When planning on a cruise vacation, everyone wants to feel like they are getting the best deals. We’ve consulted with our travel experts to share their advice to help make your dollars go farther when planning and when on board cruises.
1. Booking Early Pays Off
Many people believe that to get the best deal on a cruise, they should wait until closer to the sail date to book. While there is a chance that a cabin will pop up for a great price, you will have to take whatever is left, which means you could end up in a small, interior cabin with no windows. To get exactly what you want, book early. Many cruise lines offer discounts on early bookings, and throw in upgrades and value add-ons to woo advanced planners.
2. Keep an Eye Out for Big Sales, Particularly at the Beginning of the Year
If you haven’t noticed, cruise lines love a good sale. Many offer short-term promotions every month—or even every week. Some of the best deals occur during “Wave Season” (January-March), with an outpouring of sales from nearly every cruise line.
3. Ask About Restaurant Specials
Eating at the main dining room, buffets, and ordering room service (except late at night) is usually included in cruise prices. However, dining at specialty restaurants will cost extra. If you have no desire to eat at one of these establishments, you don’t have to, but they typically have higher quality food and specialty cuisines. If you would like to dine in these fancier settings, then ask about deals that offer onboard credit or book a restaurant package prior to the trip. Also, remember that many cruise lines offer lunch at specialty restaurants for a lower price than dinner.
4. Consider Buying a Beverage Package
Despite what many believe, not all cruise lines are all-inclusive. One of the fastest ways to break your budget is by purchasing alcohol, bottled water, and soda as you go. If you think you’ll be drinking a lot, purchase a beverage package, as the cost per drink ends up being considerably less.
5. Alternatively, Look for Drink Specials
If you don’t think you’ll drink your weight, keep your eye out for drink specials. Some cruise lines offer a special drink of the day at a discount or 2-for-1 happy hour deals. Plus, if you attend an art auction or lecture, you can get a free glass of champagne. But if you’re offered your drink in a souvenir glass, think twice before accepting, as those do not come free.
6. Disconnect from Technology
Vacation is a time to unplug and relax; however, many people still bring their phones and tablets on board in the hopes of answering emails, making some calls, or just watching Netflix. Most cruise ships offer Wi-Fi, but it comes at a hefty price. The best way to save money is to switch off completely and let everyone know you will be unreachable. If you must log in, buy an internet package ahead of time, as some ships will offer extra minutes or discounts when purchased in advance.
Cruising is one of the most fun ways to travel, and you can make your experience even better by getting the most value out of your trip. If you’re looking to book a cruise, contact a AAA Travel Agent for assistance. They can help find the cruise line that best suits your personality, while also getting you the top deals, discounts and benefits to help you get the most out of your vacation.