How To Get The Best Cruise Bargain, Any Time Of The Year

There are a variety of sale events hosted by major cruise lines that often bring the opportunity for some of the best cruise deals available. On one hand, holiday sales, wave season, special discount events and promotions always seem to have something for everyone. On the other hand, it seems like there is always a cruise sale of some sort or another, much like there seems to always be a sale on cars, furniture and other products we buy from time to time. So how do we know when to buy? When are the really great deals and how do we get them?

Let’s take a look at some golden rules of cruise buying.

Unless It Is The Best Deal Ever, Be Wary Of Restrictions

The big trick to booking your best cruise value is to consider buying just the start of the deal. Keep looking for other promotions, discounts and offers that may come up between when deposit is made and final payment is due. Fares with strict qualifiers and non-refundable deposits may very well be the best deal available. But if there is a chance, even a slight chance, that some other deal may come up later that will benefit an existing booking, stay clear of fares that do not allow changes.

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How To Get The Best Cruise Bargain, Any Time Of The Year 7

Still, Buying Far In Advance Is A Great Strategy

Undeniably, reserving a cruise vacation as far in advance as possible gives cruise travelers the best selection of cabins from which to choose too. If having a cabin located in a certain part of the ship is a priority, buy as far ahead as possible. Reserving that cabin with a non-restricted fare as noted above, gives buyers the maximum amount of flexibility should a good deal come up later.

Norwegian Prima Arrives to Port Canaveral
Norwegian Prima Arrives to Port Canaveral

Understand How It Works And Don’t Be Offended

Cruise lines commonly offer discounts for seniors, military members, residents of certain states and more. They do that to fill up the ships, discounting existing fares as an incentive to book now. As much as we would like to believe that cruise lines love our seniors, military members and residents of Ohio, that’s not why they offer reduced fares. Knowing that none of these or other discounts will be offered far in advance makes booking an unrestricted fare important so travelers can take advantage of it later.

cardboard box with red ribbon beside a sale sign
Photo by Max Fischer on

Don’t Ask For Something You Don’t Qualify For

Asking for a senior discount if you are 37 is not just wrong it will no doubt cost you later. On embarkation, we have to prove our identity by producing the documents we registered with the cruise line in advance in order to get our boarding passes. We also have to prove that we qualify for any discounts given along the way. If we can’t prove our discount-worthiness, we stand a good chance of paying the difference in order to board the ship. No proof= no boarding.

still life with notebook and pined map
Photo by Lara Jameson on

Stick With Your Cruise Line And Reap The Rewards

Past-guest loyalty often translates to more than recognition on the ship, however popular benefits of that sort are. Being a high level past guest of any major cruise lines with many sailings under your belt often gets cash discounts, on-board credit and other dollars and cents discounts and promotions. Those deserve to be included in calculating the end deal we received on any cruise vacations.

person holding world globe facing mountain
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

Either Use A Travel Agent Or Have The Discipline To Do What They Do

I think this is the first time I have written anything other than “use a travel agent” and I have my reasons. Cruise travelers really into the whole process of booking, knowing all the deals and fare programs available and with a lot of time on their hands can probably substitute for a travel agent. There are probably one or two in a thousand cruise travelers who would qualify for this job. These people, the good ones, live and breathe cruise travel and often know of sales, discounts and promotions before they are released to the general public.

Good travel agents also keep up with bookings after the initial deposit is made, applying new discounts and promotions that booking qualifies for as they occur. If there is one best reason to use a travel agent, that’s probably it.

gold colored coins near calculator
Photo by Breakingpic on

Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Pricing Though

It’s easy to get fixated on pricing to the point that we miss other important elements of getting ready for a cruise. Researching the destinations on any given itinerary, even if we have been there before, is a good idea to add real value to the actual experience. Packing, planning, preparing for that cruise, regardless of where it goes, what ships takes us there and how much it costs should take first place once the booking is made. That is, after-all, why we sail.

Chris Owen
Chris Owen
Chris Owen is a travel writer from Orlando Florida who shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations with fellow Cruise Addicts.

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