(49) More Cruise Price Savings Strategies
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In addition to searching for special cruise discounts and deals, here are some additional strategies for finding the best cruise prices:
- Choose a cruise destination with lots of competition. For example, many cruise lines offer Caribbean and Alaska itineraries and prices are competitive. There are fewer cruises to Asia, the Antarctic and Africa so these cruises cost more. It also takes longer and costs more to get to the cruise embarkation port.
- Book early. Cruise specialists say best fares are typically six months to one year in advance. Booking early also offers the best choice of cabins, dining and pre or post cruise stays. (Note: if you do book early and the price of the cruise goes down, most cruise lines will honor the difference until final payment about 60 days before your cruise.)
- Book last minute. Due to competitive early booking discounts, last minute deals are not as prevalent as in years past. It is also difficult to find reasonable last minute airfare. However, flexible travelers who live within driving distance of cruise ports should register online with cruise lines and cruise specialists for last minute Email bargain alerts.
- Be flexible. Cruise fares vary 30% or more between high season and low or shoulder season. Delaying sailing by a week or two or sailing a week or two earlier may result in significant savings.
- Least expensive cruise fares may not actually cost less in the long run. Bargain cruise lines offer few amenities and perks and many hidden costs. Factor in freebies such as free airfare, pre- or post-night stays, complimentary wine/open bar, gratuities included, shipboard credits and free excursions that are standard on some luxury cruises and they may actually cost less. (See Hidden Costs of Cruising.)
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