04 Jan

How to save money when booking a cruise

Could this year be the one you book a cruise? If so, follow these top tips to help you find a good deal.

Cruising is becoming ever more popular across all age groups according to ABTA’s recent Holiday Habits research. Of the people we surveyed who have not yet been on a cruise, 25-34 year olds were the age group most interested in going on one. A high percentage of people (77%) also said that they would go on a cruise again and the over 45 year olds were most likely to say this. So it goes to show people just love cruising.

With so many people interested in going on a cruise, whether it’s for the first time or the tenth, we’ve outlined seven ways you can save money when booking a cruise.

Book early

First and foremost, it is always sensible to book a cruise early. A colleague booked his cruise from Barcelona to Miami 18 months before departure and saved over £1,500 based on what it would cost if he’d booked it today – he also received $100 on-board credit! Booking early can also give you other benefits such as a free drinks package or free on-board Wi-Fi.

Don’t forget you only have to pay a small deposit and your balance would normally be due around eight weeks before departure, so there’s plenty of time to save up.

So take it from him, booking early is one of the best ways to save money but check your cruise company’s payment terms and conditions. Booking at least a year in advance will give you time to find the best prices and routes you specifically want and allows you more time to do your research and compare value for money.

Consider the different rooms

Compare the cost of your cabins by doing some research and taking the time to speak to a travel professional or local travel agent. For example, when researching the cabin categories, the cheapest staterooms and the top-of-the-line suites always get booked up first so early bookers have a wider variety of cabins to choose from.

If you’re a family or group, sometimes booking two lower-priced inside cabins can save you some money and give you a bit of privacy as well. So instead of looking for more space and going for a larger suite with a balcony, by booking early, you will have the choice and freedom to buy two cabins next door to each other.

Consider different times of the year

School holidays dominate supply and demand for cruise holidays so if you have the flexibility, choose a time when the kids are in school. If you have a family, look to book a cruise during the January sales as you may find a great deal for the school holidays.

Some cruise lines have year-round sales and deals such as Early Saver and saver fares, which provide great discounts to destinations you may not have considered.

Be open to new destinations

Often less obvious destinations offer the best value before they become popular, and there are so many different experiences and destinations that cruise lines offer. Your local ABTA travel agent will be able to discuss destination options with you in detail. The added benefit of being open to places is that you may be able to avoid the crowds, and there may be shorter queuing times on and off the ship.

Old dogs, new trips!

The cruise industry loves to show off its new ships just like destinations love to show off their new experiences. New ships are built for size and the bigger they get, the more entertainment is added, for example, more cinemas and bigger slides and this sometimes means the holidays they offer are more expensive. However, don’t ignore the older cruise ships. Cruise liners tend to refurbish their old cruise ships and upgrade them for modern tastes. A travel agent who specialises in selling cruises should be able to talk you through the different ships’ offerings. So bigger isn’t always better. Older ships tend to be smaller in size but can offer a fundamentally different experience and ships carrying fewer than 1,000 people mean you can get on and off quicker.

Plan your excursions

ABTA’s research found that 80% of people choose to go on a cruise because it allows them to see multiple destinations. So book your excursions early before they sell out – this will also help you manage your budget so you won’t end up with a large bill on the last day of your holiday!

Use a travel agent

Travel agents often find the best deal as they receive updates from cruise lines on a daily basis. They get the word of new offers and have often been on a trip to review new ships themselves, so they can also offer their own personal suggestions. Travel agents aren’t restricted to one cruise company either and they see multiple deals at once which may suit your budget and taste.