Tiana Templeman provides trips on how to find a cruise deal that's a steal.
Whether you're saving for your first sailing holiday or believe too many cruises are never enough, it's handy to know how to find the cheapest cruise deals. Even better, there's no need to skip luxuries with a bargain fare. Many deals come with extras such as a free drinks package, balcony upgrade or airfares to Europe. Here are some of the best ways to find a cruise deal that's a steal.
Book using a travel agent
While it's cheaper to book many holidays independently, a good travel agent can save you thousands on your cruise. Travel agents receive advance notice of cruise line sales and special deals. Large agencies can also create their own mega-deals by purchasing flights, cruises and hotel room nights in bulk then selling them as a heavily discounted package.
Sign up for deals
Do you have a favourite cruise line or one you've always wanted to try? Sign up for deals via the cruise line's website to receive advance notice of (and sometimes access to) upcoming sales. Some lines offer bargain last-minute deals to loyal cruisers via email. If you would prefer to avoid the email deluge, "Like" your favourite cruise lines' and travel agencies' Facebook pages instead.
Get a group discount
Families and friends sailing together can save a bundle thanks to cruise lines' generous group booking deals. Groups are eligible for a cruise fare credit for every eight staterooms on Royal Caribbean. Other lines offer similar deals for cruisers travelling as a group, including points which can be redeemed for on-board perks such as champagne or chocolate-covered strawberries.
Book a longer cruise
Longer cruises and those with fewer ports are often significantly cheaper. Some bargain hunters have picked up deals for less than $80 per person per day. Longer cruises are best for those seeking a relaxing trip with plenty of sea days or active travellers who want extra time to enjoy on-board facilities such as skydiving and surfing simulators, skating rinks, zip lining, or bumper cars.
Timing is everything
Keep an eye out for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruise deals in late January and early February, when all the kids are back at school. End-of-season cruises anywhere in the world also offer significant savings if you're willing to take a chance on the weather.
For example, if you've always dreamed of visiting Alaska, there are often bargain sailings available in September. Denali could be extremely chilly and the park may not be open if you're very unlucky. However, you could also enjoy perfect weather, beautiful scenery and no crowds.
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Last-minute cruise deals offer excellent value provided you have the flexibility to travel at short notice. You might not get your first choice of cabin or your preferred dinner seating time but savings can be significant. Unless you need to purchase flights. Unlike cruises, these are seldom cheap to book last minute so always check flight costs and availability before – not after - you book.