Which? has found that you could save more than £200 per couple by booking a cruise holiday with a travel agent rather than the cruise line. Shop around and you could save a further 25%, just by choosing one agent over another.
Research for Which? Travel magazine also suggests that booking a cruise online is unlikely to save you money. For example, in seven out of eight cases, booking with Cruise Thomas Cook by phone rather than online would have been either the same price or cheaper.
Cruise deals compared
In May, we compared prices for the same sea and ocean cruises with five cruise agents and direct with eight cruise lines – online and by phone – to find the cheapest way to buy. We sought the lowest price for two people sharing an outside cabin with a sea view with no obstruction.
None of the cruise lines we looked at offered lower prices than we could find with an agent. But we did find differences of up to £400 per person (pp) between the agents’ best quotes for specific cruises.
Travel agents offer cruise savings
Although several companies, including Cunard, Fred Olsen and P&O Cruises, are discouraging agents from offering price reductions, asking for a discount could prove fruitful.
For instance, the CruiseDeals agent admitted they weren’t supposed to discount Cunard cruises. But when we asked if they could offer a better deal, the manager authorised £19 off the £1,874 total, making it the cheapest result.
Cruise.co.uk quoted the same price as P&O Cruises for the round-the-world cruise we selected, but its agent offered us £600pp worth of on-board credit as well (£170pp more than from other agents).
More ways to get a cruise deal
- Look out for sales offers such as free cabin upgrades and free flights incentives, by signing up to marketing emails and checking the ads in weekend newspapers
- Some cruise lines offer a cheaper price for allocating you a cabin on arrival – you could be lucky and end up with an upgrade to a balcony cabin, but check that you’d also be happy with the ‘worst-case scenario’ cabin type
- Choosing the best itinerary, type of ship and cabin to suit you can be complex, so call a specialist cruise agent for guidance