How to find the best cruise deals
How to find the best cruise deals
In this guide our experts offer 10 tips for getting a great cruise deal.
A cruise holiday can be a significant expense, particularly for itineraries lasting several weeks. So it's well worth doing everything possible to find discounts and get the most for your money.
1. Choose the best cruise line
Research which cruise lines you think might suit your needs before booking. Choosing the right itinerary, type of ship and cabin can be complicated, so always take advice from a specialist agent.
2. Use an agent
Travel agents are often able to give a better range of discounts or deals than would be on offer by going direct to cruise lines. Which? Travel found that you could save more than £200 per couple on your next cruise if you buy via an agent. Agents can also advise on the pros and cons of individual cruises. To find a local specialist who is an accredited member of CLIA UK & Ireland (Cruise Lines International Association), visit Discover Cruises.
3. Compare prices between agents
Which? Travel research found differences of up to £400 per person between agents’ best quotes for specific cruises, so don’t assume you won’t find a better offer elsewhere. Get a reference number, keep your options open and shop around.
Ask the agents if they are able to offer the cruise at a lower price than they first say - you may get a cheaper deal, especially if they realise you are looking elsewhere.
4. Buy your own flights
If prices include flights, consider searching for cheaper ones yourself. To find the best airlines for your destination, see the results of our annual airline survey.
If you do book your own flight, make sure you're aware of your cruise consumer rights. It may be that if your flight is delayed or cancelled, you won't be able to get a refund on the cruise (unless your insurance covers it). And if you choose to catch up with the cruise, it will be at your own expense.
5. Book early for specific cruises
Several companies offer early booking discounts or incentives. These may include a certain amount of free on-board spending money, free parking or transfers, or a free cabin upgrade. With others, you may bag a discount by paying in full when booking, or simply by booking online.
Of course there is a risk that the price of the cruise could be reduced closer to the departure date. Look out for companies that promise to pass the value of any saving back to you if they later cut the cruise fare.
6. Book late if you’re more flexible
If cabins aren’t selling so well, then you could pick up a better bargain near to the date of departure. Although this is a gamble, if you’re flexible about dates, the cruise line, destination and type of cabin, then a late deal is worth considering.
7. Check the small print
When comparing cruise deals, check exactly what is included in the holiday price. Many cruise-line pricing policies are far from ‘all-inclusive’ and you may have to pay extra for port charges, excursions, drinks, specialist dining, gratuities and the internet, among other items. Once aboard, consider paying upfront for wine, soft drink or ice-cream packages if you’re likely to indulge in them anyway.
8. Look for worthwhile extras
Some great deals include little extras in the price that could be worth a lot. For example, Saga Cruises routinely offers a home pick-up service to the embarkation port, luggage porterage and even travel insurance.
9. Be savvy about cruise offers
Don’t hang about when you see an offer – get straight on the phone, as the best prices go quickly. Remember that deals are often only available on specific cabin grades and dates, and from certain airports or ports – so be prepared to be flexible.
10. Find the right cabin
When comparing quotes, check that prices are based on comparable cabins. With some cruise lines you can save money by taking the lucky dip of ‘allocation on arrival’ rather than pre-booking a specific cabin. This could work in your favour, but check that you’d also be happy with the ‘worst-case scenario’ cabin.