason to use a proactive travel agent who will do this for you. Travel agents have access to all offers, all the time; a distinct advantage over consumers. Still, we can do this ourselves too if time permits. Just be sure to pay extra special attention on cruise line websites that all qualifiers for discounts are checked before searching, if using the cruise line web site booking engine. Even then, its a good idea to double check that booking with a live person to be sure the price is an accurate reflection of what you qualify for. It might not be.
The best of both worlds happens when passengers take ownership of their booking and continue to look for the best offers while working with a travel agent who can more efficiently confirm (or prove not applicable) offers that come up along the way.